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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Hector Lopez

     (Born July 8, 1929) -- There are plenty of longtime fans of the New York Yankees in Western New York. They no doubt remember Hector Lopez, a member of some great Yankee teams in the 1960s. But maybe they remember his contribution to baseball history.

     Lopez grew up in Panama, and after high school played semipro baseball in Canada. He was then signed by the Kansas City Athletics, arriving in the majors in 1955. Lopez was a pretty good hitter as he divided his time in the field between second and third.

     Most good players on the Athletics seemed to end up with the Yankees, and he and Ralph Terry came over in a five-player trade in 1959. Lopez mostly played in the outfield in participating on five straight pennant winners. He drove in five runs in the Series-clinching win over the Reds in 1961.

     Lopez retired from playing in 1966. He moved on to the coaching ranks. In 1969, Lopez was named the manager of the Buffalo Bisons. He is considered the first black manager in Triple-A baseball history. The Herd went 59-78 that year as a member of the Washington Senators' farm system.

     Lopez got another shot at managing 25 years later, when he coached some Yankee rookies in the Gulf Coast league in 1994-95.

--- Budd Bailey

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