César Francisco Gerónimo Zorrilla (born March 11, 1948), known as César Gerónimo, is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball, who was starting centerfielder on the famed Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s. He batted and threw left-handed.
|Born: March 11, 1948|
El Seibo, Dominican Republic
|April 16, 1969, for the Houston Astros|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 28, 1983, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Runs batted in||392|
|Career highlights and awards|
Gerónimo was born in El Seibo, Dominican Republic. His father was a driver for a car service, shuttling passengers on the three-hour drive from El Seibo to the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. At age 14, César's parents sent him to school at a seminary with hopes that he would become a priest. However, his athletic prowess continued to develop, especially in basketball. He didn't start playing baseball until he was 17. Two years later in 1967, after watching him play on his father's softball team and seeing his prowess both pitching and hitting on the baseball diamond, he was signed to a free agent contract by the New York Yankees.
The Yankees tried unsuccessfully to make Gerónimo a pitcher during his first professional season (1967). In spring training of 1968 he informed the Yankees that he wanted to end the pitching experiment, and later that year he was drafted out of the Yankees' minor league system in the Rule 5 Draft by the Houston Astros.
Gerónimo made his major league debut with the Astros at age 21 on April 16, 1969. He notched his first career hit five days later in the ninth inning when, pinch-hitting for Jack Billingham, Gerónimo doubled off the Reds' Wayne Granger.
After the 1971 season, he went to the Cincinnati Reds in a blockbuster, eight-player deal along with, among others, Joe Morgan and Billingham. A winner of four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977, Gerónimo was an outstanding all-around defensive center fielder who combined speed and great range with a powerful arm. He was the starting centerfielder of Reds teams that won five divisional championships, three National League pennants and the 1975 and 76 World Series. Geronimo was known as "the Chief". In the 1975 World Series, he hit .280 with two home runs, but is best known for the iconic image of catching Carl Yastrzemski's fly ball for the final out of the World Series.
Gerónimo had his most productive season in 1976, with career-best totals in batting average (.307), hits (149), bases on balls (56), triples (11), stolen bases (22), and on-base percentage (.382). The following season he hit a career-high 10 home runs.
He played the last three seasons of his career (1981-1983) in a reserve role with the Kansas City Royals.
In his 15 Major League seasons, Gerónimo batted .258, with 51 home runs and 392 RBI, 460 runs scored, 977 hits, 161 doubles, 50 triples and 82 stolen bases. Defensively, he posted a .988 fielding percentage at all 3 outfield positions.
After retiring, he worked for the Japanese Hiroshima Carp, as a coach in their Dominican baseball academy, and he has been on the board of trustees of the Dominican Republic Sports & Education Academy. He currently resides with his family in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
- Unknown (2000-09-11). "CNNSI.com - MLB Baseball". CNN SI. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19.
- Russel, Shannon (2008-07-20). "Reds hail HOF inductees". Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference