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.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ty Cobb, Tigers barnstormed against Habana, Almendares in 1910

Photo postcard from the Detroit Tigers' 1910 tour of Cuba, showing Ty Cobb waiting to bat at Almendares Park.

The photo was one of two from that trip that drew a winning bid of $958.06 at Lelands in the winter of 2006.

According to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, the Tigers went 7-5 in 12 games against Habana and Almendares as a late-arriving Cobb played in five games.

Legend has it that in one of those games, Cobb was thrown out three times. On the third such play, Cobb complained the basepath was not the required 90 feet and demanded it be measured, proving his assertion correct.
The account is so ingrained in Cuban baseball folklore that my father was the first to tell me the story unsolicited.

But Agate Type blogger Gary Ashwill did some great research of Habana newspapers El Diario de la Marina and La Lucha which shows the story is likely apocryphal.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Camilo Pascual (two wins) pitched Cienfuegos to 1960 Caribbean Series title

Cienfuegos team that swept six games to win the 1960 Caribbean Series.

Camilo Pascual (back row, far right) won two games, including a one-hit shutout against Caguas (Puerto Rico) in which he needed only 88 pitches -- 65 of them for strikes, according to Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961.

The photo was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in December 2010.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Habana's Adrian Zabala handed Puerto Rico its only loss in 1951 Caribbean Series

Habana teammates congratulate pitcher Adrian Zabala after he beat Santurce (Puerto Rico) 4-3 in the 1951 Caribbean Series.

It was the only defeat suffered by Series champion Puerto Rico as Habana finished second.

This photo was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in November 2010.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Napoleon Reyes led Marianao to 1958 Caribbean Series championship

The managers for the 1958 Caribbean Series, which was won by Cuba, represented by Club Marianao and managed by Napoleon Reyes (third from the left).

Another Cuban, Regino Otero (left), managed Venezuela's entry, Valencia, which finished last in the Series.
Puerto Rico (Caguas) was managed by Ted Norbert (second from the left) and Panama (Carta Vieja) was managed by Billy Shantz (right).

This photo was part of a lot that was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in January 2011.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Almendares won fight-mared 1959 Caribbean Series over Venezuela

Police had to intervene during what's described as a "rhubarb" between Cuba (Almendares) and Venezuela during the 1959 Caribbean Series.

Almendares, the Cuban League champion for 1958-59, went on to win the Series.

This photo was part of a lot that was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in November 2010.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lou Klein's walk-off HR helped propel Habana to 1952 Caribbean Series title

Habana slugger Lou Klein is carried off the field after his walk-off, two-run home run to give the Leones a 3-2 victory against San Juan (Puerto Rico) in the fourth game of the 1952 Caribbean Series.

The victory gave Habana a 3-0-1 record as it went on to win the Caribbean Series.

This photo was part of lot of Sporting News archive photos that was up for auction at Mears Monthly Auction in November 2010.