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Mike Fornieles

Mike Fornieles
Born: (1932-01-18)January 18, 1932
La Habana, Cuba
Died: February 11, 1998(1998-02-11) (aged 66)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 2, 1952 for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
July 14, 1963 for the Minnesota Twins
Career statistics
Win-loss record 63-64
Earned run average 3.96
Strikeouts 576
Saves 55
Career highlights and awards
  • American League All-Star (1961)
  • Tied for AL lead in saves (14, 1960)
  • Sporting News Fireman of the Year Award (1960)
  • Jose Miguel (Torres) Fornieles (January 18, 1932 – February 11, 1998) was a Major League Baseball pitcher from La Habana, Cuba. The right-hander pitched a one hitter in his major league debut on September 2, 1952.[1]

    Washington Senators

    Fornieles signed with the Washington Senators at eighteen years old, and went 17-6 with a 2.86 earned run average for the Big Spring Broncs of the Longhorn League in his first professional season. In 1952, Fornieles went 14-12 with a 2.66 ERA for his hometown Havana Cubans, and received a call up to the Senators that September. In the second game of a September 2 double header with the Philadelphia Athletics, the only hit Fornieles allowed was a second inning single by Joe Astroth. He also allowed six walks, but did not allow a single base runner from the sixth inning on.[2]

    Likely his second most memorable performance of the season came in his final game. On September 19, Fornieles was called upon by manager Bucky Harris to relieve Julio Moreno in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox. Already trailing 3-0, Fornieles held the Bosox scoreless on three hits for the remainder of the game. He also scored one of the five runs his Senators scored on their way to a come from behind victory.[3]

    He ended the season at 2-2 with a modest 1.37 ERA. With the Senators in desperate need of left-handed pitching, he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox at the Winter meetings for Chuck Stobbs.[4]

    Chicago White Sox

    Fornieles went 8-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 1953, splitting his time between the bullpen and making spot starts. After getting off to a decent start to the 1954 season, Fornieles began to sputter. His 8.68 ERA in the month of June led manager Paul Richards to lose faith in him. After sitting on the bench unused for two weeks, he was optioned to the Charleston Senators of the American Association in mid-July. He returned to the White Sox in September, but made just one appearance. After also splitting the 1955 season between the White Sox and minor leagues, Fornieles was traded at the start of the 1956 season with George Kell, Connie Johnson and Bob Nieman to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Wilson and Dave Philley.[5]

    Baltimore Orioles

    Paul Richards, now managing the Orioles used Fornieles much more regularly in Baltimore. In a little over a year with the club, Fornieles pitched 168 innings in 45 appearances. On June 14, 1957, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for infielder Billy Goodman.[6]

    Boston Red Sox

    Between his two clubs, Fornieles pitched a career high 182.1 innings in 1957. After being used as both a starter and reliever his first two seasons in Boston, Fornieles became strictly a reliever in 1959, and soon emerged as one of the top relief pitchers in the American League. He pitched 82 innings, all out of the bullpen in 1959, and went 5-3 with eleven saves (4 less than league leader Turk Lown).

    In 1960, he went 10-5 with a 2.64 ERA, and tied the Cleveland Indians' Johnny Klippstein for the league lead with fourteen saves. Fornieles also had an AL best 48 games finished, and set a major league record with seventy appearances out of the bullpen. He was the first ever recipient of the Sporting News AL Fireman of the Year Award.

    Despite a relatively high 4.97 ERA, Fornieles' eight saves at the 1961 All-Star break earned him a selection to Paul Richards' AL squad.[7] He appeared in the eighth inning of the game, and surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, the Chicago Cubs' George Altman. After retiring Willie Mays on a flyball to center, he gave up a single to Frank Robinson before being lifted in favor of Hoyt Wilhelm.[8] A second All-Star game was held on July 31, however, Fornieles was not included on that team.[9] Fornieles ended the season with a career high fifteen saves. He also brought his ERA down to a more respectable 4.68.

    He earned only five saves in 1962, as rookie Dick Radatz replaced him in the closer's role with an AL best 24 saves. Used as a starter in a June 20 doubleheader with the Cleveland Indians, Fornieles tied a modern major league record by hitting four Cleveland batters with pitches.[10] On June 14, 1963, Fornieles' contract was sold to the Minnesota Twins in order to make room on the major league roster for pitching prospect Bob Heffner.[11]


    Fornieles went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA for the Twins before being released on July 22, 1963. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in February 1964, but failed to make the club out of Spring training.[12]

    Career stats

    Biography portal
    Baseball portal
    63 64 .496 3.96 432 76 20 4 55 195 1156.2 509 567 .263 1165 98 421 567 34 32 1.37 .950 .169

    Fornieles' only career home run came on September 8, 1961 against the Detroit Tigers' Paul Foytack.[13] He died in St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of 66.

    See also


    • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
    • Find a Grave
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