Aug 2, 2015

Old Time New York Giants Pitcher (1932-1935) & Coach (1935-1945): Dolph Luque

Adolfo Domingo de Guzman Luque was born on August 4th 1890 in Habana Cuba. The five foot seven right hander came up with the Boston Braves briefly in 1914 after pitching two seasons in the Negro Leagues. In 1918 he was with the Cincinnati Reds and would pitch there for twelve seasons.

Luque had his best year in 1923 when he led the league in wins (27) winning % (.771) ERA (1.93) & shut outs that year. In 1925 he led the league in ERA again (2.63) as well as shut outs (4). Luque was in the NL's top ten in ERA six times, as well as shut outs, saves, strike outs & starts five times each. He racked up alot of innings, pitching 200 plus innings nine straight years with two seasons of 300 plus innings of work. He and also served up alot of HRs & losses, leading the league with 27 losses in 1922.

But Luque had double figures in wins ten straight seasons, three years of 16 plus wins. He only posted losing seasons five times in his twenty years. In 1919 he was part of the World Champion Reds team that beat the Chicago White Sox in the infamous Black Sox scandal. The Sox were accused of throwing the Series for money, which led to baseball banning any association with gambling from the game. The movie Eight Men Out recalls the story. That year Luque went 10-3 with three saves out of the pen, posting a 2.51 ERA in 30 appearances.

He appeared in two games of the 1919 World Series pitching five scoreless innings of relief. In a game against the New York Giants he once slugged Casey Stengel in the mouth after someone on the team insulted him. In 1930 he was traded to the Brooklyn Robbins pitching there for two seasons, going 14-8 in his first year.

Luque was known to have a temper, in a classic Brooklyn story, a heckler in the stands kept taunting him during a game. Luque told his manager Wilbert Robinson, "I tell you, Robbie, if this guy don't shut up, I'm gonna shut him up." "Aw, come on, Dolf," said the manager. "He paid his way in, let him boo." The heckler started taunting the rotund manager yelling, "Hey, fat belly!" Robinson then said, "OK, Dolf--go ahead and clobber the jerk." Luque then went after the fan .

Luque was released by 1932 & joined the New York Giants. He would spend four years with the Giants under manager John McGraw in his final season & new skipper the great Hall of Famer Bill Terry. Luque was mostly used as a relief pitcher. He was 6-7 in 1932 with a 4.01 ERA posting five saves (third most in the NL).

In 1933 he was part of the Giants World Championship team, going 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA posting four saves (5th in the NL) while closing out 22 games (3rd most in the NL). He became the oldest player to ever earn a win in the World Series that year, when he at age 43 he got the win in the final game to beat the Washington Senators. He pitched 4.1 innings of scoreless relief of Hal Schumacher that day at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C.

Luque was the oldest pitcher in the league over the next two seasons. He was 4-3 in 1934 with a career high seven saves (second most in the NL) finishing up 19 games (5th most). In 1935 he pitched just two games at age 45 ending his long twenty year career. Luque pitched in 550 games (367 starts) going 194-179 with 28 saves posting a 3.24 ERA. He struck out 1130 batters, while walking 918 in 3220 innings pitched.

Retirement: In addition to the major leagues Luque also pitched in Cuba for 22 years in the winter becoming known as "The Pride of Havana". He also managed there as well. In a famous story Tommy Lasorda a player under Luque, recalls the manager pulling out a gun when a pitcher was begging not to pitch due to a sore arm. After he saw the gun, the pitcher went out & tossed a two hit shutout.

Luque was a mentor to young pitchers during his playing days & then became a pitching coach on the Giants from 1935-1938 and again from 1941-1945 serving under Terry & Mel Ott. Luque passed away in Cuba in 1957 at age 67.

In 2011 he became a member of the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.

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