I use this blog for birthday wishes quite often, but I have never wished anyone a triple digit birthday here before-until today, September 26, 2009. 104 years ago today, Emilio “Millito” Navarro was born in Patillas, Puerto Rico. He started playing professional ball in 1921 in Puerto Rico when he was just 17 years old. In 1928 (22 yrs old) he came to New York in the US and began playing and travelling with the Eastern Cuban Stars. He was their starting shortstop and lead-off hitter. He paired up with Alejandro Crespo to form one of the league’s top double-play combinations. He was the first Puerto Rican born player to play in the Negro American League. Even though the Stars were a last place team, he became known quickly as a top defender, base stealer and hitter. He batted .327 in 1929 which was his second and final year playing ball in the NAL and in thiscountry. He continued playing for more than 20 year in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He played baseball year round, but during the winters of the 1930’s and 1940’s he was joined by some of the top talent from the Negro Leagues and the Major Leagues. During his 2 years with the Cuban Stars there was no World Series or playoffs and he played prior to the East-West All Star game. League games were limited for the Stars and so were victories. Of the 55 games they played in 1929, they won just 16 of them. The team did include many Cuban players, but also included South Americans, Puerto Ricans, Americans and Mexican player. Aside from Navarro and Crespo, the Stars boasted two other big-time stars-catcher and manager Jose Fernandez and Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo. Over his 23-year career Dihigo was one of the top pitchers and hitters in baseball. Aside from pitching, he was skilled and able to play every single position in baseball, rarely taking a day off from the game. Aside from playing all 9 positions, he also coached and managed teams during his playing days.
After retiring from pro baseball in the 1940s, Millito Navarro worked as a physical education teacher in the Puerto Rican public school system. He is living in Ponce, Puerto Rico and is completely retired now. Mr. Navarro is the oldest living veteran of the Negro American Leagues, or any Negro League for that matter. He was included in the 2009 Allen and Ginter set with card #112, he is also included in the minis subset and signed 239 cards for the framed autographed mini set. Happy Birthday to you Emilio-Feliz cumpleanos a ti Senor Navarro! Here’s to many more! Reader GreggG sent me a present for Mr. Navarro’s birthday (I actually got it today and this post was already planned). A huge thank you for this card! I love the Bazooka backs and anytime you can have a #1 of anything is pretty awesome! Happy Birthday 104th Millito! This card is one of twenty-five, but you sir are one in a million! Go Rays! Troll out.