Tony Solaita

Last updated
Tony Solaita
Tony Solaita Royals.jpg
First baseman
Born:(1947-01-15)January 15, 1947
Nu'uuli, American Samoa
Died: February 10, 1990(1990-02-10) (aged 43)
Tafuna, American Samoa
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
MLB debut
September 16, 1968, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1979, for the Toronto Blue Jays
MLB statistics
Batting average .255
Home runs 50
Runs batted in 203
Teams

Tolia "Tony" Solaita (January 15, 1947 – February 10, 1990) was a Major League Baseball player for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, and Montreal Expos between 1968 and 1979. He also played four seasons in Japan for the Nippon-Ham Fighters from 1980 to 1983.

As of 2019, Solaita is still the only Major League Baseball player to have hailed from American Samoa. [1] Mike Fetters, Benny Agbayani, Chris Aguila, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Wes Littleton are American-born major-leaguers of partial Samoan descent. [2]

Solaita had been a prolific home run hitter in the minor leagues, hitting 49 regular-season home runs in 1968 for High Point-Thomasville, but was mostly relegated to a backup or platoon position during his Major League playing days. In 1975, while playing for the Royals, he hit 16 home runs in 231 at-bats, second to only Dave Kingman in home run to at-bat ratio.

After becoming a free agent following the 1979 season, Solaita opted for a four-year contract in the Japanese League, where he was designated hitter for the Nippon-Ham Fighters and averaged nearly 40 home runs a year. Solaita retired after the 1983 season.

In 525 games over seven seasons, Solaita posted a .255 batting average (336-for-1316) with 164 runs, 50 home runs, 203 RBI and 214 bases on balls. Defensively, he recorded a .993 fielding percentage as a first baseman.

He was murdered in Tafuna, American Samoa on February 10, 1990. He was shot in a dispute over a land transaction. [3]

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References

  1. "The Baseball Cube". Baseball Players born in Samoa. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
  2. "Benny Agbayani at the SABR BioProject".
  3. "Tony Solaita at the SABR BioProject".