Friday, February 12, 2010
#371) JULIO MACHADO
Julio Machado was signed by the New York Mets as a free agent on April 5, 1989. The hard throwing right-handed reliever made his major league debut on September 7, 1989 at Shea Stadium. He acquired the nickname "Iguanaman" due to his affection for eating the lizards. During the 1989 and 1990 seasons he would appear in 37 games with a 4-2 record and 3.18 ERA. At the trading deadline on July 31, 1990 the Mets were struggling and manager, Bud Harrelson was asked if the club was going to make a deal. "We're not working any deal at this time." Harrelson was quoted, " We're looking for a third catcher, maybe from Tidewater, and maybe a left-handed hitter. But I don't see any imminent deals." They would fill one of those needs when Machado along with Kevin Brown was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for catcher, Charlie O'Brien and Kevin Carmody on August 30th.
Julio's life took an abrupt turn on December 8, 1991. While home for the off-season, in his native Venezuela, Machado shot and killed Edicta Vazquez after a late-night traffic accident. He was charged for the murder of the woman in addition to the illegal possession of a handgun. The sentence carried a maximum of 30 years in prison. Julio was neither fined nor suspended by Major League Baseball. The Brewers simply transferred him to the "restricted list" on April 1, 1992.
Machado continued to pitch in the Venezuelan League from 1992-1996, as the case went through the courts, often to cries of "assassin" from opposing fans. In 1996, he was finally sentenced to 12 years in prison. Julio served almost four years before being released early for good behavior in late December 2000. While in prison he organized a baseball league among the inmates. Upon release he returned to pitching for Zulia of the Venezuelan League.
I created Julio Machado's card in the set from an autographed index card that I purchased from Bob Dowen on January 6, 2010.