Trailblazer Hector Lopez dies at age 93

Two-time World Series champ was Triple-A's first Black manager

September 30th, 2022

Hector Lopez, who made history as the first Black manager in Triple-A, has passed away at 93, according to his son, Darrol.

A Panama native, Lopez moved to Florida with his wife, Claudette, in 1992.

He was a two-time World Series champion with the Yankees in 1961 and ‘62 as the third man in the fabled outfield of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. He was named the Buffalo Bisons’ manager in ‘69, when they were still a Washington Senators affiliate and the Major League team was led by Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

Lopez made his Majors debut with the Kansas City Athletics on May 12, 1955, 22 days after Humberto Robinson became the first Panamanian to play in the big leagues. Then Lopez made Triple-A history in ’69 -- six years before Frank Robinson became the first Black manager in the Majors, with Cleveland in 1975.

Of the shortstop-turned-outfielder’s on-field exploits, perhaps the most iconic came in the 1961 World Series, when Lopez drove in five of the Yankees’ 13 runs in the decisive Game 5 against the Reds. He had seven RBIs and a 1.343 OPS in the series, which crowned starter and future Hall of Famer Whitey Ford as MVP.

The Bisons only had Lopez as a manager for one season, in which they went 58-78. The Panamanian took the helm of the Yankees’ Rookie-level team in 1994-95, two years after settling in Florida.

Lopez was an avid participant in the Yankees’ Old Timers Day, attending as recently as 2019.

Hector Lopez on the field at Yankees’ Old Timers Day in 2019 (AP)