A note about one player identification in the 1914 Lincoln Stars series. Jorge Figueredo, probably following Riley and Clark/Lester, has the Stars’ second baseman Clark identified as “Dell Clark.”
Now, Clark of the Lincoln Stars had a distinguishing feature. He wore eyeglasses. This was quite unusual at the time; the first major league position player to wear glasses (a few pitchers preceded him) was Specs Toporcer, who wouldn’t begin his career until 1921.
We know Clark sported eyeglasses because the sportswriter for La Lucha who put together the batter-by-batter accounts of nine of the Stars’ games in Havana mentioned it all the time. He calls Clark “el de las gafitas,” “he of the little glasses” (La Lucha, 10-13); “el hombre de las gafas blancas,” or “the guy with the white [?] glasses” (10-19); “el de los espejuelos,” or “he of the glasses” (10-26); and (mysteriously), “el de los espejuelos de Mahoma,” or “he of Mohammed’s eyeglasses” (10-16).* According to La Lucha, “Clark se serenó con espejuelos y todo;” that is, he struck out, glasses and all (10-23). Later in the same game, he again fanned despite “sus cuatro ojos” (his four eyes—evidently a universal expression). They just wouldn’t shut up about his damn glasses.
Anyway, Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia has little to say about Dell Clark, placing him with the Lincoln Giants in 1914 and 1919, the St. Louis Giants in 1921, and the Washington Potomacs in 1923. But in the next column on the same page, we find Morten “Specs” Clark. Mortie Clark played for the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1914, then for the Indianapolis ABCs from 1915 to 1921. And the first line of his entry calls him “one of the first black ballplayers to wear glasses.”
Unless there were two bespectacled black infielders in New York named Clark in 1914, I’d say it’s pretty certain that the one who went to Cuba with the Lincoln Stars that fall was Morten. (There’s also a good chance that Clark of the Brooklyn Royal Giants and Clark of the Lincoln Giants were one and the same, though you’d have to examine those teams’ box scores to make sure.)
*I found a single reference online to this phrase, in a novel by the nineteenth-century Spanish writer Cecilia Böhl de Faber, and I still can’t make out what it means—possibly some kind of proverbial expression, quite likely derogatory.
UPDATE 10/2: David Skinner writes in with the following:
As a former optical lab manager, I can't help with Mohammed's
spectacles, but I'm pretty sure I know what white glasses are. It seems that
Mr. Clark wore his specs in a silver-colored frame. When we ordered metal
frames back in the day, they were either YGF (yellow gold-filled) if they
were gold color or WGF (white gold-filled) if silver color, hence white
glasses, or gafas blancas. Of course, it's been many years since metal
frames were gold filled, now they're steel or titanium or some kind of base
metal, so the terminology is I'm sure no longer used.
Now--if only someone could fill us in on los espejuelos de Mahoma...