Memo Luna, pitcher
Padres: 1952-53 Memo Luna was a brilliant young prospect from Mexico. In 1950, he won fourteen games for Ciudad Juarez in the Arizona-Texas League. The following season, he was the top pitcher in the Southwestern International League while posting a 26-13 record with Tijuana. Luna fulfilled his promise by leading the Padres with 15 and 17 wins in 1952 and 1953. His 2.67 ERA in 1953 was the lowest in the Pacific Coast League. Based on this performance, Bill Starr sold Memo to St. Louis in 1954.
[Memo Luna, letters to Bill Swank, 9 July 1993 and 20 January 1995, translations by Jose Rodriguez.; background information by Jerry Cohen and SABR.]
You searched for Memo Luna. Now you have found him. I have lived in Los Mochis, Sinaloa [Mexico] for many years. It is very pretty like San Diego where I had my best years as a pitcher in my life. The seasons that I spent with the Padres were my best. Lefty O’Doul was a great guy to me. He gave me a lot of advice and thus was a great manager to me. We never had any problems even though he spoke no Spanish. My catcher was always Lonnie Smith. He was Black and spoke Spanish, because he played in Mexico for a long time as did Theolic Smith and Quincy Trouppe. [During the Second World War, Mexico “traded” 80,000 workers to the United States for Negro League stars Theolic Smith and Quincy Trouppe to play in Mexico. Smith was later a Padre pitcher from 1952-55. -Ed.]
In San Diego, I lived in the Hotel San Diego, but first I lived in Tijuana. Then Immigration would not let me go to Tijuana anymore and I was permitted to stay in San Diego.
Today, we Mexicans have more opportunities and make more money, but before the major leagues were stronger and better. There were only eight teams in each league. Now, it is more like Double A even though there are some good players, but very few.