Mar 29, 2016

Mid Seventies Mets Outfielder: Jesus Alou (1975)

Jesus Maria Rojas Alou was born March 22, 1942 in the Dominican Republic. Jesus is part of one of baseball’s most famous families, The Alou’s. He is the brother of Felipe & Matty Alou, and the uncle of Moises Alou.

Jesus was the youngest of the talented Alou brothers & was actually considered the best prospect of all the Alou’s. He was signed with a $4000 signing bonus by the San Francisco Giants in 1958. He flew through the lower levels of the minor leagues, never hitting below .324. In 1962 he got to AA El Paso & batted .343 with a .376 on base %. The following season he batted .324 in the Pacific Coast League with Tacoma getting a September call up to the Giants team.

He made his debut in on September 10, 1963 in a game where the Alou brothers made history against the New York Mets. They became the first set of brothers to bat in the same inning, let alone for the same team. Jesus came to bat against Carl Willey in the top of the 8th inning at the Polo Grounds as a pinch hitter, and grounded out. Next Matty Alou came to bat as a pinch hitter and struck out. Felipe Alou was the next Alou to bat & he grounded out, ending the inning. Five days later, they made history again, as all three Alou brothers lined up in the San Francisco outfield, defensively for two innings against the Pirates.

Jesus Alou never hit as well as he did in the minors, he had little power and was a slow runner. He would bounce into twenty or more double plays twice with the Giants, both second most in the league. He batted over .290 twice in six seasons at San Francisco, and had three seasons where he had 15 or more doubles.

Alou went 6-6 in a July 1964 game at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. His best season by the Bay was 1965 when batted .298 with a career high 162 hits, 9 HRs 19 doubles 52 RBIs & a .317 on base %. He posted one of the team’s highest averages, with players appearing in more than 100 games, behind guys like Willie Mays & Jim Ray Hart. The following year he dropped to .259 but then brought his average back up to .292 in the 1967 season.

He was chosen by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft but was quickly dealt to the Houston Astros with 1969 Mets star Don Clendenon in exchange for future Met Rusty Staub. This was the famous deal where Clendenon chose to retire rather than play in Houston & eventually the decision got him to New York. 

In Houston at the Astrodome, Alou fell to a career low of .248 his first season and made 14 errors (2nd in the NL) in the outfield. In 1970 he re bounded & he hit .306 with a career high 27 doubles.



In 1972 he was limited to only 52 games, but once again hit over .300 (.312) with a .366 on base %. On July 31st 1973 his contact was purchased by the best team in baseball at the time, the Oakland A’s. He would become a pinch hitter / utility player with the Swingin' A's through two championship seasons. He hit .306 with a HR & 11 RBIs in the last two months of the ’73 season.

Post Season: In the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles he hit .333 (2-6). Although he only hit .158 in the World Series, he killed the New York Mets by driving in three runs. He got the start in right field in Game #2 and had two hits (2-6) with two RBIs. The other RBI came in Game #6 as an 8th inning insurance run on a sac fly off Tug McGraw.

In the 1974 post season Alou went 1-2 as a pinch hitter, overall not seeing much action. Alou’s 1974 Topps baseball card is a famous error card; the original card had no position listed on the top left corner. A corrected card was issued.

Oakland released him in 1975 & he was picked up by the New York Mets. Alou would play in 62 games all around the outfield & as a pinch hitter for the ’75 Mets. He debuted on April 15th as a pinch hitter in St. Louis going 0-1. He had two successful pinch hits in Montreal & Chicago, on the Mets first road trip of the season, as he bested himself to 2-4 as a pinch hitter. In his first start in the outfield on May 7th, he had three hits and an RBI against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-1 Met loss at Shea Stadium.

He had two pinch hit appearances in May & June where came through driving in a pair runs each time. Early on he was most successful in that role batting .300 at the end of June but he tailed off as the season progressed. He went 1-10 as a pinch hitter in July, making two starts where he got hits in both games.

On August 1st his 5th inning base loaded single broke a 2-2 tie and lead the Mets to 1 4-2 win. In September, his RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning brought the Mets within a run against the Chicago Cubs. They would win the game on a Dave Kingman walk off HR. 

Overall on the year he hit .265 with three doubles 4 walks, a .299 on base % & 11 RBIs. In the outfield playing 20 games, he had three assists making one error posting a .963%. The Mets released him at the end of Spring Training 1976.

He went to play in the Mexican league for two years before rejoining the Houston Astros in 1978. He hit .324 as a part time player there in 74 games. Alou became a player/coach in 1979 before hanging up his playing cleats for good.

In his 15 year career he played in 1380 games, batting .280 lifetime with 1216 hits 32 HRs 170 doubles 26 triples 377 RBIs 138 walks & a .305 on base %. He played all outfield positions & made 48 assists posting a .968 fielding %. He also was a designated hitter & played some first base.

Retirement: After his playing days he scouted for the Montreal Expos. Alou was honored with a Hispanic Heritage Pioneer Award in 2008 at game in Houston.

1 comment:

Top 10 Florida Baseball said...

Jesus now works for the Boston Red Sox in the Dominican Republic in a key position overseeing player development. He is revered on the island for his vast baseball knowledge and savvy.