Tomás Soto Fernández, founder of our National Baseball Series with the Occidentales team in 1962, died on Wednesday, June 14th, at the age of 83, after being unable to recover from a stroke that affected him a few days ago.
Soto Fernandez was born on September 7th, 1939, in the Cardenas neighborhood of Guacimas when he was a child, he moved with hisfamily in the overseas town of Regla, in the Cuban capital.
In that town, with a rich baseball tradition, he stood out in this sport with the youth team and quickly moved on to the senior team that competed in the Amateur Athletic Union and the Estibadores,in the Quivicán League.
He was in the Cubans Sugar Kinds Academy, but did not sign for the pros because he suffered an injury to one of his legs in a training game in Tampa, Florida and had to return to Cuba.
On his return to Matanzas he competed in the Pedro Betancourt League with the Pasta Gravi and the strong Rayonitro trabuco, from Matanzas, also in the Quivicán League, as well as in the regionals prior to the National Series.
He was part of the Occidentales team led by Fermín Guerra that secured the national championship days before the end of the inaugural 1962 tournament, winning the first National Series title. He would later win two more as a player with Industriales and Henequeneros and one as manager, at the head of Citricultores, in 1983-84.
He was the most distinguished hitter in the first National Series, leading in doubles, runs batted in, sacrifice fly, extra bases and first in averaging over 400 (435), not validated in that season due to an erroneous application of the scoring rules.
With the Henequeneros, he joined forces with emblematic ballplayers such as Wilfredo Sánchez, Rigoberto Rosique and Félix Isasi, called by the master of Cuban sports narration Bobby Salamanca as «The Three Musketeers» and where the fourth bat was Tomás Soto, (D’artagnan), alluding to the characters of the homonymous work of the French writer Alexandre Dumas.
In total he participated as a player in 10 National Series and played for the teams Occidentales, Industriales, Henequeneros, Matanzas and Centrales.teams, where he averaged 249 with 204 RBIs and 375 hits.
His work as a director began with Citricultores in the National of (1981-1982), in which he obtained a second place and that same year he repeatedthe same place with Matanzas in the eighth Selective, the best placement of a team from this province in those strong tournaments. In the 1982-1983 season, second again and champion in the 1983-84 season.
Internationally, he has triumphs as a manager with teams of the Cuprar Baseball Society of Italy in 1992, in the junior and seniorcategories and also with a women’s softball team; in addition to being the head of a World Champion Club competition in Mexico, in 1991, at the head of Henequeneros.
Wins the 1994-1995 season, managing the Caimanes de Barranquilla in the Colombian professional baseball league.
In 2018 for his results, he was exalted to the Palmar de Junco Hall of Fame in the city of Matanzas.
At Soto’s request and with the approval of his relatives, his body will be cremated.
Written by Francisco Soriano Bermúdez.