SABR

Bobby Treviño

This article was written by Rory Costello.

Mexico had given two pairs of brothers to Major League Baseball as of 2012: the Romos and the Treviños.i Of this quartet, U.S. fans saw the least of Carlos Treviño, also known as “Bobby.” The outfielder played in just 17 games for the California Angels in 1968, and he spent just three of his 16 summers as a pro north of the Rio Grande. In the spring of 1970, finding no way up in the Angels chain, Carlos went back home to continue his career.

Carlos Treviño Castro was born on August 15, 1945 – not 1943, as even Mexican references have previously shown.ii His parents were Carlos Treviño Támez and Aurora Castro Mata. The Treviño family lived in San Nicolás de Los Garza, in the Monterrey urban area. This industrial city in the northeastern state of Nuevo León became one of the bastions of Mexican baseball starting in the early 20th century.

The elder Carlos Treviño was an umpire – he officiated in the Mexican League for 10 yearsiii – and boxer. He supported his ten children in whatever they chose to play.iv After Carlos, the others were Jorge Alberto, Santiago, María Aurora, María Elena, Héctor, future big-league catcher Alejandro, Gerardo, Ricardo, and María Josefina. The firstborn son received his nickname from his father, who was also called “Bobby.” It stemmed from two sources: a brother named Roberto and a Mexican wrestler whom he admired named Roberto Cantú Arreola.v According to a 1969 feature in The Sporting News, the younger Carlos Treviño imagined becoming a bullfighter as a lad, but “one encounter with a young bull destroyed his childhood dream and he turned to baseball.”vi

In 1958, Carlos was the catcher for the Monterrey team that won the Little League World Series for the second straight time. (Knowing that his year of birth was 1945 assuages qualms about eligibility – he turned 13 several days before the title game.) The squad starred future big-league shortstop Héctor Torres, then a pitcher.vii In the championship game, Torres won 10-1, backed by four homers. His batterymate, Treviño, hit two of the team’s seven homers during the competition.

Monterrey’s 1957 team inspired two movies, a 1960 Mexican production called Los Pequeños Gigantes (“The Little Giants”) and a 2008 U.S. film called The Perfect Game. Though the 1958 team cannot boast any cinematic lore, it is still fondly remembered at home. In 2008, many members, including Treviño, got together for a golden anniversary panel at the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Monterrey.

Treviño graduated to Pony and Colt League competition, which gave him further opportunities to compete in the United States. He was then still a catcher. After that, he played for the Cementos team in La Liga de Béisbol de Primera Fuerza de Monterrey. Around 1962, Ramón “Chita” García, a scout for the Diablos Rojos of Mexico City, wanted to sign him for the San Francisco Giants. In 2012, Treviño told Mexican baseball historian Jesús Alberto Rubio, “That time I fell short. In the tryout before manager Dave García, it was [outfielder] Marcelo Juárez and Héctor Torres who made the grade.”viii

Chita García finally signed Treviño for Mexico City in 1964, at age 18. By then, Carlos had become a first baseman/outfielder. As an adult, he stood 6’2” and weighed 185 pounds. Pictures of Carlos and his brother Alex Treviño when each was in his twenties show a strong facial resemblance. However, Carlos was four inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. Starting in 1973, Alex (who was born 12 years later) played pro baseball for more than two decades, including 939 major-league games with five teams from 1978 to 1990.

Carlos Treviño got into three games with the Red Devils in 1964, going 2 for 7 (.286). That brief experience was his only association with a championship club in Mexico’s summer league. He spent most of the ’64 season with the farm club in San Luis Potosí, in the Mexican Center League. One of his teammates was a 16-year-old catcher named Paquín Estrada, whom Chita García had also signed that year. Estrada played just one game in the majors in 1971 but became a renowned ironman catcher and manager in Mexico.

The latest available snapshot of 1964 Mexican Center League stats showed that as of July 25, Treviño was hitting .344, tied for fourth in the league. He had 7 homers and 78 RBIs in 109 games. The 120-game season closed on July 28, so these numbers are virtually complete.ix Treviño then played winter ball for the first time in Mexico. He and Estrada both joined the Navojoa Mayos, whose manager was Tomás “El Sargento” Herrera – their skipper in Mexico City too.

The late Monterrey baseball historian Gerardo Castro wrote a capsule summary of Treviño’s career in 2008. In it, he indicated that Carlos played for San Luis Potosí in two seasons. There is good reason to believe this, but unfortunately The Sporting News did not run leader boards for the Mexican Center League in 1965, as it had the previous year. We do know, though, that Treviño played a large portion of the ’65 season for Mexico City. He hit .301 with no homers and 33 RBIs in 86 games.

Treviño improved markedly for the Red Devils in 1966. He hit .336 with 66 RBIs in 120 games. Though he had just two homers, he continued to hit a lot of triples, raising his total from nine to 15. He was named to the league’s All-Star team in midseason, which faced the capital’s other team, the Tigers (winner of the season’s first half), on June 3. The All-Stars won in 10 innings, 6-4, and Carlos scored the insurance run by stealing home.x Later in June, he ran off nine straight hits, and only a great catch against the fence stopped him from tying the Mexican League record.xi

That October, the California Angels purchased Treviño’s contract from Mexico City. Marvin Milkes, who was the Angels’ assistant general manager, had ties to Mexico. Back in the early ’60s, as general manager of San Antonio in the Texas League, he had tried to sign Epitacio “La Mala” Torres, a Mexican star in the 1940s and ’50s – and the father of Treviño’s old Little League teammate Héctor “Malita” Torres. The recommendation came from a friend named Faz in Monterrey – in all probability César L. Faz, the San Antonio native who managed the champion Little League World Series teams of 1957-58.xii

In early 1966, Milkes obtained Héctor Torres for the Angels chain. He then stepped up his activity in Mexico, getting the rights to Treviño, the fine third baseman Aurelio Rodríguez, Cuban pitcher Ramón Lopez, and another pitcher named Felipe Leal (the only one of the four who did not reach the majors).xiii A November 1966 story in The Sporting News noted that the team had sent Bob Lemon, then pitching coach with the big club, to Mexico to look over the farmhands playing winter ball there.xiv

Another intriguing note in the agate type came that December. California’s Triple-A club at that time, Seattle, was noted as having acquired not only Treviño but also Héctor Espino, the foremost Mexican slugger of his day. Espino had had a brief experience in the U.S. with the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1964. “Marvin Milkes’ persistent efforts to lure the slugger out of Mexico had appeared successful,” but Espino never did come back to the States.xv

Treviño came to spring training with the big club in 1967 as a non-roster player and got into some exhibition games behind Jay Johnstone, then a young center fielder. That April, The Sporting News observed, “Bobby Trevino, Seattle (Pacific Coast) outfielder is fast but can be faster, the Angels have decided. So Bud Spencer, the organization’s expert on matters physical, is working with the ex-Mexican leaguer to, literally, put him on his toes. Trevino runs on his heels and Spencer’s job is to change his running form.”xvi

Treviño suffered an ice-cold start at Seattle: 3 for 39 (.077) in 13 games. He was sent down to Double-A El Paso. “He was a dispirited youngster in the early days of that season. . .It was two months before he started hitting at the pace he showed in the Mexican League, and [manager] Rocky [Bridges] kept him in the seventh position in the batting order until he began to make contact with the ball.”xvii He finished with modestly respectable numbers for the Sun Kings (.268-3-28 in 103 games). In 1969, he remarked, “The biggest thing I’ve learned in playing ball in this country is that of hustling and keeping my head up. I used to get so down in the dumps that I’d let it affect my play. Now, when I don’t get a hit, I don’t let it bother me.”xviii

Returning to El Paso, Treviño got off to a strong start for manager Chuck Tanner in 1968: .311-3-23 in 34 games. That May, the Angels called him up after Jay Johnstone suffered a bad spike wound that was expected to keep him out a few weeks.xix Chuck Tanner said, “We hate to lose Trevino but I am always glad to see anyone get a chance in the big leagues. It was a big surprise to Trevino who couldn’t believe it for awhile.”xx

Johnstone got back for one game in early June but was then sent down to Seattle. From May 22 through July 6, Treviño started nine games, seven of those in center field. He pinch-hit six times and entered as a replacement twice more. He was 9 for 40 (.225) with a single RBI and one run scored. His one extra-base hit, a double, came in his best outing. At Anaheim Stadium on May 27, he was 3-for-6 against the Detroit Tigers as the Angels won 7-6 in 12 innings.

The brief major-league experience of Carlos Treviño ended much as it began. As The Sporting News put it, “General Manager Fred Haney and Manager Bill Rigney have made a score of roster changes this season in an attempt to arouse a team unable to get above .500. The latest additions were catcher Orlando McFarlane and pitcher Bobby Locke. . .The latest deletions were outfielder Bobby Trevino and pitcher Larry Sherry.”xxi Treviño spent the remainder of the 1968 season at Seattle, where he went 0 for his first 18 and finished at .194-2-8 in 55 games.

The winter of 1968-69 was a notable one for Treviño. With the Cañeros of Los Mochis, on New Year’s Eve 1968, he became the first batter in club history to hit three home runs in a game (many batters have since equaled the feat). Los Mochis also won its first Mexican winter title. Unfortunately, the Caribbean Series was on hiatus at that time. After the tournament returned in 1970, however, he did get to appear in the 1977 edition. He was a reinforcement for the Mexican champions, Venados de Mazatlán, and served as a designated hitter. He was part of Mexico’s coaching staff on other occasions.

At age 25, Treviño was getting a little too old for Double-A ball, but he went back to El Paso once more for 1969 because “Farm Director Roland Hemond figured he could use another season in the Texas League.”xxii He started off with a 37-game hitting streak, a feat that tied Ike Boone’s Texas League record, set back in 1923. Over that span, Carlos hit .378-2-27. Manager Del Rice said, “I don’t know how long we’ll keep Trevino. Naturally, I’m for him getting another chance in the majors.” xxiii

Carlos lost that chance, though, when California fired Bill Rigney in late May. According to the Los Angeles Times, Rigney had planned to shake up his roster again, and Treviño was in the outfield mix along with Jarvis Tatum. xxiv That didn’t happen after Lefty Phillips replaced Rig. In June, Chuck Tanner, who had become manager of the Angels’ new Triple-A club in Hawaii, even ruled out a promotion to his level. He said, “I believe Trevino is better off by having a full season in El Paso.”xxv Tatum made it to the majors that September, but Treviño did spend all of 1969 at Double-A, hitting .314-6-92 for El Paso. He won the Ray Winder Award as Texas League MVP.xxvi

The Angels restored Treviño to their 40-man roster after the 1969 season ended.xxvii However, he never played again in the United States. In late March 1970, the El Paso Herald Post indicated that Carlos was going to the Hawaii Islanders, but shortly thereafter Del Rice said that the popular Mexican would be back in El Paso. That may have been handwriting on the wall. He appeared in some exhibition games for the Sun Kings, but on April 13, the Herald Post confirmed Rice’s earlier rumor that the Angels had sold Treviño’s contract back to Mexico City.

Local sports columnist Bob Ingram found it “hard to understand why he [Treviño] didn’t get a better chance in the organization. . .They may not think he’s quite fast enough or can throw well enough. They may detect certain batting flaws. But it seems like he got little or no chance in the Pacific Coast League or the big league. I’ve seen others who I didn’t think had as much talent be given any number of chances in the higher echelons of the Angel organization. He wasn’t turned down because of deficiencies in attitude. Bobby was always pleasant, cooperative, and hardworking.”xxviii

In 2012, however, Treviño said, “The matter was decided by wages. They didn’t give me a raise, and I preferred to play at the Triple-A level in Mexico.” He went on to play ten more summers at home. From 1970 to 1972, he played with the Red Devils. Always more of a line-drive hitter, he posted his two best annual home run totals in 1972 (with 17) and 1970 (with 12). However, his long-ball output dipped to just one in 1971 as he played in only 86 games. He hit consistently for average (.309, .309, and .299) and drove in 189 runs. In addition to Francisco Estrada, Treviño had other teammates who had played in the major leagues or later would. They included Choo Choo Coleman, Jorge Rubio (another Mexican Angel of the ’60s), and future hitting coach Tom Robson.

From 1973 through 1975, Carlos played for Unión Laguna, the club representing the Torreón metro area. His offensive totals were largely similar: a .288 average with 27 homers and 210 RBIs. His most notable teammate there was Minnie Miñoso, aged 47 in 1973 and still a good-hitting regular. Treviño spent 1976 with three clubs (Coahuila, Saltillo, and Nuevo Laredo). It was a less successful season: .245-3-40 overall. There, too, names familiar to U.S. fans were visible: fellow Mexican Celerino Sánchez; an American in Hal King; and a couple of Panamanians, Adolfo Phillips and Ivan Murrell.

Treviño then became a player-manager.

  • In 1977, he was skipper in Tabasco for part of the year; the other manager was Napoleón Reyes. He hit .217-1-23 in 97 games.
  • In 1978, serving as a player only, he returned to Nuevo Laredo (.234-1-23 in 52 games).
  • In 1979, he and old teammate Felipe Leal were managers in Tampico. As a player, he hit .230-4-29 in 90 games. He concluded his career in Mexican summer competition with 70 homers, 608 RBIs, and a .283 average in 1,214 games.
  • In 1980, a strike-shortened season in Mexico, he managed Toluca (a city that has hosted a Mexican franchise in only two years, the other being 1984).

Treviño wrapped up his winter career in the 1977-78 season. In 14 seasons, moving between Navojoa, Los Mochis, Hermosillo, and Mazatlán, he batted .268 in 917 games, with 65 homers and 408 RBIs. He managed in winter competition too; in 1985, younger brother Alex Treviño recalled that while playing for Hermosillo some years previously, he had faced Fernando Valenzuela, who was a rookie under Carlos.xxix

After his pro career ended, Treviño continued to enjoy playing baseball and softball for fun in the Monterrey area. He went to work as a driver for Hylsamex, a steel processor that was merged into a broader Latin American steel company, Ternium, in 2005. He held that job for 28 years until retirement.

Carlos Treviño married María Elena Flores de Lira on August 31, 1973. They had three children: Carlos, María Gabriela, and Marcela. The Treviños still made their home in Monterrey as of 2012.

 

Acknowledgements

Continued thanks to Jesús Alberto Rubio in Mexico for his input. Jesús spoke with Carlos “Bobby” Treviño (one of his favorite players of that era) by telephone on May 8, May 9, and May 16, 2012. Special thanks to Sr. Treviño himself and to Alex Treviño for arranging the contact.

Jesús Rubio’s story about this player’s life and career, “El formidable Bobby Treviño,” may be found in different forms on various web pages, but the most complete is on his section of the website of René Cárdenas, La Estufa Caliente (http://www.laestufacaliente.com/articulos/Jes%C3%BAsAlbertoRubio/). It has a deeper focus on Treviño’s career in Mexico.

 

Sources

Treto Cisneros, Pedro, ed., Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano (Mexico City: Revistas Deportivas, S.A. de C.V., 11th edition, 2011)

Sporting News Baseball Register, various editions (provided the names and years of the clubs Treviño managed in the Mexican summer league)

www.baseball-reference.com

www.retrosheet.org

www.newspaperarchive.com (El Paso Herald Post articles)

Cañeros de Los Mochis website (www.verdes.com.mx)

 

Notes

i The Mexican-American González brothers, Adrián and Édgar, have represented Mexico in international competition. They were born in San Diego but lived in Tijuana from 1983 to 1990. Their father, David, was at one time a member of the Mexican national team. Corey Brock, “A dream fulfilled for Gonzalez brothers,” MLB.com, August 4, 2008 (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080804&content_id=3251158)

ii Jesús Rubio with Carlos Treviño, telephone interviews, May 9 and May 16, 2012.

iii Jerry Waggoner, “Trevino Ties 46-Year Record with 37-Game Hitting Streak,” The Sporting News, June 7, 1969, 39.

iv Gerardo Castro, “‘Bobby’ Treviño.” El Regio (Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico), March 12, 2008, 9.

v Telephone interview, Jesús Rubio with Carlos Treviño, May 8, 2012.

vi Waggoner, “Trevino Ties 46-Year Record with 37-Game Hitting Streak”

vii “Former Mexico Little League Sensation Now With Astros.” Associated Press, May 8, 1968.

viii Telephone interview, Jesús Rubio with Carlos Treviño, May 8, 2012.

ix The Sporting News, August 8, 1964, 9. The 120-game season closed on July 28, so these numbers are virtually complete.

x The Sporting News, June 18, 1966, 45.

xi “Great Catch Ends Spree,” The Sporting News, July 16, 1966, 57.

xii “Milkes Found Papa Torres Too Old, but Deal for Son Wins Seattle Okay,” The Sporting News, May 7, 1966.

xiii Bob Ingram, “No-Hit Game Snaps Leal’s Losing Skein,” The Sporting News, May 27, 1967, 33.

xiv Ross Newhan, “Angel Angles,” The Sporting News, November 12, 1966, 36.

xv Ross Newhan, “Angel Angles,” The Sporting News, March 4, 1967, 27.

xvi “Trevino Works on Speed,” The Sporting News, April 8, 1967, 38. “Trevino” without the tilde (~) is used here only from U.S. newspaper quotes that omitted it from the proper Spanish spelling of the family name.

xvii Bob Ingram, “Lee Trevino a Whiz…And So Is Bobby!” The Sporting News, May 24, 1969, 41

xviii Ibid.

xix “Angels Recall Bobby Trevino,” Associated Press, May 22, 1968.

xx “Trevino Is Now California Angel,” El Paso Herald Post, May 21, 1968.

xxi “Rig, Haney Try Shakewell System on Faltering Angels,” The Sporting News, July 28, 1968, 25.

xxii Ingram, “Lee Trevino a Whiz…And So Is Bobby!” op. cit.

xxiii Ibid.

xxiv Ross Newhan, “Angel Shakeup Due -- If Rigney’s Still Manager,” Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1969, D1.

xxv Bob Ingram, “Tanner No. 1 Angel Candidate,” El Paso Herald Post, June 7, 1969.

xxvi “Winder Winners,” El Paso Herald Post, April 23, 1970.

xxvii John Wiebusch, “Angel Angles,” The Sporting News, October 11, 1969.

xxviii Bob Ingram, story headline unavailable online, El Paso Herald Post, April 13, 1970, 18.

xxix Gordon Edes, “Alex Trevino Is Just Happy to Be in Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Times, December 18, 1985. Jesús Rubio with Carlos Treviño, telephone interview, May 9, 2012.

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