Monday, October 31, 2005

Al Lopez dies

The Cubs won a World Series in Al Lopez's lifetime. He was born in August 1908, about two months before the Cubs topped the Tigers in the World Series.
The Cubs won the World Series in 1907 as well, meaning Lopez's life began and ended with a Chicago team as a champion. Lopez died Saturday at 97.
Not many people's relatives could brag that. Certainly not the descendants of any former Chicago baseball managers.
Lopez never won a World Series as a manager, but he was one of the best managers of his era, and carved an indelible niche in the Yankee-dominated 1950s.
The Yankees won every American League pennant from 1949 to 1964, save two: pennants by the 1954 Indians and the 1959 White Sox. Lopez managed them both.
Lopez was a players' manager without being a coddler or apologist. He thrived on consistency, rarely changed his lineup, and seldom lost his temper for the cameras.
He had the forture of overseeing one of the greatest pitching staffs in baseball history. During his tenure as Cleveland's manager (1950-56), he managed Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, Art Houtteman, Ray Narleski and Hal Newhouser.
In addition to the pitching, Lopez's team also featured the last Indian to win a batting title (Bobby Avila, .341 in 1954) and Al Rosen's near miss of a triple crown (24 HR, 126 RBI and .300 average in 1953).
In addition to the pennant in 1954, Lopez's Indians finished in second place in 1951, 1953, 1955 and 1956.
After the 1956 season, Lopez left for the White Sox. Wynn soon followed, helping the "Go-Go Sox" to the '59 pennant.
Prior to being a manager, Lopez was a catcher for the Dodgers, Braves, Pirates and Indians from 1928 to 1947. He made one all-star team and hit .261 for his career.

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