Al Lopez was a Baseball player (catcher) and manager. Read on to know more about Al Lopez’s profile, childhood, life and timeline in this biography.
A great major league catcher and manager, Al Lopez had a long illustrious career and his name was immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. Fondly known as "El Señor" for his polite disposition, Lopez was the pride of ‘Tampa Latinos’. Lopez outshined both as a baseball player and as a manager of the Indians and the White Sox. Under him the Indians won 111 games in 1945 an American League record which could not be broken until the next 44 years.
Early Life & Career
Lopez was born to a family which emigrated from Asturias, Spain and travelled to Cuba and finally settled in the Spanish-Cuban-Italian immigrant community of Ybor City, Tampa, Florida towards the end of 1880s. Born on August 20, 1908, Lopez’s passion for baseball was quite evident from his boyhood. Later in 1924, at the age 16, he left school to join the Class-D Tampa Smokers of the Florida State League as catcher.
No sooner than he was seen playing in the minor leagues. In 1928, Lopez entered the world of major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was made their starting catcher in 1930, after which began an outstanding career. His exceptional performance in the 1933 game earned him immense honor and in 1945 he broke Gabby Hartnett’s record for games caught which was 1918 and was not surpassed until 1987.
Lopez was the first Tampa native and one of the first Hispanic-Americans to the play in the major leagues. He was appointed the manager of Cleveland Indians in 1951. The Indians won over 90 games from 1951 to 1953 and in 1954 the team’s won a record-making win of 111 games. After he left the Cleveland Indians, he led the White Sox from 1957 to 1965 and 1968 to 1969 which also performed extraordinarily under him.
Lopez was regarded as the seventh-best defensive catcher as well as the seventh-best manager of all time, in a poll taken among retired major leaguers in the mid-1980s. He died at the age of 97 on October 30, 2005.
Awards and Achievements
Al Lopez caught 1,918, a record which was intact for 40 years.
The Cleveland Indians won 111 games when he was their manager, again a record unbroken for 44 years.
He was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.
Legacy and Contributions
Al Lopez was one of the first Hispanic-Americans and the first Tampa native to play in the American major leagues. He is celebrated for his contribution as manager of the Cleveland Indians and the White Sox. Both the teams performed exceptionally well under his guidance. The Indians came up with a major record-making win of 111 games which remained for the next 44 years. The Chicago White Sox gave no less than 82 victories when Lopez became its manager. It also won the American League pennant in 1959, their first ever since 1919.
Back home, Lopez was considered a hero. When he was appointed the manager of the Cleveland Indians, the city of Tampa had arranged a parade in is honored. In 1954 a new minor league and spring training ballpark for the White Sox was built in Tampa. The field was named ‘Al Lopez Field’, for his outstanding contribution. Later a park situated a few blocks away from the field was renamed Al Lopez Park and also a statue of him was built.
1908: Al Lopez was born on August 20, Ybor City, Tampa, Florida.
1928: He entered the major leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team.
1930: He became their starting catcher.
1933: He hit an outstanding .301, stole 10 bases and finished National League MVP.
1945: Lopez surpassed Gabby Hartnett’s record for the maximum catches in major leagues.
1947: He retired as a player.
1951: Lopez was made the manager of the Cleveland Indians.
1954: The team won a record-making 111 games.
1959: The White Sox won the American League pennant while he was its manager.
1969: Lopez retired from baseball, due to his declining health.
2005: He died on October 30 at the age of 97.