Originally from Tampa, Suarez was a catcher at Florida State University in Tallahassee during the 1963 season, when the team went to the College World Series. The following year, Suarez was signed by the Kansas City A’s as an amateur free agent as a member of the last class of prospects to sign prior to the implementation of the MLB draft in 1965. Suarez made his big league debut for the A’s in 1966, appearing in 35 games before heading back to the minor leagues. 1967 marked perhaps the best year of Suarez’s career in the majors, as he slashed .238/.388/.413 with two home runs in 82 trips to the plate.
Prior to the 1968 campaign, Suarez was drafted by Cleveland in the Rule 5 draft thanks in part to his connection to new manager Al Dark, for whom Suarez had played for in Kansas City. Across two seasons in Cleveland, Suarez slashed a respectable .274/.378/.358 with more walks (16) than strikeouts (15) in 113 trips to the plate as the club’s backup catcher. Suarez did not appear in the majors in 1970 but played in 50 games in 1971 before being dealt to the Rangers ahead of their inaugural season in Texas.
During his age 30 season in 1973, Suarez became the Rangers’ primary catcher, slashing .248/.334/.299 while playing quality defense behind the plate. That increase in playing time led him to seek a raise from Rangers brass, and when the sides were unable to reach an agreement, Suarez became the first player in Rangers history to send a contract to arbitration.
That decision prompted the Rangers to trade him back to Cleveland, though Suarez ultimately decided to retire from professional baseball rather than report to camp that spring. In all, Suarez played parts of seven seasons in the majors, batting .227/.330/.297 across 785 plate appearances. Following his playing career, Suarez did color commentary and scouting work for the Rangers.
MLBTR extends our condolences to Suarez’s family, friends, and loved ones.