Matty Alou was a 5’9” center fielder from Bajos de Haina, San Cristobal, a state in the Dominican Republic. Born December 22, 1938, he signed his first pro contract with the New York Giants in 1957. He spent his first season with the Michigan City White Caps, a “D” level team in the Midwest League, hitting .247 in 124 games. In 1958, while the Giants moved to San Francisco he hit .307 in 121 games with the “C” level St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League.
In 1959, Alou earned a promotion to the “A” level Springfield Giants in the Eastern League. He hit .288 with 23 stolen bases and 11 home runs through 121 contests. 1960 would see him join the “AAA” level Tacoma Giants of the Pacific Coast League and hit .306 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI in 150 games. He also made his first Major League appearance with the Giants in September, going 1-for-3 from the plate over four games. More importantly, besides a short spell in 1963, he was in the big leagues to stay. Alou spent a total of six seasons in San Francisco. In 453 games, he hit .260 with 12 home runs, 72 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. After the 1965 season, the Giants sent him to the Pirates for pitcher Joe Gibbon and catcher Ozzie Virgil.
Alou’s first season in Pittsburgh was a good one. He led the NL with a .342 batting average in 1966 through 141 games, finishing ninth the NL MVP vote. He also ranked sixth with 23 stolen bases and seventh with nine triples. He was the Pirates regular center fielder and leadoff hitter. He had 55 multi-hit games, including 18 three-hit games and two four-hit games. On April 19th, he went 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI in a 7-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He enjoyed a 16-game hitting streak from June 17th through July 3rd, going 27-for-64, a .422 average. The Bucs finished at 92-70, three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL pennant.
In 1967, Alou played in 139 games for Pittsburgh, hitting an NL third best .338. He again spent the whole season in center field, batting first and second. From August 28th through September 16th, he went 34-for-74 from the plate, hitting .459 through a 16 game hitting streak. He collected more than one hit on 54 occasions, including 23 where he made at least three. On April 16th, he hit a walkoff two run triple with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Chicago Cubs, 6-5. Pittsburgh finished in sixth place, at 81-81, 20.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
Alou would be selected to his first all-star team in 1968, finishing 11th in the NL MVP voting. He hit an NL second ranking .332 in 146 games with an NL seventh best 18 stolen bases and 52 RBI. He batted mostly third, but also appeared at every slot from one through seven as needed. He had 56 multi-hit games, including on May 30th in the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. He went 4-for-4 with a walk, a run, and an RBI as the Bucs dropped a 5-4 decision. The Pirates again finished the season in sixth place at 80-82, 17 games behind the Cardinals.
1969 would see Alou selected to his second consecutive all-star contest, finishing 23rd in the NL MVP vote. He led the NL with 746 plate appearances, 698 at bats, 231 hits, and 41 doubles. He hit an NL third best .331 while appearing in all 162 contests for Pittsburgh, also scoring a league fifth best 105 runs. He led off 161 of them from center field, collecting multiple hits in a mind-boggling 70 games. In an 8-2 win over the Mets on September 19th, he went 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, a triple, a run scored and three RBI. Pittsburgh earned an 88-74 record, good for third in the NL East, 12 games behind the Mets for the division title.
1970 would be Alou’s last season in Pittsburgh. He hit .297 in 155 games, leading the NL with 677 at bats. His 201 hits ranked him fifth in the league. He batted first and second in the order, again spending the season as Pittsburgh’s everyday center fielder. In a 3-2, 14-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies on May 20th, he went 4-for-7 with two runs. He also enjoyed his first career five-hit game on August 19th as the Bucs dropped a 7-4 game to the Giants. The Pirates won the division at 89-73, five games ahead of the Cubs. Alou went 3-for-12 with two walks, a run and a double as the Pirates were swept out of the NLCS in three by the Reds.
Prior to the 1971 season, Alou was sent to the Cardinals with pitcher George Brunet for pitcher Nelson Briles and centerfielder Vic Davalillo. He played in parts of two seasons with St. Louis (257 games, .315, 10 home runs, 105 RBI, 30 stolen bases), 32 games with the Oakland Athletics (.281, five doubles), 123 games with the New York Yankees hitting .296, 12 more games with the Cardinals (3-for-11), and 18 games with the San Diego Padres to close out his major league career (.198, three doubles). He later joined the Taiheiyo Club Lions for three seasons in the Japan Pacific League.
All-Time Statline: Five seasons, 743 games, .327/.360/.398, 986-for-3018, 434 runs, 129 doubles, 34 triples, six home runs, 202 RBI, 98 stolen bases, 147 walks, 165 strikeouts, 16.3 wins above replacement.