Luis Olmo Then
Jackie Robinson, Senate president of Puerto Rico, Luis Munoz Marin and Luis Olmo.
|Luis Olmo||10/11/1919||Puerto Rico||21|
I googled Luis Olmo and noticed I had an old post where I dedicated the post to Luis Olmo because my blog came in at #21 and in addition to Olmo wearing #21 it was his birthday that day. I had posted the above picture.
Luis Francisco Rodríguez Olmo known as El Jíbaro – The Hillbilly, was the second Puerto Rico to play in the Major Leagues. The first one was Hiram Bithorn who played with the Cubs in 1942.
El Jibaro played for the Dodgers from 1943 to 1945 then again in 1949. Luis Olmo became the first Puerto Rican to play in a World Series, during which he hit a home run and three hits in one game
Olmo lead the National League in triples in 1945. On May 18 of that year he hit a grand slam home run and a bases loaded triple in the same game. No other player accomplished that feat in the 20th century.
Olmo jumped to the Mexican League in 1946 because one Mexican team owner offered a higher salary than what Branch Rickey Sr. was offering. Olmo and several other jumpers were banned by MLB Commissioner Happy Chandler for going to the Mexican League. For Olmo the suspension lasted three years. Olmo returned to the Dodgers in 1949.
From the SABR bioproject by Rory Costello:
After his return in late June, Olmo got into 38 games for Brooklyn, batting .305/1/14 in 105 at-bats as he backed up Tommy Brown and Duke Snider. He got off to a hot start, getting 12 hits in his first 27 at-bats (.444), capped by a game-ending homer at Ebbets Field on July 17. Yet perhaps his most memorable contribution to the 1949 pennant winners was a sensational catch that he made at Ebbets on August 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Brooklyn was up 2-0 in the fifth inning, but St. Louis had the tying runs in scoring position, and at the plate was the feared batter whom Ebbets fans dubbed “The Man” – Stan Musial. Olmo, always known as a fine outfielder, needed every foot of the old ballpark’s cozy dimensions, including the extra afforded by the corrugated exit gate in left field. He leaped and made the catch, snuffing out the rally, and the Dodgers went on to win, drawing to within one game of first. Brooklyn did not overtake St. Louis until late September, but the complexion of the race might have changed if the Cards had won that day. Baseball Digest wrote up the play in August 1961, and as late as 2009, it earned an entry in a book devoted to great outfield catches, Going, Going . . . Caught!
Olmo played for the Boston Braves in 1950 & 1951. In ’51 he only played in 21 games before being sent to the Triple-A Milwaukee Brewers. There he concluded his US career.
He joined Licey of the Dominican League. The remainder of Olmo’s playin career consisted of four Winter season in Puerto Rico. He was also scouting for the Braves. He was manager for several teams in Puerto Rico. The PRWL named him Manager of the year seven times.
Luis Olmo now:
Luis Rodriguez Olmo celebrating 90 years.
from SABR biography by Rory Costello:
Olmo began playing golf since 1968 and in 2011 still got out on the links twice a week, one of the reasons he remained so fit in his 90s. At one point, though, he was carrying more weight than was good for him – he dropped 50 pounds on doctor’s orders. In August 2009, after SABR’s Puerto Rican chapter and the Museum of Sports of Guaynabo celebrated his 90th birthday, Olmo said, “I just turned 90. I hoped to reach 80 and that has passed. I am playing extra innings. And I recall as if it were yesterday when I arrived in the majors. The baseball of today is the same as what I played. The only thing that has changed is the salaries.” Four days after his 92nd birthday, I asked Luis to what he attributes his long life. He said simply, with a little chuckle, “I been lucky. Living good.”
ref: pic, Colleccion Luiz Munoz Marin, baseball-fever, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/a26bda17