(compiled from the Colts player booklet, playing cards, Internet pages and Ron Briley's essay in "Class at Bat")
Roman Mejias was born on August 9, 1932 in Las Villas (or Abreus), Cuba. He played baseball for three years in high school.
Roman was working in a sugar cane field in 1953 when signed to a major league contract by Hall of Famer George Sisler, who was serving as a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mejias attained considerable success in the Pirate minor league chain. In 1954, the outfielder hit in fifty-four straight games, finishing with a batting average of .354 for Waco of the Class B Big State League. In 1961, he helped Columbus capture the championship of the International League.
These credentials led to Mejias spending portions of the 1955-1961 seasons with the Pirates. Mejias was never able to crack the starting Pittsburgh outfield of Bob Skinner, Bill Virdon, and Roberto Clemente; but he served the Pirates well as a versatile reserve player and pinch hitter. He hit three home runs in one game at San Francisco during the 1958 season.
Mejias had continued to play winter ball in Cuba through the 1960 season, establishing himself as a star of Cuban baseball. Due to political upheaval in Cuba, as of 1961 Mejias was separated from his wife Nicolasa and two small children Rafaela and Jose, who were not allowed to leave Cuba.
His contract was acquired by the Houston Colt .45s for $75,000 in the 1962 expansion player draft. Mejias was named the Colts’ starting right fielder for their debut season.
During spring training in 1962, Mejias’ slugging ( 5 HR, 17 RBI) carried the Houston Colts to the championship of the “Arizona Cactus League”.
On the opening day of the regular season, Mejias belted two three-run home runs in the Colts’ 11-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
A sense of modesty, along with his prolific hitting, made Mejias a fan favorite in Houston.
By the All-Star break, Mejias ranked third in the National League with 19 HR, 48 RBI and a .311 batting average. However, Roman was not named to the All-Star team, even as a reserve outfielder, and this was a great disappointment to him. Mejias’ stats for the second half of the 1962 season were not as impressive (partly due to an injury), but he finished the year with 24 HR, 76 RBI and a .286 batting average.
In November 1962, Houston traded Mejias to the Boston Red Sox for Pete Runnels. The Red Sox organization assisted Roman in bringing his family to America, and this was a great relief for him. However, his 1963 stats were a disappointment (11 HR, 39 RBI, .227 average), and 1964 was even more so (2 HR, 4 RBI, .238 average).
Mejias was released by the Red Sox after the 1964 season. He played minor league baseball for several more seasons, including the 1966 season with the Sankei Atoms in Japan.
Roman Mejias now resides in California.
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