Hector Espino was known as his country’s ‘Babe Ruth’
By Amanda Rodriguez
The comparison is a distinction unlike any other in baseball.
Hector Espino was called – simply – “The Mexican Babe Ruth.”
Statistics from his era can be somewhat imperfect, but Espino is credited with 484 home runs in the summer Mexican League, as well as 310 additional bombs in the winter Mexican Pacific League.
Espino played 25 years in the summer Mexican League (1960-84) and 24 years in the winter Mexican Pacific League. Throughout his time with these leagues, Espino became so skilled at hitting that he caused Mexican pitchers to intentionally walk him – a rarity in the Mexican League at the time.
Espino became known to big league scouts early in his career, and spent part of the 1964 season with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla. But Espino quickly returned to the Mexican League and later declined offers from the New York Mets and San Diego Padres.
Nevertheless, Major League pitchers were rather familiar with him. When former All-Star and Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe was questioned about who the toughest hitters that he had ever faced were, he answered, “Hector Espino is the first name that comes to mind.”
Espino continually showed his dominance against Sutcliffe. The pitcher was able to recall a specific time in which his manager directed him to not throw a fastball to Espino. Sutcliffe remarked, “I can throw my fastball past anyone. Just watch.” When Espino stepped into the box, Sutcliffe threw him a fastball, and after the game he was quoted as saying, “I’m not kidding you, the first fastball I threw was the longest home run I ever gave up.
Espino was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.
Amanda Rodriguez was a membership intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development.
For information on how to apply for the Class of 2013 Steele Internship Program, click here