Several months ago Dolores Concepción contacted me with some information about her grandfather, Roberto Concepción. Nicknamed “Covas,” he was a pitcher and catcher for Puerto Rican teams in the 1920s, and also for the Stars of Cuba, a team that played in the U.S., circa 1930.
Dolores sent me a beautiful array of photographs documenting her grandfather’s baseball career, with captions typed up by her grandfather himself.
Here is the Ponce (P.R.) High School team in 1920. Roberto Concepción is in the front row, second from left:
This is the whole Ponce team in 1922, with Concepción standing sixth from left:
The Ponce team in 1923:
Aside from Concepción himself (kneeling in the front row, with the chest protector and shinguards), this photo also shows the team’s manager, Pedro Caratini (standing fourth from left); Emilio “Millito” Navarro (front row, second from left); and two of the earliest Dominicans to play ball professionally in the United States, Pedro San (standing, far right) and Mero Ureña (front row, second from right).
This is the Ribosch team, also in 1923, featuring José “Gacho” Torres (standing in the middle), with Concepción to the right of him:
The photo below shows Roberto Concepción with the Stars of Cuba, a team that played in the United States from 1929 through 1931. It emerged as a rival to Alex Pompez’s Cuban Stars, and was managed by the great Cuban outfielder Alejandro Oms (and advertised as “Walla Walla Oms’ Stars of Cuba”). The captain was the shortstop Pelayo Chacón, who had been for many years the captain of Pompez’s team.
Incidentally, Mr. Concepción has labelled the above a photo of the 1930 Stars of Cuba, but in fact it shows the 1929 team. We know this because the very same photograph was published in the New York Amsterdam News on September 11, 1929 (p. 14):
And here are three members of the 1929 Stars of Cuba: Ramón Bragaña, Roberto Concepción, Guillermo Angulo:
Dolores asked me whether or not I could find evidence of her grandfather actually playing for the Stars of Cuba. The problem is that another player with the same last name—Ramón “Monchile” Concepción—played for the Stars of Cuba at the same time. Ramón can readily be identified in box scores, since he is frequently listed by his nickname, “Monchile”—but I haven’t found Roberto for sure. Monchile Concepción was an infielder/outfielder, while Roberto “Covas” Concepción was a “double duty”-type pitcher/catcher—there is no overlap in the positions they played—and I’ve so far only found a Concepción playing infield and outfield for the Stars of Cuba. Passenger lists have not been a help, either.
Maybe we’ll eventually find some Stars of Cuba box scores that unequivocally show Roberto Concepción with the team. In the meantime, we can definitely place him in New York City, the base of operations for the Stars of Cuba, at the time of the 1930 census—where he is listed as a “singer” on “records.” (Unfortunately, I don’t know anything else about his musical career.)