RIP to Ed Bauta, a Cuban pitcher who played for five seasons in the major leagues in the 1960s. He also holds a unique place in New York Mets history. He died on July 6 (the 62nd anniversary of his MLB debut) at the Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, N.J. He was 87 years old. No cause of death was immediately available, but his family-placed obituary requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org. Bauta played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1960-62) and New York Mets (1963-64).
Eduardo Bauta Galvez was born on January 6, 1935, in Florida, Camaguey, Cuba. He fell in love with baseball at an early age and played ball whenever he could. “He credited his work ethic to countless hours of farming and sugar cane cutting in his youth alongside his family,” his obituary states. That work ethic led him to the United States and a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, thanks to scout Howie Haak. He debuted in the United States with the Clinton Pirates of the Midwest League in 1956, when he was 21 years old. He made 11 starts for Clinton and had 5 complete games and a shutout, but the team used him frequently as a reliever. He came out of the bullpen 13 times and finished the year with a 4-5 record and a 3.83 ERA. He showed excellent control, with 28 walks in 108 innings. He also struck out 83 batters. For the rest of his time in the U.S., he mainly pitched in relief.
Bauta reached the upper tier of the minor leagues in 1960 with the Columbus Jets of the International League. In 12 relief outings, he had 1 win and a 0.95 ERA, with 12 strikeouts in 19 innings. He was transferred to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 10, as part of an earlier deal that had sent Julian Javier to the Cardinals in exchange for Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell. About a month later — July 6, 1960, to be exact — Bauta made his major-league debut against the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, he had wrenched his knee shortly after joining St. Louis, and that could account for his rough debut. George Altman hit a pair of 3-run homers off him as part of a 10-1 loss. He wasn’t the only Cards pitcher who struggled that day, as Bob Gibson departed in the third inning after walking 5 batters and giving up a 3-run homer to Ernie Banks. But it saddled Bauta with a 27.00 ERA after one game. He worked infrequently because of his knee, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch commented shortly before his debut that he “probably leads the league in time spent in the trainer’s room this season.” When he was healthy enough to pitch, he did very well. Bauta had six straight scoreless outings and picked up his first save on August 10 in a 6-5 win over Philadelphia. Even after he loaded the bases on a hit and a couple of walks, he got Clay Dalrymple to hit a fly ball to shallow center to end the 10-inning game. Bauta finished the year with a 6.32 ERA in 9 games, and he walked an uncharacteristic 11 batters in 15-2/3 innings.
The Cardinals kept Bauta in the minor leagues for the first half of 1961, and he was dazzling for Portland of the Pacific Coast League, winning 9 games with an ERA below 2 in 35 games. He was returned to the majors on July 20 when St. Louis demoted shortstop Jerry Buchek, and the pitcher continued to excel. After he allowed a home run to Chicago’s Banks on July 26, he gave up just 1 more earned run the rest of the season. In that time, he saved 5 games and won twice. His first major-league win was a 2-inning performance against Los Angeles on August 23. Despite giving up a Ron Fairly homer, Bauta picked up the win when the Cardinals knocked Don Drysdale out of the game with back-to-back homers by Bill White and Ken Boyer, and Ron Perranoski and Larry Sherry gave up the lead for an 8-7 Redbirds win. Even in the one game where he blew a save in an eventual 4-3 loss to Cincinnati, he still pitched 5 scoreless innings and allowed just 2 hits. By the end of the season, his 5 saves were good enough for second on the team behind Lindy McDaniel with 9, and he had a 1.40 ERA.
Bauta continued to pitch well for St. Louis in 1962, and he had a 1.88 ERA through June 10. Then he began to struggle and was increasingly victimized by the long ball and bases on balls. The final straw came on June 30, when he gave up 6 runs in 2 innings, including 2 home runs to Smoky Burgess, in a 17-7 loss to Pittsburgh. He was sent to the minors on July 2 and finished the year with the Atlanta Crackers. He played well there and was a workhorse for the Crackers in the postseason. “I know I can win in the majors if I ever get a real shot,” he said.
Bauta finally got to spend a full season in the majors in 1963. He started off the season as one of the Cardinals’ top relievers, with 3 saves in the month of May. His record was 3-4, and opposing teams started to score runs off him regularly in July. He was traded to the New York Mets in August of ’63 for lefty reliever Ken McKenzie (technically, it was two separate waiver claims), and Bauta finished the season with a 5.21 ERA in 9 games with New York. After the season, he appeared in a charity game in Miami, with a group of other Latin Americans for an exhibition game that benefited the Cuban Refugee Relief Fund. The game was sponsored by the Professional Cuban Baseball League in Exile, led by Arturo Bengochea and featured 20-game winners Juan Marichal against Camilio Pascual. Minnie Minoso, Tony Taylor, Zolio Versalles, Jose Tartabull, Diego Segui, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Vic Davalillo and Bauta all were scheduled to appear.
Bauta’s appearance in the Mets’ loss on September 18, 1963, was one of his better performances with New York. After Craig Anderson and Roger Craig (and an unfortunate error by Ron Hunt) gave up 5 runs to Philadelphia, Bauta entered the game in the top of the sixth inning and pitched two perfect innings. That 5-1 Mets loss was the final game ever played at the Polo Grounds. Then on April 17, 1964, Bauta appeared in the first game ever at Shea Stadium. He relieved starter Jack Fisher in the top of the seventh and immediately gave up a game-tying single to Donn Clendenon. He later surrendered a ninth-inning RBI single to Bill Mazeroski that allowed Willie Stargell to come home with the go-ahead run. Pittsburgh won 4-3, and Bauta was tagged with the first Mets loss at Shea. “Sinkers were all that he was throwing us,” Mazeroski said of his single off Bauta. “I was looking for it.” After the came, a reporter asked Mets manager Casey Stengel for a comment after some Mets reported that they had a hard time following the ball at the new ballpark. “They’ve had trouble following the ball the last two years!” Stengel snapped back.
Bauta was the only player who could lay claim to pitching in the final game at the Polo Grounds and the first game at Shea Stadium. He pitched in 8 games for the Mets in 1964, with 2 losses and a save. He was sent to the minors in May and did not return. In parts of 5 seasons, Bauta had a 6-6 record in 97 games, with 11 saves. His ERA was 4.35, and his FIP was 4.05. He struck out 89 batters in 149 innings and walked 70, and he also allowed 14 home runs.
Bauta finished the 1964 season in Buffalo and remained in the Mets organization for several seasons. He spent a year out of baseball in 1966 to work as a department store security guard in Boise, Idaho. He returned to the Mets’ franchise in 1967 and ’68. After winning 11 games as a reliever for Class-A Visalia in 1968, Bauta played for most of the next six seasons with Poza Rica of the Mexican League. In 1973, the 38-year-old Bauta won 23 games as a starter for Poza Rica against 5 losses, and then he won 3 more as a reliever for the Eugene Emeralds of the Pacific Coast League. He ended his career the following season, after a 9-15 record but with a good 3.00 ERA. Bauta won 65 games across 13 seasons in the minor leagues, and he added another 64 wins in 6 seasons in Mexico.
Bauta’s good looks were frequently mentioned in contemporary newspaper articles about him, and he had many high-profile friendships — his obituary noted time spent with Doris Day, Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. Bauta moved to Daytona Beach in 1988 but had moved recently to New Jersey to be closer to his son, Freddy. He is also survived by daughter Alicia and son Eduardo, as well as a large extended family.
For more information: Maxwell-Tobie Funeral Home