Ruben Gomez: 1954 World Champion New York Giants Pitcher (1953 - 1957)

Ruben Colon Gomez was born in Puerto Rico on July 13, 1927. His parents Luis & Dolores also another son & three daughters. 

The six-foot right-handed pitcher was first signed by the Washington Senators 1950 but then was soon traded away. In 1951 he was signed by the A.L. New York team when Casey Stengle saw him pitch while on vacation in the Virgin Islands. He broke his finger & was rarely used getting released the next year. 

In January of 1953 with the help of Pedrin Zorrilla, a friend & Carribean watchdog for baseball talent to Giants owner Horace Stoneman Gomez was signed by the New York Giants. 

Nick Name: He loved to pitch in tough situations, which earned him the nick name “The Divine Madman".

MLB Career: Gomez became the second pitcher out of Puerto Rico to make the major leagues. On April 17th, 1953, Gomez made his debut at the Polo Grounds pitching in relief of a 12-4 loss to the Dodgers. He was roughed up for four runs in 0.2 innings pitched.

On June 5th, Gomez earned his first career win, pitching nine innings allowing one run & striking out 11 in an 11-1 win over the Cubs. On June 21st Gomez pitched a two-hit shutout against the Braves in Milwaukee. 

After getting to 5-4, he had a fantastic July going 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA. Although he walked 23 batters, he struck out 20 batters in 43 innings pitched, pitching four complete games. 

On July 9th he pitched another two-hit shutout, striking out six in a 4-0 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. 

In August he was 3-3 then struggled in September losing his last four decisions.

Gomez finished the year going 13-11 with a 3.40 ERA (8th best in the league). He struck out 113 batters, walked 101 in 204 innings pitched in 29 appearances. Gomez tossed three shut outs with 13 complete games. 

Brawl With Brooklyn:
As a rookie he was thrown right into the Giants Dodger rivalry, when Giants' manager Leo Durocher ordered him to throw at Brooklyn Dodger batter Carl Furillo. Furillo was furious & instead of going after Gomez, he went after Durocher toward the Dodger dugout. As a brawl ensued Furillo ended up breaking his hand in the melee. 

Gomez was known to be wild at times, as the walks show. But he was known to have also thrown at a few other famous players in his time.

Other Knockdowns: In 1956 Gomez hit the Braves hot hitter Joe Adcock on the wrist with a pitch. When the big Adcock charged the mound, Gomez threw the ball at him & ran into the dugout for help.

In 1957 Gomez leveled Frank Robinson with a fastball to the head, sending him to the hospital.
 
In the Mexican league he once hit an opponent with a bat.

Giants 1954 Championship Season: To start the 1954 season, the Giants acquired pitcher Johnny Antonelli from Milwaukee, he would become the ace of their staff. Gomez would be second on the staff to Johnny Antonelli on the staff in wins (17). 

Quotes- Ruben Gomez: "I was in a groove most of that season. I established a friendship with Willie Mays & knew Don Liddle & Monte Irvin from winter ball. I was 13 when Irvin first came to Puerto Rico, so it was a joy being Monte's teammate in New York"."

After a 1-3 start Gomez got on a hot streak. From May 22nd to June 4th, he won five straight decisions pitching three shut outs in that time. He allowed seven runs in 45 innings for a 1.20 ERA.

On June 10th, he pitched a ten-inning shutout over the Braves in Milwaukee, scattering nine hits. In July, Ruben won back-to-back starts over the Dodgers, then at the end of July, he had back-to-back five hit complete game wins to get to 10-7 at the start of August. From the end of July to the end of the season, he went 9-2 with a 2.28 ERA.

In September Gomez went 5-0 best of the Giants starters that month. The Giants entered the month 3.5 games up on the Dodgers & would finish winning the NL pennant by five games. 

On the season he went 17-9 (6th most wins in the league) with a 2.88 ERA (4th best in the league) pitching 221 innings, tossing four shut outs (2nd in the league) & striking out 106 batters (10th in the league).

1954 World Series: In the 1954 World Series, Gomez made history, becoming first Puerto Rican to pitch in a World Series game, becoming a hero in his native country. The schools closed the day he pitched in the World Series so the kids could watch the game. When he returned to Puerto Rico, a holiday was declared, in his honor as he was greeted by thousands.

He went up against the Indian's Mike Garcia, making it the first time two Latino pitchers started a World Series game as well.

In Game #3 of the 1954 World Series, Gómez got the start against the Indians, in front of 71,000 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. Gomez earned the win pitching 7.2 innings allowing two earned runs including a HR to Vic Wertz, allowing four hits overall. He struck out two & walked three. Willie Mays & Dusty Rhodes drove in two runs for the Giants, with Davey Williams & Westrum driving in a run each. 

Trivia: Former MLB pitcher Left Gomez was in attendance & said he rooted for the Giants, joking as a Gomez has never lost a World Series game.

After the Championship: In 1955 Gomez started out 3-3 then won five straight decisions, all complete game performances. By early July he was 6-3 with a 3.91 ERA.

But after that he went 3-7 the rest of the way giving up 12 HRs allowing 55 runs in 86.2 innings. The Giants were questioning all his pitching in winter ball leagues affecting his performance. The team finished third going 80-74. 

Gomez finished the year at 9-10 with a 4.56 ERA. He had nine complete games with three shut outs (4th in the NL) & a save. He struck out 79 batters walking 63 in 185 innings pitched.

In 1956, Ruben began the year at 2-7 with a three-game losing streak in May & a four game losing streak in June. He would fall to four separate three game losing streaks on the season. That year the Giants fell to sixth place losing 87 games with poor attendance at the Polo Grounds.

Gomez finished the year at 7-17 (third most losses in the NL) with 76 strike outs & 77 walks posting a 4.58 ERA in 196 innings in 40 games. 

Giants Final Season in New York: In 1957 the Giants played their last season at the Polo Grounds in New York. Poor attendance, a declining neighborhood & a land of opportunity out West, the Dodgers convinced the Giants to move to California with them to continue their rivalry on the West Coast.

Gomez led the Giants staff in wins going 15-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 238 innings pitched in 38 games. It was Gomez's best year since the 1954 championship season. He struck out 92 batters while walking 71. 

A strong start to the season had him at 6-1 with a 2.30 ERA by mid-May.

Four Hit Shut Out: On June 6th he pitched a four-hit shutout against that year's World Champion Milwaukee Braves. Gomez struck out four walking no one in his only shut out of the season. 

On September 28th, Gomez pitched his last game in New York, the Giants had just two games left to play at the Polo Grounds. Gomez lost a 1-0 heart breaker to Ron Kline & the Pittsburgh Pirates. The only run came on Frank Thomas's 9th inning HR. Thomas would hit many HRs at the Polo Grounds for the Mets in 1962 & 1963.

Move to San Francisco: In 1958 the Giants moved West to San Francisco. 

First Pitcher to Earn a Victory on the West Coast: On April 15, 1958, Gomez made history, as he became the first pitcher to win an MLB game on the West Coast. He & the Giants faced off against the rival Dodgers & Don Drysdale at Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Gomez pitched an 8-0 six hit shutout to earn the victory.

He went 10-12 on the season, falling one strikeout shy of his career season high, with 112 on the season. He posted a 4.38 ERA as the Giants finished third at 80-74. 

In December of 1958 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Valmy Thomas for pitcher Jack Sanford. Sanford would win 15 or more games three times for the Giants with a career best league leading 24 wins in their 1962 NL Pennant season.

Gomez pitched two seasons at Philadelphia going an overall 3-11. In 1961 he pitched at AAA Buffalo going 7-5.

In 1962 his contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians. There he was 1-2 in 15 games. That August he was sent to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later. He appeared in six games was released & signed with Cleveland again. He spent 1963 at their AAA Jacksonville club winning 13 games (13-12). There he taught future MLB pitcher Mike Cuellar how to throw a screwball. After the season Gomez was released. 

Mexican League: Gomez would pitch in the Mexican League with Puebla (1965) & Veracruz (1966-1967).

In 1967, at age 39 the Phillies gave him another shot. On Opening Day, he finished off a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Gomez made seven appearances, pitched 11 innings and was released in early May.


Career Stats: In a ten-season career, Gómez pitched in 289 games, going 76-86 with five saves. He had 677 strikeouts, with 574 walks posting a 4.09 ERA. Gomez tossed 63 complete games & 15 shutouts.

Amazing Story: One day a young boy begged Gómez to buy a lottery ticket because his uniform number matched that of the ticket#. Gómez bought the ticket and won $35,000. He attempted to share the money with the boy's family, but they refused to accept any money. 

Gomez then went to a local bank & set up a trust fund for the boy, to be given to him at age 18.


In 2001, Gómez was hospitalized with cancer & needed surgery. A doctor from Mexico requested permission to attend the operation. When Gómez asked the doctor why, he replied, "I was that little boy, and the money that you left in a trust fund was enough to pay for my medical school."

Trivia: Ruben drove an aqua / white corvette similar to the ne on the TV show Route 66.

Family: Ruben married his wife Maria Teresa while playing for the Santurce Crabbers in Puerto Rico in the 1940's. Ruben had a daughter & two sons.

Passing: In July 2004, Ruben Gómez passed away in San Juan Puerto Rico at the age of 77 after his battle with cancer.

Comments

Unknown said…
My favorite pitcher growing up was Ruben. He could pitch and play the outfield in winter league. A good athlete in college and on the field. He was rough to other players but was a hero to us fan because he gave himself to his team while on the field.

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