Born June 14, 1940 in Venezuela
Drafted in 2nd round, 39th overall pick, by Birmingham in 1973 MBBA Dispersal Draft
Debut April 1, 1973
Won Hitter of the Year Award in 1976
Was selected to the 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 All-Star Games
Peter Pete was an MBBA original, joining the Birmingham Bandicks in 1973 after the initial try-out camps and draft (2nd round). Though he was 33, he was able to do what most ballplayers of the early era couldn’t: stay around in the league for a long time.
Pete’s 1973 season was a very good one, as he hit .326, had 22 HR, 211 hits, and stole 70 bases. He and Dhani Yetnikoff carried the team, but with a lack of surrounding cast, finished below .500 (78-84). He continued his good play into 1974, where going into July, he was hitting .366, 6 HR, 44 RBI, with 35 SB, and was named to the FL All-Star team. However, Birmingham was in turmoil, and the third Owner/GM of the season, Chris Oxford, decided to take the team in a new direction. Before the seat in his office was warm, he made a trade sending Pete, Zachary Sumner, and Bobby Lerner to Chicago in return for 6 players, most notably Diesel Duncan and Vince Milani. Pete took no time adjusting to the JL, and hit .336 with 7 HR and 28 stolen bases with his new club that season. However, after the trade, Chicago collapsed, and finished the season 77-85, last in the JLM.
Sick of 2 years of being with bad clubs, Pete opted for free agency, and landed in Marquette, the defending JL Champions, signing a 4-year deal with the Suns for just under $9 million per season for 4 years. Some scoffed at signing a 35 year old to such a contract, but Pete proved them all wrong. But who better to talk about his time in Marquette than the owner of the team, Travis McDermott:
“What can I say about Peter Pete?
”He was the heart and soul of a team that made the playoffs four straight years, 1975-78. After signing as a FA before the 1975 season at the age of 34 (nearly 35), some thought that a four year deal for a player that age was outrageous. In those days, players rarely performed well into their late 30s.
”Pete defied those expectations, hitting .324, .324, and .313 in his first three years with the Suns, scoring over 100 runs a season and stealing 58 and 74 bases in '76 and '77. In 1976, he won the Owner's Batter of the Year Award.
”But what really defined Pete to the Suns organization was his 1978 campaign, a year that will live forever in the Suns history as among the best performances by any player in team history. Pete, at the age of 39, put up ridiculous numbers in 1978, all the while player-managing a team that won 109 games. He hit .318, stole 67 bases, hit 14 triples, and battled Miles Dalrymple down to the wire in an exciting race to see who could set the MBBA's single-season runs record.
”And then, to top it all off, he carried the team almost single-handedly to Game 6 of the JL Cartwright Cup, hitting .375 in 10 playoff games at the ripe old age of 39.
”Pete was without a doubt a guy who could be counted on in the clutch. His .343 career average in the playoffs, spread over 24 games in 4 consecutive years, is sparkling. At the height of his career, batting ahead of Hayfu Sobah and Joe Gillstrom, Pete was a force of nature, scoring seemingly at will and leading a team that went 392-256 (.605) during his heyday.
”In the end, he finished near or at the top of the career leaderboards in many categories: average, hits, walks, runs, triples, stolen bases. One can only wonder what Peter Pete could have done has the MBBA started before his 33rd birthday.”
In 1980, just after he announced his retirement from baseball, Peter Pete was the 2nd player ever elected to the MBBA Hall of Fame by unanimous decision by the 24 owners of the league.
Herein You Find the Inducted