Miguel "Mike" de la Hoz (THE TOPPS COMPANY)

Miguel de la Hoz

This article was written by José I. Ramírez - Rory Costello

Miguel "Mike" de la Hoz (THE TOPPS COMPANY)Cuban infielder Miguel de la Hoz – better known as “Miguelito” or its English translation, “Mike” – played in 494 games in the majors from 1960 through 1969. A good hitter with an “easy swing,”1 he put up some strong numbers in the minors and winter ball. Yet he never won a full-time starting job at the top level. As a reserve, his single-season career highs were 43 starts and 81 appearances.

“In those days you had to earn moving up,” said de la Hoz in 2021. “That is how things were.”

This man’s full name, reflecting Spanish use of both paternal and maternal surnames, was Miguel Ángel de la Hoz Piloto.2 He was born on October 2, 1938, though during his career the year was shown as 1939.3 His birthplace was the town of San Nicolás de Bari, located in what was then Habana province but is now in Mayabeque province (established in 2011). This is at odds with some baseball references, which list the nation’s capital, La Habana.

In Spanish, “hoz” means “sickle.”4 Some people who bear the family name de la Hoz are or were Jewish. Miguel de la Hoz had heard of this connection but was not aware of any relatives in that faith. His paternal grandparents emigrated from Valencia, Spain to Cuba toward the end of the final Cuban War of Independence against Spain, which ended in 1898.5 They settled in the town of Pedro Betancourt in Matanzas province.

His father, Miguel Ángel de la Hoz Lezcano, grew up in Pedro Betancourt. The elder Miguel was a good pitcher for the mill team of Central Gómez Mena, a sugar industry complex in Matanzas province. Ultimately, he attended correspondence school and became a locomotive engineer at the central, overseeing a crew of workers. It was a smart move on Miguel’s part because railroads were a vital part of the Cuban sugar economic system.

The elder Miguel married Amanda Piloto Gil, a first-class seamstress, from San Nicolás de Bari (just a few kilometers from Central Gómez Mena). Her mother, who was from the Canary Islands, also went to Cuba near the end of the 19th century. Amanda’s father was from Pedro Betancourt. Miguel was her only child. She gave birth at her parents’ house, a common practice in those days.

Miguelito de la Hoz, as did so many other Cuban youngsters, started playing baseball very young. He attended the Güines Institute, an equivalent of high school, in the town of that name, about 20 kilometers from Central Gómez Mena. An important influence at that school was a physical education teacher named “Lito” Pérez, who managed its baseball team and was a prodigious reader of books about Ted Williams and other great hitters. Two days a week, Pérez met with de la Hoz and other players to provide special hitting instruction after classes ended. Around 1955 or ’56, Güines Institute went on to win Cuba’s national championship at the institute level. Decades later, de la Hoz remained most appreciative of Pérez’s guidance.

De la Hoz broke into amateur baseball in his homeland thanks to someone whom he remembered only by the nickname “Polacero.” This man (whose father was connected with the Polar beer company) was a medical doctor and the president of Liceo de Güines, a local private society. He talked to Miguelito’s father and asked if the youth (then aged 15) wanted to play for the Liceo team. The social group’s membership consisted of other doctors and professionals, so it had good access to equipment.

The elder Miguel agreed and drove his son to his first game. In the eighth inning, the manager asked Miguelito, “What position do you play?” The answer: “All of them.” He entered at second base. His father continued to drive him to the games. One day, the team’s regular shortstop had a bad day, and Miguelito replaced him. Yet it was as a second baseman that he made the all-star team in La Unión Atlética (the amateur circuit which included the Liceo de Güines team) in his second year.

As the young infielder’s talent became obvious, an influential Cuban baseball man began to follow him. That was Julio “Monchy” de Arcos – the part-owner and general manager of the Almendares Alacranes (Scorpions), one of the four teams in the Cuban professional winter league. De Arcos sat with de la Hoz’s parents during the games.

De la Hoz went on to play in La Unión Atlética for four summers. One notably tough opponent was Luis Fiuza, who played for the Cubanaleco team and had a great fastball. Fiuza never played professionally but starred for the Cuban national team a few times.6

Miguelito also joined the Pasta Gravi team in the Pedro Betancourt League for one winter. This league, based in Matanzas province, was another important stepping stone for many high-quality young players.7

De la Hoz vividly recalled his last game for the Liceo team, against the Artemisa club. If Liceo won, Santiago de las Vegas would win the championship; if Liceo lost or tied, Artemisa would win. In the eighth inning, it was approaching midnight. With two outs and the game tied, de la Hoz tripled. The next batter, a young pinch-hitter, quickly fell behind in the count. With two strikes, Miguelito broke for home and was safe. Unfortunately, the batter had swung at the pitch and struck out, so the inning ended. At that time, there was a midnight curfew in effect for amateur games. Thus, the umpire called the game, which ended in a tie – so Artemisa became champion. Yet de la Hoz was philosophical, observing that it was the rule, so he had no regrets over the outcome.

From Liceo, on September 29, 1957, de la Hoz signed as a pro with Almendares for the 1957-58 winter season. He’d been thinking about going to the University of Havana but received a bonus of $10,000, good money for the times.8

The Alacranes were then managed by Bobby Bragan, whom the Cleveland Indians had named as skipper right after the 1957 big-league season had ended. 9 Bragan had re-signed to lead Almendares even before the Pittsburgh Pirates dismissed him that August.10 Monchy de Arcos, the Alacranes GM, retained Bragan; de Arcos was the Indians’ head scout in Cuba too.11

At first, de la Hoz was a practice player. After practice ended, these players would shower, change, and watch the game from the stands. Larry Raines, a 27-year-old infielder who’d made the majors with Cleveland in 1957, was one of eight “imports” (typically from the U.S.) that Almendares (and other teams in the Cuban winter league) could sign. If they didn’t measure up quickly, they were replaced. Raines faltered and was released in December to make room for Billy Moran.12 Yet after another infielder was sent to Nicaragua, Bragan also gave Miguelito a shot. He “gave G.M. Frank Lane of the Indians an eyeful with a four-for-four batting performance for Almendares, December 20.”13

At age 19 in 1958, de la Hoz began his U.S. career. Not surprisingly, it was with the Cleveland organization. His first assignment was Minot (North Dakota) of the Northern League (Class C). To reach the town, located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Canada, he left Daytona, Florida at 3 PM. After multiple flights (to Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis) and a train ride, he arrived the next day at 8 PM. When asked how he felt about going there, he replied, “It was a traumatic experience, not just for a young Cuban but Americans as well. Some of them could not take the cold or living away. For a young boy who had never left Cuba, it was a very difficult experience and you had to be very strong.”

Yet de la Hoz coped well – and hit well, posting a .315 average with six homers and 62 RBIs in 122 games as the shortstop. He tied with Yankees farmhand Don Brummer for the league’s outstanding rookie award.14

With Almendares in the winter of 1958-59, de la Hoz still didn’t play much. He got 39 at-bats, just 13 more than he had the year before. The Alacranes became league champions that season and thus represented Cuba in the Caribbean Series. Cuba defeated the region’s other winter league champs in the round-robin tournament.

The prospect jumped to Class A for the start of the 1959 summer season. With Reading in the Eastern League, de la Hoz hit 15 homers, a professional high. In midseason, he was named the starting shortstop on the EL’s all-star squad.15 He earned promotion to Triple-A in late August, joining San Diego in the Pacific Coast League.

Rejoining Almendares for the 1959-60 season, de la Hoz hit .250 in 192 at-bats. That November, The Sporting News reported that he had emerged as “a minor sensation. His fine play both in the field and at bat resulted in Willy Miranda being benched by Almendares.”16 That was significant because Miranda was one of the game’s fanciest-fielding shortstops. A few weeks later, though, de la Hoz shifted to third base after Almendares released Jim Baxes.17

In the minors, de la Hoz didn’t feel especially challenged and moved up quickly. Frank Lane invited him to spring training with the big club in 1960.18 He was one of the last two cuts and started the season with Triple-A Toronto.19 Despite a demotion to the Double-A Southern League in May, he was in the majors by July 19, called up from Mobile after shortstop Woodie Held broke a finger.20 He hit six homers in 179 at-bats, playing mostly at short. In September, Indians manager Jimmie Dykes gave him a trial at third base and said that the rookie looked “mighty good.”21 However, a later report described his play at third as inconsistent.22 Even so, the 21-year-old’s potential was apparent. He drew interest in trade talks.23

The winter of 1960-61 was the last for professional baseball in Cuba. The impending end of the pro game in the wake of Fidel Castro’s successful revolution was a well-known fact that nobody talked about. That last season, imports were not allowed in the league. De la Hoz played third base and hit .277 with four homers in 242 at-bats.24

At that time, de la Hoz’s family lived in Gómez Mena, but he was living with his aunt in La Habana, where he moved after signing to play professionally. Monchy de Arcos suggested that Miguelito might wish to get a visa for his parents so they could go to the U.S. and see him play. He did and secured a tourist visa for them, valid for five years.

When he decided to leave Cuba, his parents told him, “Don’t tell anyone you are leaving.” Those were difficult times in Cuba, especially for those who were thought not to support the Castro Revolution. At the time, there was an arrangement between major-league baseball and Mexico to allow Cuban players to play in Mexico – but in reality, it was a way to obtain a visa to enter the United States. Monchy de Arcos was the one person who knew when the Cubans in the Indians organization would leave the island and was in charge of notifying them.

At the appointed date and time, de la Hoz went to the Mexican Embassy in Habana, secured a visa, which was waiting for him, and left for Mexico City. He left without a suitcase and with only $5 in his pocket, as many did in those days (including the coauthor of this piece). De la Hoz remembered that Castro sent a representative, a Capitán Moro, to tell him that, upon return from Mexico, “You have a job with the Revolution.” Of course, by then de la Hoz knew he would not be going back. Before taking off for Mexico, he bought a package of Bacardí rum as a gift to coaches in the U.S., but upon arrival in Mexico, the customs agent would not let him get through unless he surrendered the Bacardí, which he did.

De la Hoz remembered talking to pitcher Orlando Peña on the plane. At the Mexico City airport, a station wagon was waiting to take him to Hotel Virreyes, where Peña was also staying, as were other Cuban players, including José Valdivielso and Orlando McFarlane. They went to the American Embassy and went out to eat that night, since their journey was almost at the end – though some would say it was just beginning. The next day de la Hoz traveled to the U.S., arriving in Miami on March 3, 1961 on his way to join the Indians at their spring camp in Tucson, Arizona. Since then, more than 60 years later, he never did return to Cuba.

De la Hoz contended for the third-base job with the big club in spring training 1961. Jimmie Dykes observed, “We had hoped Mike could play shortstop so we could move Woodie Held to third, but I’m afraid Mike doesn’t have the range for a shortstop.”25 He made the Opening Day roster and spent the whole season with Cleveland, hitting .260 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 61 games, split evenly among second, short, and third. The Sporting News said, “Young Mike de la Hoz shows signs of becoming a strong hitter and has a chance to develop into a good infielder.”26

At the end of the 1961 summer season, he returned to Miami, where he lived with Monchy de Arcos. His father called and said that the son of a mutual acquaintance was going to Miami from Cuba and had a message for him: “Don’t return to Cuba.” His parents arrived 11 months later with the tourist visa he had secured for them – his dream of seeing them again was fulfilled. The very happy reunion continued as his parents traveled with him to Tucson. They subsequently joined him in Cleveland. “It all went perfect,” he said.

During the winter of 1961-62, de la Hoz played in a new place: Puerto Rico. To make room for Cubans in the absence of that league, the Puerto Rican circuit allowed each of its clubs to exclude one Cuban from its quota of imports.27

De la Hoz joined the San Juan Senadores and never let up after a hot start. He became the league’s batting champion with a mark of .354 (including eight homers and 50 RBIs). This was among the proudest moments of de la Hoz’s baseball career, but his hot-hitting winter wasn’t over. Joining the Santurce Crabbers, he starred in the Inter-American Series of 1962. This was another intra-regional tournament held for four years starting in 1961. (Cuba’s withdrawal ended the first era of the Caribbean Series after the 1960 edition.) Puerto Rico, represented in part by the Crabbers, won, led by two victories from Bob Gibson and four homers by de la Hoz. The fourth came on Valentine’s Day. It was a game-winner in the bottom of the 11th inning against countryman Luis Tiant, pitching for Mayagüez, the other Puerto Rican entry in the series. It was also the last professional home run at San Juan’s Sixto Escobar Stadium.28

The strong hitting carried into spring training with the Indians. De la Hoz competed with Bubba Phillips for the third-base job. The Sporting News said, “He has always looked like a coming hitter. . .and looks like a much improved man with the mitt.” That report said that de la Hoz himself viewed third as his best position.29

Yet de la Hoz played just 12 games in the majors in 1962. From April through early June, he appeared sporadically as a pinch-hitter, staying in the field in just two games for a total of five innings. He was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville. De la Hoz later remarked that Indians manager Mel McGaha had no confidence in him, dating back to their time together in Toronto, when McGaha had sent him down to Mobile.30 He also noted that general manager Gabe Paul offered him an extra $2,000 to go to Jacksonville, which was contending for the International League (IL) pennant, and get regular duty.31

The Jacksonville franchise was the lineal descendant of the Havana Sugar Kings, Cuba’s Triple-A franchise from 1954 through July 1960. The Sugar Kings had been owned by a great baseball man, Cuban Bobby Maduro, and Maduro remained a key figure with the club in Jacksonville. The Suns were managed by another man noted for his acumen, Ben Geraghty. Of them, de la Hoz remarked, “Maduro was a very good man who did a lot for Cubans in baseball. Ben Geraghty was a good manager, very intelligent with a calm demeanor.”

Jacksonville finished first in the IL during the regular season but lost to the Atlanta Crackers (a team that got hot late in the year) in the seventh game of the International League playoff finals. Cleveland then called up de la Hoz, but he did not get into a game before the season ended – even though McGaha was fired on September 30 and Mel Harder ran the club during the season-ending doubleheader.

After another winter with Santurce, de la Hoz spent the entire 1963 summer season with the Indians. He got into 67 games and hit .267 with five homers and 25 RBIs. Power-hitting rookie Max Alvis seized the third-base job in Cleveland and held it for the next several years. That kept de la Hoz on the bench, but the Indians experimented with him in left field for a couple of games. It intrigued Gabe Paul enough to mention the possibility that de la Hoz – whose hitting ability was still prized – could see more action as an outfielder in 1964.32

At least one sportswriter thought the Cleveland organization didn’t do right by de la Hoz. Looking back in 1970, with Curt Flood’s challenge of the reserve clause making headlines, Regis McAuley of the Tucson Daily Citizen expressed little sympathy for Flood. However, he said, “If the attorney brought in Mike de la Hoz, for instance, as his Exhibit A of the unfairness of the reserve clause, my ears would go up, along with my dander.”

McAuley recounted, “One of the classic disputes I had with Birdie Tebbetts, former manager of the Indians, was over the handling of de la Hoz, a modest, polite Cuban who should have had a fine baseball career had he not been sitting on the Cleveland Indians’ bench when he should have been playing elsewhere. . . He was still sitting on the bench in 1963 when Tebbetts took over. Tebbetts told us at spring training in Tucson that year that several clubs were seeking de la Hoz, who did not ‘fit in with our plans’ with the Indians.”

The story continued, “During the season some weeks later, I asked Tebbetts what was going to happen to de la Hoz. ‘Several clubs would love to have him,’ he said, ‘but we aren’t about to help other clubs. Maybe he will be traded to a club in the other league where he won’t hurt us.’ The following year de la Hoz. . .was traded to the Braves after six wasted years with the Indians’ organization.”33 That deal originally started in October 1963, when the Indians obtained a similar player – utilityman Chico Salmon – from Milwaukee for a player to be named later.

During the winter of 1963-64, de la Hoz enjoyed another good season with Santurce, batting .319. He then joined Licey in the Dominican Republic and helped the Tigres win their first championship since 1958-59. He hit the team’s only homer of the final series. It came off former Chicago Cub Ben Johnson and helped Licey win the eighth and last game, 4-3.34 He then took part in a four-game tourney that featured the top two Dominican clubs against Venezuela’s top two.

Cleveland completed the Salmon transaction by sending de la Hoz to the Braves on April 1, 1964. Regis McAuley remarked that the team’s “traffic tie-up” at second base was reduced with the departure of the “faithful utilityman.”35 Yet Salmon – in both 1964 and over his entire big-league career – played often at second. But the Panamanian also frequently played outfield, where de la Hoz never did appear again in the majors.

With the Braves – managed by Bobby Bragan, his first pro leader with Almendares – de la Hoz remained a reserve infielder in 1964. He also showed a knack for pinch-hitting, going 11-for-32 (.344) in that role.

De la Hoz did not play winter ball in 1964-65. Previously, Commissioner Ford Frick had issued an edict that was supposed to prevent Latino ballplayers from going anywhere other than their home country in the winters. This hit many Cubans particularly hard, because their homeland no longer had a pro league.36

Instead, that fall, de la Hoz took part in a goodwill tour of Latin America sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Headed by AL umpire Frank Umont, the group included Charlie Lau and Dick Hall from the Baltimore Orioles (Hall was married to a Mexican woman), as well as Julián Javier of the St. Louis Cardinals, Ron Kline and Chuck Cottier from the Washington Senators, and Braves teammate Lee Maye. De la Hoz, who did a lot of interpreting, recalled that they traveled to Medellín and Barranquilla in Colombia, followed by Panama, where they gave instruction at a women’s teachers college to students with a major in physical education. Then they went on to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. According to de la Hoz, the troupe was well paid and treated royally. U.S. representatives were waiting at the airport to help them pass through customs immediately. There were also banquets. Cardinals trainer Bob Bauman differed in his view, citing “shabby treatment” at some of the stops.37 Yet Hall seconded de la Hoz, saying, “We were well received just about everywhere.”38

De la Hoz continued in his pinch-hitting/reserve role for the Braves in his remaining three seasons with the club (1965-67). Over this period, he averaged 75 games, 18 starts, and 143 at-bats, while hitting .228.

Perhaps his finest day in the majors came on July 8, 1965, at Milwaukee’s County Stadium against the Houston Astros. He hit a pinch homer in the bottom of the eighth inning against Dave Giusti, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out RBI single off Jim Owens, and singled and scored the winning run against Ron Taylor in the bottom of the 12th as the Braves triumphed, 9-8.

De la Hoz spent the 1965-66 off-season in the Atlanta area working to promote the Braves ahead of their first season there.39 During the winter of 1966-67, the rules applying to Latino players were liberalized. 40 Commissioner William Eckert – with the help of Bobby Maduro, by then Eckert’s coordinator for Latin affairs, overturned Frick’s edict. De la Hoz returned to the Dominican Republic, hitting .288 for Escogido in 56 games.

Coming off a summer in which he hit just .203 for Atlanta, de la Hoz was assigned to Atlanta’s Triple-A team in Richmond in October 1967. He played winter ball once more in the 1967-68 season. This time it was in Venezuela, for Tiburones de La Guaira. He was among the league’s leading hitters throughout, finishing with a .343 mark in 207 at-bats. Yet despite that strong showing, the Braves apparently wanted him only to play for Richmond, and so he temporarily retired. The general manager of the R-Braves, Hillman Lyons, had to talk him out of it. De la Hoz joined Richmond in June and began getting back in shape.41 He got into 81 games, hitting .286 with nine homers.

De la Hoz went back to Venezuela but played just 10 games for La Guaira in 1968-69. He saw more action in the Dominican League that winter, getting into 28 games with Estrellas Orientales and hitting .276. He also took part in the postseason, but Estrellas – the defending champ – lost in the finals. The club did not win another title until 2018-19.

De la Hoz began the 1969 season in Richmond again but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds organization in May for Grover Powell. Assigned to the Reds’ top affiliate, Indianapolis, he lifted his combined average for the year in Triple-A to .332 by hitting .355 in 386 at-bats. Indy teammate Bernie Carbo led the American Association in batting that year at .359.

Cincinnati called up de la Hoz when rosters expanded that September. He got into one game – his last in the majors – as a pinch-hitter. He finished his big-league career with a .251 average and 25 homers in 1,114 at-bats.

De la Hoz’s final winter-ball activity came with Estrellas Orientales in 1969-70 (.328 in 30 games). His time as an active player ended in 1970, when he hit .270 in 53 games for Indianapolis. At age 31, he retired because a very painful bone spur in his right foot prevented him from walking properly. The problem had started in Puerto Rico and as time went on, it got progressively worse. No treatment was readily available, and surgery was not a viable option because the spur was near the Achilles tendon. There was a fear that he’d become permanently disabled if the procedure was not successful. Back in Miami, a friend referred him to a doctor who gave him an injection, fitted him with a special soft shoe, and limited his exercise. Over time, the problem improved and in later life he was walking with no problem. He remembered that many players had similar afflictions given the number of games they played, the very hard bases, and the spikes they wore.

Looking back, de la Hoz remembered well some of the most difficult pitchers he faced. They included Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale in the NL, as well as Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos in the AL and in Cuba.42

Following his retirement as a player, the Detroit Tigers hired de la Hoz as a scout covering southern Florida and Latin America.43 Farm director Hoot Evers, who’d known de la Hoz from the Cleveland organization, said, “Mike is a hard worker and a very honest man.”44

De la Hoz – who became a U.S. citizen in 1971 – also served as a special assignment instructor, a role that overlapped with his scouting activity. The special assignments turned out to be his primary service to the organization. He traveled over Latin America, wherever prospects could use his help if they needed to correct a problem of some sort. He used the batting tee extensively to teach players to keep an eye on the ball. Once they mastered hitting straightaway, they could then spread their hitting to all sides.

As a scout, de la Hoz didn’t sign anybody who made it big. Nonetheless, he remembered a couple of prospects he brought in – the anecdotes illustrate minor-league life. One was a young Puerto Rican whom he signed for $8,000. The player hit well in the Florida State League (Class A) around 1972. But upon arrival at spring training, he would not follow directions. They sent him back to the Florida State League and he chose to retire from baseball. “Those were different days,” said de la Hoz. “Players had to follow rules or they would not be promoted. For example, catching balls in the outfield with one hand was not acceptable.”

The other was a Cuban from a Miami high school who had a great arm. They thought that if he didn’t measure up as an infielder, he could be converted into a pitcher. He did well but couldn’t bear to stay away from his high-school girlfriend – so he left baseball and went back to her.

De la Hoz left the Tigers around 1975 or ’76.45 He then got involved in sales (real estate and autos). In addition, along with Orlando Peña, in the mid-1980s he operated a baseball academy in Miami for young players.

After 30-plus years, de la Hoz also returned to school, ultimately graduating from Florida International University in Miami. He earned a degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Finance, a subject of great interest to him. Approaching the end of his studies, he secured a job with the New World Symphony, where he was in charge of matters related to the management of the building. He worked there for 17 years; it was a source of great professional pride and much enjoyment learning about music composition while meeting well-known artists. He fully retired after that position.

De la Hoz was divorced twice. He had six children. Except for Miguel, who lives in California, all the others – Diane, Michele, Mariela, Joanne, and Jesús Miguel – live in Florida. None of them pursued a baseball career.

As of 2023, de la Hoz still lived in Miami. He kept travel to a minimum but enjoyed visiting with many longtime friends and attending regular lunches with former Cuban amateur players.46

After a lengthy illness, Miguel de la Hoz passed away at 6:30 AM on May 28, 2023. When informed, Luis C. Tiant –an opponent in winter ball and later a fellow member of the Indians organization – remembered de la Hoz as a gentleman and always respected person.47 The family held a private service, followed by burial at the Woodlawn Park North Cemetery in Miami on Friday, June 2.48

Looking back, Miguelito de la Hoz expressed contentment with a rich and fulfilling career and life in and out of baseball. His one regret was the bone spur that ended his playing career prematurely.

Miguel de la Hoz in 2020 (JOSE RAMIREZ)



Grateful acknowledgment to Miguelito de la Hoz for his memories. Unless otherwise noted, the personal information contained in this story is the result of a telephone interview held with José Ramirez on June 3, 2021, with telephone follow-ups on June 15, June 17, June 18, and July 12, 2021. José conducted previous interviews in person with de la Hoz on February 2 and February 10, 2020.

Thanks also to Malcolm Allen for additional research and José “Chamby” Campos for information about the death and burial of Miguel de la Hoz.

This biography was reviewed by Gregory H. Wolf and Jan Finkel and fact-checked by Evan Katz. It was originally published in July 2021 and updated on June 1, 2023.


Photo Credits

The Topps Company

José Ramirez – at de la Hoz’s home, February 10, 2020



In addition to the sources shown in the notes, the authors used:




la84.org (Sporting News contract card)


pelotabinaria.com.ve (Venezuelan statistics)

winterballdata,com (Dominican statistics, subscription only)


Figueredo, Jorge S. Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball 1878-1961. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland and Company, 2003.

Ramírez, José I. Defining Moments A Cuban Exile’s Story about Discovery and the Search for a Better Future. North Charleston, South Carolina: Create Space Publishing, 2013.

Ramirez, José I. Cuba and the “Last” Baseball Season. Charleston, South Carolina: Create Space Publishing, 2018.

Torres, Angel. La Leyenda del Beisbol Cubano. Miami, Florida: Review Printers, 1996.



1 Bob Dolgan, “Dandy at Dish, De la Hoz Duels Phillips at Tribe’s Hot Corner,” The Sporting News, March 21, 1962: 22.

2 As is true of many other players, this man’s name has not always been published consistently. During the June 3, 2021 interview, however, he confirmed his name as indicated in Cuba and the “Last” Baseball Season (Ramirez) and La Leyenda del Beisbol Cubano (Torres).

3 This date is consistent with naturalization documentation and and La Leyenda del Beisbol Cubano (Torres). His Topps baseball cards and Sporting News contract card show the year as 1939.

4 Some renditions of the de la Hoz family coat of arms feature sickle imagery. The name may refer to makers of sickles or to localities named La Hoz (reflecting the word’s other meaning, “ravine”).

5 This war was fought from 1895 to 1898. In 1898, the U.S. intervened and the conflict became known as the Spanish-American War.

6 In the 1950 Central American and Caribbean Games, Fiuza went 2-0 for the gold medalists. He was 2-0 again for Cuba in the 1951 Pan American Games, helping them win the first gold in PanAm baseball competition.. He led the team in wins, but was one behind tourney leader Stanley Johnson. He went 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA when Cuba won the 1953 Amateur World Series.

7 A large number of Cubans played in either La Unión Atlética or the Pedro Betancourt league. In the former were players such as Adolfo Luque, Conrado Marrero, Sandalio Consuegra, and Pedro Ramos. The latter included players such as José Tartabull, Tony González, Tony Taylor, and Román Mejías.

8 Lou Hernández, Bobby Maduro and the Cuban Sugar Kings, McFarland & Company (Jefferson, North Carolina, 2019): 165.

9 “Indians Oust Farrell, Hire Bob Bragan,” Montgomery (Alabama) Journal, September 30, 1957: 14.

10 Don Dillmax, “Sports Week in Review,” Pittsburgh Press, July 27, 1957: 7.

11 Maximo Sanchez, “Senor Bobby Rated Highest Paid Pilot in Cuban History,” The Sporting News, October 9, 1957: 3.

12 Ruben Rodriguez, “Tigers’ Spurt Trims Lead of Bragan’s Club,” The Sporting News, December 25, 1957: 24.

13 Ruben Rodriguez, “Cuban Capers,” The Sporting News, January 1, 1958: 23.

14 Eugene Fitzgerald, “Northern’s Rookie of Year Turns Out to Be Two in Tie,” The Sporting News, August 27, 1958: 44.

15 “Robinson Places Nine More on Eastern’s All-Star Team,” The Sporting News, July 22, 1959: 39.

16 Ruben Rodriguez, “Cuban Capers,” The Sporting News, November 11, 1959: 20.

17 Ruben Rodriguez, “Cuban Capers,” The Sporting News, December 9, 1959: 22.

18 Hal Lebovitz, “Flash Flags His Old Favorite, Lands Reliever Kiely for Tribe,” The Sporting News, January 20, 1960: 13.

19 “Tribe Drops Two; Roster Down to 28,” Salem (Ohio) News, April 15, 1960: 9.

20 “Cleveland Star Woodie Held on Injured List,” Colton (California) Courier, July 19, 1960: 6.

21 Hal Lebovitz, :Dykes’ Smooth Touch With Kid Curvers Earns New Tepee Term,” The Sporting News, September 28, 1960: 13.

22 Hal Lebovitz, “Indians Spinning Same Old Tale – Who’s Gonna Play Third Base?”, The Sporting News, October 5, 1960: 44.

23 “Lane Takes Bucs’ Cue, Eyes a ‘Face’ to Aid Tribe Staff,” The Sporting News, October 26, 1960: 27.

24 That brought his final totals for the four seasons in his homeland to .265 with six homers and 52 RBIs in 499 at-bats (his games played figure is incomplete)

25 Regis McAuley, “11 Injuns Wrestle for Job at Hot Corner,” The Sporting News, March 1, 1961: 6.

26 Hal Lebovitz, “Bandaged Injuns Limp Along with 4 Regulars Hurt,” The Sporting News, October 11, 1961: 26.

27 Miguel J. Frau, “Big Time’s New Umps Assigned to Puerto Rico,” The Sporting News, February 21, 1962: 37-38.

28 Miguel J. Frau, “Crabbers Cop Latin Title Fourth Time in 14 Years,” The Sporting News, February 21, 1962: 37-38.

29 Dolgan, “Dandy at Dish, De la Hoz Duels Phillips at Tribe’s Hot Corner.”

30 Hal Lebovitz, “Delarded de la Hoz Beefing Up Tribe Bench as Utility Infielder,” The Sporting News, April 6, 1963: 15.

31 Hernández, Bobby Maduro and the Cuban Sugar Kings: 165.

32 Hal Lebovitz, “Dynamite at Dish, de la Hoz May Land in Tribe Garden,” The Sporting News, November 16, 1963: 21.

33 Regis McAuley, “Sport Friday,” Tucson Daily Citizen, May 22, 1970: 27.

34 Bienvenido Rojas, “En 1963-64, el Licey rebotó de un 0-2 y un 0-3 en semifinal y final,” Diario Libre (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), January 15, 2020.

35 Regis McAuley, “It’s No Farce, But Indians Grin Over Keystone Kop Scene,” The Sporting News, April 11, 1964: 17.

36 For further discussion, see SABR’s biographies of Tony González and Tony Taylor, also by José Ramirez and Rory Costello. The edict was inconsistently enforced. To name just one Cuban player, Jackie Hernández played winter ball in 1965-66.

37 Neal Russo, “Peace Corps Credited With HR By Trainer Bauman’s Troupe,” The Sporting News, December 12, 1964: 9.

38 Doug Brown, “State Department Scored Big in Good Will, Reports Hall,” The Sporting News, January 2, 1965: 13.

39 Furman Bisher, “Atlanta Atoms,” The Sporting News, November 20, 1965: 20.

40 Allen Lewis, “No Idle Moments – Phils Find Variety of Off-Season Jobs,” The Sporting News, November 5, 1966: 26.

41 “International League,” The Sporting News, June 22, 1968: 40.

42 De la Hoz also recalled an American lefty with a great slider who pitched with Marianao in the Cuban league around 1957-58, but he could not recall his name. The records do not show an American lefty with that team that season.

43 “Caught on the Fly,” The Sporting News, October 31, 1970: 54.

44 Watson Spoelstra, “Aurelio and Cesar Hit It Off Big as Tiger Tango Twins,” The Sporting News, March 27, 1971: 30.

45 De la Hoz’s contract card from The Sporting News shows his last year with Detroit as 1974, but it could be that full information was not available.

46 The primary author, José Ramirez, had the honor of being invited to attend.

47 José Ramirez, telephone conversation with Luis C. Tiant, May 29, 2023.

48 José “Chamby” Campos , South Florida radio personality, spoke to a de la Hoz family member on May 31, 2023.)

Full Name

Miguel Ángel de la Hoz Piloto


October 2, 1938 at San Nicolás de Bari, La Habana (Cuba)


May 28, 2023 at Miami, FL (USA)

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Cuba ·