Of the fifty-one Panamanian Born Major League Baseball Players named in The Baseball Almanac, five (ten percent) are former residents of the “Silver Town” of Gamboa AKA “Santa Cruz” Canal Zone (an area of less than one square mile). The GR Group (Gyambo Reunion Group) proudly salute their parents, teachers, coaches, clergy, sports leader (Joseph French) and all who contributed to their successes.
PS: Please rest assured that the loose designations, Gyambo, Santa Cruz, Gamboa, and Gyambo Boy are deliberate.
Bobby Prescott was born in 1931 in Colon. He resided in Gamboa Canal Zone (The Clubhouse Secretary’s House) during his father’s tenure as Manager of the Santa Cruz clubhouse. From 1952 to 1971 he played pro baseball ball in the US and Mexico. Bobby was a prolific home run hitter in the Minor leagues and enjoyed a batting average of over.300 for the 1958-1959 season. He played briefly for the Major League’s Kansas City Athletics in 1961 and spent the last eight years of his career in the Mexican League. He belted over thirty home runs per season between 1964 and 1968.
David Leonard Roberts was born in 1933 in Panama City, Panama. His family lived on building #313 in “Gyambo”. … His US baseball career started in 1952. … After strong 1955 and 1956 seasons of Class AA ball, he was demoted to Class A because of a Texas team’s refusal to play against any team with a black player on its roster. .. Between 1962 and 1966 after playing nine years in the minor leagues, he played for The Major League’s Houston Colt 45’s and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Of all the baseball players whose careers started in 1952, only Hank Aron has played more seasons than Dave’s twenty-two seasons. … His retirement from baseball came after a stellar All star Career in Japan from 1967 to 1973.
Ruperto Toppin was born in 1941 in Panama City, Panama and lived on Building #274 in the section of Gamboa/Santa Cruz Canal Zone named “38th Parallel”. .. ” Top” earned his stripes as a hard throwing right handed pitcher throughout the Republic Of Panama. … His talents caught the eyes of US Major League Baseball scouts and in 1960 (The same year he was titled “Most Athletic” by his Paraiso High School Senior Class) he signed his first Big League contract with the Kansas City Athletics. … His Major League break came two years later in 1962. Toppin retired in 1969 after a decade of US Professional Baseball.
Renaldo “Rennie” Stennett was born in Colon, Panama in 1951. The Stennett family lived on Building # 285 in “Dust Bowl” where Rennie excelled in various sports. His talents distinguished him as “Most Athletic” in his Paraiso High School Senior Class. His Major League Baseball debut came in 1971 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. … In September of that year, Stennett played in “The First All-Black Starting Lineup in Major League History”. He led off the game and the Pirates beat the Phillies by a score of 10 to 7. This “Gyambo Boy” also shared in their World Series Victory in 1979. In another September, in 1975, Rennie became the third of only three players in Major League Baseball History to record seven hits in a single game (The second player to accomplish this fete in a nine-inning game). Also known for his defensive skills at short stop, second base as well as all three outfield positions, he was signed by The San Francisco Giants for the last two years of his baseball career (1980 & 1981).
Rodney “Rod” Carew was born in 1945 in Gatun Canal Zone. The Carews lived on Building #282 in Dust Bowl. “Cline”, as he was known in his early teens, was ” A Natural Hitter” of the baseball. This fact came to fruition in 1967 and 1977 with Major League Rookie Of The Year and Most Valuable Player honors in succession. … He played for the Minnesota Twins from 1967 to 1978 and for The California Angels from 1979 to 1985. … Rod was named to eighteen consecutive All-Star Teams, hit better than.300 in fifteen consecutive seasons (Only three players in history have exceeded that record, -Ty Cobb, Stan Musial and Honus Wagner). … In 1969 he stole home seven times, missing Ty Cobb’s record by one. … In 1991 “dis Gyambo boy” became a Member Of The National Baseball Hall Of Fame. Carew continued to share his baseball knowledge as a coach with the California/Anaheim Angels from 1992 to 1999 and with The Milwaukee Brewers in 2000 and 2001.