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02/23/2007 Archived Entry: "MAESTROS OF MEXICO #8: Salome Barojas"

Salome Barojas (Romero)
Height: 5’9”. Weight: 188.
Born: June 16, 1957.
Birthplace: Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico
Batted/Threw: Right/Right.

Born June 16, 1957 in Cordoba, Veracruz, Salome Barojas was a 25-year-old veteran with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos when White Sox manager Tony LaRussa discovered him during the 1981 major league players’ strike. A middleman and spot starter prior to that season, Barojas became the Diablos’ closer and went 12-3 with 13 saves and a 3.03 ERA in 50 appearances.

In his first big league season, Barojas won six games for Chicago and saved 21 games in 1982. He lowered his ERA from 3.54 to 2.47 the next season, but only went 3-3 with 12 saves in 1983 for the Chisox (although he did pitch twice in the American League Championship Series that year). Traded to Seattle in mid-1984, he finished 9-7 that year, but started out 0-5 with a 5.98 ERA in 1985 before the Mariners let him go. Barojas was 18-21 as a major leaguer with a 3.95 ERA.

Barojas returned to Mexico in 1986 and, except for a brief stint with the Phillies in 1988, spent the remainder of his career with the Diablos. He was 38-17 for three seasons between 1986 and 1988, topping the Liga in saves with 15 in 1987 and 17 in 1988 after going 11-9 with ten complete games (with an MLB career-high 4.86 ERA) as a starter for Mexico City in 1986. Afterwards, Barojas actually pitched a little better, turning in 30 relief wins and 91 saves along with a sub-3.00 earned-run average over the next four campaigns between between 1989 and 1992, but won no more individual pitching titles. Over six seasons between 1987 and 1992, he had a 51-18 record and 123 saves for the Diablos as one of the best closers in Mexican baseball.

Injuries and time eventually caught up with the 5’9” 188-pound righty, who effectively finished his career after going 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 13 appearances in 1993, although he tossed one scoreless inning in 1994 and pitched three times in 1996. In all, Barojas appeared in 17 Mexican League seasons, concluding with a 115-58 mark and a 2.89 ERA.

He was also an effective winter league pitcher in the Mexican Pacific League, where he was 51-39 out of the bullpen. Pitching for Mazatlan in 1989-90, Barojas led the MexPac with 17 saves. Overall, his 53 saves are fourth on the LMP’s all-time leaderboard while his 2.68 ERA places him 14th on the all-time list.

While Baltimore Orioles broadcaster (and all-time baseball great) Brooks Robinson often mispronounced his name as “Salami Barrelhouse,” Salome Barojas is better remembered in his native Mexico as one of the best relievers that country has ever produced. He was selected to the Salon de la Fama in 2002.

NEXT MAESTRO: Nelson Barrera, 3B (1977-2000)

by Bruce Baskin, VIVA BEISBOL editor

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