- 2B, SS, 3B, LF, OF, RF
- April 2, 1924
- 5' 10"
- 175 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-30-1949 with CLE
The 1954 American League batting champion, Bobby Avila was the first star to come out of Mexican League directly to the majors. He played second base for the Indians for a decade, bounced around to a few teams briefly, and returned south of the border to pursue a political career. He served for several years as president of the Mexican League.
"He has that extra something that makes a great hitter. Call it the competitive instinct.... He's always fighting the pitcher, never choking up, and never giving an inch.... In a tough spot, I'm always glad to see Bobby coming to the plate." — Cleveland general manager Hank Greenberg
"If I ever did hit .400, they'd make me president of Mexico." — responding to a comment from Dizzy Dean, who said Avila could be the next .400 hitter
Aging Billy Martin, in 1959, as the Tribe's second baseman.
In none of his other seasons did Avila ever hit near the .341 he put up in '54. A superior contact hitter, he struck out just 31 times and posted an on-base percentage above .400. He credited his success to a hard off-season in the Mexican Winter League. "It used to be I would go down there and take it easy playing 20 games or so," Avila said. "It would be like a vacation for me. Then I would go to spring training and find it hard to break the habit of taking it easy. But last winter, I worked hard, played 45 games, and just kept swining when I got to camp."
Star second baseman Bobby Avila, the 1954 AL Batting Champion, played professional soccer in his native Mexico, signing his first contract at the age of 14.
In 1954, amidst his batting title season, the city of Avila, California, named Bobby Avila their honorary mayor.
Footwork, and bunting. Avila had been a professional football (soccer) player as a teenager. He was known for kicking the ball out of fielder's gloves when attempting to steal bases. He was one of the 2-3 best bunters in the AL during his prime, and his daring on the basepaths was legendary.
By his own admission, Avila was a fast-ball hitter, and he had trouble with breaking balls.
Avila was the prototypical size for a second baseman - 5'10" and around 170 pounds. He had perfect timing around the bag, where he displayed the footwork that made him a soccer star in Mexico. He was good going to his left or right. His few weaknesses in the field were going back on popups, and the strength of his arm.
Avila was known as a frequent movie-goer in his days in the big leagues. He would eat his dinner, have a customary after-dinner cigar, and then trot off to the cinema to watch the latest flick.
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