Rigoberto Betancourt

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Rigoberto Betancourt Herrera

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Biographical Information[edit]

Rigoberto Betancourt was a star Cuban pitcher of the mid-1960s.

In 1965-1966, he struck out 103 for the Occidentales to lead the Cuban Serie Nacional. He also was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game. In the 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, he was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA and a tourney-high 18 whiffs. Cuba won the Gold Medal. In the 1966-1967 Serie Nacional, Berto won Most Valuable Pitcher honors. He led in wins (10, tied with Rolando Macías), shutouts (5, tied with Roberto Valdés) and strikeouts (126). The left-hander was 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in the 1967 Pan American Games, in which Cuba won the Silver (the USA got the Gold). He tied Tim Plodinec and Roberto Valdés for the most wins in the event. Betancourt threw a no-hitter for the Industriales on January 7, 1970 to beat Oriente.

Overall, Betancourt pitched for eight seasons in Cuba, going 38-27 with a 2.51 ERA and .216 opponent average. He fanned 573 in 569 innings.

In 1999, Rigoberto was working as a youth baseball coach in Cuba. He was one of the dignitaries allowed to accompany the Cuban squad for the exhibition series with the Baltimore Orioles. While the group was in the US, Betancourt defected, the only Cuban defector during the event. Six months later, he was still unemployed despite supposedly being promised a job if he defected.

Sources: 2005 Guia Official de Beisbol, A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman

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