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Oldest living ex-big leaguer turns 102 in Cuba

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm •  Published: April 25, 2013

"All the batters were the same to me," Marrero said. "But I had more trouble with the lefties."

When he heard the name Larry Doby — the Hall of Fame Cleveland Indians outfielder who was the first black player in the American League — Marrero's face contorted in mock frustration.

"My grandfather has never forgotten how Doby hit three home runs against him in a single day," Rogelio explained. "He always says Doby was the guy who hit the best against him."

At 5-foot-5 and 158 pounds, Marrero relied on guile to get batters out, compiling a 39-40 record and a 3.67 ERA in five seasons with the Senators from 1950 to 1954.

"Connie Marrero had a windup that looked like a cross between a windmill gone berserk and a mallard duck trying to fly backwards," former big league star Felipe Alou once said of the diminutive Cuban, according to a biography of Marrero by the Society for American Baseball Research.

Marrero was born on April 25, 1911 in the small town of Sagua la Grande in the central Cuban province of Villa Clara, and he took his time getting into organized ball.

He played in amateur and semi-pro events in the early 1930s, raising eyebrows with his vicious curve and slider. In 1938, he joined a Cienfuegos team that was sponsored by a local men's clothing store, and which was about to become part of a budding Cuban league.

By the time he reached the big leagues, Marrero was already 39, an age when most players have long since retired. But he made the most of his opportunity, even being named to the 1951 All-Star team.

After his stint in the big leagues, Marrero came back to Cuba, ending his career with the Havana Sugar Kings in 1957. Two years later, Fidel Castro's rebels swept into power. Marrero became a coach and roving instructor, working well into his 80s.

Even at 102, he continues to be interested in baseball and counts himself a fan of Cienfuegos, the team that is leading the Cuban league at the moment.

But Marrero's true love is great-granddaughter Sandra. When the 12-year-old returned home from school Wednesday, the day before the birthday, Marrero reached out to take her hand and kiss it.

"Sandra, Sandra," he repeated as she leaned down to embrace him.


Associated Press writer Paul Haven contributed to this report.


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