Mar 1, 2015

Early Sixties Mets Short Stop: Chico Fernandez (1963)

Chico Fernandez was born on March 2nd, 1932 in Havana Cuba. The six foot, right handed shortstop was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1951.

For a short time Fernandez was actually considered to be the heir to Pee Wee Reese at short sop in Ebbets Field. In the Dodgers farm system at AAA Montreal he hit .300, as well as being considered an outstanding defensive shortstop.

Fernandez made his MLB debut appearing in 34 games for the 1956 Dodger pennant team, hitting .227 in 66 at bats. His Dodger days were soon over by April 1957 when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Elmer Valo for future Met Tim Harkness & cash.

Fernandez spent three years in Philadelphia coming in the top ten in stolen bases (1957 & 1958) as well as sac hits (1958). In 1958 he posted the league's second best fielding % at short (.975) coming in second in put outs (296) third in games played (148) & fifth in assists (381).

In 1959 Fernandez was sent to the Detroit Tigers becoming their main short stop for the next three seasons, until a young Dick McAuliffe was ready. McAuliffe would play short for three seasons before moving to second base through 1973.

In 1960 Fernandez led the AL in errors at short with 34 posting a .947 %. In 1962 he had a career year at the plate hitting 20 HRs with 17 doubles & 59 RBIs batting .249.

On May 8, 1963 Chico Fernandez had the distinction of being one of the few players traded twice in the same day. The first trade of the day was going to the Milwaukee Braves for Lou Johnson, then he was shipped to the New York Mets for Larry Foss.

Fernandez debuted with the Mets on May 11th at the Polo Grounds going hitless as a pinch hitter. The next day he played in both games of a double header getting three hits & scoring a pair of runs against the Reds. On May 16th he hit his only HR as a Met & the last of his career, it came against the San Francisco Giants off Billy O'Dell.

He only played in 58 games for the ’63 Mets hitting .200 with one HR six doubles & nine RBIs in 145 at bats. On the field he made eight errors in 45 games playing at short stop, five at second & three games at third base. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Charley Smith in 1964, but he did not play in the majors again.

Fernandez then played baseball in Japan, then back in the minor leagues for another four seasons, through 1968.

In his eight year career he batted .240 with 666 hits 91 doubles 19 triples 40 HRs 68 stolen bases & 259 RBIs.

At short stop he posted a .960 fielding % making 146 errors in 3631 chances.

Retirement: After baseball he worked for twenty years selling insurance for Met Life & has since retired in Sunrise Florida.

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