José Méndez

José de la Caridad Méndez (March 19, 1887 – October 31, 1928) was a Cuban right-handed pitcher and manager in baseball's Negro Leagues. Born in Cárdenas, Matanzas, he died at age 41 in Havana. Known in Cuba as El Diamante Negro (the "Black Diamond"), he became a legend in his homeland. He was one of the first group of players elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He was elected to the U.S. National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

José Méndez
Mendez Jose 1920
Pitcher
Born: March 19, 1887
Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba
Died: October 31, 1928 (aged 41)
Havana, Cuba
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Cuban League debut
1907, for the Almendares
Last appearance
1926, for the Kansas City Monarchs
Teams
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction2006

Dominating pitcher: 1908–14

In 1907 Méndez was discovered by Bebé Royer of the Almendares team in the Cuban League. A relatively small man (5 feet, 10 inches, 152 pounds),[3] he threw a hard fast ball with a deceptively easy motion and a snapping curve. His first Cuban League season (from January through March 1908), he went 9–0, and, along with veteran Joseíto Muñoz, led the Almendares Blues to the Cuban League pennant. That summer he made his United States debut with the Cuban Stars and also went 3–0 for the Brooklyn Royal Giants.[4]

In the fall of 1908, in the middle of the Second Occupation of Cuba, Méndez pitched the games that established him as a legend. The Cincinnati Reds were visiting Havana playing the Cuban League teams, and Méndez completely dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings in 3 appearances. In his first start, he allowed just one single, by Miller Huggins in the 9th inning, while striking out nine. His next appearance came in relief, where he held the Reds scoreless for 7 innings on just 2 hits. He concluded with another shutout. His record from the Cincinnati Reds series was W-2, L-0, ERA-0.00, G-3, IP-25, H-8, R-0, BB-3, SO-24. Several days later Almendares played a minor league all-star team from Key West, and Méndez pitched two more shutouts, the second a no-hitter, giving him 43 consecutive scoreless innings against major and minor league competition.[5]

Over the next 6 Cuban League seasons Méndez continued to dominate, with records of 15–6, 7–0, 11–2, 9–5, 1–4, and 10–0, leading the league in wins 3 times. His Almendares team won pennants in 3 of 6 campaigns. In the United States during the summers he pitched just as well. Some sources say that he achieved a 44–2 record with the Cuban Stars in 1909, though a recent partial compilation of box scores by Scott Simkus shows a more modest, but still impressive, 14–2 record (with 2 saves). He pitched a 10-inning no-hitter on July 24, 1909.[6] One of his losses came on July 1 in Chicago when Rube Foster and the Leland Giants defeated him 1–0, when a dropped fly ball led to an unearned run against him.

José Méndez 1909
Méndez with the Cuban Stars in 1909.

Other major league teams visited Cuba over these years and Méndez continued to pitch against them. According to a compilation of box scores by Gary Ashwill, during 1908–13 against major league competition Méndez compiled a record of 9–11 in 24 games, pitching 18 complete games and 204 innings, with a total run average of 3.26. He allowed 150 hits and 51 walks, while notching 123 strikeouts. His opponents were top major league teams, including the 1909 and 1910 Detroit Tigers, the 1910 and 1912 Philadelphia Athletics, the 1911 Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants and the 1913 Brooklyn Dodgers. The average major league winning percentage of the opposing pitchers he faced was .595; he faced star pitchers including Eddie Plank, whom he beat twice, and Chief Bender, whom he beat once.[7]

In an article in Baseball Magazine in March 1913, Ira Thomas (a catcher with the Philadelphia Athletics who had visited Havana twice) wrote the following about Méndez:[8]

Méndez is a remarkable man. More than one big leaguer from the states has faced him and left the plate with a wholesome respect for the great Cuban star. It is not alone my opinion but the opinion of many others who have seen Méndez pitch that he ranks with the best in the game. I do not think he is Walter Johnson's equal, but he is not far behind. He has terrific speed, great control and uses excellent judgment. He is a natural ballplayer if there ever was one and with his pitching it is no wonder that the Cubans win games ... At that, he is a remarkable pitcher, and if he were a white man would command a good position on any Major League club in the circuits.

Injury and recovery: 1914–28

In late 1914 Méndez developed arm trouble and cut back on his pitching, eventually stopping altogether. A slick fielder, Méndez moved to shortstop and joined J. L. Wilkinson's All Nations. He played with several other teams, including the Chicago American Giants and the Detroit Stars,[2] before finally signing on in 1920 as playing manager with J. L. Wilkinson's Kansas City Monarchs in the new Negro National League. He continued to split his time between shortstop and pitching, and under his leadership the Monarchs won pennants in 1923, 1924, and 1925. He gradually adjusted and became a very effective pitcher again, albeit with lighter pitching loads than he had carried during his 1908–14 pitching prime. In 1923 Méndez had a 12–4 record, followed by 4–0, 2–0, and 3–1 in the next three seasons.

Méndez became the star of the first Negro League World Series in 1924 against the Hilldale Club of the Eastern Colored League. He appeared in 4 games, with a 2–0 record including a shutout victory in the deciding final game.

During the winters, Méndez returned to pitching in the Cuban League in 1920/21. He pitched for the 1923/24 Santa Clara Leopards team that is considered the most dominant in the history of Cuban baseball; other members of that team included Oscar Charleston, Alejandro Oms, Dobie Moore, Bill Holland, and Eustaquio Pedroso.

Méndez won his last game in Cuba on January 21, 1927. Less than 2 years later he was dead at the age of 41. His career Cuban League record was 76–28, and he ranks first all-time in career winning percentage (minimum of 40 wins) with .731.

Career pitching statistics

Comprehensive Negro league and Cuban League statistics for some seasons

  • Negro league and Cuban League statistics and player information from Seamheads.com

Negro National League

Pre-league play in the United States

The following statistics are from a compilation by Scott Simkus of the 1909 Cuban Stars games against all competition. The compilation is missing games during the first month of their tour and for some games is compiled from line scores rather than box scores.

Year Team W L Pct G GS CG SHO SV IP H BB SO RA
1909 Cuban Stars 10 1 .909 17 11 9 3 2 106.0 54 31 108 1.19
1909 Cuban Stars 4 1 .800     Record from games with line scores but without box scores.
Total 14 2 .875

Source: 1909 Cuban Stars statistics compiled by Scott Simkus. "1909 Cuban Stars". July 8, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2008.

Cuban League

Year Team League W L Pct G CG SHO
1908w Almendares p Cuban 9 0 1.000* 15 6
1908/09 Almendares Cuban 15* 6 .714* 28* 18* 5*
1910w Almendares p Cuban 7* 0 1.000* 7 7 1*
1910/11 Almendares p Cuban 11* 2 .846* 18* 12* 4*
1912w Almendares Cuban 9 5 .643 18 12* 2*
1913w Almendares Cuban 1 4 .200 7 2
1913/14 Almendares p Cuban 10 0 1.000* 12 7 3*
1914/15 Almendares Cuban 2 0 1.000 2
1915/16 Almendares p Cuban 1 1 .500 6 1
1920/21 Almendares Cuban 1 2 .333 5 1
1923/24 Santa Clara p Cuban 3 1 .750 9 1
1924w Santa Clara p Special (Gran Premio) 1 2 .333
1924/25 Santa Clara/Matanzas Cuban 2 3 .400 19 2
1925/26 Habana Cuban 1 1 .500 6 1
1926/27 Alacranes p Triangular 3 1 .750 10 1
Total 14 seasons 76 28 .731 162^ 71^
   w – winter; * – led league; – all-time league leader; p = pennant; ^ = totals incomplete.

Source: Figueredo, pp. 72, 78–79, 86, 91–92, 98, 104, 108–109, 114, 118–119, 139, 148, 150, 154–155, 160, 165, 172, 503.

More comprehensive statistics for 1908–13 are available from Seamheads.com.

Notes

  1. ^ "Storz Preparing for Great Game Tomorrow" Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska Friday, May 9, 1913, Page 21, Columns 5 and 6
  2. ^ a b "Hilldale Team Wins" Philadelphia Inquirer, August 6, 1919, Page 12
  3. ^ "In the Spotlight of Sports, Cuba's Black Matthewson" Philadelphia Inquirer, January 14, 1912, Page 3, Columns 1 to 7
  4. ^ Figueredo, pp. 71–73. González Echevarría, pp. 129–131. Holway, p. 57. Peterson, pp. 211–213. Riley, p. 545.
  5. ^ Ashwill. Figueredo, pp. 76–77. González Echevarría, pp. 131–133. Holway, p. 59.
  6. ^ Figueredo, pp. 77–79, 85–87, 91–92, 97–99, 102–104, 107–109. Riley, p. 545. "1909 Cuban Stars". July 8, 2007. Retrieved July 9, 2007.
  7. ^ Ashwill.
  8. ^ González Echevarría, p. 133–134.

References

  • Ashwill, Gary (May 2, 2006). "José Méndez vs. versus major league teams, 1908–13". Retrieved July 7, 2007.
  • Figueredo, Jorge S. (2003). Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878–1961. McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1250-X.
  • González Echevarría, Roberto (1999). The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514605-0.
  • Holway, John B. (2001). The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History. Fern Park, Florida: Hastings House Publishers. ISBN 0-8038-2007-0.
  • Peterson, Robert (1984). Only the Ball Was White. McGraw-Hill Book Company. ISBN 0-07-049599-8.
  • Riley, James A. (1994). "Mendez, José (Joe, The Black Diamond)". The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf. pp. 545–46. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6.
  • (Riley.) José Mendez, Personal profiles at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. – identical to Riley (confirmed 2010-04-16)

External links

1924 Colored World Series

The 1924 Colored World Series was a best-of-nine match-up between the Negro National League champion Kansas City Monarchs and the Eastern Colored League champion Hilldale. In a ten-game series, the Monarchs narrowly defeated Hilldale 5 games to 4, with one tie game. It was the first World Series between the respective champions of the NNL and ECL. It was the second year of existence for the ECL, but no agreement could be reached in 1923 for a post-season series, owing primarily to unresolved disputes between the leagues. Five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame participated in the series: Biz Mackey, Judy Johnson, and Louis Santop played for Hilldale, while Bullet Rogan and José Méndez played for the Monarchs. In addition, Monarchs owner J. L. Wilkinson was also inducted into the Hall.

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Ana G. Méndez

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Clarence Coleman (baseball)

Clarence "Pops" Coleman (born April 4, 1884) was an African-American baseball catcher in the pre-Negro leagues. He played for the All Nations, Chicago Union Giants, and the Indianapolis ABCs and was about 36 years old and past his prime when the Negro National League was formed in 1920, so he did not make the cut against younger players.

During the Pre-Negro leagues years of the 19-teens, Coleman caught for pitching greats such as John Donaldson, José Méndez, Hurley McNair, Jim Jeffries, and later in his career of the 1920s, even caught for Satchel Paige. Sources often show, because of his advanced age, Coleman was nicknamed "Pops." Other sources say his nickname strayed into "Captain Cola."In 1931, newspapers still show Clarence Coleman was working as a catcher for the travelling Gilkerson's Union Giants. However, the newspaper claims his age at the time to be 54, and other records show he was 47 years old at the time.In the 1940s, when Coleman was in his 50s, he continued to live in Chicago with his family, according to Census reports. During 1942, when Coleman registered for selective service and the World War II draft, he reported that he was working for the Works Progress Administration at the milk depot. His draft records and census records show he was married to Luvenia Coleman.

Cristóbal Torriente

Cristóbal Torriente (November 16, 1893 – April 11, 1938) was a Cuban outfielder in Negro league baseball with the Cuban Stars, All Nations, Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars. He played from 1912 to 1932. Torriente was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Cuban League

The Cuban League was one of the earliest and longest lasting professional baseball leagues outside the United States, operating in Cuba from 1878 to 1961. The schedule usually operated during the winter months, so the league was sometimes known as the "Cuban Winter League." It was always a small league, generally 3 to 5 teams, and was centered in Havana, though it sometimes included teams from outlying cities such as Matanzas or Santa Clara. The league became racially integrated in 1900, and during the first half of the 20th century the Cuban League was a premier venue for black and white players to meet. Many great black Northern American players competed in Cuba alongside native black and white Cuban stars such as José Méndez, Cristóbal Torriente, Adolfo Luque, and Martín Dihigo. After 1947, the Cuban League entered into an agreement with Major League Baseball and was used for player development. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, however, tensions rose with the new Communist government, and in March 1961 the government decreed the abolition of professional baseball.

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George Carr (baseball)

George Henry "Tank" Carr (September 2, 1894 – January 14, 1948) was an American first baseman and outfielder with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro baseball leagues from 1920 to 1922.

Prior to the Negro Leagues, Carr played high school baseball and graduated from Pasadena High School in Pasadena, California. He played for the Los Angeles White Sox, and in the Winter Leagues in Florida in 1916, playing with and against pre-Negro League stars like John Donaldson, the "Taylor boys" C. I. Taylor, Ben Taylor and Candy Jim Taylor. The next year, Carr played with and against some of those same players, plus José Méndez, "Gentleman" Dave Malarcher, and Andy Cooper. He continued to play Winter Baseball with the Los Angeles White Sox and Captained the team in 1921.In 1917, 23 year-old Carr registered for the WWI Draft. He listed his current occupation as a movie actor listing Martin Turner and Universal Studios as his employer. His current home address was 1249 East 25th Street in Los Angeles. He is listed as married and lists his wife and three children as dependents. During his first three years with the Kansas City Monarchs, Carr was among the top ten hitters. In 1921, he posted the most home runs on his team during regular season play. He jumped to the Hilldale team in 1923 and was a regular through 1928. He played briefly in 1929 before dropping from the highest levels of Negro leagues play.

After his retirement from baseball, he worked as a cook for a railroad company.A few years after his death, Carr received votes listing him on the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro Leagues' best players ever.

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Newt Joseph

Walter Lee "Newt" Joseph (October 27, 1896 – January 18, 1953) was an American third baseman and manager in Negro league baseball. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Joseph played most of his career for J. L. Wilkinson and the Kansas City Monarchs franchise.

When the Monarchs' train stopped on the way to Dallas for Spring training in 1923, it was said 200 fans in Muskogee were there after midnight to cheer the team. They picked up and carried Joseph from his berth on the train and "presented him with a handsome present." Joseph played among and against many of baseball's greats, including Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, José Méndez, Bullet Rogan, and pre-Negro league stars like John Donaldson, and "Big" Bill Gatewood.

A Utah paper called him one of the best third baseman in history, (part of J. L. Wilkinson's Kansas City Monarchs' publicity newspaper copy), and also called him "the noisiest coach in baseball." Joseph died at the age of 56, and is buried at the Highland Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Vicente Rodríguez (baseball)

Vicente Valera "El Loco" Rodríguez (born September 11, 1891) in Havana, Cuba was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues from 1912 to 1923. He was primarily a catcher, working with hurling greats like John Donaldson, José Méndez, Frank Wickware, Rube Currie, Bullet Rogan, and many others inside and outside the Negro Leagues.

Rodriguez also pitched at least two games during the 1918 year, winning one game and losing one.

William Bell (baseball)

William W. Bell, Sr. (August 31, 1897 – March 16, 1969) was an American right-handed pitcher and manager in baseball's Negro Leagues.

Born in Galveston, Texas, Bell played for the Kansas City Monarchs for the first eight seasons of his career. Often overshadowed by star teammates such as "Bullet" Joe Rogan and José Méndez, Bell was described as quiet and well-liked, known for pitching complete games. (Bell completed 74 percent of the games he started.) Bell had a 10-2 record for the 1924 Kansas City Monarchs, compiling a 2.63 ERA. The following year, Bell went 9-3 in the regular season, pitching 2 games in the World Series to a 1.13 ERA. Bell recorded a 16-3 record the next year, followed by a 13-6 record in 1927 and a 10-7 record in 1928. Bell spent the 1928-1929 winter with Havana in the Cuban League, where he was tied for the league lead in wins with nine. Bell then returned to the United States and pitched to a 14-4 record with the Monarchs, followed by a 9-3 record the next year. Bell joined the Detroit Wolves in 1932 after the demise of the Negro National League. He then signed with the Pittsburgh Crawfords, where he compiled a 16-4 record for the 1932 season. Bell then moved to the Newark Dodgers, and when the Dodgers were merged with the Brooklyn Eagles to form the Newark Eagles, he became the Eagles' manager in 1936-1937. Bell's last season in baseball was as Eagles manager in 1948.Baseball historian Dick Clark estimated that Bell would have averaged an 18-7 record had he played the 154-game schedule that was used in the Major Leagues at the time. He died at age 71 in El Campo, Texas.

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