Born: April 20, 1923|
Central Preston, Cuba
Died: January 13, 2009 85) (aged|
|May 5, 1944, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 12, 1944, for the Washington Senators|
|Runs batted in||2|
Preston Gómez (April 20, 1923 – January 13, 2009) was a Cuban-born infielder, manager, coach and front-office official in Major League Baseball best known for managing three major league clubs: the San Diego Padres (1969–72), Houston Astros (1974–75) and Chicago Cubs (1980). He was born Pedro Gómez Martínez in Central Preston, Cuba, and was given his nickname in U.S. professional baseball from his birthplace.
He spent the next two decades in minor league baseball, playing and then, from the mid-1950s onward, managing in the farm systems of the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. He managed the Diablos Rojos del México, the "Mexico City Reds," in 1957–58. His 1959 Havana Sugar Kings were champion of the International League and won the Junior World Series; the following season, his Spokane Indians won 91 games and the 1960 Pacific Coast League championship.
Managerial and coaching career
In 1965, Gómez became third-base coach of the Dodgers, serving under Walter Alston through 1968 and two National League pennants and one World Series title. When Dodger vice president Buzzie Bavasi became president and part-owner of the expansion Padres, he named Gómez the first skipper in the team's major league history. But, like most expansion teams, the Padres struggled, losing 110 games in 1969, 99 in 1970 and 100 more in 1971, finishing last in the NL West Division each season. After 11 games and seven more defeats in 1972, Gómez was fired April 26 and replaced by Don Zimmer. With the Padres, he had a record of 180 wins and 316 losses.
He returned to baseball the following season as a coach under Leo Durocher for the Houston Astros, and succeeded to the manager's post in 1974. That season, the Astros posted an 81–81 record — Gómez' only .500 or better season as a big league manager. But in 1975, when they were last in the NL West after 127 games (at 47–80), Gómez was released in favor of Bill Virdon on August 18. As the Astros' pilot, he finished with a record of 128 wins and 161 losses. Once again, Gómez took to the coaching lines, for the St. Louis Cardinals (1976) and then back to the Dodgers (1977–79), where he assisted Tommy Lasorda for three seasons and coached in two more World Series — 1977 and 1978.
The Cubs and Angels
The exposure led to one last major league managing job, with the 1980 Cubs — but again Gómez met with frustration. The last-place Cubs dropped 52 of their first 90 games, and on July 23 Gómez was fired again, to be replaced by Joey Amalfitano. His career managing record, over seven years, was 346 wins, 529 losses (.395) with four last-place finishes.
Ongoing no-hitters aborted
On two occasions, Gómez pinch-hit for pitchers who had pitched no-hitters through eight innings. He did this on July 21, 1970, with the Padres' Clay Kirby and on September 4, 1974, with the Astros' Don Wilson. Both pitchers were losing their respective games at the time they were pulled. In both cases, the hitting strategy failed, and the games were ultimately lost.
|San Diego Padres||1969||1972||180||316||.363|
Gómez sustained major head injuries when he was struck by a vehicle at a Blythe, California, gas station on March 26, 2008. The accident occurred while Gómez was on his way home to Chino Hills, California, from the Angels' spring training in Arizona. He died from his injuries on January 13, 2009, in Fullerton, California, aged 85.
The 2009 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim honored Gómez' memory with a uniform patch in the shape of a black diamond with the name "Preston" written in white.
- Spink, C.C. Johnson, pub., The 1967 Official Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1967
- "Preston Gómez". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
- July 21, 1970 New York Mets at San Diego Padres Play and Box Score
- September 4, 1974, Cincinnati Reds at Houston Astros Play
- Gomez family to throw first pitch.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Baseball-Reference.com – managing record
- News report on the life of Preston Gomez
- AP Obituary at The Orange County Register