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Aurelio López
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Statue of Aurelio Lopez in his Mexican hometown of Tecamachalco, Puebla
Pitcher
Born: September 21, 1948(1948-09-21)
Tecamachalco, Puebla, Mexico
Died: September 22, 1992 (aged 44)
Matehuala, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Professional debut
September 1, 1974 for the Kansas City Royals
Last professional appearance
June 17, 1987 for the Houston Astros
statistics
Win–Loss     62–36
Earned run average     3.56
Strikeouts     635
Saves     93
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the Mexican
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of FameEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Inducted     1993

Aurelio Alejandro (Rios) López (September 21, 1948 – September 22, 1992) was a Mexican relief pitcher. Over the course of an eleven year Major League career (1974, 19781987), he acquired the nickname "Señor Smoke" in Detroit due to his Mexican heritage and his overpowering fastball,[1] which had been measured as high as 93 mph.

Contents

Early career

Born in Tecamachalco, Puebla, Mexico, López began his career in Mexico. He debuted with Las Choapas (Mexican League minor league affiliate of the Mexico City Reds) in 1967, and was promoted to the parent club in 1968 at 19 years old. After starting the 1969 season with Mexico City, López joined the Minatitlan Red Devils. In 1970, López rejoined Mexico City and played with this team until 1977. In his final Mexican League season, he went 19-3 with a 2.01 earned run average and 165 strikeouts over 157 innings in 73 games. Despite being a closer, he was fifth in the league in wins, and set a new save record with 30 to be named the league's MVP for his dominating work.

During his time with the Reds López also played in Major League Baseball. López made his Major League debut in 1974, appearing eight games with the Kansas City Royals. He spent the entire season with the Waterloo Diamonds of the class-A Midwest League in 1975. López's contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from Mexico City on October 26, 1977. López then joined the Springfield Redbirds of the class-AAA American Association for 1978.

MLB career

López also saw playing time in the major leagues in 1978, appearing in 25 games with the St. Louis Cardinals. After playing one season in St. Louis, López was traded to for the Detroit Tigers with Jerry Morales for Jack Murphy and Bob Sykes. López posted some of his best individual statistics in the 1979 season, when he had a 10–5 win–loss record, 106 strikeouts, and a 2.41 ERA (an Adjusted ERA+ of 181). He was third in the AL in saves (21) and seventh in the Cy Young Award voting. López remained with the Tigers through 1985, and is perhaps best known for his role as the set-up reliever for the Tigers during their 1984 championship season, when he finished with a 10-1 record, 14 saves, and a 2.94 ERA. López was 1-0 in both the 1984 American League Championship Series and 1984 World Series, and did not give up an earned run in over a combined six innings pitched.

López reached the post season again with the 1986 Houston Astros, and ended his major league career in Houston the following season. With the Astros, Lopez complied a 5-4 record with eight saves while posting a 3.80 ERA.

Seasons W L PCT ERA G GS GF SHO SV IP H ER R HR BB K WP HBP
11 62 36 .633 3.56 459 9 281 0 93 910 785 360 392 102 367 635 34 15

Death

After retiring from baseball, López moved back to his hometown of Tecamachalco. He was elected municipal president of the city in 1990, a position that he held until his death.[2]

López was killed in an auto accident a day after his 44th birthday in Matehuala, San Luis Potosí. The car that López drove overturned, and he was thrown from the vehicle.[2] Coincidentally, there have been three players in Major League Baseball history named Aurelio, and all three were killed in car accidents between the ages of 44 and 53 (Aurelio Rodríguez and Aurelio Monteagudo were the others).

López also had a reputation as being a friendly player who got along well with other members of the team. Former Astros teammate Terry Puhl described López as "always upbeat,"[2] while fellow Astro Craig Reynolds noted that López was "everybody's friend."[2]

Detroit rock band Electric Six named their 2005 second album, Señor Smoke in his honor.[3][4]

See also

List of Major League Baseball all-time saves leaders

References

  1. ^ "Aurelio Lopez". Baseball Library. http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Aurelio_Lopez_1948. Retrieved 2009-05-19.  
  2. ^ a b c d Hohlfeld, Neil (1992-09-24). "Former Astro Lopez Dies in auto accident". Houston Chronicle. http://www.astrosdaily.com/players/obits/Lopez_Aurelio.html. Retrieved 2009-05-19.  
  3. ^ Interview: "How Do You Rock So Hard?" — Electric Six, Blogcritics.org, February 22, 2006, by Tiffany Leigh.
  4. ^ Electric Six: Interview with Dick Valentine, Artrocker, by Kaoru Sato.
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