Sports / Rodríguez Olmo, Luis
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Luis Rodríguez Olmo
Puerto Rican professional baseball player who was an outstanding outfielder and batter in leagues in various countries: Cuba, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. He was the second Puerto Rican player to play in the Major Leagues in the United States, after Hiram Bithorn.

Luis Francisco Rodríguez Olmo was born on August 11, 1919, in the municipality of Arecibo. As a child, he participated in various sports, including the javelin, while in high school in his hometown. It was there that he also began playing amateur baseball. In 1938, Rodríguez Olmo's skills, at just eighteen years of age, caught the attention of baseball player Pito álvarez de la Vega from Aguadilla, who was a pitcher for the Caguas Criollos – a team that was part of the Puerto Rico Semiprofessional Baseball League that had formed that same year. Rodríguez Olmo joined the team that year and was given the nickname of "El Jibarito."

He later went on to play in the Minor Leagues in the United States, where he played for the North Carolina Wilsons in 1939 and 1940 and for the Richmond Colts in Virginia in 1941 and 1942. The latter year, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the Major Leagues bought his contract. In 1943, he officially joined the Dodgers, which made him the second Puerto Rican player, after Hiram Bithorn, to play in the Major Leagues in the United States.

In 1945, Rodríguez Olmo, playing second and third base, achieved the best statistics of his sports career: he hit 13 triples, which made him the leader in that category in the National League for the year, and hit 10 homeruns, batted in 110 runs and achieved a batting average of .313.

The following year (1946), he signed a contract with the Mexican Baseball League. Other players in the Major Leagues had done the same thing because they had been offered better contract terms. After playing in Mexico, he played for teams in Cuba (1947-1948), the Dominican Republic (1948) and Venezuela (1949). In the latter two countries, he won the Batting Title after achieving a batting average of .380. On June 28, 1949, he returned to the Major Leagues in the United States.

That year was his final season with the Dodgers, who reached the World Series and faced the New York Yankees. He became the first Latin American player to hit a homerun in the World Series. In 1950, he was traded to the Boston Braves, where he played for two seasons. As his batting average dropped, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, a Minor League team. In 1951, he became a scout for the Braves.

In the six seasons that he played in the Major Leagues, he stood out mainly as an outfielder and a hitter and achieved a batting average of .281 with 29 homeruns, 272 runs batted in, 65 doubles, 25 triples and 33 stolen bases in a total of 462 games.

He also played for various teams in the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League, one of the winter leagues that took place in the months between the Major League seasons. He played for the Caguas Criollos for various seasons. In the 1949-50 season, in addition to playing, he was also the manager of the Caguas team. In the 1944-45 and 1945-46 seasons, and again later in the 1950s, he played for the Santurce Cangrejeros.

He participated in four Caribbean Series, representing Puerto Rico with the Santurce Cangrejeros (1951); with the Caguas Criollos (1950), and with the San Juan Senators (1952). In the 1951 series, he was selected Most Valuable Player for the series, an award he won again in 1955. Rodríguez Olmo achieved a batting average of .303 with 13 runs batted in during the Caribbean Series games.

In the 1961-62 season, he assumed management of the recently reintegrated team in Arecibo, the Lobos, which had disbanded in 1947. Later, he also worked as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies and as a bowling instructor in Puerto Rico.

Luis "El Jíbaro" Rodríguez Olmo was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame in 1991, the Caribbean Series Hall of Fame in Santo Domingo in 2008 and the Santurce Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Rodríguez Olmo currently enjoys playing golf in retirement. His hometown of Arecibo named the municipal baseball stadium for him.

References:

Ramírez Córdova, Antonio. "El pelotero Luis Rodríguez Olmo". Alborada 4.1 (julio2005-junio 2006): 27. Impreso.

Petrone, Susan. "SABR Puerto Rico Celebrates Luis Olmo's 90th Birthday". The SABR-Zine. Society for American Baseball Research, 8 noviembre 2009. Web. 10 marzo 2010.

Prensa Asociada. "Rodríguez Olmo al pabellón de la fama". Licey Inside. Portal oficial de los Tigres del Licey, Santo Domingo, 20 noviembre 2009. Web. 10 marzo 2010.

"Luis Olmo". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference, s.f. Web. 10 marzo 2010.







Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: July 02, 2010.

Version: 10043001 Rev. 1
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