The date was Apr. 21, 1950. The New York Yankees were leading the Washington Senators 12-7 in the bottom of the eighth inning at Yankee Stadium.
Joe DiMaggio was on third base, Yogi Berra was on first and there was one out. Senators manager, Bucky Harris, who had managed the Yankees to the 1947 world championship, once again trudged to the mound. He brought in Connie Marrero to pitch. It was Marrero’s major league debut.
It was recently announced by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association that Marrero will finally receive the pension that he should have started receiving when he was 62-years-old.
Marrero will be 101 April 25th.
Marrero returned to Cuba after he retired, where he has remained to this day. When the Cuba embargo was enacted after the Castro revolution, money couldn’t be transferred from the U.S. to Cuba. Marrero, who was unaware that he had earned a pension, slipped through the cracks.
Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported that Marrero, who is the oldest living major leaguer, shares a two-bedroom apartment with five relatives in Havana. He is almost blind and recently suffered a broken hip, but he still follows baseball by listening to games.
In his major league debut against the Yankees, Marrero retired Billy Johnson on a ground out that scored DiMaggio and moved Berra to second. Hank Bauer singled Berra home and then Marrero retired Jerry Coleman for the third out.
Marrero was a “junk ball” pitcher that relied on keeping hitters off stride. According to legend, the first time Marrero faced Ted Williams was during spring training in 1950.
The bases were loaded with Boston Red Sox when Marrero was summoned from the bullpen. When he arrived at the mound, Marrero called catcher to the hill. He wanted to be certain that the hitter really was Williams. Marrero told Evans that if it wasn’t Williams, he wouldn’t give him his best pitch.
Evans confirmed Williams’ identity and told the 39-year-old rookie to throw him nothing but fastballs on the outside. Marrero struck Williams out on four slow curve balls.
Marrero will receive about $10,000 a year.