Agapito Mayor

From BR Bullpen

Db S8 Agapito Mayor1.jpg

Agapito Mayor Valenzuela
(Triple Feo, Pachucho)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left

Biographical Information[edit]

Agapito Mayor was born the same day as fellow left-handed pitcher Max Lanier, his teammate for several years. Mayor was a top pitcher of his era, going 185-141 in the minor leagues but never making it to the majors. Mayor made history in a couple international competitions as well. He was the Cuban equivalent of Don Mossi in that both were noted for their lack of handsome features. Mayor was nicknamed "Triple Feo" (Thrice Ugly) for his appearance.

Mayor starred in the Cuban National Amateur Baseball League. In 1937, his 1.13 ERA for Hershey led that high-profiled amateur circuit. He pitched that year against the New York Giants when they visited Cuba, but lost a 7-2 decision. The young left-hander was the star of the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games, picking up four of Cuba's five wins in their Gold medal tournament. Through 2005, he was the only pitcher in the history of the Central American and Caribbean Games to have won four games in a year.

Mayor debuted in the Cuban Winter League with the 1938-1939 Almendares club, going 5-4 for the only winning record on a team which included Silvio Garcia, Rene Monteagudo and Theolic Smith. He came to the US with the 1939 Hartford Bees but had a 9.00 ERA in limited action. Back in Cuba, he was 3-2 for the 1939-1940 Almendares. In 1940, he beat the Cincinnati Reds and Johnny Vander Meer when they visited the island, then topped the St. Louis Cardinals and Mort Cooper 4-2 with a 4-hitter.

Returning to the minor leagues, Mayor split 1940 between the Springfield Nationals (3-5, 3.90) and Greenville Spinners (13-4, 2.37). He was second in the South Atlantic League in ERA, trailing Lefty Guise. In the 1940-1941 Cuban Winter League, his record was only 0-3. In 1941, Mayor returned to Greenville and went 15-10 with a 3.89 ERA. With Almendares that winter, he was 6-2, tying Max Macon for the best winning percentage in the league. He also beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 4-2 in an exhibition game.

Mayor was lured to the Mexican League by the high pay of Jorge Pasquel and his brother. Signing with the Puebla Parrots, Mayor was 8-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 1942. He had a 7-6 record in the winter of 1942-1943. In the summer, he was 16-15 with a 3.91 ERA in the Mexican League, allowing 322 hits in 265 innings of work. With Almendares, his record was 6-6 in 1943-1944. In 1944, Mayor bounced around Mexico with a 14-13, 4.62 record and 306 hits allowed between at least three stops. In the winter of 1944-1945, he improved to 7-3, 3.25 and joined Tommy de la Cruz as the CWL All-Star pitchers.

Mayor moved to the Nuevo Laredo Owls in 1945 and had a big year, going 23-14 with a 3.45 ERA. He led the Mexican League in victories, recording the third-highest total in history to that point. In the winter of 1945-1946, he was just 7-10 and tied Julio Moreno for the most losses in Cuba.

The left-hander had his best Mexican League season in 1946, the year that the Pasquel brothers got some Major Leaguers to come down for a higher salary. It would be the first of several years that Mayor and Lanier would be in the same league. Mayor was 20-9 with a 2.52 ERA and 6 shutouts. He was 4th in ERA, back of Lanier, but led the Liga in complete games (23) and shutouts. He tied Sal Maglie for the win lead and his 157 strikeouts were second only to Negro Leaguer Booker McDaniels. What made this even more impressive was that the rest of Nuevo Laredo's hurlers were 28-41.

In the winter of 1946-1947, Mayor posted a 10-4 record, his most wins in a CWL record. He only pitched 9 games in Mexico in 1947, going 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA for Puebla. With the Alacranes of the Cuban Players League in 1947-1948, Mayor was 8-11, not as good as teammates Lanier and Maglie.

Though the competition in Mexico was now fading, so was Mayor, as he was only 7-12 with a 4.38 ERA in the 1948 Mexican League. Returning to the US, he was 4-1 with a 3.11 ERA for the Sherman-Denison Twins. Back in Cuba in 1948-1949, he was 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA for Almendares. He then put on a show in the 1949 Caribbean Series. Mayor went 3-0 for Almendares, equaling the win total of any other team and helping them win the first Caribbean Series title. He was honored as the Caribbean Series Most Valuable Player, an award which has almost always gone to a major leaguer in the six decades since.

Mayor spent 1949 with Sherman-Denison, winning 19 while losing 10 and posting a 3.01 ERA. He was third in ERA, with teammate John Whitehead taking the lead, and he was one back of a 3-way tie for the Big State League lead in victories.

In 1949-1950, Mayor struggled, going 1-5 with a 4.56 ERA and the worst record on the champion Almendares team. He was not even used in the 1950 Caribbean Series. He split the 1950 summer between two Big State League teams (12-9, 4.45) and the Shreveport Sports (1-2, 4.93 in his only AA exposure).

Mayor was 0-2 with a 3.67 ERA in the winter leagues of 1950-1951. He split the 1951 season between the Havana Cubans (2-7, 4.37) and the Laredo Apaches (8-4, 2.07). Had he qualified, he would have led the Gulf Coast League in ERA; Earl Caldwell led instead. With the 1951-1952 Almendares, the veteran hurler sported a 3-4, 4.61 mark.

Moving to the Texarkana Bears in 1952, the 36-year-old had a 10-13, 3.80 record. He finished in the top 10 in the Big State League in ERA and walked only 47 in 186 innings as one of the league's top control pitchers. Mayor pitched out of the bullpen for Almendares in 1952-1953, going 1-0 with a 3.70 ERA in 20 outings. He continued his success against MLB teams, topping the Pittsburgh Pirates when they made their stopover in Cuba.

Mayor became a coach for Almendares in the winter of 1953-1954. He returned to active duty for another summer, going 6-4 with a 5.08 ERA for the Veracruz Eagle. He was a coach for Almendares in 1954-1955, his last year in baseball.

Mayor was 68-64 in his Cuban Winter League career. He was tied for 9th all-time in seasons pitched (15), second in games pitched (308, second to Adrian Zabala and 56 ahead of #3 Tommy de la Cruz), 11th in wins and 5th in losses. He was 184-139 in the minor leagues, including a 98-76, 3.79 stint in Mexico.

Mayor's biggest impact clearly was in high-profile situations - his record-setting performance in the 1938 Central American and Caribbean Games, his MVP turn in the 1949 Caribbean Series and his dominance of the 1946 Mexican League when matched against major league and Negro League stars.

In 1970, he was voted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mayor spent the last three decades of his life in the United States of America. He died of complications from Alzheimer's Disease in 2005.