By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Former Montreal Expos infielder Angel “Remy” Hermoso has died at the age of 72.
Sam Gazdziak shared the news on his RIP Baseball blog earlier today.
Hermoso, who played 32 games over parts of two seasons with the Expos in 1969 and 1970, reportedly passed away on Friday.
Born on October 1, 1947 in Carabobo, Venezuela, Hermoso was signed as an international free agent by the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1967 season. He spent the bulk of that campaign with the Braves’ double-A affiliate in Austin before he made his major league debut on September 14. The then 19-year-old infielder proceeded to go 8-for-26 (.308 batting average) in 11 games down the stretch for the Braves.
In 1968, Hermoso played primarily shortstop and second base for the triple-A Shreveport Braves and batted .296 with 139 hits and 32 stolen bases in 129 games. That performance convinced the Expos to select the smooth-fielding speedster with the 34th overall pick in the 1968 MLB Expansion draft.
A pre-season scouting report in the Montreal Gazette hailed Hermoso as “one of the fastest men on the Montreal roster. He is an exciting ball player who should become a big favourite in the Canadian city with his antics on the base paths.”
The 5-foot-8, 155-pound infielder was assigned to the triple-A Vancouver Mounties to begin the season. He’d bat .260 with 26 stolen bases in 119 contests with the club and be voted their “Most Popular Player” for his efforts.
But Hermoso was also recalled by the Expos multiple times times during the 1969 season. He debuted with the Expos in the second game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park on June 15 when he was sent in to pinch hit for pitcher Gary Waslewski in the seventh inning. He struck out and the Expos eventually lost 6-1.
Hermoso was returned to the minors, but was called up again on July 14 and served as the Expos’ starting second baseman for a 16-game stretch while Gary Sutherland was injured. During that period, he batted either leadoff or second in the Expos’ lineup and he had his first three-hit game as a major leaguer in the club’s 5-4 win over the New York Mets at Jarry Park on July 19.
Hermoso would be sent down again in early August and the Expos wanted the right-handed hitting 21-year-old to work on becoming a switch-hitter.
“Maury Wills was a mediocre shortstop and a .240 hitter in the minors until he made an easy transition to switch-hitting,” said Expos manager Gene Mauch at the time. “Don Kessinger developed quickly into a switch-hitter. We think Angel should try it.”
There’s no evidence that the experiment worked, but the right-handed hitting Hermoso was recalled in September and finished the season with a .162 batting average in 28 games for the Expos. Each of his 12 hits were singles and he swiped three bases.
Hermoso played just four games with the Expos in 1970 and did not record a hit. That season, he rotated between second base, shortstop and third base in 100 games for the Expos’ triple-A affiliate in Buffalo and Winnipeg.
He returned to Winnipeg in 1971 and batted .251 and had 13 stolen bases in 85 games prior to suiting up with the Expos’ triple-A club in Peninsula in 1972.
Following that season, Hermoso was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for minor league first baseman Mike Carruthers.
After spending 1973 in triple-A, Hermoso returned to the big leagues and batted .221 in 48 games with the Indians in 1974. That was his last taste of big league action.
He played in the Mexican League in 1975 before hanging up his spikes and returning to Venezuela.
Gazdziak writes that after retiring as a player, Hermoso, at various times, served as a coach for professional teams and the national squad in his home country.
To read Gazdziak’s detailed obituary of Hermoso, click on this link.