Luis Clemente Tiant Vega
November 23, 1940 - Present
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Height: 5'10"  Weight: 190


''He's always given me tips on how to do things, how to make things easier,'' said Red Sox ace, Pedro Martinez. ''Every day you can learn from a pitcher like him.''

"If a man put a gun to my head and said I'm going to pull the trigger if you lose this game, I'd want Luis Tiant to pitch that game." - Former Boston Red Sox Manager Darrell Johnson.

Related Info

Luis Tiant's career pitching stats and highlights.

Luis Tiant's biography in Spanish.

Luis Tiant was born in Havana, Cuba and was the only child of Luis and Isabel Tiant. From 1926 through 1948 the senior Tiant was recognized as one of Cuba's most celebrated athletes. Luis Sr. was a great left-handed pitcher for the New York Cubans, and his exploits were followed by the entire population of Cuba.  

A victim of baseball's color line prior to the Brooklyn Dodgers signing of Jackie Robinson in 1947, Luis, Sr. retired from baseball in 1948 at the age of 42 without ever appearing in the major leagues. Luis Jr. followed his celebrated father's footsteps at an early age. Luis joined the local Little League program and progressed to the Juvenile League where he starred for the Havana team and earned a berth on the Cuban Juvenile League All-Star team in 1957. 

Tiant displayed great pitching ability at an early age which was recognized by former Indians player, Bobby Avila who was scouting for talent in Havana.  Avila recommended Tiant to the manager of the Mexico City Tigers of the Mexican League. Tiant accepted their offer of $150 per month and for the next three years divided his time between Mexico City (Tigers) and Havana (Sugar Kings). 

At the end of the summer of 1961 the Cleveland Indians purchased Tiant's contract for $35,000. The occasion was bittersweet for Luis, as the rise of Castro's communist regime in his native Cuba made it impossible for him to return home to visit his parents. He would not see his father for 14 years. Tiant progressed rapidly through the Indians farm system, and on July 17, 1964 he got the call to the big leagues. Two days later in his first major league start he defeated future Hall of Famer, Whitey Ford and the defending American League Champion New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium 3-0. Luis limited the fabled Yankees to only four singles and fanned 11 batters in a complete game, shutout victory.

Tiant continued to pitch well in the '60s, especially in 1968 where he won 21 games with an outstanding ERA of 1.68. The lowest in the American League since Walter Johnson's 1.49 mark during the deadball era in 1919.

After an injury-plagued season in 1969, Tiant was traded over the offseason to the Minnesota Twins. Luis won his first six decisions for the Twins in 1970 before suffering a fractured right scapula that forced him to miss most of the remainder of the season.

Tiant then signed with the Boston Red Sox Triple A affiliate in 1971 and was promoted to the Red Sox. 

Despite struggling with a 1-7 record, 4.88 ERA as a rookie, Tiant would soon become one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history and an idol in Boston.

Starting to be known as "El Tiante" in Boston, Tiant re-discovered his magic and went 15-6 with a 1.91 ERA in 1972 -- an American League best in ERA.

Luis would win at least twenty games for Boston for three of the next four seasons, going 20-13 in 1973, 22-13 in 1974, and 21-12 in 1976. Though hampered by back problems in 1975, Tiant won 18 games for the American League Champion Red Sox and then excelled for Boston in the postseason.  Tiant's success in 1975 was made all the sweeter when he was reunited with his mother and father, who were allowed to visit from Cuba under a special visa.

Known for his style and charisma as much as for his great pitching, Tiant became very popular in Boston. His fu manchu mustache, hearty smile and penchant for smoking cigars, made Tiant recognizable, but it was his classic wind-up and delivery that had kids imitating him throughout New England. Twisting and turning his body into unthinkable positions, Louie would spend more time looking at second base than he did the plate as he prepared to throw. 

When Tiant did throw to the plate he baffled hitters with a wide assortment of pitches. In the 1970's, "El Tiante" won 142 games during the regular season and averaged 15 wins a year. He was even better in the post-season. In game one of the American League Championship Series against Oakland Tiant pitched a complete game three hitter, in the 7-1 Sox win.

The "Loo-ie" era ended after the 1978 season when he joined the Yankees as a free agent. 

In 1979, Tiant was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees. Luis compiled a 21-17 record with the Yankees over two seasons from 1979-80. 

But even playing for the hated Yankees didn't diminish his status as a Red Sox's legend.

In 19 years, "El Tiante," compiled a 229-172 record with a 3.30 earned run average. He won 20 games four times, led the American League in shutouts three times and struck out 2,416 batters during his illustrious career.

Luis Tiant retired at age 42 in 1982 and has fallen short the past few years on being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He finished his major league career with 229 wins and 172 losses and a lifetime 3.30 ERA, which included 49 shutouts.  

After retirement, Tiant, who is an avid cigar smoker, decided to launch his own line of cigars, appropriately named after his nickname, "El Tiante" cigars. The cigars are completely formulated and designed by him. Tiant hand-picked the Cuban seeds, maduro wrappers and manufacture -- award-winning cigar producer Tabacalera Perdomo.

"I've been thinking about doing my own cigar brand for a long time" said Tiant. "It's something that I always wanted do. I've been smoking cigars for a long time, but right now is the perfect time to do it."

Luis Tiant currently reside in Boston and  is married to Maria del Refugio Navarro and has three children; Luis Tiant Jr., Isabel and Daniel.

 

Bio provided by Louis Tiant Enterprises
Edited by Ozzie Gonzalez, Latino Legends in Sports.

 

The Legends: Roberto Clemente | Lefty Gomez | Wilfred Benitez | Martin Dihigo | Chi-Chi Rodriguez
 Orlando Cepeda | Eusebio Pedroza | Sammy Sosa | Adrian Fernandez | Tony Perez | Juan Marichal |
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