Manuel Hidalgo Camacho (El Chino)
- Bats Right Throws Right
- Height 5' 8" Weight 165 lb.
- Born September 30, 1918 in Victoria de las Tunas, Las Tunas Cuba
- Died January 15, 2010 in Miami, FL, USA
Manuel Hidalgo reached AAA.
Hidalgo hit .316 as a starter for the Cuban national team that won the 1940 Amateur World Series. He turned pro that winter, going 0 for 7 for Habana. After a year off, he returned in 1942-1943 and hit a meek .130 with no extra-base hits in 100 at-bats as a second baseman for Habana and Almendares. In 1943-1944, he improved to .293 for Almendares, at least posting a better average than more notable names like Mike Guerra and Héctor Rodríguez on his club. By 1944-1945, though, he was a backup infielder for Habana, hitting .264.
Hidalgo made his US debut in 1945, batting .297/?/.429 with 38 doubles and 11 triples for the Williamsport Grays. He was second in the Eastern League in doubles (four behind Aurelio Fernandez) and tied for third in triples. Despite being a productive player in the US minors, he remained on the bench in Cuba, hitting .288 for Habana that winter. Chino was a two-way threat for the 1946 Havana Cubans, producing at a .319/.341/.435 clip with 26 steals and 11 triples and fielding .925 at short. He led Florida International League shortstops with 63 double plays and was second in fielding percentage. He scored 97 runs, second in the league behind Ralph Brown, tied for second in triples (6 behind leader Brown), made the top 10 in average and was 4th in steals. He split MVP honors.
In 1946-1947, Hidalgo hit .294 for Oriente in the Cuban National Federation and led the league with 26 RBI, beating out the likes of Gil Torres, Ray Dandridge and Regino Otero. He had another big summer for Havana, hitting .320 with 37 doubles (second in the league) and 200 hits, which would go down as the all-time Florida International League record. He again was named league MVP. He was the starting shortstop (ahead of Tony Ordenana) for Habana when they won the 1947-1948 Cuban Winter League title, hitting only .218.
His MVP performances in 1946-1947 earned him a shot at AAA in 1948. He struggled, batting only .192/.223/.277 in 69 games for the Buffalo Bisons; his .916 fielding percentage at shortstop was the lowest of the three players Buffalo tried there (Lindsay Brown and Johnny Bero were the other two). The Las Tunas native hit .318 with a .396 slugging percentage for Habana in 1948-1949, driving in 33 runs. He was third in Cuba in average behind Alejandro Crespo and Hank Thompson. He was named the league's All-Star second baseman, beating out Pete Coscarat and Garvin Hamner.
In 1949, Hidalgo was back with the Havana Cubans and did not miss a beat, hitting .312/?/.442 with 28 doubles and 12 home runs. He tied for 4th in the pitcher-friendly Florida International League in homers and made the top 10 in average and doubles. His 177 hits ranked third behind Ted Cieslak and Bryan Howell. In the winter, he fell to .253/?/.356 for Habana but drove in 31 runs and scored 43, second-most in the CWL behind Pedro Formental.
Hidalgo produced at a .312/.362/.418 clip in 1950, reaching .300 for the 4th time in four seasons for the Havana Cubans. He lost the batting race by .002 to Chuck Aleno, led in hits (188), led in runs (106, 7 ahead of Cieslak), tied for 7th in doubles (28), was 9th in home runs (8), was second in total bases (252, 3 behind Jack Tanner), was 6th in slugging and led in fielding at shortstop (.959). He won his third Florida International League MVP award in a five-year span.
In 1950-1951, Hidalgo hit only .209 for Habana but they won the title; he slugged .285 in his last season as an everyday player in Cuba. By the 1951 Caribbean Series, he was backing up Gil Torres as Habana's shortstop, going 0 for 1. In the summer of '51, the veteran batted .262/?/.358 and legged out 7 triples for the Portsmouth Cubs. In 1951-1952, he hit only .194/?/.240 for the champion Habana club, splitting short with Orlando Varona. In the 1952 Caribbean Series, he backed up Lou Klein and went 2 for 6. He also made an error in Tommy Fine's historic first Caribbean Series no-hitter. Habana still won it all.
The Las Tunas native was back in the Florida International League, but the loop's 3-time MVP found his magic gone; he hit .238/.287/.295 between Havana (38 G) and the St. Petersburg Saints (98 G). He fielded .955 at short, second behind Jose Burgos among shortstops with 100+ games in the 1952 FIL. In the winter, he did not play for the first time since 1941-1942.In the 1953 season, he played only 39 games for the Havana Cubans, though he performed well (.302/.374/.510). In 1953-1954, he was 9 for 41 with a double as a backup for Cienfuegos, playing behind Chico Fernandez at SS, Don Hoak at 3B and Lou Ortiz and Bob Boring at 2B.
His minor league career ended in 1954, split between the Tampa Smokers (9 G) and the Yucatan Lions (.268/.294/.402 in 58 G). His winter ball career ended in 1954-1955, when he was 10 for 39 with a double and a triple as a backup infielder for Cienfuegos.
- 1946 Co-MVP Florida International League Havana Cubans
- 1947 MVP Florida International League Havana Cubans
- 1950 MVP Florida International League Havana Cubans