A man considered by many to be the greatest third baseman in the history of the Mexican League has passed away. Leo Rodriguez, who was voted into the Salon de la Fama in 1980, died Tuesday morning at the age of 82.
Rodriguez broke into the LMB with Union Laguna as a 19-year-old in 1949, batting .300 in 86 games. He went on to spend five years in Torreon, batting .280 or better four times and topping the .300 mark twice. Rodriguez then spent 1954 with Cananea of the Arizona-Texas League, where he hit an amazing .430 with 259 hits in 141 games and after hitting .385 and .349 the next two seasons for the Mexico City Tigres, went on to play four years with Hollywood and Columbus in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system between 1957 and 1960 (batting between .268 and .292.
Rodriguez returned to the Mexican League for good in 1961 and played five years with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos, batting .301 or better every year while never striking out more than 33 times a season. Not a power hitter, Rodriguez only hit 82 homers in his career, but he was a .315 career hitter in 13 LMB seasons and was a superb fielder. He played for three Liga pennant winners (Laguna in 1950, Tigres in 1955 and Diablos in 1964) and was player-manager for Hermosillo’s Mexican League champs in 1963-64. After retiring as a player, Rodriguez spent years coaching with the Monterrey Sultanes.
A moment of silence was held in honor of Rodriguez before Tuesday night’s Sultanes-Diablos game at Foro Sol.