Showing posts with label Andres Fleitas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Andres Fleitas. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Andres Fleitas | Cuban baseball great dies at 95 (1916-2011)

Andres Fleitas, one of the last remaining links to Cuba’s pre-World War II glory days, died Sunday afternoon in Miami according to a report from one of his former minor league teammates. He was 95.

The veteran Almendares catcher was the MVP of the 1946-47 winter league season, where he helped to guide major leaguer Max Lanier to complete a three-game sweep of Havana on only one day of rest.

Andres Fleitas (r.) pictured with his brother Angel in Chattanooga
Before his professional career in Cuba, he won two Amateur World Series in 1939 and 1942, earning MVP honors in the latter victory. He joined Almendares during the 1942-43 campaign and stayed with them for almost ten seasons. He battled with Mike Guerra for catching duties while also playing first base.

Fleitas entered the United States that summer, playing for the New York Giants Triple-A farm club in Jersey City. After playing two seasons with the Giants, he was well on the path to the major leagues before an offer of $20,000 from Jorge Pasquel lured him to Mexico for the 1945 season.

He spent three seasons with Monterrey, batting over .300 each year. While the tremendous salary increase allowed Fleitas to purchase a home in Santa Fe, his time in Mexico effectively nixed any chance he would have to play in the majors.

Commissioner Happy Chandler banned all players for five years that left the United States for the Mexican League who did not return before his deadline. Only when Danny Gardella threatened to sue Major League Baseball, the owners relented and lifted the ban. The policy change did not help Fleitas, who at 33, was well past prospect status.

He continued to play at the Double and Triple-A levels through 1954, finishing his career with Cienfuegos during the 1954-55 Cuban Winter League season. He was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

Baseball was a family affair for Fleitas. His brother Angel was an infielder for the Washington Senators in 1948. Ironically it was the first of two seasons which they played together in the United States, serving as teammates on the Chattanooga Lookouts from 1948-49.