Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monte Irvin at the bat ... in Cuba

Hall of Famer Monte Irvin turns 91 today. Happy Birthday.

The former Newark Eagles and New York Giants star outfielder was also a star in the Cuban League from 1947-49, earning induction into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

In the 1948-49 season, Irvin led the Cuban League with 10 home runs, while driving in 53 runs. He helped lead an Almendares team, which also included then-Brooklyn Dodgers farmhand Chuck Connors of The Rifleman fame, to the pennant by eight games over arch rival Habana.

Irvin also was instrumental in Cuba's Caribbean Series victory following the winter league. He batted .389 and led the Series with two homers and 11 RBI as Almendares, presenting Cuba, went 6-0 to win the inaugural Caribbean Series against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Panama.

Using the 11 still photos of one of Irvin's swing from this cover (top left) of Fotos magazine, Cuba's version of Life/Sports Illustrated, check out this "slide show" of a much younger Irvin in action from his playing days in Havana.

Here is Irvin talking about Havana's night life during an interview in the early 1990s.

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