Andrés Fleitas

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Andrés Fleitas

  • Bats Right, Throws Right

Andrés Fleitas is the brother of Angel Fleitas. While he never made the major leagues as his brother did, he put on impressive displays in international competition and in the Cuban Winter League and hit .300 several times in the minor leagues and in Mexico. He helped his teams win numerous titles and played in four Caribbean Series.

Fleitas went 2 for 12 for Cuba as they won the 1939 Amateur World Series. hit .378 in the 1941 Amateur World Series in a rare Silver Medal performance by the Cuban national team. In the 1942 Amateur World Series, he batted .405 to lead the event in average; he was named Amateur World Series MVP.

Turning pro, Fleitas joined the Almendares Blues as they won the 1942-1943 Cuban Winter League title; he only hit .152 as the backup catcher behind Mike Guerra. Fleitas came to the US for 1943 and hit .218/~.244/.229 in 60 games for the Jersey City Giants. Back in Cuba that winter, he batted .299 for Almendares, moving to first base as Guerra was still at catcher.

In 1944, Andrés was Jersey City's primnary catcher (Gabby Hartnett, the player-manager, was one of his backups) and he hit .260/~.307/.352; a good contact hitter, he only struck out 15 times in 338 AB. His 14 errors led International League backstops.

Fleitas hit .291/?/.376 as the Almendares first sacker as they won a title in 1944-1945; his 29 RBI tied Alejandro Crespo for the CWL lead. Fleitas jumped to Mexico in the summer of 1945, drastically hurting his major league chances. Moving to the Monterrey Industriales, he hit .333/~.379/.451 with 9 triples, 62 RBI and 78 runs in 73 games.

Fleitas replaced Guerra as the Almendares starting catcher in 1945-1946; he hit .313 with 32 RBI in 208 AB, 3 RBI behind league leader and MVP Crespo. His 14 doubles tied Barney Serrell for the lead. Fleitas was named to the CWL All-Star team as the top catcher. In 1946, he held his own against the major leaguers who came to Mexico, hitting .275/~.305/.333 in 97 games for Monterrey.

Andrés had a big winter in 1946-1947. He hit .316/?/.399 with 37 runs and 43 RBI as the Almendares catcher. He hit a key game-winning triple in the finals against Fred Martin. Fleitas led the CWL with 83 hits and was named as the All-Star catcher. More impressively, he won MVP honors, beating out major leaguers like Max Lanier, Jorge Comellas, Tommy de la Cruz, George Hausmann, Roberto Ortiz, Lou Klein, Adrian Zabala, Alex Carrasquel, Red Hayworth, Ray Noble, Nap Reyes, Chico Garcia, Danny Gardella, Roland Gladu, Sandy Consuegra, Bobby Avila, Minnie Minoso, Bobby Estalella, Frank Campos and others in one of the most-talented seasons in league history.

Fleitas played his final summer in Mexico in 1947, hitting .304/~.343/.372 for Monterrey. In 3 Mexican League seasons, he had batted .304/~.342/.385 with only 43 strikeouts in 1,126 AB. He had stolen 45 bases in 263 games as well, showing good speed for a catcher.

Back in Cuba in the winter of 1947-1948, Fleitas disappointed after his MVP season, only hitting .236, albeit with a team-high 33 RBI. In 1948, he returned to the United States and batted .303 for the Chattanooga Lookouts. He had a bit role on an Almendares pennant-winner that winter, hitting .188 as the backup to Gilberto Valdivia. He was 1 for 5 in the 1949 Caribbean Series as Almendares won the first Caribbean Series title.

In 1949, Fleitas hit .296 for the Lookouts. That winter, he returned to regular action with Almendares and batted .309 for the titlists. In the 1950 Caribbean Series, he was just 5 for 25 with a double, two runs and 3 RBI for a disappointing Cuban team. In 1950, he had another fine year in the South, batting .281/~.313/.371 with a career-high 73 RBI for Chattanooga. He only struck out 16 times in 452 AB; he also only drew 17 walks.

In 1950-1951, Andrés backed up Guerra once again and hit .220. He hit .268 in his final season in Chattanooga, during the 1951 Southern Association campaign. Fleitas finally left Almendares during the 1951-1952 CWL campaign,. in which he hit .246; in the 1952 Caribbean Series, he hit .304 as the catcher for the title-winning Havana club.

Fleitas joined the 1952 Havana Cubans, batting .230/~.275/.268 with 13 strikeouts in 343 AB as their primary first baseman. In the winter, he hit .286 as a backup catcher for Havana, subbing for Dick Rand. In the 1953 Caribbean Series, Fleitas was 2 for 6. In 1953, Fleitas hit well as the Havana Cubans first baseman, contributing a .304/~.342/.357 batting line with only 10 strikeouts in 359 AB. Fleitas barely played as Bill Sarni's backup for the Havana Reds in 1953-1954, going 4 for 30 when he did appear.

Fleitas returned to the International League after a 8-year absence in 1954 with the new Havana Sugar Kings; he only played 4 games, going 2 for 7, concluding his minor league career at age 37. He played for Cienfuegos in the winter of 1954-1955, going 3 for 24 as Ray Noble's backup, to finish his playing career.

Fleitas was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 along with Reggie Otero.