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Sid Monge

August 5, 2007
 

 
In 1979, Sid Monge became the first Mexican-born pitcher to make a major league all-star team. This is according to my always potentially faulty research, which entailed the persual of the list of Mexican-born major leaguers at baseball-reference.com. (Bobby Avila seems to have been the first from the list to make an all-star team as a position player.) 

Monge did not play in the 1979 All Star Game, the American League manager choosing to look elsewhere for pitchers to finish out the game after starter Nolan Ryan got touched up for 3 runs in his only 2 innings. According to baseball-almanac.com, the American League manager that year was Bob Lemon, which seems fitting since Lemon had been at the helm of the Yankees the previous October when the New Yorkers had claimed their second straight World Series title. But Lemon had been fired by George Steinbrenner a month prior to the 1979 All Star Game. I would have thought his replacement on the Yankees, Billy Martin, would then have been summoned to manage the American League, but apparently Bob Lemon was called back into active duty to fulfill the final obligation of a pennant-winning manager. What did Bob Lemon wear for this game, I wonder? His town’s slo-pitch softball uniform? A too-tight Indians jersey from his long-ago playing days? Shorts and a T-shirt?

Perhaps his month away from the game prevented Lemon from gaining any direct knowledge of Sid Monge’s surging skills as a left-handed relief ace, and perhaps this lack of knowledge made Lemon shy away from attempting to utter the mysterious word Monge into the phone that connected the dugout to the bullpen (while also shying away from Monge’s American League teammate and companion in pronunciation ambiguity, Dave Lemanczyk) to instead order up guys listed on his roster whose names could be easily enunciated without fear of embarassment: Stanley, Clear, Kern, and, finally, the Yankee ace Lemon had relied on the previous year, Guidry. None of the pitchers called on instead of Monge came through; only Guidry escaped without being charged with a run, but he surrendered a bases-loaded walk before recording his only out. Still, judging from this photo Sid Monge harbored no bitterness over not getting a chance to pitch in the midsummer classic. He stands tall and proud, a man who has gone farther than any of his countrymen in his chosen field.

10 comments

  1. 1.  That is the smile of a man who feels pretty good about himself. I still don’t know how to pronounce it and I don’t want to. Viva Monge!


  2. 2.  I can just imagine some little kid in Akron or Cuyahoga Falls pulling this card out of a pack and thinking, “Look at that confidence. This must be the year!”


  3. 3.  My only memory of the Sid Monge era is that he didn’t play in the 1984 World Series, but he was going to get a ring no matter who won.


  4. 4.  Sid Monge was apparently pretty popular with his hometown fans. He has his own still-current fan club, which has a site that features, among other things, a couple photos of fan club members sporting Sid Monge T-shirts in far-flung reaches of the earth. I just tried to access it to get the link, but was given the message that the site has “has temporarily exceeded its data transfer limit.” Here’s the url in case that problem gets resolved:

    http://www.geocities.com/sidmongefc/

    The fan club site is definitely worth a look; it’s a true labor of love.


  5. 5.  Labor of love? As if love was anything else but labor?

    IIRC, Mr. Monge gave up Carl’s 400th homer.

    Mike


  6. 6.  According to the home run log tool on Carl Yastrzemski’s page at baseball-reference.com, #400 was surrendered by Mike Morgan. But Sid did figure in at least three significant events: He gave up Frank Robinson’s last homer, Minnie Minoso’s last hit (the record for oldest player to get a hit), and Tony Gwynn’s first hit.


  7. 7.  Mike Morgan, of course! I knew that. In the dynamic linking library that is my brain (and yours too, I am willing to bet), I connect Monge and Yaz for some reason. Maybe Monge gave up his last homer? Last hit? I don’t know.

    As my Red Sox fan penance, I will now write “Win Remmerswaal” 100 times on the blackboard. Sorry, Professor Wilker.


  8. 8.  Monge was pretty good against Yaz. He only gave up two hits to him, both singles, and both in 1979. I think they were Yaz’s hits #2871 and 2971. Monge had two straight appearances in May 1980 in which he only pitched to Yaz.

    Their most significant matchup was probably 8-10-78. Monge struck out Yaz with Rice on third and one out in the bottom of the seventh of a tie game. The Red Sox ended up winning in 13. The Yankees were 7.5 games back.


  9. 9.  So obviously the Monge-Yaz link is just a misfire in the ‘ol cortex. Oh well.

    Maybe it’s a tabletop memory-I sometimes get that mixed up with real life.


  10. 10.  I was very much addicted to the table top baseball game APBA, and Sid Monge was one of my relievers in my league. I figured he was a star, but it turns out he was a star, but only for a year.



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