Remembering Roman Mejias (Part One)

Remembering Roman Mejias (Part One)

Red Sox

Remembering Roman Mejias (Part One)


A few weeks ago, longtime Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione spoke of a man who is just a blip on the screen of team history. His name is Roman Mejias, and he played in Fenway in 1963 and 64, a time when the Sox were a downtrodden team near the bottom of the standings. He was also the first black Cuban on the team, predating Luis Tiant by 8 years.
As with many Latino players of the time, one of Mejias’ main issues was his age. The website lists his date of birth as August 9, 1932. The Baseball Encylopedia lists it as 1930, but when he came to Fenway, there were rumors that he was much older than that.
According to thomsonian, Mejias was working in a sugar cane field in 1953, when he was signed by Hall of Famer George Sisler, who was scouting for the Pirates. He had some success in their farm system, and later played portions of the 1955-61 seasons, but could not crack their starting outfield of Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and Roberto Clemente. . He was, however, a valuable reserve and pinch hitter.
His best years in Pittsburgh were in 57 with a slash of .275/.309/.423 and in 58 at .268/.280/.408. Acquired by the Houston team (then known as the Colts) in the 1962 expansion draft, he exploded into his best year ever- .286 with an OPB of .326 and an SLG of .445, with 24 homers and 76 rbi’s. But for some reason, he was not chosen to the NL All-Star team and his second half stats, partly because of injured, faded a bit. The Sox and the Colts then engineered a trade, swapping Mejias for infielder Peter Runnels, a two-time AL batting champ and three-time all-star. However, Runnels was only an average fielder and in the twilight of his career.
It seems a bit strange that an avowed racist like Sox GM Mike Higgins would trade for this player. However, Mejias was known as what they used to call “a good n—–” in the tradition of Pumpsie Green. It also seems strange that the Colts would deal him after such a strong season, but perhaps they knew that Roman’s age was closer to 41 than 31.
(Part 2 soon)

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