In 1915 the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League held spring training in Havana, and played a few games with the local clubs. While researching that series, I stumbled across another brief series between Almendares, 1914/15 Cuban League champions, and the Remedios club, champions of “La Liga Federal Cubana,” or the Cuban Federal League, which was “celebrado en las Villas” (held in
the provinces Las Villas Province; thanks to David Skinner for this correction 9/12/06). Remedios (a town in Santa Clara province) won the series, beating los Azules 5-2 and 5-3. Since Remedios featured several Cuban stars, including Pelayo Chacón, Heliodoro Hidalgo, José Junco, Agustín Parpetti, and major leaguer Rafael Almeida, it seemed that Remedios could well claim the Cuban championship for 1914/15.
The league’s name is interesting; it seems to imply that this provincial league represented a challenge to the established order, just as the American Federal League did. The fact that a Federal League team had just been in Havana is quite a coincidence. I suppose it’s possible that La Lucha’s sportswriter, influenced by the Terriers’ visit, might have hung the “Federal League” name on the provincial championship as a sort of nickname.
Upon checking, it turned out, of course, that some of the better-known Remedios players had played in the regular Havana-based Cuban league in 1914/15: Almeida and Hidalgo for Almendares, Chacón and Manuel Villa for Fe. The Remedios/Almendares series happened in early April, 1915; the regular Cuban League season had ended on March 2. Perhaps the Cuban Federal League’s season lasted a month longer than the Havana league, and this quartet signed on to play for Remedios’s last few weeks. Otherwise, they were probably just loaned to the team for this series, which works against the idea that the provincial circuit might have been as good as the Cuban League.
But Remedios did feature several Cuban League stalwarts who had not appeared in the 1914/15 season: Junco, Parpetti, Rafael Figarola (the captain/manager), and Agapito Lázaga. Without any further evidence, it appears likely that they spent the season with Remedios. So the Cuban Feds may have approached the quality of, say, the Cuban Summer League of 1904-1906.
Four Remedios players have no Cuban League record that I could find:
Joaquín Barceló. Oddly, though La Lucha printed a play-by-play account, it gives no indication of who pitched the first game for Remedios. Since Barceló batted ninth, then didn’t appear in the second game (played the next day), he seems a likely candidate. Lázaga, who was also in the lineup that day, is another.
The intriguingly named Clemente Williams, left fielder and leadoff hitter.
Bernabé Baró, listed as a Remedios player, but did not appear in either game. I wonder if he had anything to do with the well-known outfielder Bernardo Baró, who would not appear in the Cuban League until the next season (1915/16)?
Parera (no first name given), who pitched and won the second game. An “A. Parro” pitched for Fe in 1910/11, going 0-6; there’s no particular reason to think this is the same guy, but it could be. Another possibility is that this is really Pastor Pareda, but I’m reasonably certain it’s not. The name “Parera” appears many times in the two game accounts, always spelled the same way; and Pareda was of course quite well-known. Although an Habana player at this time, Pareda was actually scheduled to pitch for Almendares against Remedios in the first game, but ultimately did not play in the series.
All this goes to show how much Cuban baseball remains submerged in the past. The Cuban Summer League is only the most glaring example; there are also provincial leagues (I know of another one, played in the eastern city of Santiago in 1928, that featured Oliver Marcelle and several other well-known Cubans and North American blacks), the amateur league, sugar mill semipro teams, and more.
UPDATED 7/27/06 with some minor edits.