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May 18, 2006

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Gary Ashwill

I think Cuba in the 1900s and 1910s would have been a fantastic place for a professional balllplayer. A few Americans seemed to think so--Matty McIntyre seemed to be down there every winter, and even played in the Cuban League one year. But there weren't as many as you'd think. In part it was probably because both the Cuban players and fans resisted the importing of too many Americans (white or black); in 1910, the Cuban League season was held up because of a big fight over an attempt (ultimately successful) to ban foreigners. (The ban didn't last, of course.)

Scott Simkus

I no longer love Bill Mack!
Baseball-ref says he attended Syracuse University, died in 1971. Was 22-years-old during the '07 season. Probably would have been an interesting guy to talk to. These teams only played two or three games per week, I'm curious what the Americans would have done to pass their free time down there for four months. Palm trees, good food, gorgeous women, lively music... probably not a bad place to spend the winter.

Gary Ashwill

Well, let's see: Bill Mack pitched for a combined team of major/minor leaguers that visited Cuba in fall 1906 (called the "All-Americans," with Matty McIntyre probably the best known player). Mack went 3-2 for them (the team as a whole went 7-7).

In fall 1907 he pitched for another major/minor all-star team in Cuba, the "All-Leaguers," going 1-3 this time.

Mack popped up in the majors to pitch six innings for the Cubs in 1908. He came back to Cuba for the 1908/09 season, going 0-2 for last-place Matanzas.

He never pitched in the American Association, Southern Association, or Texas League, as far as I can tell. I quickly scanned PCL pitching staffs from 1907 to 1909, and didn't see him.

There is, however, a "Mack," with no first name, listed with Jersey City in the 1906 Eastern League; he pitched well, going 15-9 for a second-place team. This could well be the guy.

Scott Simkus

I love Bill Mack!
Are there any theories about who this guy is? Here's this "nobody" playing in a league featuring the best Cuban and Black American players from the turn of the century. For last place Habana, he goes 4-2 on the mound, with a 2.87 tra (4th best in the circuit). His K/9 is 4.78, better than everybody in the league with more than 30 ip. He makes no errors on the mound, and hits .333, just for good measure. Is this possibly Billy Holland or Bill Gatewood, and if so, why the alias?

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