Juan Berenguer: Former Mets Pitcher (1978 - 1980)

 Juan Batista Berenguer was born November 30th 1954 in Aguadulce, Cocle, Panama. The five foot eleven, right-handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1975.

Nick Names: Berenguer had a high nineties fastball which earned him the nickname "el gasolino" & "senor smoke". He also was known as "pancho villa" with his menacing looks of long hair & moustache on the mound.

Berenguer put up big strike out numbers in the Mets minors going from A ball Lynchburg to AA Jackson, then AAA Tidewater in three quick seasons. 

Unfortunately, he was also having major control issues, walking almost as many batters as he struck out. 

By 1978 he was 10-7 with a 3.67 ERA & 130 Ks at Tidewater when he got the big league call up to a Mets team looking for something.

Mets Career: On August 17th, 1978, Berenguer debuted, getting his first MLB start in a game at Shea Stadium against Gaylord Perry & the San Diego Padres. He would allow five runs on four hits in just three innings of work, earning the loss. 

He was sent back to AAA Tidewater then returned as a September call up taking another loss on September 4th, as the Pirates roughed him up for five more runs at Pittsburgh. He ended the year at 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA.

1979: Berenguer went 8-8 in the Pacific Coast League before returning for another September call up appearing in five games for the Mets going 1-1 with a solid 2.93 ERA. On September 29th, his last start of the year, he pitched 7.1 innings beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 for his first career win. 

1980: This year he spent most of the year a AAA Tidewater going 9-15 with a 3.84 ERA, before
making another September call. He went 0-1 record, with a 5.79 ERA in six games. 

Trivia: Berenguer appears on two different Mets Rookie Prospect baseball cards (1979 & 1981). The 1981 Topps card features Mets World Series hero Mookie Wilson.

The Mets did not like his control issues & traded him to the Kansas City Royals for Marvell Wynne. In his three seasons with the Mets, he struck out 40 batters but walked 33 in 53 innings of work.

Post Mets Carrer:
 In the strike shortened 1981 season, he led the AL in losses (13) between the Royals & Toronto Blue Jays. In 1982 he signed with the Detroit Tigers pitching four seasons there thru 1985. For the 1984 World Champion Tigers he was 11-10 with a 3.48 ERA. He did not pitch in the post season.

In October 1985 Juan was traded to the San Francisco Giants where he went 2-3 in the 1986 season. He was released then signed with the Minnesota Twins where he had the most success of his career. Over four seasons (1987-1990) he was 33-13 with nine saves posting a 3.70 ERA. In the Twins 1987 Championship year he was 8-1 with four saves and a 3.94 ERA.

1987 Post Season: In the ALCS win over the Deroit Tigers, Berenguer appeared in four of the five games, earning a save in Game #1. 

1987 World Series: In the World Series win over the Cardinals, he pitched in three games. In Game #3 he blew a 7th inning 1-0 lead, when Vince Coleman & Ozzie Smith both drove in runs.

Berenguer then moved on to the Atlanta Braves (1991-1992) going 3-4 in 77 games as a reliever, getting to another World Series in 1991. He missed out on playing in the Fall Classic as he had a freak accident breaking his arm, at home while wrestling with his kids. 

In July 1992 he was traded to the Kansas City Royals going 1-4 finishing out his career.

Career Stats: In a 15-year career Juan was 67-62 with 32 saves posting a 3.90 ERA in 490 games, making 95 starts. He struck out 975 batters walking 604 in 1205 innings of work.

Retirement: After his playing days he pitched in the Mexican & Independant Leagues. Juan then worked in marketing for a Minnesota television station. He also sold cars in Bloomington.

Juan has been at ceremonies honoring the 1987 Minnesota Twins & 1984 Detroit Tigers Championship teams.

Family: Juan has been married twice. He has two sons from his first marriage. His son Chris played hockey in the US Hockey League. Juan married again in 2004.


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