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Pompey pioneer "swindler"

This Saturday marks the 69th anniversary of the only point guard who managed to cheat in his brief internship of 19 games in the Major Leagues, Pompeyo Davalillo, the fifth Venezuelan and first Zulian to play in MLB after Alejandro "Patón" Carrasquel (1939), Jesús "Chucho" Ramos (1944), Carlos "Earthquake" Ascanio and Alfonso "Chico" Carrasquel.

Pompey's steal with the Senators, during a game that they won 4-1 against the Cleveland Indians, on the afternoon of Thursday, August 6, 1953, at Griffith Stadium in the city of Washington. It was just number 20 of the Venezuelan vintage at that time.

The first 19, from 1951 to July 53, signed up for the account of “Carrasquelito”, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox.

That of the native of Cabimas had special importance because it was the first time that a Venezuelan managed to cheat the plate in the Major Leagues.

That day, at the age of 25, Davalillo went 3-2 with a sacrifice, a swindle and two runs scored.

In the first inning, he singled to left off starter and loser Bob Feller, who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame nine years later (1962). He advanced to second on a walk to Mickey Vernon and scored on a single to left by Jackie Jensen.

In the third he touched the ball well before Feller's shipment, to sacrifice himself and take Eddie Yost to second.

In the fifth inning he consumed his third and final at-bat against Feller. He popped out to first.

He went to the plate for the fourth time in the seventh, against reliever Bill Wight, after Yost had flied out the first out to center, and singled. By unstoppable to Jensen's right, he advanced to third and from there he was rubberized for stealing, to the surprise of catcher Joe Tipton, while Jensen took over second base by the same route, to complete the double con.

Short list

As we said, it was the only time that Pompey stole a base in his fleeting stint in the best baseball in the world, while among minor leagues, Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional and Mexico scammed 182 pads.   

Since then, only 15 Venezuelans have managed to achieve this curious action in MLB and only eight of them have billed it at least twice:

  • Elvis Andres (8)
  • Cesar Tovar (4)
  • Andrés Galarraga (3)
  • Omar Vizquel (3)
  • Jose Altuve (3)
  • Elio Chacon (2)
  • Roughed Odor (2)
  • Ender Start (2)

Aparicio could not

Throughout his 18-season career (1956-73), Luis Aparicio attempted to steal 642 times and in 506 of those he arrived safely, to set the record for stolen bases for Venezuelans.

Almost 47 years after the Red Sox played their last game, the only Venezuelan member of the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, owner of the record for the most consecutive seasons as líder robber in MLB (1956-64), ranks 38th in the historical list of this department.

But he never managed to pull off the plate scam, although he tried it four times with the White Sox: twice in 1959 against the Cleveland Indians and in 1960 and 1962 against the Orioles.

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