Former Kansas City Athletics and New York Yankees utility man Hector Lopez has reportedly passed away. He was 93 years old.
The native of Panama began his professional career in Canada, spending two seasons with the St. Hyacinthe Saints in the Provincial League. He then joined the A’s organization while they were still in Philadelphia, remaining in their farm system as they moved to Kansas City.
Looking back at Hector Lopez
Lopez joined the A’s in 1955, spending the next four and a half years in Kansas City. He was a solid all around player with some pop, producing a .278/.337/.433 batting line with 67 homers and 99 doubles in his 2385 plate appearances. While he was never an All Star with the A’s, he was a solid major league piece.
However, in those days, the A’s were essentially a farm team for the Yankees. Anything that was even close to being competent ended up in New York, and such was the case with Lopez. He eventually became the third part of their outfielder in the early 1960s, joining Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in the final years of that second Golden Age.
While Lopez did not get as much playing time in his seven and a half years in New York, he was still a solid player. He posted a .262/.324/.399 batting line in his 2796 plate appearances, hitting 69 homers and 94 doubles. Following his major league days, he spent two years in Triple-A for the Senators, continuing his career in 1967 and 1968.
Lopez returned to Triple-A in 1969, but in a different capacity. Ted Williams himself asked Lopez to manage the team, and in doing so, he was the first black manager in Triple-A. He only lasted the one year as the manager in Buffalo, as he eventually worked for the Parks Department for Hempstead, NY. In 1990, Lopez coached the Malverne High School baseball team. Eventually, he returned to the Yankees organization, serving as the manager of their Gulf Coast League team in 1994 and 1995.
A legend in Panama, he returned to the bench one final time. In 2009, he was named as the manager of their World Baseball Classic entry as they were knocked out in the first round. Despite that loss, he was still revered in the country, a hero as the first regular major league player who inspired the likes of Rod Carew and Manny Sanguillen, amongst others. The Yankees strong following in Panama began because of Lopez.
Former A’s and Yankees player Hector Lopez has passed away at 93 years old. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.