Luis Antonio Peñalver
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 170 lb.
Luis Peñalver was a long-time pitcher in both the minor leagues and in the Venezuelan League. He spent parts or all of ten seasons in AAA but did not make the majors. He won 247 games between the summer and winter leagues.
Peñalver went 2-0 to help lead the Venezuelan national team to the 1959 Pan American Games Gold Medal; he tied Mauro Ruiz (Mexico) and teammate Manuel Perez for the most wins in the tournament. He made his winter ball debut with the 1960-1961 Indios de Oriente, going 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA. Despite being a teenager, he was the team's third-most-used hurler, after Bob Gibson and José Bracho). He signed with the San Francisco Giants and pitched for the El Paso Sun Kings in 1961, going 14-8 with a 4.14 ERA and hitting .271/?/.424. He tied for second in the Sophomore League in wins, three behind pacesetter James Little.
Luis fell to 3-6, 3.77 his second winter with the Indios, tying Babe Birrer and Don Rudolph for 4th in the Venezuelan League in losses. In 1962, he hit .302 between El Paso and the Tacoma Rainiers, going 8-3 with a 5.11 ERA for the former club and posting a 3-0, 3.21 record in his first 8 AAA games, with the latter. The parent Giants, though, were in no need of pitching help, winning over 100 games with guys like Juan Marichal, Billy Pierce, Billy O'Dell and Jack Sanford. In 1962-1963, the right-hander was 3-5 with a 4.39 ERA, tying for fifth in the circuit in defeats.
Peñalver spent all of 1963 in AA with El Paso, going 6-4 with a 3.70 ERA and hitting .225/.268/.270; his hitting stats would continue to fall over time. He was 7th in the Texas League in ERA, between Little and Camilo Estevis. Oriente became the Estrellas Orientales in 1963-1964 and Luis was 6-4 with a save and a 2.89 ERA as their main pitcher; he tied Eli Grba for the most appearances (22) but easily had a better record and ERA. He was second in the LVBP in wins, behind only Jim Owens and was second in strikeouts (77, behind Owens). In the summer of '64, he was a reliever for both El Paso (1 R in 3 IP) and the Springfield Giants (3-2, 2.93 in 25 G).
The Cumana native saw little action in Venezuela in 1964-1965, going 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA for the Navegantes del Magallanes. Out of the Giants chain, he was 3-0 with a 3.12 for the Piratas de Campeche of the Mexican Southeast League in 1965. After a 1-1, 9.00 effort in four games for Magallanes in 1965-1966 and not pitching at all in the summer of '66, it looked like Peñalver was winding down. He would surge back, though, pitching for 17 more years.
In 1966-1967, he was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA for the Leones del Caracas, tying Aurelio Monteagudo for the team lead with 17 relief appearances. In 1967, he was 12-9 with a 2.37 ERA for the Burlington Senators, with 169 K to 29 BB in 205 IP. He was second in the Carolina League in ERA (behind Harold Clem), led in complete games (15) and was 6th in strikeouts. He tied Bernardo Calvo for the most sacrifice hits (13). He did not make the All-Star team as Clem and Gary Jones were the pitchers chosen. In the winter, he was 4-7 with 3 saves and a 2.49 ERA for Caracas. He tied for fourth in Venezuela in losses, behind Fred Klages, Jerry Crider and Nestor Chavez.
Peñalver fell to 5-10, 3.81 for the 1968 Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs. On May 26, he threw a 7-inning no-hitter against the Memphis Blues, perhaps his brightest game in the US. It was Dallas-Fort Worth's second no-hitter of Memphis in three days, as Bob Watkins tossed one on the 24th. (A Venezuelan article claimed that Pablo Torrealba had also no-hit Memphis on the 25th instead of the Watkins no-no on the 24th; this did not happen and Torrealba did not even pitch for Dallas-Fort Worth that year). In 1968-1969, Luis was 1-2 with a 4.28 ERA for Caracas.
Luis spent all of the summer of 1969 with the Sultanes de Monterrey, with 17 wins, 11 losses and a 2.89 ERA; he only had 26 unintentional walks in 227 innings. One negative was his 16 home runs allowed - most in the Mexican League. In 1969-1970, he had his best year of winter ball, going 9-3 with a 1.40 ERA and .96 WHIP for Caracas, with 13 walks in 135 1/3 IP. He tied John Purdin for third in wins, behind Mike Corkins and Mike Hedlund and he was second to Hedlund in ERA. He split 1970 between Monterrey (10-9, 3.55) and the Oklahoma City 89ers (3 runs in 2 IP). In 1970-1971, he was 4-5 with a save and a 2.64 ERA for the Leones.
In 1971, Peñalver posted a 12-12, 2.63 record for the Sultanes. He was 8th in the Mexican League in ERA, between Juan Suby and Jose Geigel. For the '71-'72 Leones, he was 6-3 with 4 saves and a 3.18 ERA in 24 outings. He was 6th in the Venezuelan League in pitching appearances and tied Charlie Hough for 6th in saves. Returning to the US, he fared well with the Amarillo Giants, going 5-7 with 7 saves and a 3.38 ERA while walking only 22 in 96 innings. He tied for 8th in the Texas League in both games pitched and saves. In the 1972-1973 LVBP, he was 5-5 with four saves and a 2.32 ERA for Caracas. He was second in games pitched (two behind Oscar Zamora) and tied Reggie Cleveland and George Manz for second in saves.
Luis was a superb closer for the 1973 San Antonio Brewers; the veteran went 9-5 with 20 saves, a 1.78 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He led the Texas League in saves; only Don Eddy (13) had more than half as many. He also won more games than any other full-time reliever in the TL. Had the TL named an All-Star relief pitcher for '73, it is reasonable to assume Peñalver would have been the pick. In 1973-1974, he was 4-4 with two saves and a 3.45 ERA for the Leones. He wasn't as sharp in his second San Antonio season, his final one in the US: 6-7, 6 Sv, 3.56. He ended his first 9-year run with Caracas by going 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA that winter.
Now 33 years, he returned to Monterrey for a second go-around and went 13-15 with a 2.97 ERA in 1975. In the winter of 1975-1976, he was 7-3 with a save and a 3.10 ERA for the Aguilas del Zulia, walking just 10 in 95 2/3 IP. He tied four Americans for second in wins, one behind Scott McGregor. His record was only 10-13 for the 1976 Sultanes but his ERA was 2.04; his club had the league's weakest offense that year. He was 7th in the Mexican League in ERA. In 1976-1977, he returned to Caracas and went 9-3 with a save and a 2.81 ERA. He He tied Craig Mitchell for the league win lead and tied Monteagudo for 6th in games pitched (25).
Peñalver had a 17-14, 3.11 record for the 1977 Monterrey club, with only 28 unintentional walks in 237 innings. He tied for 9th in the league in victories. He was 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA that winter, tying Dan Warthen, Pablo Torrealba and Mike Nagy for 6th in wins. He tossed four innings for Monterrey in 1978, allowing one unearned run, to end his Mexican career. He was pounded for 16 hits in 9 1/3 innings for the 1978-1979 Leones. In 1979, he was 3-3 with a 2.91 ERA for the Caracas Metropolitanos in the Inter-American League, walking only 5 in 68 innings in his final minor league season. He was 9th in ERA, between Mickey Scott and Wally Sarmiento.
Luis remained in Venezuela for more winters, relatively effective the whole time. In 1979-1980, he went 4-1 with a save and a 2.50 ERA in 22 games for the Leones. He tied Sarmiento for 7th in the league in games pitched. In 1980-1981, he was 3-3 with two saves and a 3.58 ERA. In 1981-1982, his 15th season for Caracas, he was 2-1 with a save and a 3.02 ERA. He ended up with the 1982-1983 Tigres de Aragua, going 2-1 with two saves and a 2.91 ERA.
Overall, Peñalver was 156-132 in the minor leagues, in over 570 games. In his native Venezuela's winters, he was 84-70 with 24 saves and a 3.07 ERA in 384 games (159 starts). He walked 337 in 1,516 1/3 IP in the Venezuelan League.
He retired as the Venezuelan League career leader in games pitched (Jose Villa broke his mark by 3; through 2011-2012, Luis was still second all-time) and seasons pitched (23, tied with the legendary Bracho; Giovanni Carrara later passed them with 24 and they are tied for second through 2011-2012). Through 2011-2012, he is also among the leaders in wins (3rd after Bracho and Diego Segui), losses (3rd after Bracho and Monteagudo), starts (159, 4th after Bracho, Jose Pulido and Segui, despite being used frequently in relief), complete games (45, 5th), innings pitched (2nd to Bracho) and strikeouts (4th behind Segui, Monteagudo and Bracho).
In 2008, he was inducted into the Venezuelan Hall of Fame as part of their 6th class.