Friday, January 29, 2016

#16 Hector Lopez - Kansas City Athletics


Hector Headley Lopez
Kansas City Athletics
Third Base

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'11"  Weight:  182
Born:  July 8, 1929, Colon, Panama
Signed:  Purchased by the Philadelphia Athletics with Joe Taylor from Drummondville (Provincial) for $1,500 prior to the 1952 season
Major League Teams:  Philadelphia Athletics 1955-1959; New York Yankees 1959-1966

Hector Lopez, also known as "The Panama Clipper," played 12 seasons with the Athletics and Yankees, serving as the primary left fielder for a Yankees team that would go to the World Series every year between 1960 and 1964.  He patrolled the Yankees outfield alongside Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (#135) in the early 1960s.

In the 1961 World Series, Lopez hit .333 with five of his seven RBIs coming in Game 5 in which he hit a home run and a triple.  He won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1961 and 1962.  A career .269 batter, Lopez was a true utility player, playing all three outfield positions along with shortstop, second base and third base.  By all accounts he had a tough time with his defensive skills.

Lopez became the first black manager at the AAA level when he managed the Buffalo Bisons in 1969.  He was also the manager for Panama in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Building the Set
July 19, 1997 in Ocean City, NJ - Card #151
This is the third of 11 cards my Dad and I purchased at the Ocean City baseball card show in 1997, with the first two cards being Warren Giles (#2) and Ray Boone (#6).  We spent $39 on those 11 cards that day and my records indicate that this was one of the cheaper cards purchased at $2.

The Card
I enjoy researching and writing posts on guys like Hector Lopez more than I enjoy researching and writing the posts for the well-known players.  Before this post, I knew absolutely nothing about Lopez and his baseball career.

The back of his card gives him two more inches in height than his official Baseball Reference page. Also of note is that Lopez was thought to be three years younger than his actual age during his playing days.  Baseball Reference and other official sources list his year of birth as 1929 but Topps (and everyone else in the 1950s and 1960s) was under the impression that Lopez was born in 1932.

1956 Season
Lopez served as the primary third baseman for the Athletics in 1956, his second full season in the Majors.  He hit .273 with 18 home runs and 69 RBIs, trailing only Harry Simpson (#239) for the team lead in both categories.  He was second in the American League with errors committed with 30.

1959 Topps #402
 
1966 Topps #177
 
2008 Topps Heritage Real One
Autographs #ROA-HL
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1956 Topps #16
First Topps Card:  1956 Topps #16
Last Topps Card:  1966 Topps #177
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2008 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #ROA-HL

61 - Lopez non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 1/28/16

Lopez's first non-mainstream baseball card can be found in the oddball 1955 A's Rodeo Meats set. It's also interesting to note that Lopez's actual 1959 Topps cards features him with the Athletics, but his card found within the 2008 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs insert set features him with the Yankees.  He was traded on May 26, 1959 from the Athletics to the Yankees and Topps took the time to create a Yankees card for him for inclusion in its 2008 autograph set.

Sources:  
Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
SABR
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

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