Yes, the New York Cubans, who won the Negro League Championship in 1947. That same year the Yankees won the first of five World Series in a row, yet no one talks about the NY Cubans. Why, because they were a Negro League team and had players who were just as good as the Major Leagues Players back then? Here are some of the players who played on this team; the average baseball fan today most likely has never heard of them, but in the hearts and minds of the Latin Community, they still exist.
Among them stands Martin Dihigo, considered by many to be the greatest ball player who ever played in the Negro Leagues. Dihigo is the only ballplayer elected to four baseball Hall of Fames; in the U.S.A, Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela. Long before Pete Rose became an All-Star in five different positions, Dihigo had done the same. He was called “El Maestro (The Teacher, or The Master). As a pitcher he won 256 games, with a winning percentage of 653. With a bat he had a life-time batting average .303. Satchel Paige, the greatest pitcher in the Negro Leagues said this when he was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971: “I’m not the best, Martin Dihigo is! Dihigo was elected to the fame in 1977.
Tetela Vargas (Dominican Republic,) considered by many to be the “Father of Dominican Baseball.” Long before fellow countryman Juan Marichal (elected to Hall of Fame in 1987), Manny Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero, there was Vargas. He was known as the “Dominican Deer”! He excelled in defense, was a consistent hitter, good speed, base stealer. When you see Ramirez’s power, Guerrero’s arm, you will see Vargas in sprit!
Other outstanding players included Pedro Anibal “Perucho” Cepeda (Puerto Rico) who played shortstop. He was the father of Baseball Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda. He was on the Cubans roster in 1941. An outstanding fielder and hitter, he finished with a .325 batting average. When you see Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Miguel Tejada (Baltimore Orioles) or Alex Rodriguez when he played shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers; representing the new prototype of power-hitting shortstops and hitting those long balls, that was Cepeda. Talk about the great hitting shortstops Honus Wagner, Ernie Banks; who knows how many records he would’ve made!
Still others included Luis Tiant, father of Cleveland and Boston All-Star pitching great Luis “El Tiante” Tiant , and Saturnino Orestes Armas “Minnie” Minoso, who would set an MLB record for appearing in games, mostly with Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, over five decades (and even attempted a sixth!)
Could this team compete with the “Golden Teams 1947 to 1957? HELL YEAH! I’ll bet all those other New York teams would’ve met their match!
For more information about the New York Cubans and the Negro Leagues, visit the following links:
http://www.nlbpa.com/new_york_cubans.html - Negro League Baseball Players Association
http://www.coe.ksu.edu/nlbemuseum/history/teams/nycubans.html - Negro League baseball Museum – eMuseum