Al Lopez

Position: Catcher
Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers, 1928; 1930-1935; Boston Braves, 1936-1940; Pittsburgh Pirates,1940-1946; Cleveland Indians, 1947
Manager: Cleveland Indians,1951-1956; Chicago White Sox,1957-1965; 1968-1969

Al Lopez
Al Lopez was the only AL manager apart
from Casey Stengel to win a pennant
between 1949 and 1965.

For 40 years, Al Lopez held the major-league record for most games as a catcher, with 1,918. He applied the lessons he learned behind the plate to become one of the best managers in history.

Alfonso Raymond Lopez (1908-2005) got his first taste catching big leaguers by catching Walter Johnson in an exhibition game in 1925. Lopez turned pro in 1926, and he made it to Brooklyn by 1930. He was a natural leader and often found himself named team captain. He was a well-respected defender, field leader, and handler of pitchers. He also had six future Hall of Famers as major-league managers (Al would join them in 1977).

Al went to Indianapolis of the American Association as a player-manager in 1948 and won 100 games and a pennant in his first season. He also guided Indianapolis to second-place finishes in 1949 and 1950. He was moved up to Cleveland under difficult circumstances, being hired by Bill Veeck and Hank Greenberg to replace the popular Lou Boudreau.

Lopez finished first or second in each of his first nine seasons as a major-league skipper. He drove the Indians to second place in '51. The Tribe again finished second in 1952 and 1953 to the Yankee juggernaut.

In 1954, however, Lopez steered Cleveland and its dominating rotation of Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia, and Bob Feller to an AL-record 111 wins. Relievers Ray Narleski and Don Mossi closed the door. The Cleveland offense featured Al Rosen and Larry Doby.

The heavily favored Indians were swept in the Series, however, by a good Giants squad. Little-known New York pinch hitter Dusty Rhodes hit two homers -- and Willie Mays made "The Catch," an over-the-shoulder snare of a 460-foot drive by Cleveland's Vic Wertz.

Lopez managed the Indians to two more second-place finishes and resigned. In 1957, however, his friends Veeck and Greenberg were running the White Sox, and they persuaded Al to manage in Chicago. He immediately drove the ChiSox to replace the Indians as the runner-up to the Yankees, again by using strong pitching.

With pitchers Billy Pierce and Dick Donovan on staff, the Sox added Wynn from the Indians, Bob Shaw, and Turk Lown to topple the Yankees in 1959. The "Go-Go" Sox offense included Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox.

Nonetheless, another unknown knocked off a Lopez-led team in the Series: Dodgers reliever Larry Sherry. Lopez managed for part of eight more seasons, retiring from the helm with 1,410 victories for a .584 winning percentage in 17 seasons.

Here are Al Lopez's major league totals:


Here are Al Lopez's major league managing totals:


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