Leo Cárdenas

Leonardo Lazaro Cárdenas Alfonso (born December 17, 1938) is a Cuban former professional baseball player. He played as a shortstop in Major League Baseball from 1960 to 1975. Nicknamed "Mr. Automatic" and "Chico", he was a five-time all-star and one of the best fielding shortstops of his era.[1]

Leo Cárdenas
Leo Cardenas - Texas Rangers - 1974
Cárdenas in 1974
Born: December 17, 1938 (age 80)
Matanzas, Cuba
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 25, 1960, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 26, 1975, for the Texas Rangers
MLB statistics
Batting average.257
Home runs118
Runs batted in689
Career highlights and awards

Early years

Cárdenas was born in Matanzas, Cuba, one of 15 children of Rafael and Roberta Cardenas.[2] He came to the U.S. in 1956 at age 16 (although he claimed to be 17, the minimum age to be signed by a Major League team) and received a $500 signing bonus.[3] He was among the last of the Cuban players to make it out of Cuba before the borders were sealed. He batted .316 for the Arizona–Mexico League's Tucson Cowboys in 1956, and signed with the Cincinnati Reds the following season. While playing for the Havana Sugar Kings in the International League in 1959, Cárdenas was inadvertently shot by raucous Fidel Castro supporters firing off rifles in the grandstand in celebration of the 26th of July Movement.[4] The Havana team was moved to Jersey City the following July and renamed the Jerseys.

Cincinnati Reds

Cárdenas was called up to the Reds in 1960 to fill in for an injured Roy McMillan. He made his Major League debut on July 25, 1960, starting and batting eighth and playing shortstop in a 6–5 Reds win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. After grounding into a double play and later lining out, he notched his first career hit with a seventh-inning run-scoring single off Cubs pitcher Bob Anderson.[5] For the season, he batted .232 with one home run and 12 runs batted in. After the season, McMillan was dealt to the Milwaukee Braves for pitchers Joey Jay and Juan Pizarro.[6]

Reds Manager Fred Hutchinson's original plan heading into the 1961 season was to platoon Cárdenas and utility infielder Eddie Kasko at short, with Cárdenas being the better fielder and Kasko being the better hitter.[7] Cárdenas, however, surprised his boss with a .308 batting average. He also clubbed five home runs to Kasko's two in 271 fewer at-bats.

He was awarded the full-time starting shortstop job in 1962, and responded with a .294 average, 10 home runs and 60 RBIs. He remained the Reds' starting shortstop for seven seasons, earning All-Star nods in 1964, 1965 and 1968, and being elected to start in 1966.[8] He had eight RBIs and belted four home runs in a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs on June 5, 1966[9] on his way to setting a club record for home runs by a shortstop with 20 (later broken by Barry Larkin).[10] Following the 1968 season, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Jim Merritt.[11]

Minnesota Twins

The Twins had something of a revolving door at short in 1968 with Jackie Hernández, Rick Renick, Ron Clark and Cesar Tovar all manning the position at one point or another. Bringing in Cárdenas for 1969 solidified the Twins at their weakest position, and helped turn around the team's fortune. They went from 79–83 and seventh place in the American League to 97–65 and winning the American League West the first year of divisional play. For his part, Cárdenas batted .280 with 10 home runs and 70 RBIs at the bottom of the Twins' batting order. He tied an AL record for assists by a shortstop with 570.

Cárdenas was batting .285 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs at the 1971 All-Star break to be named to his only AL All-Star team; however, he did not appear in the game.[12] He ended the season with 18 home runs and 75 RBIs and a stellar .985 fielding percentage to receive the Calvin R. Griffith Award given each season to the Twins' Most Valuable Player. His 1971 fielding percentage was the highest recorded in the American League since records began in 1901.

California Angels

At the 1971 Winter meetings, the California Angels acquired Cárdenas for relief pitcher Dave LaRoche. The acquisition marked former All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi as trade bait.[13] He would go to the New York Mets for Nolan Ryan a week later.

At 33 years old, Cárdenas was clearly on the decline by the time he joined the Angels. He batted only .143 in the month of June, and ended the season with a .223 average, six home runs and 42 RBIs. During Spring training 1973, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Tommy McCraw and minor leaguer Bob Marcano to make room for Bobby Valentine at short, whom they had recently acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers.[14]

Texas Rangers

Cárdenas found himself in more of a back-up role for the first time in his career with the Indians. He made his first major league appearance at third on August 16, and committed an error.[15] Following his only season in Cleveland, he was dealt to the Texas Rangers in a controversial deal for catcher Ken Suarez. Suarez had just filed for arbitration a week before the February 12, 1974 trade. He filed a formal grievance against the Rangers claiming that he was traded in retaliation.[16] He never appeared in a game with the Indians, retiring instead.

Cárdenas, meanwhile, appeared in 34 games for the Rangers, 21 of which were at third base. He spent one more season with the Rangers as a third baseman before retiring.

Career stats

Seasons Games PA AB Runs Hits TB 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Avg. OBP Slg. Fld%
16 1941 7402 6707 662 1725 2462 285 49 118 689 522 1135 39 .257 .311 .367 .970

Cárdenas led NL shortstops in fielding percentage in 1963 (.972) and 1966 (.980), and the AL in 1971 (.985). He won his only Gold Glove award in 1965. The five time All Star also appeared in back to back Champion Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1969 & 1970 and the World Series against the New York Yankees in 1961. During his career he powered six home runs off of Hall of Fame pitcher Juan Marichal. He led the NL in intentional walks in 1965 & 1966 (25 & 18, respectively). He was voted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1981.

Personal life

Despite having come to the United States in 1956, and twice being married to American women, Cárdenas never got around to applying for American citizenship.[17] He has eight children.[18] In 1998, Cárdenas was sentenced to three months in jail and five years' probation for felony assault after breaking out the windows of a car that his wife and a male co-worker were sitting in, and breaking the man's arm with a bat.[19]

Cárdenas lives in Cincinnati and makes regular appearances at the Reds Hall of Fame, Great American Ball Park and every December at Reds Fest.[20]


  1. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cardele01.shtml
  2. ^ http://reds.enquirer.com/2002/10/27/wwwredb1lede27.html
  3. ^ http://reds.enquirer.com/2002/10/27/wwwredb1lede27.html
  4. ^ "Bullets Fly & Game is Cancelled". Gettysburg Times. July 27, 1959.
  5. ^ https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN196007250.shtml
  6. ^ Red Thisted & Lou Chapman (December 17, 1960). "Braves Get McMillan in Three-Way Deal". The Milwaukee Sentinel.
  7. ^ Fred Hutchinson (February 1, 1961). "Adding Freese and Jay Should Help Cincinnati". St. Petersburg Times.
  8. ^ "1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 12, 1966.
  9. ^ Mike Rathet (June 6, 1966). "Cárdenas, Stargell Find Hitting Range". The Tuscaloosa News.
  10. ^ "Leo Cárdenas". Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum.
  11. ^ "Cincinnati Gets Pitcher Merritt". Reading Eagle. November 24, 1968.
  12. ^ "1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game". Baseball-Reference.com. July 13, 1971.
  13. ^ Ken Rappoport (December 1, 1971). "Dalton Trades Dave LaRoche for Cardenas". The Nashua Telegraph.
  14. ^ "Cardenas Goes to Indians". The Portsmouth Times. April 3, 1973.
  15. ^ "Cleveland Indians 10, Kansas City Royals 4". Baseball-Reference.com. August 16, 1973.
  16. ^ "Ken Suarez Files Suit". Bangor Daily News. March 1, 1974.
  17. ^ John Erardi (October 27, 2002). "Cardenas mastered baseball; now, life is a different story". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
  18. ^ http://reds.enquirer.com/2002/10/27/wwwredb1lede27.html
  19. ^ Dan Horn (March 28, 1998). "Former Reds Star Hits Low Point". The Bowling Green, Kentucky Daily News.
  20. ^ Kevin Pierson (June 25, 2009). "Cardenas a fixture at Reds Legends baseball camp". Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
1960 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1960 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds finishing in sixth place in the National League standings, with a record of 67–87, 28 games behind the National League and World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds were managed by Fred Hutchinson and played their home games at Crosley Field.

1963 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1963 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Cincinnati Reds finishing in fifth place in the National League with a record of 86–76, 13 games behind the NL and World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds were managed by Fred Hutchinson and played their home games at Crosley Field.

1964 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1964 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds finishing in a tie for second place in the National League with the Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams finished at 92–70, one game behind the NL and World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds' home games were played at Crosley Field.

The Reds began the season with Fred Hutchinson as manager, but he had to give way to acting manager Dick Sisler in August due to health issues with a record of 60–49. Sisler finished the season, guiding the team to a record of 32–21. Hutchinson, after formally resigning as manager in October, died of lung cancer on November 12, 1964, at the age of 45. Hutchinson was the first Reds member to have his number retired.

The 1964 season will long be remembered as one of the most exciting in MLB history, as both the National League and the American League saw multiple teams have chances to win the pennant in the last two weeks. The National League had three teams: the Cardinals, the Reds, and the Phillies, within a single game down the stretch, while the fourth-place Giants (3 games) and the fifth-place Braves (5) were within striking distance in the last month. The Phillies had double-digit lead with a month to go, but suffered a major collapse. But Philadelphia regained some momentum late by winning two games from the then first-place Reds including the last game of the year, to open the door for the Cardinals to win the pennant by one game over the Reds and the Phillies.

1965 Cincinnati Reds season

The 1965 Cincinnati Reds season consisted of the Reds finishing in fourth place in the National League, with a record of 89–73, eight games behind the NL and World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds were managed by Dick Sisler and played their home games at Crosley Field.

1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1965 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 36th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 13, 1965, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. The game resulted in a 6–5 victory for the NL.

1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 37th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 12, 1966, at then-new Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 10-inning contest – which was played on a memorably hot and humid afternoon in St. Louis, with a game-time temperature of 105 °F (41 °C) – resulted in a 2–1 victory for the NL.

1969 Minnesota Twins season

Led by new manager Billy Martin, the 1969 Minnesota Twins won the newly formed American League West with a 97–65 record, nine games over the second-place Oakland Athletics. The Twins were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the first American League Championship Series.

1971 Minnesota Twins season

The 1971 Minnesota Twins finished 74–86, fifth in the American League West. 940,858 fans attended Twins games, the fifth-highest total in the American League, the first time the Twins failed to attract over one million fans since moving to Minnesota.

1972 California Angels season

The 1972 California Angels season involved the Angels finishing 5th in the American League West with a record of 75 wins and 80 losses.

1974 Texas Rangers season

The 1974 Texas Rangers season involved the Rangers finishing second in the American League West with a record of 84 wins and 76 losses (two rained-out games were never completed). It would be only the second time in franchise history (to that point) that the club finished over .500 and the first since the club relocated to Arlington, Texas. The club became the first (and, to date, only) team to finish over .500 after two consecutive 100-loss seasons.

1981 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1981 followed the system in place since 1978.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and elected Bob Gibson.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.

It selected Rube Foster and Johnny Mize. Foster would be one of two people from the Negro Leagues elected in seventeen years before introduction of a separate ballot in 1995.

Cienfuegos (Cuban League baseball club)

The Petroleros de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Oilers) first participated in the Cuban Professional League championship during the 1926-27 season. Although representing the south coast city of Cienfuegos, the team played their home games in Havana. Cienfuegos did not play in the 1927-28 season, contending again from 1928-29 through 1930-31. After eight long years of absence, Cienfuegos reappeared in the 1939-40 tournament. In the 1949-50 season, the team was renamed as the Elefantes de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Elephants). "The pace of the elephant is slow but crushing", exclaimed the slogan of the Cienfuegos franchise that contended until the 1960-61 season. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, political tensions rose with the Fidel Castro government. In March 1961, one month after the regular season ended, the new Cuban regime decreed the abolition of professional baseball in Cuba.

In 26 Championships in which Cienfuegos participated, the team won five league titles in 1929-30, 1945–46, 1955–56, 1959–60 and 1960–61, finishing second 6 times, third 7 times, and fourth 8 times, posting a 732-793 record for a .480 average. Cienfuegos also won the Caribbean Series in 1956 and 1960.

Some notable Cienfuegos players include George Altman, José Azcue, Gene Bearden, Cool Papa Bell, Bob Boyd, Leo Cárdenas, Sandalio Consuegra, Martín Dihigo, Tony González, Adolfo Luque, Sal Maglie, Seth Morehead, Ray Noble, Alejandro Oms, Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, Cookie Rojas, Napoleón Reyes, and Willie Wells.

Cincinnati Reds award winners and league leaders

This article is a list of baseball players who are Cincinnati Reds players that are winners of Major League Baseball awards and recognitions, Reds awards and recognitions, and/or are league leaders in various statistical areas.

Freddie Burdette

Freddie Thomason Burdette (September 15, 1936 – June 1, 2010) was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs.

Burdette was signed by the Cubs on June 3, 1954 as an undrafted amateur free agent. He battled his way through the minor leagues before finally making his major-league debut at age 25, pitching in relief in both games of a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field. He induced the first batter he ever faced, Leo Cárdenas, to ground out to second baseman Ken Hubbs. He also retired Gordy Coleman on a groundout before being removed from the game. In the nightcap, Burdette pitched a full inning, allowing a hit but no runs. On September 10, he tallied his first big-league strikeout, fanning slugger Frank Howard. He also earned his first (and only) career save when he finished a 4–1 victory over Philadelphia on September 20. Burdette went on to finish the year with a 3.72 ERA in 9​2⁄3 innings over 8 games. The next year, he was a late-season call-up from the minors for the Cubs, appearing in 4 games as a reliever and posting a 3.86 ERA.

Burdette saw his most extensive major-league action in 1964, making 18 appearances out of the bullpen after getting promoted to the big leagues in June. He earned his first major-league win (and only decision) on August 18 against the Phillies in a marathon 16-inning contest at Connie Mack Stadium. Burdette retired six of the seven Phillie batters he faced in the 14th and 15th innings before being removed for a pinch-hitter as the Cubs rallied for two runs in the top of the 16th. Ernie Broglio (famously acquired by the Cubs in exchange for legend Lou Brock) allowed a solo homer in the bottom of the 16th to Clay Dalrymple but held on to save Burdette's only career win.

Burdette pitched in eight more games as a Cub in 1964, including his final appearance on October 2, 1964 against the San Francisco Giants. He hurled two-thirds of an inning, retiring opposing pitcher Bobby Bolin to end the final inning Burdett would pitch in the bigs.

For his career, Burdette was 1–0 in 30 games (all in relief) with one save and a 3.41 ERA.

Havana Sugar Kings

The Havana Sugar Kings were a Cuban-based minor league baseball team that played from 1946 to 1960. From 1954 until 1960, they belonged in the Class AAA International League, affiliated with Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds. Their home stadium was El Gran Estadio del Cerro (sometimes called Gran Stadium) in Havana.

List of Major League Baseball career intentional bases on balls leaders

In baseball, an intentional base on balls, usually referred to as an intentional walk and denoted in baseball scorekeeping by IBB, is a base on balls (walk) issued to a batter by a pitcher with the intent of removing the batter's opportunity to swing at the pitched ball. A pitch that is intentionally thrown far outside the strike zone for this purpose is referred to as an intentional ball.

Barry Bonds is the all-time leader in intentional bases on balls with 688 career. Bonds is the only player to be intentionally walked more than 400 times. Albert Pujols is second all time and the active leader with 311 career intentional bases on balls and the only other player to be intentionally walked over 300 times.

List of Major League Baseball players from Cuba

The following is a list of baseball players from Cuba who have played in Major League Baseball.

Paul Ratliff

Paul Hawthorne Ratliff (born January 23, 1944 in San Diego, California) is a retired Major League Baseball player, who played catcher for the Minnesota Twins during the 1963, 1970, and 1971 seasons and for the Milwaukee Brewers 1971-1972.

Ratliff played high school baseball in Pasadena, Texas before being signed as an amateur free agent by the Minnesota Twins in 1962. The next season Ratliff, at the age of nineteen, was on the Twins opening day roster. He appeared in ten games that season before being demoted to the minor leagues. Ratliff would not make it back to the majors till 1970.

In 1970 Ratliff split the Twins catching duties with George Mitterwald and played in the 1970 American League Championship Series. The next year Ratliff was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Phil Roof. Ratliff played for the Brewers in 1971 and 1972 till he was traded to the California Angels on July 28. He never appeared again in a major league game.

On April 25, 1970, Ratliff was involved in a bizarre play. The description from Baseball Library reads as follows:

"Detroit Tigers Pitcher Earl Wilson fans for the 3rd out in the 7th inning against the Twins. On the 3rd strike by Jim Kaat‚ Ratliff traps the ball in the dirt‚ and must either throw to first base or tag the batter. Instead he rolls the ball back to the mound‚ ignoring the fact that ump John Rice has not signaled a strikeout. As the Twins head for their dugout‚ Wilson begins running the bases and is around third base when outfielder Brant Alyea retrieves the ball and throws to shortstop Leo Cárdenas‚ who is standing by home. Wilson turns back to third base but Cardenas and Alyea run him down for a 7-6-7 out on a 3rd strike."

Ratliff was charged with an error on the play.

Steve Dillon (baseball)

Stephen Edward Dillon (born March 20, 1943) is an American former professional baseball player. He was a left-handed pitcher whose professional career lasted for four seasons (1962–1965), including Major League stints with the 1963 and 1964 New York Mets. While Dillon appeared in only three MLB games during his career, all in relief, he pitched in the first-ever night game played at Shea Stadium on May 6, 1964.Listed at 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and 160 pounds (73 kg), Dillon initially signed with the New York Yankees and turned in a stellar 14–7 won–lost record for the 1962 Fort Lauderdale Yankees of the Class D Florida State League, striking out 196 batters in 169 innings pitched, with a 2.61 earned run average. He was selected by the Mets in the first-year player draft after that season and spent 1963 with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. He made his Met debut on Thursday, September 5, in a 9–0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Relieving Roger Craig in the sixth inning, he lasted 1⅔ frames and gave up three hits and two earned runs (on a triple by Tim McCarver), with one strikeout.He made the Mets' 28-man roster out of spring training in 1964, and hurled an inning of relief on April 24 at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field before being called into the first game played under the lights at the Mets' new ballpark, Shea Stadium, on Wednesday, May 6. He was the Mets' fifth and final pitcher that evening in a 12–4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Dillon got the Reds out in order in the eighth inning, but in the ninth, he gave up a leadoff home run to Vada Pinson and an RBI single to Leo Cárdenas. Pinson's blast hit the right-center field scoreboard at the new park. When Dillon reached the dugout, legendary Mets' manager Casey Stengel told him, "Listen, if another player hits a home run off that scoreboard and breaks it, you're paying for it." It was Dillon's last big league game; he returned to minor league baseball when the rosters were reduced to 25 men in May.

Ironically, Dillon retired from baseball because of low minor league wages. His Major League totals included seven hits and five earned runs allowed in 4⅔ innings pitched, with three strikeouts. Dillon became a salesman, then a New York City police officer for over twenty years. As of 2009, he was living in Baldwin, Nassau County, New York, on Long Island. He is currently head of security at a building in Queens, New York.


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