Conrado Marrero siempre con un gran tabaco. Foto: Tomada de MLB.

Conrado Marrero and the record that is no longer

George Elder (Lebanon, Kentucky, 1921) is the currently oldest living major leaguer. Although he only spent a couple of months in MLB with the St. Louis Browns in 1949, he holds that title at the age of 101, since Eddie Robinson, his predecessor on the list, died in October 2021.

Probably, the name of George Elder does not say much for Cuban baseball fans, however, the record that this centenarian man holds today, for a time was held by a player born in our Caribbean Island.

We talk about Conrad Marrero“El Guajiro de Laberinto”, “El Premier” or “El Curveador”, as he was known indistinctly in the baseball universe, who was considered the oldest living player in the Major Leagues from April 30, 2011 to December 23. April 2014, when he sadly passed away at the age of 102 years and 363 days, two dates before his 103rd birthday.

Marrero is one of the legendary players of the sport of balls and strikes in Cuba, and one of the greatest banners of longevity in the history of world baseball. Among all the passages in his life, one of the best illustrates this sentence was given on March 28, 1999, during the visit of the Baltimore Orioles to Havana.

That day, the legendary pitcher climbed on the mound of the Coloso del Cerro at 87 years old and made not one, but two inaugural pitches until Brady Anderson, first pitcher of the northern ninth, made a timid contact by way of touch ball . The vitality of “El Premier” was palpable, his defiant look against the batters had not been extinguished, those who suffered so much in each challenge before his sharp breaks.

As time passed, Marrero gave the impression of having the same energy as that little boy from Sagua la Grande who, at the age of 27, decided to stop playing third base so as not to lose his teeth from a line drive or a bad bound, and began an extraordinary career from the mound, where he became the Cuban pitcher with the most wins in history.

“El Guajiro de Laberinto” won wherever he went, the same in Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba or the United States, the same against teams without much posterity as against the Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and company, or the Red Sox of Ted Williams and Walt Dropo in their golden years.

In total, Marrero added more than 350 lifetime victories, almost 90 shutouts and a string of stories so fascinating that they seem to be taken from a fiction book. For example, in 1947 he won 37 games and pitched 451 innings between Mexico and the Florida International League, where he worked with the Havana Cubans, an affiliate of the Washington Senators.

Certainly, it does not seem credible, but the very reliable score sheets of Baseball Reference reveal that, from 1947 to 1949, Marrero was victorious in 70 games and devoured 793 episodes in the different levels of the aforementioned Florida circuit, with an impressive ERA of 1.62.

That was the prelude to his leap to the United States Major Leagues, which occurred when he was 38 years and 361 days old, on April 21, 1950, just four days after his 39th birthday.

In a historical review, the only pitchers who debuted in MLB older than Marrero were Dominican Diomedes Olivo (41 years and 227 days), Japanese Ken Takahashi (40-016) and Masumi Kuwata (39-070), and the Americans Alex McColl (39-151) and Les Willis (39-101). The curious thing is that none of them managed to consolidate in the Major Leagues, while the “Guajiro de Laberinto” remained active for five seasons as a regular starter for the Senators.

There is no better proof of its longevity.

Conrado Marrero in his time with the Washington Senators. Photo: Taken from USA Today.

In the Big Top, under the lights of the best baseball in the world, Marrero made fun of time. As we said, he faced the best hitters of the time without complexes and it did not go badly for him, since he achieved a balance of 39 wins and 40 losses with a losing team like Washington, and left an acceptable clean average of 3.67 in 118 exits to the center of the diamond.

One of his high points in the United States came in 1951 with the call to the All-Star Game, becoming the longest-running debutant in these games. His record was broken by Satchel Paige shortly after, but “El Premier” remains one of the five men who have made their debut in the All Star with 40 years or more.

Everything has been said about Conrado Marrero: that he had nothing in the ball, that he did not lift a quarter of the floor (they came to call him “little muscular gnome), that he was very old or that his style was unorthodox.

“Connie Marrero had a wind up that looked like a cross between a crazy windmill and a mallard trying to fly backwards,” said Felipe Alou, one of the early Dominican baseball legends in the Major Leagues.

And yes, he could be right. Marrero’s staging was extravagant, if you will, unbecoming of the star pitcher model, but that did not prevent him in the least from bringing out his ingenuity to grab the ball in the most incredible ways and release them for the rubber, direct to the pet of its turn receiver.

“El Guajiro” probably didn’t even know it, but his repertoire included a devilish curveball, a slider that slid far from the bats and a strange knuckleball to dizzy the most focused. “This man throws everything at you except the ball,” said the legendary Ted Williams about his duels with Marrero.

Conrado Marrero and the record that is no longer
Conrado Marrero went down in history as one of the most legendary pitchers in Cuban baseball. Photo: Taken from NY Daily News.

That fame had been earned by the humble boy from the Labyrinth farm, in the northern area of ​​Villa Clara, long before reaching the Major Leagues. In fact, he had written very relevant stories with his victories in three Amateur World Series with Cuba in the late 1930s and early 1940s, his duels against the Venezuelan Daniel “El Chino” Canonico being well remembered, with whom he divided victories between 1941 and 1942. In this last year, he gave the morochos a grout that served to get even for his defeat a course earlier.

“Conrado Marrero openly surpassed Canonical. Marrero subdued our team without difficulty. He had the measure yesterday for our hitters, to whom he allowed three hits. We only stepped on second base once and never on third base (…) Our boys were harmless against the pitches of the great Marrero. That was all”, reported the journalist Heram “Chiquitin” Ettedgui in the newspaper El Universal after the jewel of the Cuban, who awarded two tickets and prescribed half a dozen strikeouts to the Venezuelans.

The formula for success was identical to the one he would later use in the United States, and it always worked. It didn’t matter that his pitches didn’t go more than 70-75 miles, Marrero appealed to his skill, his aim, his intelligence and his memory, because, according to what they say, he could remember the turns he had faced, pitch by pitch. . His mind, like his arm, was always powerful.

Unfortunately, Conrado Marrero passed away on April 23, 2014, 48 hours before his 103rd birthday. That day, Mike Sandlock became the oldest living major leaguer at the time, a title that Cuba would have liked to keep until eternity.

Source link

Previous Story

Outrage among Cuban officials over the dismissal of the director of ‘Alma Mater’

Next Story

Colombian died saving his daughter on the border between Mexico and the United States

Latest from Cuba