Paul Casanova

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Paulino Casanova Ortiz

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Biographical Information[edit]

“The Army could use you as a secret weapon. I never saw a gun like that.” - Joe Garagiola, on Paul's throwing arm, to The Sporting News, September 16, 1967

Catcher Paul Casanova was the penultimate Negro Leaguer to make his major league debut. Only Ike Brown made his debut later than Casanova. Better known for his cannon arm than his bat, Paul was an American League All-Star in 1967 and the primary catching option for the Washington Senators in four of his first five full seasons (between 1966 and 1970). Paul did hit 22 home runs in his first two seasons, but his bat fell off the proverbial cliff in the Year of the Pitcher (1968), when he hit .196 in 322 at bats. Paul would never hit better than .229 again, sticking around until 1974 with his final three seasons as a member of the Atlanta Braves. On August 5, 1973, he was behind the plate for Hall of Famer Phil Niekro's no-hitter. In 1989, Paul resurfaced at the age of 48 in action for the Gold Coast Suns of the Senior Professional Baseball Association..

After his retirement, he was first base coach of the Hickory Crawdads from 1993-1994. He saw greater success running a baseball academy in his adopted hometown of Miami, working with former major leaguers Jackie Hernandez and Jose Tartabull. He also had operated a restaurant called La Pelota (the baseball in Spanish) in La Guaira, Venezuela, where he had played winter ball. His home was a veritable museum dedicated to the history of Latin American baseball. Known for his outgoing personality, he was seemingly a friend of every Latin American baseball player of his generation. Among those who frequented his academy was J.D. Martinez, who grew up in Miami's Cuban community. His last public appearance was at the fan fest organized on the margins of the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park; he died a month later of cardiorespiratory complications.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (1967)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Boswell: "All of Us Bear the Marks of the Lash", in How Life Imitates the World Series, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1982, pp. 108-109.
  • Nick Diunte: "Paul Casanova: Everyone's 'Hermano' - He Was the Glue that Held Together a Generation of Baseball Players", La Vida Baseball, August 2017. [1]

Related Sites[edit]