Beto Avila Roberto Francisco "Beto" Avila Gonz├ílez (April 2, 1924 - October 26, 2004) was a Major League Baseball second baseman and right-handed batter who played for the Cleveland Indians (1949-58), Baltimore Orioles (1959), Boston Red Sox (1959) and Milwaukee Braves (1959). Born in Veracruz, Mexico, and listed at 5' 10", 175 lb., the diminutive ballplayer cemented his image as a local baseball idol among Indians fans. He was better known in his homeland and other Latin American countries as "Beto", in the majors as "Bobby".
In 1954 Avila won the AL batting crown, edging out Ted Williams and Minnie Mi├▒oso with a .341 mark and becoming the first Hispanic American to earn a batting title in the major leagues. What made this accomplishment even more remarkable was that he played almost the entire season with a broken thumb. He also registered career highs in home runs (15), runs (112) and RBI (67).
In that same season, the Indians faced the New York Giants in the World Series, which matched the two leagues' champion bats, Avila and Willie Mays; it was the third time that top batters in the majors played each other in the Series. Other matchups were Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb in 1909; Al Simmons and Chick Hafey in 1931.
Avila was selected an All-Star in 1952, 1954 and 1955; he led the league in triples in 1952, and led AL second basemen in fielding percentage in 1953. He also appeared in the MVP Award ballot in 1951 and 1954.
In 11-season career, Avila hit .281 with 80 homers, 467 RBI, 1296 hits, 725 runs, 185 doubles, 35 triples, and 78 stolen bases in 1300 games. Dealt three times in his last season career, he returned to Mexico in 1960 and became a politician. After serving as mayor in his home city of Veracruz, he became president of the Mexican League.
Beto Avila is still widely recognized as the player who catalyzed the development of Mexican baseball. He died in his homeland of complications from diabetes. He was 79.
An adept bunter and daring baserunner, his soccer training paid off several times when he intentionally kicked the ball out of defenders' mitts while sliding. Cleveland manager Al Lopez said Avila had "a fine swing, a sharp eye, a good spirit of competition ... and a world of confidence in himself." - Jane Charnin-Aker, at Baseball Library