Sadly, we lost another Yankees great on the 13th of January. Luis Arroyo, the first Puerto Rican pitcher to ever play on the New York Yankees passed away on Wednesday from cancer. He was 88 years old.
Arroyo teamed up with the Yankees between 1960-1963, where he finished sixth in AL MVP voting after posting a 2.19 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 119 innings. He also saved 29 games to lead the league. Though Arroyo’s best seasons were with the Yankees, he was also a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Arroyo is most famously remembered for his screwball pitch. He said once that he could “keep the hitters guessing and can usually get [his] stuff over the plate. There’s not much more to pitching than that.” Yogi Berra added that his screwball “works two ways for Luis. For one thing, it’s a difficult pitch to hit. And, for another, the hitter seems to be always looking for it, enabling Luis to fool ’em with his fast one or his other curve.” Many men were in awe of the famous screwball.
Arroyo carried the Yanks to many successes. Whitey Ford also had something to say about Luis Arroyo. A Sports Illustrated article quoted the staff ace: “If I win 25, I’m going to hold out for $100,000 and split it with Luis.” Arroyo said he’d settle for 60-40. When Ford got his 20th victory of the season — for the first time in his superb career — and he merrily proclaimed in the clubhouse, “Beer for everybody on me, and make it two for my boy, Luis.”That was the tenth of 13 saves Arroyo picked up for Ford, who indeed went on to win 25 that season. In addition to inviting Arroyo to finish his 1961 Cy Young Award acceptance speech, Whitey kept his word, giving the closer a financial boost.
Arroyo’s glory was, however, short-lived. He injured his arm the following spring; while he pitched for two more seasons, he never regained his prior effectiveness. Arroyo retired after appearing in only six innings in the 1963 season. Over the course of his MLB career, he pitched 5311⁄3 innings with a 3.93 ERA, collecting 40 wins, 32 losses, and 44 saves.
To read more about Luis Arroyo, you can click here.