In Memory of Preston Gomez

Ex-Manager Gomez Dies
Astros skipper in 1974,'75 also led Padres, Cubs
Houston Chronicle
January 14, 2009

(c) Houston Astros

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Preston Gomez, who managed the expansion San Diego Padres and later guided the Astros and Chicago Cubs during a six-decade career in baseball, died Tuesday. He was 85.

Gomez died in Fullerton, Calif. He never fully recovered from head injuries suffered last March when he was hit by a pickup truck while walking to his car in Blythe, Calif.

The Cuban-born Gomez, who played only eight games in the major leagues, managed seven years in the majors, going 346-529 in a span from 1969 to 1980. He never had a winning season, coming the closest at 81-81 in 1974 in the first of his two seasons with the Astros where he went 128-161 overall.

In his first three years as a big league manager, the expansion Padres finished in last place each season. It was a feat that wouldn't be repeated by a manager for 15 years.

Amid those forgettable seasons came some memorable moments.

On July 21, 1970, Gomez pulled pitcher Clay Kirby for a pinch hitter after eight no-hit innings against the Mets. To this day, the Padres haven't had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. And they lost that game 3-0.

Gomez said at the time that if he ever managed the same situation again, he would do the same thing. That situation came on September 4, 1974 when Houston's Don Wilson was lifted after eight innings of no-hit ball although losing to Cincinnati, 2-1. The Astros lost that game and reliever Mike Cosgrove gave up a single in the ninth to lose the no-hit bid while Kirby looked on from the Reds' dugout.

Gomez was fired by the Padres just 11 games into the 1972 season, one of the earliest dismissals in major league history. But he would still find three more seasons of work as a manager, relieving Leo Durocher in Houston in 1974 then later leading the Cubs to a 38-52 record during part of the 1980 season.

Gomez was born Pedro W. Gomez Martinez on April 20, 1923, in Central Preston, Cuba.

At age 21 he played in eight games for the Washington Senators, going 2-for-7 with a double and two RBIs.

He spent a decade after that playing in the minor leagues, then spent another decade as a minor league manager, working in the systems of the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pitcher Billy Muffett, who played for Gomez for the Yankees' farm club in Richmond, Va., recalled an encounter with the manager after he had given up a couple of long home runs.

"Preston comes out to the mound and says, 'What did he hit?' I said, 'Preston, I believe it was a Rawlings,'" Muffett recalled in 1990.

"Well, he didn't think it was too funny. He said, 'Next time, throw fastballs' and walked back to the dugout."

Four years after becoming a Dodgers coach, Gomez moved to the Padres. He was hired by former Dodgers vice president Buzzie Bavasi, who had become president and part-owner of the newborn Padres. San Diego lost 110 games in Gomez's first season.

Gomez joined the Angels in 1981 as third-base coach and became a special assistant to the GM in 1985.