René González

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René González

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Biographical Information[edit]

René González won three batting titles, three RBI titles and two home run titles in a four-year span in the Mexican League. He also starred in Venezuela and Nicaragua but saw less action in his native Cuba.

González debuted in 1946-1947, going 4 for 17 with a steal for Almendares; he was their third-stringer at first base behind Buck O'Neil and Lázaro Salazar. He was a regular in the 1947 Mexican League, hitting .316/.376/.467 between the San Luis Potosi Tuneros and Veracruz Eagle. In 1947-1948, he hit .301 and slgged .425 between two teams in the Cuban Players League, his only time as a starter in his homeland. In the summer of '48, he played for the Tampico Lightermen and Mexico City Red Devils, with a composite line of .310/.372/.452.

Back with Almendares in 1948-1949, the Havana native was 13 for 52 with two doubles, a triple and a home run as the backup to Chuck Connors. In the 1949 Caribbean Series, he helped Almendares to the title by going 1 for 2 with two runs. He continued to improve in Mexico, putting up a .357/.451/.593 line with 72 runs, 72 RBI and 15 steals in 80 games for San Luis Potosi in '49. He was third in average and second in both RBI and home runs (12).

In 1949-1950, the young first baseman was 5 for 22 with a double for Almendares, again backing up Connors. He spent 1950 with the Negro League's New York Cubans, hitting .302. He was chosen for the 1950 East-West Game, hitting third for the East and going 2 for 3 as one of their top performers in a 5-3 loss.

René led the 1950-1951 Venezuelan League in homers, doubles and RBI. He continued his strong work with the Magallanes Navigators in the 1951 Caribbean Series, going 7 for 20 with two doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI in six games. He paced the Series in RBI. Back in Mexico after his year in the US, he hit .323/.443/.626 for San Luis Potosi, with 21 home runs, 76 runs, 79 RBI and 64 walks in 79 games. He was one home run behind leader Angel Castro and tied Castro for the RBI lead. Had he gotten one more RBI, he would have prevented Castro from being the only native Mexican to win a Mexican League Triple Crown in the 20th Century. On August 10, he got an intentional walk from Ramón Bragaña with the bases loaded, the only time that has been done in Mexican League history.

González played his last winter in Cuba in 1951-1952, going 6 for 31 with a double while backing up Bert Haas for Habana. He was 0 for 1 for Habana in the 1952 Caribbean Series. He topped his '52 season in Mexico, hitting .370/.461/.655 with 83 runs, 21 home runs and 84 RBI in 81 games for Veracruz. He easily led in average, had 10 more RBI than anyone else and had one more home run than runner-up Claudio Solano. He thus became the fourh Mexican League Triple Crown winner, following Cool Papa Bell, Wild Bill Wright and Castro; Alonzo Perry, Ty Gainey and Kit Pellow have followed as of 2010. González was one of only two Latin Americans to win the Triple Crown in the Mexican League.

René hit .314 in the 1952-1953 Mexican Pacific League. He again was dominant with Veracruz in '53, putting up a .343/.437/.546 line. He led the LMB in average (by three points) and RBI (six ahead of Barney Serrell) but was only 6th with nine homers, depriving him of a repeat Triple Crown. He did become the first player to lead the Mexican League in RBI three years running; Perry would become the second from 1955-1957 and no one else would do so in the 20th Century. In 1953-1954, the veteran hit .323 in the Mexican Pacific League, his last winter in that country.

González again just missed becoming Mexico's only two-time Triple Crown winner in 1954. He hit .359/.440/.622 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI in 79 games for the Veracruz club. He won his second home run title (one ahead of Hector Lara) and his third straight batting championship (two points ahead of León Kellman) but fell 3 RBI shy of Fernando Pedroso, a fellow Cuban. He became Mexico's first player to win three straight batting titles - Alfred Pinkston would top that with four in a row from 1959-1962.

In 1955, González fell to .334/.394/.514 with 16 home runs and 79 RBI in 99 games for Veracruz. He tied Pedroso for 5th in RBI and tied Roy Parker for eighth in homers. He ended his Mexican League career in '56, hitting .257/.339/.451 with 19 home runs and 71 RBI, a shadow of his 1951-1954 performances. He was still fourth in homers and tied two others (including an elderly Angel Castro, his old rival) for fourth in RBI.

Overall, he batted .328/.411/.541 with 131 home runs, 551 runs and 619 RBI in 777 games in the Mexican League. He ended his baseball career in the 1957-1958 Nicaraguan League, batting .340.

González was elected into the Salon de la Fama in 1993.