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95. 1986 Puebla Angeles
Record: 88-41
Mexican League

By Bill Weiss & Marshall Wright, Baseball Historians

Serving in part as a refuge for former major league players not willing to retire, the Mexican League has seen many players continue their careers with distinction. Such was the case in 1986, when an ex-big leaguer, who had fallen in disgrace, had one of the finest seasons in minor league history.

Organized Mexican baseball started in 1937, when a league featuring teams from Mexico City, Veracruz and Tampico played a modest 25 game schedule. Gradually increasing the amount of games, the independent Mexican League was playing nearly a 100-game schedule by the end of World War II.

In the early years, teams in the Mexican League, which played in the winter, included on their rosters the stars of the Negro National League of the United States. Prohibited from playing in Organized Baseball, African-Americans were welcomed and excelled in the Mexican League. For instance, Martin Dihigo won the Mexican League batting title in 1938 with a .387 mark. Two years later, Cool Papa Bell won the triple crown, batting .437 with 12 home runs and 79 RBI.

In 1946, the Mexican League joined the ranks of Organized Baseball as a Class B circuit. It was to be a short-lived experiment. In late May, the league disbanded because of competition from an independent Mexican League. This operation, bankrolled by Jorge Pasquel, placed franchises in two of the same cities, Mexico City and Torreon, forcing the Class B competion to fold.

Pasquel’s Mexican League was an ambitious venture. In short, he was trying to create another major league by enticing several major leaguers south of the border with the promise of large salaries. Players like Sal Maglie and Max Lanier jumped at the bait only to find sub-standard conditions awaiting them in Mexico. Furthermore, on trying to return, the defecting major leaguers found themselves blackballed - unable to rejoin Organized Baseball.

The city of Puebla, Mexico, located east of Mexico City, first placed a team in the Mexican League in 1942. For three years, the Angeles played in the circuit before jumping ship to Pasquel’s independent operation in 1946. Here, they remained until 1948, when the league disbanded.

In 1955, another Mexican League joined the National Association, this time as a Class AA circuit. This entry proved much more stable and remains part of Organized Baseball until this day.

Five years later, the city of Puebla joined the Mexican League, entering a team named the Pericos. During the following decade, the team won the flag in 1963 before leaving the league after the 1969 season. In 1972, the team rejoined the circuit. Three years later, the club began a run of three division titles in a row (1975-77) the latter two as the renamed Angeles (Angels). Following another pair of crowns in 1979-80, the team once again dropped out of the league.

In 1985, the Angeles returned, going 70-54. The next year, the club improved markedly, finishing the season 88-41, ten games ahead of the Mexico City Tigers. In the playoffs, the team defeated the Mexico City Diablos, four games to two; the Mexico City Tigers, four games to one and Monterrey, four games to one to win the championship.

Collectively, the team hit an astonishing .347 in 1986, scoring over seven runs a game. The reason for the hit barrage, enjoyed league-wide, was the circuit’s use of the Comando brand baseball. This “lively” ball enabled the league as a whole to bat over .300.

Individually, the greatest beneficiary of the Comando baseball was an ex-major leaguer attempting a comeback in the Mexican League. Willie Mays Aikens, named after the Giants’ Hall of Famer, had ended a seven-year major stint in 1985. In a career marred by a drug conviction, Aikens had nevertheless enjoyed several solid seasons, including a 23 home run campaign in for Kansas City 1983. In 1986, in his first year for Puebla, playing as a designated hitter, he exploded for a .454 average. In addition, Aikens slugged 46 home runs and drove in a league high 154 runs. His magnificent season earned him another shot in the big leagues. Late in the 1986 season, Aikens joined the Mets’ affiliate in Tidewater, batting .133 in four games. Back in Mexico the following season, Aikens batted .354, .352, .395 and .358 for three different teams during the next four years. Following the 1991 season, he retired for good. In 1994, Aikens suffered a relapse as he was found guilty in federal court of selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer and one count of using a gun in a drug transaction. He is still in a federal penitentiary.

Other ’86 Angeles enjoying good seasons were catcher Orlando Sanchez who batted .402 with 24 HR, Dave Stockstill, who hit .358 with 30 HR and Don Carter, who batted .355 with a league-topping 95 stolen bases. From the rubber, Puebla was paced by German Jiminez (17-6, 3.37) who was the only starter on the staff to finish with an ERA lower than 4.00.

The Angeles continued in the Mexican League one more year before dropping out. In 1993, the team returned for a three year stint, finishing last twice. After the 1995 season, the team and league parted ways for good.

The Mexican League, in addition to providing quality baseball enjoyment to many, has extended many a career. This certainly was the case in 1986 for the Puebla Angeles. Here, the talented but troubled Willie Aikens, enjoyed the best full-season campaign of any minor leaguer in the 20th century. In doing so, he also led the 1986 Angeles to a record season, helping the team post the highest batting average of any 20th century club.

1986 Mexican League Standings
TEAM W L PCT GB TEAM W L PCT GB
NORTH SOUTH
MONCLOVA 76 51 .598 - PUEBLA 88 41 .682 -
MONTERREY 72 56 .558 4.5 MEXICO CITY (T) 75 48 .610 10.0
AGUASCALIENTES 70 56 .556 5.5 CAMPECHE 70 57 .551 17.0
DOS LAREDOS 67 57 .540 7.5 MEXICO CITY (R) 68 60 .531 19.5
SAN LUIS POTOSI 66 63 .512 11.0 YUCATAN 61 68 .473 27.0
UNION LAGUNA 60 65 .480 15.0 CORDOBA 59 69 .461 28.5
LEON 51 75 .405 24.5 TABASCO 52 74 .413 34.5
SALTILLO 52 78 .400 25.5 VERACRUZ 30 98 .234 57.5

1986 Puebla Angeles batting statistics
BATTER POS GP AB R H BI 2B 3B HR BB SO SB BA
Guillermo Rodriguez 1B 128 494 95 161 121 28 3 34 30 75 1 .326
Jesus Gonzalez 2B 127 519 106 164 93 19 4 15 55 29 3 .316
Victor Quintero (Agua.) SS,3B 122 449 65 153 70 26 4 3 27 27 2 .341
Hermilo Alonso 3B,2B 72 185 27 57 23 8 3 0 6 12 0 .308
Don Carter OF 130 529 122 188 53 16 4 1 66 59 95 .355
Dave Stockstill OF,3B 117 430 121 154 103 27 5 30 78 47 2 .358
Miguel Castellan OF 108 376 61 122 81 21 3 8 28 54 10 .324
Orlando Sanchez C,1B 114 425 103 171 113 38 2 24 44 32 1 .402
Willie Aikens DH,OF 129 445 134 202 154 38 3 46 117 68 0 .454
Porfirio Mendoza (Cam.-Ver.) 117 382 67 110 49 20 4 9 48 51 11 .288
Norberto Burke (Agua.) 3B 116 363 36 88 35 18 0 5 52 59 2 .242
Hector Ponce OF 97 169 40 50 29 9 0 3 27 23 9 .296
Fernando Cruz C,1B 67 139 12 36 16 2 0 2 8 19 0 .259
Jorge Hernandez SS,2B 63 186 33 56 21 14 1 2 10 27 2 .301
Victor Villa C 48 17 12 10 5 0 1 0 3 0 3 .588
Humberto Robles (Mont.) OF,1B,3B 32 63 14 13 6 3 0 0 17 19 0 .206
Fernando Uribe SS,3B,2B 32 54 10 15 6 2 1 0 2 12 0 .278
Marco Romero 3B 23 23 3 5 4 0 0 0 3 4 0 .217
Hector Estrada C 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Hector Covarrubias OF 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 .000
Totals 130 4511 959 1564 907 256 35 168 530 510 130 .347

1986 Puebla Angeles pitching statistics
PITCHER W L PCT G GS CG SH SV IP H BB SO ERA
German Jiminez 17 6 .739 24 24 14 3 0 171 183 37 115 3.37
Octavio Orozco 13 2 .867 23 20 5 1 0 126 172 45 50 5.80
Jaime Orozco 12 6 .667 24 22 15 2 1 171 193 38 123 4.10
Isaac Jiminez 10 6 .625 19 19 7 0 0 121 129 96 74 5.52
Alvaro Soto 9 4 .692 44 0 0 0 15 77 84 29 29 3.14
Cipriano Perez 9 9 .500 28 25 4 0 1 127 178 56 52 6.11
Martin Camarena 8 1 .889 34 0 0 0 1 93 130 35 36 5.90
Martin Antunez 6 7 .462 33 16 6 0 0 117 153 49 85 5.08
Juan Rincon (Ver.) 6 7 .462 21 20 6 1 0 122 136 37 54 4.73
Enrique Quijano 4 2 .667 24 0 0 0 2 57 88 20 18 7.06
Pablo Sanchez (Mon.-Leon) 4 7 .364 28 9 0 0 3 76 102 40 53 8.02
Juan Ontiveros (San Luis) 1 2 .333 25 4 0 0 1 69 98 32 19 6.78
Ricardo Villareal (M.C. Reds) 1 2 .333 12 2 0 0 1 21 37 18 11 9.70
Aurelio Castaneda (Agua.) 1 3 .250 15 6 0 0 0 55 65 32 27 4.39
Totals 88 41 .682 130 130 48 5 19 1089 1366 415 574 5.03