Thursday, November 20, 2008

#552 Julio Gotay

Julio Gotay by you.
We can all thank our lucky stars that Julio Gotay didn't come along a few decades later than he did. As things stand, we've been spared the obnoxious spectacle of ESPN blowhard Chris Berman dubbing him Julio Gotay "It On the Mountain". But I digress. Gotay makes it back-to-back Halos this week; he's just been traded from the Pirates in early 1965, hence the bare head and the sleeveless jersey with the black and gold piping.
Like our last featured player (Vic Power), Julio was a native of Puerto Rico. Apparently he had a superstitious fear of crosses. After brief trials in 1960 and 1961, he became the Cardinals' starting shortstop in 1962. The 23-year-old hit an unproductive .255 - he had just fifteen extra-base hits in 369 at-bats and drove in 27 runs. In the offseason, he was dealt to Pittsburgh in the trade that brought All-Star shortstop Dick Groat to St. Louis.

The Pirates did not seem to have any real use for Gotay, giving him four at-bats in seven total games over a two-year span. Just before the card above was produced, they liberated the shortstop, trading him to the Angels for mediocre outfielder Bob Perry. Julio saw action in a whopping 40 games during his lone season in California, batting .247. Next it was off to Houston, where he would actually be a useful reserve for three seasons.

Julio had his best season with the bat in 1967, compiling a .282 average in 77 games as an Astro. He hit .248 and .259 in the two years that followed to finish his ten-year career with a .260 average, 6 home runs, and 70 RBI in 389 games.

On July 4, 2008, a few weeks after being hospitalized for treatment of prostate cancer, Julio died of respiratory failure. The Gotay family baseball legacy is carried on by infielder Ruben Gotay. Ruben is Julio's nephew, and has played for the Royals, Mets, and Braves in his four big league seasons.

Fun fact: Julio set an Astros record by hitting safely in eight straight at-bats from June 18-20, 1967. Filling in for Joe Morgan, who was on military leave, he doubled in his last at-bat against Phil Niekro on the 18th, went 5-for-5 on the 19th, including four safeties off of Bob Gibson an RBI single to send the game to extra innings, and a single and a double (following a hit-by-pitch) on the 20th. Not a bad way to start your week!
Julio Gotay (back) by you.

1 comment:

  1. Julio, once gave me ride outside the Astrodome, when I was hitch.hiking across the Southern states and kindly put me up in his motel room and took me to batting practice the next day. It was a great thrill. May he rest in peace. best wishes, Steve Crickmore

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