Former Washington Senator becomes oldest living baseball player

Connie Marrero.jpgFormer Washington Senator
“Connie” Marrero–born April 25, 1911–is now the oldest living former professional baseball player at 99 years and 291 days young. He moved into the No. 1 spot on Tuesday with the passing of the former Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Tony Malinosky at the tender age of 101. It seems the baseball-life analogy never gets old so we will link them together once again. Baseball is a constant 162-game marathon of ups and downs, twists and turns, and peaks and valleys… yes, just like life.

 If you can master the game of baseball, you can master the game of life. It is all about longevity and this list defines longevity. Marrero–no relation to the Nats first base prospect Chris Marrero–pitched for the Senators from 1950 to 1954, compiling a 39-40 record with a 3.67 ERA. Marrero made his Major League debut when he was 38 years old, and was one of the oldest players in the league throughout the duration of his time in the Major Leagues. His nicknames in Cuba were “El Guajiro de Laberinto” (The Peasant from Laberinto), reflecting his rural origins, “El Premier,” and “El Curvo.”

Well now he has a new nickname “El Numero Uno” and has his sights set on the next hurdle: 100.

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Only six weeks short of a century, Conrado “Connie” Marrero remembers every pitch he ever threw. I have visited Marreo annually for the last decade and saw him last only days after he assumed the title of oldest living major leaguer.

Days earlier, I delivered to Marrero a scorecard from a June 26, 1951 game at Griffith Stadium, a 7-3 complete game win over the Yankees. Joe DiMaggio had faced Marrero in an 8th inning pinch-hitting appearance. “How did DiMaggio do?”, I asked. “Did he hit a home run?” “Poncho” (strikeout), retored Marrero, who went on to correctly recall that he got on base three times that day. I asked if he remembered who pitched for the Yankees that day 60 years earlier and he raised his left arm in a pitching motion, remarking “sudo” (lefthander). Sure enough, he defeated Eddie Lopat. “I faced Lopat many times”, recalled Marrero.

Marrero lives close to the Havana ballpark where he starred as the ace of the Almendares team in the Cuban winter league. Despite a five year major league career, he receives no major league pension and is both forgotten and neglected by MLB.

Now that Connie Marrero is baseball’s oldest senior citizen, it is time to recognize this great pitcher and person. How good was Marrero, Only Marrero, Satchel Paige, Jamie Moyer and Tim Wakefield were named to an all-star team for the first time after reaching the age of 40. In 1947, he won 25 games with Havana of the Florida International League and then 12 more with Almendares in the top flight Cuban winter league. His record for the 12 month calendar yaer was 37 wins and 8 losses and he pitched a remarkable 452.2 ininngs!

An AL all-star in 1951 at the age of 40, I asked Marerro when I would have seen him at his best. He said that I would have had to see him in 1938, 12 years before his major league debut.

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