Robert Rudolph Balcena also known as Bobby Balcena was born in San Pedro, California in August 1, 1925 to his Filipino parents and was regarded as “One of the greatest athletes in San Pedro history,” citing his skill in football and track as well as baseball.
He was listed at a height of 5’7″ and weight of 160lb, which eliminated him to play football in the professional league. Balcena’s professional baseball career began in 1948 as 22 year old rookie for the Mexicali (Baja California) Aguilas of the Class C Sunset League. Balcena batted right-handed and threw left-handed a rare ambidextrous baseball player at that time.
After two seasons with Mexicali, his efforts were rewarded as he moved up to the AA San Antonio Missions of the Texas League. And his career trajectory went up until he was discovered by the Seattle Rainiers to play as a center fielder in the 1950s.
Balcena became an instant favorite of Seattle fans. Even though he was the smallest in the roster, he was considered as the fittest among the players in the team. His 1955 season with Seattle was the most recognizable event in his career after they finished 1st in PCL with their manager Fred Hutchinson.
Then his time to be in the major league came in 1956 with the Cincinnati Redlegs for a seven game stint started from September 16, 1956 to September 29, 1956, only appeared for two games for the Redlegs. He later went back to PCL with the Rainiers in 1957 and never saw the major leagues again.
He played until 1962 in the Minor Leagues, including stints with the Leones del Caracas and the Industriales de Valencia in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. After retiring in 1964, he returned in San Pedro and was celebrated by local Filipino communities for reaching the Major Leagues.
Bobby Balcena fully lived his life and died a natural death sitting in his favorite chair in front of television in his San Pedro home last January 4, 1990 at the age of 64.