Looking to capitalize on Southern California’s budding Hispanic market, the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization claimed that Filomeno Coronada “Phil” Ortega was of Mexican descent.
But, much to the chagrin of the Dodgers, the right-handed fireballer from Arizona insisted that he was a Yaqui Indian.
He told the press that he didn’t even speak a word of Spanish.
Nicknamed “Chief” and “Kemo” by teammates during the days of political incorrectness, Ortega was signed by Los Angeles in 1959 for a reported $70,000 bonus.
But, it was up and down for Ortega until 1964 when he finally earned a regular spot on the Dodgers’ starting rotation. In 25 starts, he was 7-9 with a 4.00 ERA, striking out 107 batters in 157.1 innings.
After the season, Ortega was traded to the Washington Senators as part of a seven-player deal that brought Claude Osteen to Los Angeles. Ortega went onto pitch in the Nation's Capital for four years before finishing out his career with the California Angels in 1969.