Monday, July 4, 2016

Meet the Brewers #29: Gus Gil

As it became clear during the 1970 season, Marvin Milkes seemed to confuse activity with progress. One of the moves that seems to underscore this was when 24-year-old Greg Goossen -- whose talent of getting on base likely was not as appreciated in the early 1970s as it would be now -- was sent down to Triple-A in mid-May along with infielder John Kennedy to make room for two light hitting middle infielders in their early-to-mid 30s in age. Those two middle infielders were 33-year-old Roberto Pena (who is Brewer #30) and 31-year-old Gus Gil.

Tomas Gustavo (Guillen) Gil was signed in 1959 at the age of 19 by the then-named Cincinnati Redlegs as an amateur free agent. In the minors, Gil had a couple of decent couple of seasons in the minors -- one at age 21 in Class C Missoula in 1960 and one at age 25 in 1964 in Triple-A San Diego. Still, Cincinnati never saw the need to add him to the major league roster. 

Gil's break came after the 1966 season. The Cleveland Indians finished 81-81, and Cleveland Manager and Off Hiatus PC Joe Adcock determined that Cleveland's big problem was bad defense. The pitching staff at the time consisted of Sam McDowell -- hyperbolically called "the next Sandy Koufax" -- along with Gary Bell, Steve Hargan, Sonny Siebert, and "El Tiante," Luis Tiant. So, for better or for worse, Adcock announced that Gil would be his second baseman in the early part of Spring Training in his quest for improved defense. That lasted through the first 19 games of the season, at the end of which Gil was "hitting" .154/.225/.215.

1994 Miller Brewing Commemorative
Though Gil stayed with the team the whole year, he only came to the plate another 36 times all season after May 6. It didn't help -- in those 36 plate appearances, Gil was even worse -- 1 single, 4 walks, and a sacrifice to slash at .032/.143/.032. Seriously.

Gil ended up with the Brewers thanks to his contract being purchased by the Seattle Pilots in 1969. That year was Gil's best big league season -- .222/.272/.253 is what qualified as "best," so it is not like we are talking about a budding superstar.

Gil's time in Milwaukee lasted a total of 78 games and 190 plate appearances. His work in the 1970 season did not merit him a baseball card and, in fact, the 1994 Miller Brewing set is his only appearance on a card as a Milwaukee Brewer.

After his playing career ended, Gil stayed relatively active in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues and even managed for four years in the American minor leagues as well. After leaving baseball, Gil worked as a draftsman and, later, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. Gil settled in Phoenix after his playing career, and that is where he passed away at the age of 76 on December 8, 2015.

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