December 6, 1971: Traded by Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League to the Yankees for Ossie Chavarria.
Celerino (Perez) Sanchez (February 3, 1944 - May 1, 1992) starred in the Mexican League from 1964 to 1971,
primarily with the Mexico City Tigers, failing to hit .300 only once and
actually hitting .448 in 1966.[*] before being traded to the New York Yankees in
1972. It had long been Sanchez' dream to play Major League baseball and
although Mexico City refused to let him out of his contract, he threatened to
retire if not traded.[*]
Celerino hit well during the spring as a non-roster invitee, but because of
an awful deal during the off-season that had Rich McKinney slated in as the
third baseman, Sanchez started the season in AAA Syracuse. After spending a few months in Syracuse
where he hit .327 with 3 HR and 28 RBI, Sanchez joined the Yankees in
June 1972 when McKinney quickly fell out of favor with fans and management
alike. This was due mostly to the fact McKinney couldn't handle the hot
corner, having spent most of his career at second base. A game featuring
four errors and a .216 batting average signalled a change had to be made.
Sanchez debuted on June 13th with an 0-for-3, and was the Yankees regular
third baseman for the rest of the year. For a period starting in August,
Sanchez became a fan favorite. It wasn't necessarily his bat (.248, 0 HR
and 22 RBI) that won
over the fans, but rather the clutch hits and defensive plays.
In the first game of a four game series against first place Detroit on August
8th, Sanchez drove home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth with a sacrifice
fly. The Yanks would go on to win 4-2, to pull within three games. The
next day in the second game of a double header, Sanchez drove home two runs in
the bottom of the 7th, with the Yanks trailing 1-0, then made a sharp fielding
play in the top of the 8th to help preserve the 2-1 victory.[*]
Two days later, he broke a 3-3 tie with the Milwaukee Brewers when he smacked an
RBI triple in the bottom of the 6th. A game the Yankees would win 10-6.
In 1973, the Yankees' acquisition of Graig Nettles relegated Sanchez to a backup role.
He would play in only 34 games, sporting a .219 AVG. He was released after the
season and returned to the Mexican Leagues in 1974, where he remained until retiring in 1979.
August 27, 1972:
Celerino goes 4-for-8 with three doubles, two runs scored and two RBI in a
16-inning marathon against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium. The
Yankees carried a 6-1 lead heading into 8th when the Royals scored 4 runs in
that inning, followed by 3 in the ninth to take an 8-6 lead. In the bottom
of the ninth, the Yankees rallied, with a two-out RBI double by Sanchez and an
RBI single by Thurman Munson, scoring Sanchez, to tie the game. Each team
mounted a few threats for the next six innings, but came up empty. Sanchez
led of the bottom of the 16th with his third two-bagger of the game and moved to
second after an intentional walk to Jerry Kenney (1-for-7 on the day, so it's
hard to figure that strategy.) Gene Michael, pinch-hitting, sacrificed the
two baserunners over and Horace Clarke responded with a sacrifice fly to score
Sanchez, ending the 4 hour, 48 minute affair.
Gary A. from Miami, FL wrote: "Phenomenal name and loved the excitement he brought to us young Yankee fans. I still remember his summer streak."