“He threw everything toward the plate but the ball.” —Ted Williams
Conrado Eugenio Marrero, the oldest living major league baseball player, celebrated his 102nd birthday in Havana on April 25, 2013 with one of his patented cigars. Connie passed away just short of his 103rd birthday on April 23, 2014.
Connie Marrero pitched 735 innings for the Washington Senators in 1950-54, compiling a W-L record of 39-40. He was named to the 1951 All-Star team but did not play. He left after being scratched from the 1955 roster. (Well, by then he was 43!) He continued playing Cuban ball and was a baseball coach there into his 80s.
His best year was 1952, when he went 11-8 with a 2.88 ERA for the 78-76 Senators, known for good pitching and light hitting. Born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, he didn’t play his first game in the majors until the age of 38. He was brought up by Senators owner Clark Griffith’s scout, Papa Joe Cambria, who specialized in plumbing Cuba for low-budget players.
Marrero loved to recall facing off against greats like Mickey Mantle and Willliams. The Huffington Post quoted him: “One day Williams got two home runs off me, and afterward he came up to me and said `Sorry, it was my day today.’ I responded, ‘Ted, every day is your day.'”
Marrero stood only 5’5″ but putting on his Senators uniform with its big blue block W “always made me feel bigger, more powerful.” And beating the Yankees was the sweetest feeling in the world: “They were strong. They were the best. Each batter was a struggle.”
From Tom Deveaux’s The Washington Senators 1901-1971:
Manager Bucky Harris was hardly enamored with the rotund Marrero at first sight in 1950…just another one of Joe Cambria’s projects destined to flop. Hardly blessed with a deep roster, however, Bucky, who’d envisaged Marrero as at least a relief possibility, ended up using him primarily as a starter.
No less a hitter than Ted Williams became an admirer of Connie….Hitters would be salivating, anxious to get a crack at his knuckler, but once Marrero got ahead of you, Williams said, you were dead.
After Marrero struck out Williams with the bases loaded at Fenway Park, it became obvious that all was well with Marrero and Harris. Connie walked off the field, proudly plopped his glove in Harris’s lap, and proclaimed, “More money now.”
Marrero, who lived very modestly, was eligible for $20,000 granted him by a 2011 agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association for financial aid to 1947-79 players who did not qualify for a pension. But the money was held up by the U.S. economic embargo, which made financial transactions difficult.