Tony Castaño

From BR Bullpen

Antonio Castaño
last name infrequently listed as Castaños

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Tony Castaño was a two-time Cuban batting champion who managed title-winners in both Cuba and Mexico. He twice hit .300 in the International League.

Castaño debuted in 1936-1937 with the Santa Clara Leopards, hitting .298 and slugging .307 as a part-time outfielder. He was on the Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo club which won the Dominican League title in 1937. In 1937-1938, he played for both Santa Clara and Habana, hitting .238 and slugging .292 in a utility role. Being lighter-skinned than some of his Cuban contemporaries, he got to play in Organized Baseball rather than the Negro Leagues. With the 1938 Asheville Tourists, he hit .332/?/.410 and had 20 outfield assists. He led Asheville in batting average.

Back with Santa Clara in 1938-1939, Castaño helped them to a title. On December 25, 1938, he had a six-hit game against Almendares, tying the Cuban Winter League record. For the year, he hit .371, beating out Santos Amaro for the batting title by five points. He scored 47 runs, second-most, three behind leader Josh Gibson, and slugged .441 while playing both the outfield and third base. In 1939, Tony was a step shy of the majors, with the AA (then the highest tier of the minors) Sacramento Solons. He hit a respectable .281 but slugged only .315, highlighting the lack of power that probably cost him a chance in the big leagues.

In 1939-1940, he hit .340 and slugged .374 for Santa Clara. He led the CWL in both average (12 points ahead of Hall-of-Famer Willie Wells) and RBI (44, a solid 11 ahead of runner-up Chico Hernandez, a future major leaguer). He was the first player to win back-to-back CWL batting titles since Alejandro Oms in 1928-1930; no one else would do so in the league's following 21 years before professional baseball in Cuba ended during the Fidel Castro era.

Castaño dropped back down to B ball in 1940, hitting .281 and slugging .324 between the Columbus Red Birds and Asheville. He did not come anywhere close to a third straight winter batting championship in 1940-1941, hitting just .206/?/.250 as an outfielder for Santa Clara. In 1941, he hit .259/?/.299 for the Springfield Cardinals and was 5 for 23 for the Mobile Shippers. Antonio was just 2 for 20 as a bench player for Habana in 1941-1942, a far cry of his stardom of only two years earlier. He hit .258 and slugged .303 for Springfield in 1942, playing second base regularly for the first time in his professional career. Moving to Cienfuegos in the winter of 1942-1943, he rebounded to .299 with a .365 slugging percentage while manning third base.

Castaño produced at a .333/.413/.410 rate for the 1943 Richmond Colts, leading the Piedmont League in average by .0007. He rapped 10 triples and stole 23 bases while scoring 82 runs (second-most, one shy of the lead). The negatives were 42 errors (13 more than any other Piedmont second baseman) and no homers. The veteran faded to .229 with a .285 slugging as a 3B-OF for Cienfuegos in 1943-1944, continuing his roller-coaster career path. In '44, he made it back to AA and hit .306/.377/.347 for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He made the top ten in the 1944 International League in batting average and led his team with 80 runs. He easily outhit double play mate Tony Ordenana, who had been in the majors a year before. He had a 15-game hitting streak to tie Otto Denning for the longest such stretch in the '44 IL. Defensibely, he looked sharper as well, fielding .969 at second base and .953 at third base, both above-average figures for the circuit.

In the winter of 1944-1945, Castaño hit .288 and slugged .316 for Marianao, his fourth different Cuban club. Back with Toronto in 1945, he hit .300/.419/.360 with 84 runs. He led the team with 24 steals (but was caught 13 times) and was second in batting average despite not having a set position (he alternated between third, second and the outfield). He only struck out 19 times in 476 at-bats, while drawing 76 walks. Amazingly, his walk total was less than half of team leader Harry Davis. In the winter of 1945-1946, he sputtered with Marianao, hitting .201 and slugging .217; he split third base with Minnie Minoso and an outfield spot with Frank Campos.

The 34-year-old went to play in the Mexican League in 1946, as did many other Cubans as well as some major leaguers and Negro League players. He would be remarkably consistent in his six seasons in Mexico, considering the wild fluctuations in his career in the USA and Cuba. In 1946, he hit .275/.337/.340 with 13 steals in 90 games for the Veracruz Blues. Average-wise, he matched Danny Gardella and outhit Mickey Owen and Chile Gomez among former major leaguers. Back with Marianao in 1946-1947, he batted .290 and slugged .341; only Bobby Avila had a better average on the club as Castaño had a higher mark than Minoso, Moe Franklin, Campos or Bobby Estalella.

Tony's batting line for the 1947 Blues read .279/.354/.345. In the 1947-1948 Cuban Players League, Castaño batted .240 and slugged .265 between two different clubs. He split the summer of '48 between Veracruz and the Puebla Parrots, hitting a combined .285/.344/.341. In 1948-1949, he hit .246 and slugged .269 as a part-time outfielder for Marianao. With the Jalisco Charros in 1949, he batted .275/.335/.318. Castaño played in his last Cuban Winter League campaign in 1949-1950, going 8 for 30 with a triple as a backup outfielder for Almendares.

Castaño was 22 for 94 with a double and four walks as a bench player for the 1950 Havana Sugar Kings. Returning to Mexico in '51, he hit .299/.363/.338 for the Veracruz Eagle. He helped the club to a Mexican League pennant in 1952 by posting a .306/.352/.361 line as a bench player.

Overall, Castaño had hit .284/.348/.340 in 455 games in Mexico and .294 with only four home runs in 953 minor league games. He did not finish among the CWL's career top 10 in any department.

Tony later became a manager, taking over the helm of Cienfuegos in mid-season in 1957-1958. He guided them to a 31-41, third-place finish in 1958-1959. In 1959-1960, he got the club to a 48-24 record, winning the CWL by 12 games for one of the most successful seasons in league history. His team was a talented one, with players such as Camilo Pascual, Pedro Ramos, Raul Sánchez, George Altman, Cookie Rojas, Orlando Peña, Leo Cárdenas, Don Eaddy, Dutch Dotterer, Román Mejias, Tony González and Rogelio Alvarez. They went 6-0 to win the 1960 Caribbean Series, the last Caribbean Series to be won by a Cuban team.

Castaño began 1960 as the skipper of the Sugar Kings, now a AAA team, but resigned when the club moved to Jersey City, NJ due to the Castro revolution; Tony stayed behind in Cuba while Nap Reyes took over the managerial reigns. In 1960-1961, Cienfuegos repeated as champs, this time by a much smaller margin, going 35-31 and winning by one game over Almendares. This would be the last Cuban Winter League campaign, as amateur baseball would replace the professional game in Cuba.

Castaño was the first skipper of the Azucareros in the new Cuban Serie Nacional; he guided them to a 13-14 record, tied for second with the Orientales. He later defected from Cuba and was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame (now run by other defectors) in 1967, alongside Santos Amaro, the player he had beaten for his first batting title.

After leaving Cuba, Castaño was a long-time manager in Mexico, winning 862 and losing 792 as a skipper in that country. He led Puebla to a Mexican League pennant in 1963 (their only title prior to 2016), the third straight Cuban to manage Mexico's champs, following Amaro in 1961 and Clemente Carrera in 1962. He coached for the Nicaraguan national team in the 1978 Amateur World Series and for the Colombian national team in the 1979 Pan American Games.

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Playoffs
1956 Tecolotes de Nuevo Laredo Mexican League -- -- replaced by Leon Kellman
1960 Havana Sugar Kings International League -- -- replaced by Napoleon Reyes July 13 when team moved to Jersey City
1962 Fresnillo Rojos Mexican Center League 1st none League Champs replaced Manuel Arroyo
1963 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 80-52 1st none League Champs
1964 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 79-61 2nd none
1965 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 78-61 2nd none
1966 Petroleros de Poza Rica Mexican League 61-79 7th
1968 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 72-68 4th none
1969 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 72-82 6th none
1970 Leones de Yucatán Mexican League -- -- replaced by Luis Esma
1971 Rojos del Águila de Veracruz Mexican League -- -- replaced by Enrique Izquierdo
1974 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 81-56 3rd Lost in 1st round
1975 Pericos de Puebla Mexican League 80-58 4th Lost in 1st round