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02/16/2007 Archived Entry: "MAESTROS OF MEXICO #7: Andres "Andy" Ayon"

by Bruce Baskin

Andres Ayon Bron
Height: 5’10” Weight: 170
Born: October 22, 1936
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Batted/Threw: Right/Right

An outstanding Cuban-born pitcher, Andres Ayon’s first experience in baseball was with the Pilots team in the Cuban Junior League in 1955. He made the Cuban National Junior Team one year later, and played in the first World Junior Championships that season in Mexico City. He was signed to Cincinnati Redlegs minor league contract by scout Napoleon Reyes.

Ayon spent seven years in the Cincinnati organization, winning 33 games in two seasons between 1958 and 1959 before being converted into a relief pitcher in 1960. He actually opened the 1960 season pitching for his hometown Havana Sugar Kings of the International League, but political tensions forced the midseason move of the team to Jersey City. After going 24-19 over four seasons (including two campaigns in the IL), the right-hander moved to Mexico in 1964 to play for the Puebla Pericos. Except for a single one-inning stint with Seattle’s last Pacific Coast League team in 1968, he never played north of the border again.

After moving south of the border in 1964, Ayon reeled off ten consecutive Mexican League seasons with 10 or more wins. He went 49-29 in three seasons with Puebla (including a 16-5 campaign in 1964 and the Liga’s first no-hitter in five years in 1966) before really hitting his stride with the Jalisco Charros in 1967, where he was 25-6. Ayon had two more 20-win seasons, in 1969 (20-12 for Jalisco) and 1972 (22-3 with Saltillo). He had the LMB’s best ERA in 1971, allowing a microscopic 1.22 runs every nine innings while hurling for both Sabinas and Saltillo. He pitched 147 innings that year, one less than the minimum of 148 frames needed to qualify for the ERA crown, but Liga president Antonio Ramirez awarded him the title because Ayon would have had to allow 14 runs in that one inning to finish behind the second-place pitcher. He had anmother stellar season in 1972, going 22-3 with the Saraperos and tossing a seven-inning perfect game against rival Monterrey on June 25, only the second perfecto in LMB history to that point.. Following a decent 11-6 campaign for Saltillo and Puebla in 1973, Ayon retired for the first time at the age of 33. He came out of mothballs four times in the ensuing years and won six times in 21 outings before hanging the spikes up for good in 1979.

Over 14 seasons in the Mexican League, Ayon had a 169-98 record and a 3.15 ERA. He won that one ERA crown in 1971, had the LMB’s best winning percentage three times, and stands second behind Ralph Garcia on the Liga’s all-time list with a career .633 won-lost percentage. He pitched two winters for Culiacan in the Mexican Pacific League (going 19-11), and four seasons in the Cuban National Series with Mariano and Almendares, where he was 21-11.

Andres “Andy” Ayon was selected to the Salon de la Fama in 1997.

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