By 1952 I was sixteen years old and in my second year at Instituto Nacional and struggling hard to remain in school long enough to graduate as well as staying away from the troubles in the streets of Panamá. Trouble at home in the form of unsupportive women in my family was also a big sore spot for me- one that kept me always in a state of uncertainty so that, I had little time for such luxuries and diversions as baseball games.
The memorable Fourth Caribbean Series was held in Panama City that year in the Olympic Stadium and it came and went and I never got to go. I, along with many of our Westindian youth, didn’t have the money or the opportunity to get in to see this classic competition.
The Fourth Caribbean Series was held in Panama City, Panama on February 20-26 of 1952. Pitcher Tom Fine, who pitched the first no hitter in Caribbean Series history, led Habana. Cervecerias Caracas represented Venezuela, Ron Carta Vieja represented Panama and San Juan represented Puerto Rico. “Sandy” Amoros won the batting title with a .450 average and Cuba won the series with a 5-0-1 record. The following was the lineup within the dueling teams:
Panama: Carta Vieja: Manager: Al Leap. Pitchers: Alberto “Mamavila” Osorio, Connie Johnson, Andres Alonso, Hisel Patrick, Dave Thomas, Marion Fricano, Al Pointe. Catchers: Ray Dabeck y Leon Kellman. In Fielders: Ed Neville (1B), Forrest Jacobs (2B), Joe Tuminelli (3B), Frank “Bin Bin” Austin (SS). Out fielders: Johnny Kropf, Dale Lynch, Jim Cronin, E. Pilot (American minor leaguers). In the Negro League, Frank Austin was also known as “Pee Wee” Austin.
Cuba: Los Rojos del Habana: Manager: Miguel Angel González. Pitchers: Bob Habenich, Thomas Fine, Bill Ayers, Jackie Collum, Gilberto Torres, Julio “Jiquí” Moreno, Rogelio “Limonar” Martinez y Adrián Zabala. Catchers: Andrés Fleitas y Gilberto “Chino” Valdivia. In fielders: Bert Haas (1 B), Johnny “La Araña” Jorgensen (2B), Vemon Benson (3B), Lou Klein y Manuel “Chino” Hidalgo (SS), Rene González, Orlando Varona, Sojito Gallardo. Outfielders: Alejandro Crespo, Edmundo “Sandy” Amorós, Pedro “Perucho” Formental, Femando Díaz “Bicho” Pedroso, Oscar Sardiñas, Jay Van Noy.
Venezuela: Cervecería Caracas: Manager: José Antonio Casanova. Pitchers: Al Papai, Emilio Cueche, José “Carrao” Bracho, Johnny Hetki, Bill Sanson, L Griffith, L. Zuloaga. Catchers: Ferrell Anderson y Aureliano Patino. In fielders: Morris Mozzau (1B), Luis Oliveros y Pipper Davis (2B), Clarence Flicks (3B), Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel (SS), Luis “Camaleón” García. Out fielders: Wilmer Fields, Dalmiro Finol, Héctor “Redondo” Benítez Paiva, Guillermo Vento.
Puerto Rico: San Juan; Manager: Freydson ; Pitchers: José “Pantalones” Santiago, Roberto Vargas, Charles Gorin, Ellis “Cot” Deal (also out fielder), Charles “Colorado” Adams, Guayubín Olivo, Velásquez, Luis “Tite” Arroyo. In fielders: Víctor Pellot Power (1B), Al Dittmar (2B), Buster Clarkson (3B),J. Almendro (SS), R. Kearns. Out Fielders: Luis “Canena” Márquez, Luis Rodríguez Olmo, Saturnino Escalera.
The Home Run stars were:
Cuba: Johnny “La Araña” Jorgensen and Lou Klein; Venezuela: Wilmer Fields and Morris Mozzali; Puerto Rico: Ellis “Cot” Deal and Luis Rodriguez Olmo; Panama: Jim Cronin and Dale Lynch
The Pitching star for this series was none other than Tomas Fine (Cuba)
It has been said that this series featured the best pitching demonstration of all-time by one of its members. The reason was that the sure shot Cuban pitcher, Tomas Fine, “El Potro Salvaje de Texas” (The Wild Colt of Texas), who pitched the only no hit no runs game in the history of this series of games. To achieve this, Fine exceeded in a special match 1-0 to Venezuela which also featured a staggering performance by the knuckle ball specialist Al Papai. On the last day of that Series, in the ninth inning, the Panamanians, however, managed to connect three home runs thus spoiling Fine’s unbeaten record.
In our next post we will bring out of the annals of baseball history the short but extremely interesting history behind the Caribbean Series.
This story continues.