If all goes well, in a couple of years prospect Chris Marrero will be wearing a Washington uniform.
Marrero isn't a new name in Washington baseball annals, however. For 5 seasons starting in 1950, the American League Nats had a righthanded pitcher named Conrado "Connie" Marrero who made his big league debut at an age many players are saying "Adios."
He was 38 years old.
Marrero was signed by Washington in 1947 out of Havana, when he was merely 36. The short (5'5") round (160 pounds) righthander won 20 or more games with a sub-2.00 ERA for three straight years, 1947-49, forcing his way onto the big club, despite his age.
Ted Williams always used to say that Marrero was one of the toughest pitchers he ever faced because "he didn't throw it hard enough to hit it." Over his 5 seasons in the AL, Marrero - with an extremey deceptive delivery - won 39 and lost 40, with a 3.67 ERA. He completed 51 of 94 starts and threw 7 shutouts. He was released before the 1955 season at the age of 42 - and promptly resumed his career in AAA ball in Cuba through the age of 45.
Remember when the Orioles played a game in Cuba some years back? Marrero threw out the first ball that night, still a beloved figure in his native country.
I'm writing about Connie Marrero today because my friend Mark Stang just returned from Havana and a visit with Connie, who will turn 99 on August 11. He's been without sight for the past 3 years, but lives with a grandson and his wife in a small Havana apartment. He's reportedly the last ex-major league player to still live on the island. He understands a small amount of English and speaks only Spanish - he hasn't been around many English-speaking fans in more than 50 years. But according to Mark, he's still quite interested in baseball, and entertains fans from the states when they come to town on baseball jaunts.
I'm guessing Marrero may not be healthy enough to travel, but really, how great would it be to have the oldest living Washington player honored at a Nats' game this year?