Benny Valenzuela, 6/2/1933-10/24/2018

RIP to Benny “Papalero” Valenzuela, who played 10 games for the 1958 St. Louis Cardinals. He went on to become a player and manager in the Mexican League for 16 years. He died on October 24 from renal failure at the age of 85.

Benny Valenzuela
Source: The Journal Times (Racine, Wis.), Oct. 8, 1958

Valenzuela, who was born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, made his professional debut in 1952, when he was a teenager. According to his obituary (translated through Google), he started his baseball career as a batboy and started playing when a manager became infuriated when one of the outfielders couldn’t catch a fly ball. He had Valenzuela suit up, and he was off and running as a ballplayer. The third baseman joined Bisbee-Douglas of the Arizona-Texas League and immediately became one of its top hitters. For his three seasons there, he hit .352, .347 and .388, respectively. After continuing to hit the ball wherever he played, Valenzuela made his debut in the majors with the Cards on April 27, 1958. He singled in his first MLB at-bat and hit .200 overall in his first stay with the team. He was brought back up in September and made 5 more pinch-hitting appearances. All total, Valenzuela hit .214, with 3 hits in 14 at-bats.

Valenzuela was traded to the Giants organization after the 1958 season in a deal that brought pitcher Ernie Broglio to the Cardinals — you know how that worked out for them, I assume! He didn’t hit quite as well for the Giants’ AAA teams as he did in St. Louis, and in 1962, he moved to the Mexican League. Unfortunately, his stats are not available on Baseball-Reference. He was a player/manager for Yucatan in 1967, beginning a long managing career that included stops in Aguascalientes, Tampico, Leon and Reynosa. He spent a total of 45 years with the Cañeros, and his number 15 was retired in 2016.

Obituary (Spanish): https://www.purobeisbol.mx/lmb/fallece-benjamin-papelero-valenzuela/

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