TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Keith Walker of St. Peters, MO, who correctly named the three White Sox pitchers who won and lost games with the 1964 Tigers during Detroit's longest winning and losing streaks. They were Joel Horlen, Gary Peters and Juan Pizzaro.. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.
NEW TRIVIA CONTEST: By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card. YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.
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NEW TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first baseman the Phils traded for to replace Pancho Herrera in the off season?
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: The three White Sox pitchers who won and lost three games with the 1964 Tigers during Detroit's longest winning and losing streaks were Joel Horlen, Gary Peters and Juan Pizzaro.
A former Negro League player, Pancho Herrera was the first black player to suit up in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. That in itself was an achievement.
While you may never have heard of Pancho Herrera, he did something few people have ever done, sort of. He finished just ahead of Mickey Mantle in his two years in the big leagues. Of course, it was a standing neither player wanted and only the Mick can be overlooked for achieving it.
In 1960 the Cuban born Herrera led the majors in strikeouts, setting a then-NL record. No he wasn't a pitcher. He mainly played first base with an occasional stint at second. In his rookie season he even garnered some MVP votes and finished second to Frank Howard in the Rookie of the Year race. His .281 batting average along with 17 home runs in 145 games seemed pretty awesome to voters. He even drove in 71 runs.
Oh, but it was that strikeout thing which would do him in. His 13 errors at first base didn't help, although he cut that almost in half the following season. In his glowing rookie campaign Herrera struck out 136 times, besting Mantle who had 125. Of course Mantle did a little better at the plate. Mickey hit 40 homers, drove in 94 and scored 119.
The next season (his last in the big leagues) Herrera tailed off a bit, cutting his strikeouts down to 120, while Mantle had 112. Again Mantle had the better year banging 54 home runs and batting .317. Pancho hit 13 HR and his BA was .251. By then he was done in Philadelphia and they sent him packing to Pittsburgh along with Ted Savage for Don Hoak. Savage bounced around until 1971, Hoak retired after the 1964 season. Neither did much after the trade.
Pancho never appeared in a big league game again. He spent the rest of his career in the minors until 1974, capping several seasons over .300 and smacking homers in double figures. He was a player-manager during some of that time. His last stop was the Mexican League where at age 40 he had five hits in 15 at bats. His strike outs today would be nothing compared to modern day sluggers who achieve less at the plate than Pancho.
Pancho Herrera died at age 70 in Miami in 2005. He is in the International League HOF.
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