MiLB history-maker Héctor López died Sept. 29 at a hospital in Hudson, Florida, from lung cancer at 93. According to the New York Times, his son, Darrol, confirmed the news.
The Panama native made history as the first Black manager in Triple-A, the highest level in Minor League Baseball. Before his influential MiLB managerial position, López debuted in the Major leagues on May 12, 1955, with the Kansas City Athletics. He achieved 67 home runs with the Athletics before he was traded to the New York Yankees on May 26, 1959, at 30. López scored 69 home runs while playing for the Yankees. He became one of the first influential Black players on the Yankees team to break racial barriers in baseball.
He played in five consecutive World Series, winning two championships while playing for the Yankees. In 1969, López made Triple-A history, six years before Frank Robinson became the first Black manager for the Major league.
Tonight, we held a moment of silence in remembrance of former Yankee Hector Lopez. Just the second Panamanian-born player to reach the Major Leagues, Hector spent 8 seasons in pinstripes, winning 2 Championships. After retiring, he became the first black manager in AAA history. pic.twitter.com/dQZk6kSxAT
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 30, 2022
Per the New York Times, López did an interview for author Victor Deba Jr.’s book, That Was Part of Baseball Then, where he expressed his gratitude to play in the Major leagues.
“Just being able to play in the big leagues for as long as I did at the time that I played is something I’m proud of,” López said.
López continued, “There was a lot of competition, a lot of great players during the ’50s and ’60s. Plus the fact that there weren’t that many Black ballplayers at that time. Especially in the American League. So I guess you can say I made the most out of my opportunities.”
López is survived by his wife Claudette, sons Hugh and Darrol, sister Dilcia, brother Manuel, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.