Armoros, Sandy


Born: Jan 30, 1930
Died: June 27, 1992

Sandy played for the New York Cubans towards the end of the Negro Leagues (1950). As an outfielder, he hit .338 that season.

He went on to play for the Dodgers and is perhaps best known for a game-saving catch in the 1955 World Series.

As quoted from the book “BUMS - An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers” by Peter Golenbock:

Sandy Saves the Day: World Series Victory in '55

It was 2 to 0, Dodgers, in the bottom of the sixth, when with one out the Yankees put two men on base: Martin walked, and then Gil McDougald bunted safely. Two on, one out. Berra up. A home run and it was over for the Dodgers.

It was getting late in the game, Podres seemed to be tiring, and Berra was a dead pull hitter, so the entire Brooklyn out-

field, Amoros, Snider, and Furillo, was shifted over toward right. Amoros, the left fielder, was shaded so far over he could have been the center fielder.

Podres threw an outside pitch. Berra slapped his bat on it late as it was crossing the plate. The Yankee catcher was pro-

tecting the plate and sent a looping, climbing pop toward the left-field line, in the direction of the low barrier in left field.

Had Junior Gilliam still been in left, the Dodgers would have lost the game and the Series, for even with Gilliam's good speed, he would not have caught Berra's ball. Gilliam, moreover, was right handed, which would have made the catch very difficult. Of all the moves Alston ever made, this one must have been blessed, because he needed a man with special attributes to make the catch. And Sandy Amoros was there.

The nimble Cuban turned and fled toward the foul pole, and as he was nearing the dirt warning track at top speed, he extend-

ed his right, gloved hand, and the descending ball neatly fell into it as he took a series of quick, mincing steps to keep from banging into the low fence before him. On the field there was confusion in the Yankee camp, while Dodger heads remained cool. Pee Wee Reese had run down the third-base line for the relay. He called for the ball, and Amoros hit him in the chest, and without hesitation Reese fired over to Gil Hodges at first, where the base umpire signaled the hasty McDougald out. McDougald, who had not figured Amoros to catch the ball, had run almost to second base and was caught stranded for the third out.

The sixth inning was over. The Yankee rally was aborted. The scoreboard indicated 2 for the dodgers. The Yankees still had nothing.

Of all the possible Dodger heroes, Amoros was among the most unlikely. He was virtually invisible to the public, for he spoke no English and was unusally diffident for a professional athlete. Reporters didn't ask him questions, because they knew he couldn't answer. Sometimes they would wave, and he would smile and nod. Sandy lived like a gypsy while on the Dodgers. He never rented an apartment, but most of the time lived on Roy Campanella's yacht. Roy had learned to speak Spanish playing winter ball in the Caribbean.

Amoros had been one of the greatest players ever to come out of pre-Castro Cuba. If he had spoken English, he certainly would have played more, because in Cuba he was a .300 hitter in a fast league, was fleet in the field, was excellent at stealing bases, and was a good bunter. But he didn't learn the language, and it was a handicap that kept him from becoming a star. A manager just doesn't trust employing a player when he isn't sure whether the guy understands him or not.

Almost thirty years after his famous catch, Sandy Amoros is shy and self-effacing as always, and though his English has improved, the effervescent Amoros is still uncomfortable speaking the language.

Sandy Amoros: "In '54 I started with the Dodgers. They have a good team. They have Furillo and Duke Snider, and they have Don Thompson, he chew tobacco, in left field. So I come over in '54, and I hit pretty good. I hit for .290 something. We finish second. I no play the whole year. But they gave me a full share because I play good the last half."

"Did anyone else speak Spanish on the Dodgers?"

"Yeah. Yo [Joe] Black and Roy Campanyella. I roomed with Campanyella for two years. Yo Black, Campanyella, I never have a problem with these men. The old Brooklyn Dodgers, I never have trouble with any of them. They explain to you everything, help you and everything. They tell me, `I work at the ballpark. I have my yob [job]. You have your yob. When I play with the Brooklyn Dodgers, they show me something....I can't explain. I can explain it in Spanish but not in English."

In Spanish Sandy said, "We were brothers. We got along together. We always had this to help us win, playing together in friendship, united."

Returning to his halting English, he said, "There may have been teams better than we, but we play together, and when you saw how they played, they played separate. They played for them-

selves. So I say, the Brooklyn Dodgers had something: They played together."

I asked Sandy if he still remembered that seventh game back in 1955.

"Yip," he said with a shy smile. "I no start. But in the sixth inning, when the Jankees have two men on base, man on first, man on second, Walter Alstopn bring Hunior Jilliam to second base, put Don Zimmer out, and put me in left field.

"Walter Alston put me all the way to center field for Jogi berra. They didn't think Yonny Podres had much left, and they figured Jogi was going to pull the ball, so they pulled me over to center field. If I had played straightaway like I should have played, it would have been easy for me to catch the baseball. But everybody say to play all the way to center field. So Berra hits the ball to the corner down the left-field line. Well, I had to do something. I run like a hawk. I run to the wall, and I figure, `I can get it,' and so I catch it, and Pee Wee, he tells me, `Give me the ball, give me the ball,' and Pee Wee is standing on the line down third base, and I throw it to Pee Wee, and we caught McDougald on second base, so he throw to Gil Hodges at first, and they make the double play. We finish the inning, 2-0, we play the ninth, and they don't do nothing in the ninth, so it finish 2-0. We win the championship."