Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Meet the Brewers #15: Sandy Valdespino

Dave Bristol needed a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning for Bob Meyer, who threw two less-than-stellar innings (2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K).  Bristol looked down his bench and chose Sandy Valdespino.  The 31-year-old Valdespino went up and promptly popped out to third base.

This is first truly short-time Brewer. Valdespino appeared in just eight games for the Brewers -- all in April of 1970.  He got to play in the field in left just once -- in the second game of the season after pinch hitting once again.  He came to bat 9 times in those eight games without recording a hit. He struck out four times and grounded into a double play.

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers
As a story from the Milwaukee Journal mentioned on the twentieth anniversary of the first Milwaukee Brewer Opening Day, Valdespino owns the dubious distinction of being the first player from the Opening Day roster to leave the major league team.  He was sent down to Triple-A Portland to make room for Mike Hershberger when Hershberger came off the disabled list on April 22.

Valdespino was born in Cuba in 1939 and was signed as an 18-year-old by the Washington Senators in 1957.  His given name is Hilario, and he became known as Sandy because a minor-league manager said that Valdespino reminded him of Sandy Amoros.

Eight long years later and after winning the International League batting title in 1964 with the Atlanta Crackers, Valdespino made his major league debut as a member of the Minnesota Twins. That Twins team went to the World Series in 1965, only to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  That 1965 season, though, was the only time in his career that Valdespino appeared in more than 100 major league games in a season.

Valdespino spent three years in Minnesota -- the first with a .261/.319/.322 slash line, the next two combined being a nightmarish .171/.207/.239 line.  How's that OPS+ of 26, Sandy?  Apparently, Sandy felt like was good enough. During the 1966 season, the Twins tried to send Valdespino down to Triple-A Denver.  Valdespino refused to report.  Someone later reminded him how batting averages worked, and he showed up to enjoy the thin Denver air.

After that debacle and after two horrible major league seasons, the Twins removed Valdespino from their major league roster. That exposed him to the Rule 5 Draft, and the Atlanta Braves decided to take a shot.  Valdespino lasted with the Braves until December of 1968, when he was traded to the Astros for Paul Doyle. Houston found itself in a pennant race in 1969 -- at least for a while, as chronicled in Ball Four -- and so Valdespino became a way to get Tommy Davis.

1994 Miller Brewing Milwaukee Brewers
After Valdespino was sent to the minor leagues in early April, he never resurfaced with the Brewers. In July of 1970, the Brewers sold his contract to the Kansas City Royals. The Royals gave Valdespino his final 18 games of his major league career.

These days, the only information I have on Valdespino is that he was living in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2004.

As best I can tell, I have both of the Sandy Valdespino cards of him shown on the Brewers. Somehow, he was included in the 1970 McDonald's Brewers set and, per the definition of the set, he was also included in the 1994 25th anniversary set from Miller.

1 comment:

  1. I looked on baseball reference. His ops+ for the Brewers in those 9 at bats was -100!