Sid MongeAugust 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.