Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lefty Gomez managed Cienfuegos to third-place finish in 1947-48

Nov. 26: On this day in 1908, Vernon "Lefty" Gomez was born in Rodeo, Calif.

The Hall of Fame pitcher managed one season in the Cuban League, piloting Cienfuegos to a 35-37 record and third-place finish in 1947-48

In this photo, Gomez is seated third from the left. Carl Erskine is seated at the far right.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rocky Nelson ranks eighth in Cuban League history with 44 career home runs

Nov. 18: On this day in 1924, Cuban League star and former major leaguer Rocky Nelson was born in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997, Nelson played six seasons for Almendares between 1952-59.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961, Nelson ranks eighth in Cuban League history with 44 career home runs and is tied for the most RBI in a single Cuban League season (57 in 1954-55). That same season, he led the league with 13 home runs.

In the 1953-53 season, Nelson (shown in this Sporting News archive photo that was up for auction by Lexibell Vintage Photos on eBay recently) was up fled the Cuban League in hitting with a .352 batting average.

In the majors, Nelson played for the Cardinals, Pirates, White Sox, St. Louis Browns and Indians during nine seasons between 1949-61,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Orlando Peña led Cuban League with 15-5 record in 1958-59, earned MVP honors

Nov. 17: On this day in 1933, Cuban League star and major-league pitcher Orlando Peña was born in Victoria de las Tunas, Oriente, Cuba.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986, Peña played six seasons for Almendares and ranks 10th in Cuban League history in winning percentage (.592), according to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961.

Peña was the league MVP in 1958-59, when he led the league with a 15-5 record while sporting a 1.58 ERA.

Peña pitched for the Kansas City Athletics, Reds, Tigers, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles, Pirates and Indians in 14 seasons in the majors, compiling a 56-77 record with a 3.71 ERA.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alejandro Oms ranks third in Cuban League history in batting average (.345)

A 1923-24 Billiken Card depicting Cuban League and Negro leagues star Alejandro Oms.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944, Oms is third on the All-time Cuban League list in batting average (.345) and holds the records for the longest hitting streak (30 games in 1928), most consecutive seasons batting over .300 (eight) and most seasons batting over .300 (11), according to Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961.

Between 1922-46, Oms, who died on this date (Nov. 9) in 1946, played for Santa Clara, Matanzas, San Jose, Cuba, Marianao, Habana and Almendares and led the Cuban League in batting four times.

He was the MVP of the 1928-29 season, when he set the all-time Cuban League mark with a .432 batting average while leading Habana to the pennant

In the Negro leagues, El Caballero played for Cuban Stars (1917, 1922-1932), All Cubans (1921) and Alex Pompez's New York Cubans (1935).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Almendares beat Regla, Habana for Cuban League pennant in 1931-32

Martin Dihigo (center kneeling) poses with fans and Almendares teammates, including Lazaro Salazar (bending second row) during the 1931-32 Cuban League season.

This Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images photo appears in a photo gallery at, as part of the website's Hispanic Heritage Month features.

Almendares won the Cuban League pennant that season over Regla and Habana.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Limonar Martinez tossed no-hitter for Marianao, starred with Havana Cubans

Nov. 5: On this day in 1918, Cuban League star Rogelio "Limonar" Martinez was born in Cidra, Matanzas, Cuba.

Martinez, who pitched for Almendares, Matanzas, Santiago, Alacranes, Marianao and Habana during eight Cuban winters between 1945-53, threw a no-hitter for Marianao during the 1949-50 Cuban League season.

Shown in this 1949-50 Alerta premium that's posted on Doug Goodman's Flickr photostream, Martinez only played one major-league season -- 1950 for the Washington Senators -- but he was a star for the minor-league Havana Cubans, compiling a 38-17 record with a 1.83 ERA in three seasons from 1947-50.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spider Jorgensen helped lead Habana to the Caribbean Series title in 1952

Nov. 3: On this day in 1919, former major leaguer and Cuban League player Spider Jorgensen was born in Folsom, Calif.

Jorgensen, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947-50 and the New York Giants from 1950-51, played four winters for Habana from 1950-54.

According to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961, his best season in Cuba came in 1951-52, when he batted .290 with a league-high 85 hits with five home runs and 29 RBI.

Following that season, Jorgensen helped lead Habana to the Caribbean Series championship, hitting a Series-leading two home runs and scoring six runs to lead all players.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dick Sisler's Cuban League exploits earned him a day in his honor in 1946

Nov. 2: On this day in 1920, former major leaguer and Cuban League legend Dick Sisler was born in St. Louis, Mo.

This photo, which is up for auction at Hake's, shows the Habana Leones player during Dick Sisler Day, which was held Feb. 3, 1946 at Cuba's La Tropical Stadium.

The son of Hall of Famer George Sisler no doubt merited a day in his honor because of his exploits in the Cuban League.

Dick Sisler became a Cuban League legend while playing with Habana during the 1945-46 and 1953-54 seasons.

In 1945, he hit two home runs in his first game on Dec. 11. Later that season in a Jan. 23, 1946 game, Sisler clubbed a homer over a 450-foot barrier La Tropical Stadium, "hitting a wall at the brewery next door," according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961. And the next day, he belted three homers off Sal Maglie, pitching for Cienfuegos.

Sisler's exploits even got him mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's Pulitzer-winning novel The Old Man and the Sea when the character of Santiago remembers "Dick Sisler and those great drivers at the old park."