The Los Angeles Dodgers paid tribute to the life and career one of their most popular players on April 29, honoring Manny Mota with an induction into the team’s Legends of Dodger Baseball during a special night at the ballpark that came complete with a Mota bobblehead giveaway for fans.
Mota was more than just one of L.A.’s best players during the dozen seasons he spent with the team from 1969-1980 (plus a one-game appearance in 1982 at age 44, two years after he officially retired).
The Santo Domingo native has also been a coach, Spanish-language broadcaster and goodwill ambassador for the team over the years — a resume that more than qualifies him as a Dodger “Legend.” Mota, 85, is only the sixth player to be inducted into the exclusive fraternity.
“I love you all, and thank you for your great support,” Mota said in his induction speech before the game against the Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. “I’m proud to be Dominican, I’m proud to be Latino and grateful to be part of this great nation.”
Ironically, Mota made his MLB debut with the rival San Francisco Giants in 1962. He was traded the following season to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where over five and a half seasons he established himself as a dependable contact hitter, batting .297 for the Bucs.
It was after a mid-season trade to the Dodgers in 1969 that Mota found his niche. Though mostly a platoon player, the outfielder was a perennial .300 hitter with L.A. and became their late-game secret weapon off the bench — his career total of 150 pinch hits stood as the record for years. He batted .315 as a Dodger and .304 over a 20-year career.
As a Legend of Dodger Baseball, Mota received a plaque that’s on permanent display at Dodger Stadium.
He joins Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Garvey, Don Newcombe, Maury Wills and Kirk Gibson as inductees. Pitcher Orel Hershiser will be inducted on July 29.