Hector Lopez, two-time World Series champion and the first black coach in Triple-A history, has died at the age of 93. according to Julia Kreutz of MLB.com. The New York Yankees, the team with which Lopez has spent most of his career, honored his memory with a moment of silence before Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Lopez has appeared in patches in 12 major league seasons, hitting .269/.330/.415 career hits, which was good for 103 OPS+. He hit home 136 times and stole 16 bases, albeit inefficiently. According to the Baseball Reference, his contribution is estimated at about 12.9 wins over substitutions.
Tonight, we honored the memory of former Yankee Hector Lopez with a moment of silence. Only the second Panamanian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, Hector spent 8 seasons in the pinstripe, winning 2 championships. In retirement, he became the first black manager in AAA history. pic.twitter.com/dQZk6kSxAT
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 30, 2022
Throughout his career, Lopez was considered a better striker than a fielder, and teams moved him around the diamond in an attempt to find the optimal position for him. Indeed, he ended his career playing over 150 matches at four different locations: both corners of the field, second base, and third base. “Most managers I’ve ever had have moved me from one position to another all the time.” he told a reporter in 1963. “I was young then and I think that influenced me.”
Lopez began his career as a member of the Kansas City Athletics. He spent more than four seasons with the organization before being traded to the Yankees in May 1959. This deal also brought the Yankees Ralph Terry and cost them Johnny Cooks, Jerry Lump and Tom Sturdivant. Lopez, the second player of Panamanian descent to reach the big leagues, would go on to spend the rest of his career with the Yankees, winning the World Series in 1961 and 1962. Fall Classic with him in tow.)
After Lopez retired from playing, he became the first black manager in Triple-A history. He would later coach and scout for various organizations, including the Yankees.