Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Orlando Pena (#449)

Orlando Pena (age 80) is the oldest living player from his era that I have not yet featured on my blogs. (This card has his birth year as 1935, but Baseball-Reference and Baseball-Almanac have it as 1933.)

He began his professional career in 1955, playing for the unaffiliated Daytona Beach Islanders in the class-D Florida State League for one year before he was acquired by the Cincinnati Reds. After a season in class-B ball, the Reds assigned him to their triple-A team in Havana, Cuba (his home country) for the next 2 years.

He made his major-league debut with 9 games in the final 5 weeks of the 1958 season. Pena played the entire 1959 season with the Reds, and was their #2 man in the bullpen in games and innings pitched, and 2nd in saves.

In 1960, Orlando was back in triple-A for most of 1960. He began the season in Havana, then the Reds moved the team to Jersey City, NJ due to the Cuban embargo. Pena also played 4 games with the Reds in the last half of September.

Pena began the 1961 season back in Jersey City, then was traded to the unaffiliated Toronto Maple Leafs in the triple-A International League in mid-July for pitcher Ken Johnson. After the season, Toronto (and Pena) became part of the Milwaukee Braves’ organization.

After spending all of 1961 and most of 1962 in the minors, Orlando was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in August for pitcher (and future umpire) Bill Kunkel.

Pena joined the Athletics and made 12 starts and 1 relief appearance over the final 2 months of the season. Pena was a starter for Kansas City during the '63 and '64 seasons, winning 12 games each season, but leading the AL with 20 losses in 1963.

After moving on to the Tigers in June 1965, Pena reverted back to his role as a reliever. With Detroit, he appeared in 30 games in 1965 and 54 games in 1966, all in relief.

After only 2 appearances, Orlando was sold to the Indians in May 1967 and was the Tribe's closer, pitching in 48 games and collecting a team-high 8 saves.

Pena spent the next 2 seasons in the minors, with the Indians', Pilots', and Royals' organizations. The Royals released him during spring training 1970, and it took until mid-June for him to catch on with another team. He worked out of the Pirates’ bullpen for 2 months, until getting his 2nd release of the year in late August.

Orlando played most of 1971 and all of 1972 in the Orioles’ farm system. He pitched 5 games for the O's in mid-season 1971, and another 11 games at the start of the 1973 season.

The Cardinals purchased his contract in June 1973, and he pitched 42 games for them in 1973 and another 42 games in 1974, until his trade to the Angels in September.

Pena wrapped up his career with 11 games in 1975. The Angels released him 4 days after his final game in early May.

In 1979 and at age 45, Pena pitched 1 game for the Miami Amigos in the short-lived Inter-American League.


Commishbob said...

Back of the card cartoon on the right is awesome.

Love any card with the Yankee Stadium scoreboard as a backdrop. I spent a lot of time staring at that thing.

Jim from Downingtown said...

I usually can't identify any of the stadiums in the photos, unless the Yankee Stadium frieze is included.

Mark Hoyle said...

This guy played forever