Saturday, January 22, 2011
Wells won pennants with Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Almendares
Jan. 22: On this day in 1989, Negro leagues star Willie Wells died in Austin, Texas.
The best shortstop in black baseball in the 1930s and '40s, Wells, who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, played for Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Almendares during seven winters in the Cuban League from 1928-40, compiling a .320 batting average according to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961.
This postcard of the 1929-30 Cuban League champion Cienfuegos team shows Wells, who earned the nickname El Diablo during his playing days in Mexico, standing second from the left. The postcard sold for $4,991.80 on Leland’s in 2005.
Wells batted .322 as Cienfuegos topped the standings by beating beating defending champions Habana in 15 of 20 match-ups, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961. Aside from that seasons, Wells also played on Cuban League championship teams in 1935-36 (Santa Clara) and 1939-40 (Almendares).
Among Wells' Cienfuegos teammates was Cool Papa Bell, seated second from the left.