Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pedro Formental tied Cuban League record for RBI in a season -- 57 in 1952-53

April 19: On this day in 1915, Cuban League star Pedro Formental was born in Baguanos, Oriente, Cuba.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, Formental played for Cienfuegos, Habana (10 seasons) and Marianoa during 13 Cuban League seasons from 1942-55.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961, Formental ranks third in triples (47), fourth in home runs (56) and runs scored (431) and fifth in hits (746) in Cuban League history.

The flashy Formental (shown in this photo that was up for auction at in September 2010) also tied the record for most RBI in a season (57 in 1952-53) and led the league in that category with 46 in 1951-52.

Twice he led the league in the following categories: runs, triples, home runs and walks. He led the league with a .336 average and 99 hits in 1949-50.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Agapito Mayor handed Cardinals their only defeat during 1940 American Series

Program for the St. Louis Cardinals' "American Series" tour of Cuba in 1940 that went up for auction Wednesday at Hake's Americana and Collectibles.

From March 28-31, the Cardinals won the first three games against a Cuban all-star team before losing 4-2 to Cuban lefty Agapito Mayor at Cerveza Tropical Stadium.

The Cardinals team include Johnny Mize (depicted on the cover) and Enos Slaughter. The Cuban stars include Manager Adolfo Luque, Lefty Tiant, Cocaina Garcia and Alejandro Crespo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New York Giants prepared for 1937 season by holding spring training in Cuba

Members of the New York Giants at La Tropical Stadium during s spring training in 1937.

The then-defending National League champions didn’t fare all that well in their games against Cuban teams, losing to a military team, Habana, Almendares and Fortuna, a local amateur club.

Finally with the Giants’ Carl Hubbell matched against Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant Sr., the Giants won 7-3. In their six games against Cuban professionals, the Giants won one game, tied one and lost four as Cuban pitcher Ramon Bragaña held the Giants to two runs in 21 innings.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

217-game winner Freddie Fitzsimmons played in Cuba with Marianao

Freddie Fitzsimmons in Cuba for spring training in 1941 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It wasn't the first time Fitzsimmons, who won 217 games during a 19-year major-league career with the New York Giants and Dodgers pitched in Cuba.

Fitzsimmons (shown in this photo that was up for auction at in September 2010) pitched for Marianao in during the 1923-24 Cuban League season and returned to the island for spring training with the Giants in 1937.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pirates held spring training in Cuba in 1953 under Branch Rickey's direction

Members of the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training in Cuba in 1953.

Information on the back of the photo -- which was part of a lot that was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in October 2010 -- identifies this as La Salle Field, near the team's headquarters in Marianao.

According to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, the Pirates -- under the direction of Branch Rickey, who had brought the Brooklyn Dodgers to Cuba for spring training in the 1940s -- played 10 games against a Cuban team managed by Rodolfo Fernandez. The Pirates won six of those games.

The Pirates also played games against the minor league Havana Cubans and other local teams in Santa Clara and hosted the Philadelphia Athletics for a pair of games, splitting the two contests.

The Pirates squad included Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner and future NBC broadcaster Joe Garagiola.
Kiner, who held out in a contract dispute, didn't join the team in Cuba until late March.

Jim Vitti's Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba, quotes Otis "Stat" Davis as saying, "Rickey told him we can lose without you." That apparently was enough to get Kiner on a plane to Cuba.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Habana dominated 1928-29 Cuban League

The 1928-29 Cuban League champion Habana B.B.C.

Habana won the pennant by 10 1/2 games over Almendares (Cuba and Cienfuegos withdrew from the league on Jan. 3, 1929, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961).

Habana included Cuban baseball legend Miguel Angel Gonzalez (standing, fourth from the left), who served as the team's manager and catcher; and Hall of Famers and Negro leagues stars Jud Wilson and Martin Dihigo.

This photo was up for auction at Hake's Americana and Collectibles in November 2011.