April 28, 2005PANCHO HERRERA OBITUARY
Herrera, Juan - Pancho, a former first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies,
died on April 28th (2005) in Miami, Florida. He was 70.
Born in Cuba, he played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro
League before his contract was sold to the Phillies in 1958. He was a
member of the 1952 Monarchs ... considered one of the all-time best
Negro League teams. Some of his teammates were Buck O'Neil, Sherwood
Brewer, Lefty Lamarque and Booker McDaniels.
In three seasons (1958, 1960-61) his career batting line is
In 1960, Herrera lost the Rookie of the Year Award to the Los Angeles
Dodgers first baseman ... Frank Howard by 8 votes.
However, Juan Francisco Herrera Willavicencio is best known for
setting (at that time) the National League record for striking 136
times during the 1960 season ... and for appearing on the rarest post
WWII single issue baseball card. The 1958 Topps card #433. Because
of a printing error the "a" at the end of his name was omitted or
blurred (depending upon the card). To many collectors this card is
more valuable than any Mantle, Mays or Williams. Less than ten are
known to exist ... and only one of those has been graded near-mint to
mint in condition.
After the 1962 season ... Herrera was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates
for Don Hoak ... but he never played another major league game. He
lost his job in Philadelphia to Roy Sievers.