Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monte Irvin's memory 'treasure trove' includes Cuba playing days

Link to Chicago Tribune writer Phil Long's column on Monte Irvin, who played for Almendares between 1947-49.

In it, Irvin, 91, who now lives in Houston, talks about his playing days in Cuba, Fidel Castro and Cuban Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo.

A Negro leagues star with the Newark Eagles, was a candidate to break Major League Baseball's color barrier before the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On this date: Luis Tiant - not the one you think - was born

Aug. 27: On this date in 1906, Luis Tiant was born.

If you're thinking that was way too long ago even for a pitcher whose age was often in question when he pitched in the major leagues, that's because we're talking about Luis Tiant Sr.

The father of popular Boston Red Sox right-hander Luis Tiant Jr., was a Cuban League and Negro Leagues star in his own right.

The left-handed throwing Tiant Sr., elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983, pitched for Cuba, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Regla, Habana, Almendares and Marianao during 15 Cuban League seasons between 1926 and 1947, compiling a 42-59 record.

In the Negro Leagues, he played for the Cuban Stars, Cuban House of David and the New York Cubans.

And of course, Tiant Sr., and his wife, Isabel Vega, gave the baseball world their son, Luis Jr., who went on to compile a 229-172 record with a 3.30 ERA in 19 major league seasons with the Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Yankees, Pirates and Angels.

Despite those impressive numbers -- and some grassroots and online efforts -- Tiant Jr. hasn't reached the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, falling short of the needed notes in 15 years of voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America from 1988 to 2002.

Tiant Jr., however, did join his father in the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame with his election in 1997.

If you've never seen it, Lost Son of Havana, the 2009 documentary about Tiant Jr.'s first visit to Cuba in 46 years, is terrific. Aside from Tiant Jr.'s return to Cuba, it touches on Tiant Sr.'s career and, of course, his attendance at the 1975 World Series, in which Tiant Jr. pitched three games, winning Games 1 and 4.

Tiant Sr. died Dec. 2, 1976.