By Yasel Porto
Bad start this 2022 without a doubt. Upon the death of Elpidio Jiménez a few days ago, it was just known that the former Cuban Major League Baseball pitcher and Cuban professional baseball pitcher, Lázaro Gonzalo Naranjo Couto, died this Thursday night in the city of Miami.
For ten days “Cholly” was fighting the virus that has done so much damage to humanity in the last two years, until he finally couldn’t take it anymore. His heart, lungs and kidneys gave no more.
At 87 years old, he was the second oldest baseball player among Cubans who have played in the Major Leagues, after being part of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1956 campaign.
Naranjo was also a member of the defunct Cuban Professional League with the popular Almendares. With them, he won the 1958-59 campaign and then the Caribbean Series.
He was a prominent coach in the Cuban capital for several decades in which he endeared himself to his knowledge and character. So much so that even today there are many who remember with pleasure his work in various areas of Havana.
In 1995 he emigrated to Miami, United States, where he remained to this day without disassociating himself from baseball. He went almost daily to Marlins games and was seen for a long time as a coach in the academy of the also deceased Paulino Casanova.
“Cholly” was always characterized by his jovial character and he spent all his time making jokes and saying phrases that made encounters with him unforgettable.
With his death, Cuban baseball loses one of its most colorful, charismatic figures with a good dose of quality. With his departure, personally, a very special friend is leaving me, whose news of death I still cannot assimilate as such. It was so close that for months the background of my laptop was the photo of this article.
In conversation with his cousin Ramón Couto, his body will be cremated in the next few days and his ashes will rest in a niche in a cemetery in the city of Miami in a ceremony that will be communicated in due course.
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