Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ray Dandridge was a top hitter for Marianao, others in his 12 winters in Cuba

Aug. 31: On this day in 1913, Negro and Cuban leagues star Ray Dandridge was born in Richmond, Va.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961, Dandridge played 12 winters in the Cuban League, six with Marianao. He batted over .300 four seasons and .299 two others during his Cuban League career. He also led the league in stolen bases (11) in 1937-38.

Dandridge was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.

The breaking of baseball's color barrier in 1947 came too late for Dandridge, a Negro leagues star, mostly with the Newark Eagles, to reach the major leagues; he played fives seasons in the minors from 1949-53.

But he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. by the Veterans Committee in 1987.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Video: Carl Erskine honed his curveball pitching for Cienfuegos in Cuban League

Carl Erskine talking about how he worked on his curveball while playing for Cienfuegos in the Cuban League.

'El Score' featured articles about baseball in the United States as well as Cuba

El Score from Sept. 23, 1911 with Joe Tinker of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance fame on the cover.

This was up for auction at Lelands in 2006.

According to the description, the interior features box scores of Negro League teams, such as the Cuban Stars, Chicago American Giants and Brooklyn Royal Giants, which barnstormed through Cuba.

It also includes box score of the Amateur Championship Game between Marianao and Vedado, featuring a young Adolfo Luque, and a section dedicated to coverage of Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida, who made their major-league debuts 100 years ago.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adrian Zabala was Cuban League's winningest left-handed pitcher

Aug. 26: On this say in 1916, Cuban League star Adrian Zabala was born in San Antonio de los Baños, Habana, Cuba.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, Zabala played for Marianao, Cuba, Almendares, Cienfuegos and Habana during during 17 winters in Cuba from 1935-55.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961, Zabala (shown in this 1943-44 La Campaña card) ranks first in games pitched (330), tied for third in wins (90) and tied for ninth in complete games (73) in Cuban League history.

He's the Cuban League's all-time winningest left-handed pitcher, was named co-MVP in 1950-51 and led the Cuban League with 11 wins in 1946-47.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bartolo Portuondo batted over .300 in four of nine Cuban League seasons

Aug. 24: On this day in 1894, Cuban League star Bartolo Portuondo was born in Key West, Fla.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, Portuondo played for San Francisco, White Sox, Cuban Stars, Almendares, Habana, Cuba and Marianao from 1915-27.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961, Portuondo (shown in this 1945-46 Caramelo Deportivo por Felices card) led the Cuban League in stolen bases (10) in 1919-20 and batted over .300 in four winters in Cuba.

In the Negro leagues, he spent most of his career with the Cuban Stars East (1916, 1923-27) but also played for the Cuban Stars West (1917-18), All Nations Team (1919), and the Kansas City Monarchs (1920-22).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Habana's Gilberto Torres twice earned Cuban League MVP honors

Aug. 23: On this day in 1915, Cuban League star Gilberto Torres was born in Regla, Habana, Cuba.

The versatile Torres, elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, played mostly for Habana from 1934-53.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961, Torres ranks ninth in Cuban League history in hits (694), batted over .300 five times and twice was the league MVP (1940-41 and 1943-44). He also compiled a 45-52 record as a pitcher, his best season (10-3) coming in 1940-41.

Torres also served as a manager for Havana Reds (1946-47), Marianao (1948-49) and Habana (1956-58).

In the majors, Torres played four seasons with the Washington Senators from 1940-46. He is the son of Ricardo Torres, who played 13 Cuban League seasons, mostly with Habana, and three seasons with the Senators (1920-22).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Max Lanier, Agapito Mayor share birth date, Cuban League title for Almendares

Aug. 18: On this day in 1915, Cuban baseball legend Agapito Mayor was born in in Sagua La Grande, Las Villas, Cuba, and former major-league pitcher Max Lanier was born in Denton, N.C.

Though born in separate countries they are forever linked not only by their shared birth date but by their exploits during the 1946-47 Cuban League season.

With less than a month remaining in the season, Habana and forged a 6 1/2-game lead over Almendares before the Scorpions reeled off 13 victories in their final 14 games to win the pennant. Six of Habana's losses came against Almendares.

Three came in a three-game, three-day sweep in the final three meetings between the teams, thanks largely to the efforts of Lanier (left) and Mayor.

On Feb. 23, Lanier pitched Almendares to a 4-2 victory, and Mayor beat Habana a 2-1 the following day, setting up the winner-take-all finale on Feb. 25.

That's when Lanier, pitching on one-day's rest, dominated the Lions for a 9-2 victory and the championship.
Their contribution to what is considered the greatest pennant race in Cuban League history helped Mayor and Lanier share another accomplishment: enshrinement in the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame -- Mayor in 1970 and Lanier in 1997.

Even in retirement, they lived near each other -- Mayor in Tampa, Fla., and Lanier 90 miles away in the town of Dunnellon -- and kept in touch.

"Max Lanier," Mayor once told me, "is a great friend of mine."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Adolfo Luque, Adrian Zabala, Alejandro Crespo led Cienfuegos to 1945-46 title

The 1945-46 Cuban League champion Cienfeugos team.

With Adolfo Luque (seated fifth from the left) in his third season as the Elefantes' manager, Cienfuegos won the franchise's second title Cuban League history.

Adrian Zabala (standing third from the left) led the league with a 9-3 record, writers voted Alejandro Crespo (seated second from the right) as the MVP after he led in hits (72) and RBI (35), according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961.

The team also included Hall of Famer Martin Dihigo, Napoleon Reyes, Silvio Garcia, Sal Maglie and Lefty Tiant.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Statement from Conrado Marrero to be read at Cuban baseball history congress

Word of the Cuban Cultural Center of New York's upcoming congress on Cuban baseball has reached Havana.
More specifically, it has reached Cuban baseball legend Conrado Marrero, who turned 100 in April and is the oldest living former major-league player.

According to Iraida Iturralde, first vice president of the Cuban Cultural Center, Marrero, who recently fractured his hip, and his doctor (who has internet at the hospital treating Marrero) contacted the center.

"I promised Conrado (shown in a 1949-50 Alerta premium) we would read his message at the congress," Iturralde wrote in an e-mail this week.

Among the former Cuban players expected to attend the congress at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus in New York are: Minnie Miñoso, Luis Tiant, Tony Pérez, Julio Bécquer, José Cardenal and Cookie Rojas.

Monday, August 1, 2011

1910-11 Habana team finished second to archrival Almendares

Composite portraits of nine 1910-11 Habana team members:
  • catcher Gonzalo Sanchez (No. 1)
  • shortstop Pop Lloyd (No. 2)
  • outfielder Ricardo Hernandez (No. 3)
  • outfielder Preston Hill (No. 4)
  • infielder Grant Johnson (No. 5)
  • right-fielder Luis Padron (No. 6)
  • outfielder J.H. Magronat (No. 7)
  • third baseman Carlos Moran, (No. 8)
  • mascot Camilo Valdes (No. 9)
This image, displayed at the Library of Congress Digital Collections, is from the 1911 Spanish-American edition of Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, appearing on page 18.

According to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, Habana finished second, three games behind Almendares that season.