One of the true free-swingers in baseball history, Manny Sanguillen rarely saw a pitch he didn’t like. The Panama-native was the starting catcher for five Pittsburgh teams that went to the post-season, including the 1971 World Series Champions. He was one of teammate Roberto Clemente‘s best friends, and after Clemente’s death the Pirates briefly toyed with using Manny as his replacement in right field.
Clemente invited Sanguillen to go with him on New Year’s Eve to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in 1972. The story goes that Sanguillen missed the flight because he couldn’t find his car keys to leave the house on time.
In four different seasons, Sanguillen batted over .300, with a career-best .328 in 1975 when he was an All-Star for the third time. Though he was never considered a good defensive catcher (he once committed 17 errors and allowed 10 passed balls in one season), Sanguillen was a talker†behind the plate. He was famous for chatting a lot from his position, a habit that irked some opposing batters, including Cincinnati’s Lee May in one heated verbal exchange.
In November of 1976 he was traded to the Oakland A’s for manager Chuck Tanner – the most recent transaction involving a player for a manager. After one season with the Athletics, Manny was dealt back to the Pirates at the start of the ’78 season and he played for Tanner in 1979 when the Bucs won the World Series. Manny was a part-time player by then, but he managed to go 1-for-3 with an RBI in the ’79 Series, bringing his final Fall Classic average to .375 in ten games.
In 2011, Sanguillen was elected to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame, where he joins Clemente.