Bobby Avila

The Indians signed Avila for only $17,500 out of the Mexican League, where he was already a star. The first Mexican to have real ML success, he was the Indian second baseman for eight years and became a national hero in his own country. In a 1951 game at Boston, he hit three homers, a single, and a double. In 1952 he led the AL in triples (11). He won the AL batting title in the Indians’ 1954 pennant-winning year when he hit .341 despite playing half the season with a broken thumb. An adept bunter and daring baserunner, his soccer training paid off several times when he intentionally kicked the ball out of defenders’ mitts while sliding. Cleveland manager Al Lopez said Avila had “a fine swing, a sharp eye, a good spirit of competition … and a world of confidence in himself.” Dealt three times between December 1958 and July 1959, the dapper, well-educated Avila returned to Mexico in 1960, becoming a politician and, later, president of the Mexican League.