Adventures in Baseball Archeology: the Negro Leagues, Latin American baseball, J-ball, the minors, the 19th century, and other hidden, overlooked, or unknown corners of baseball history...with occasional forays into other sports.
After I posted it, a couple of readers noted that the same image had been identified as Isidro Fabré. At the time this is what I wrote to one of them:
“It's an interesting case, since Fabré & Padrón played for the same team (NY Cuban Stars) at the same time. But I think it's pretty easy, when you look at it, to tell them apart. Attached are juxtapositions of the Padrón photo with both the Fabré you sent and another image of Fabré which is probably a little better for these purposes, as it's more head on. The entire structure of the lower face is different, with Fabré having more of a square chin and a narrower face; their noses are quite different; their eyebrows are different; Fabré's lips are fuller; Fabré's right ear, while similar to Padrón at the top, is shorter.
“I've also attached an image showing the Padrón photo juxtaposed with a photo of the older Padrón, probably in the 1950s, which I obtained from his family. You can see other images of Padrón from the 1970s here.”
Here are the juxtaposed images, the first two pairings showing the above image on the left and confirmed images of Isidro Fabré on the right, the third pairing showing a photograph of the older Juan Padrón, given to me by his family, on the right.
The photo in question on the left, two different images of Isidro Fabré on the right.
Brian’s photo again on the left, a photograph of Juan Padrón from the 1950s on the right.
And if that doesn’t convince you, this might: I found Brian’s photograph in the Havana newspaper El Mundo (January 7, 1923), identified as Juan Padrón, “the left-handed pitcher of Habana” (he pitched for Habana in the 1922-23 winter league season).
On this blog and elsewhere I’ve put a lot of effort into establishing that Luis Padrón (Cuban right-handed pitcher/infielder/outfielder who played in the minor leagues) and Juan Padrón (Cuban-American lefthanded pitcher who only played in the Negro leagues and Cuba) were differentpeople. I was even able to find one game (in the 1915/16 Cuban League) in which Juan and Luis faced each other, Juan pitching, Luis playing center field.
I’ve been working on the 1915 Negro leagues for the Seamheads Database. This was Juan’s rookie season in big-time professional ball. He started with a Cuban club touring the U.S. called Almendares (not really the Almendares club, just a team using the name). After he beat the New York Lincoln Stars (featuring John Henry Lloyd, Spot Poles, and Bill Pettus) on July 3, the Lincolns picked him up briefly, before he caught on with Tinti Molina’s western Cuban Stars in August.
During Juan’s time with the Lincoln Stars, he faced another Cuban team, the Long BranchCubans—who put their veteran outfielder/pitcher Luis Padrón on the mound to face him. It’s the only instance I’ve found so far of the two Padróns actually pitching against each other. Luis came out on top, 6 to 2, knocking a triple off Juan for good measure.
Here’s the box score (faded but legible) from the July 14, 1915, Long Branch Record, courtesy of David Skinner:
This Harlem address was listed on the World War I draft cards of at least 11 Cuban Stars players (Evelio Calderín, Pelayo Chacón, Julián Fabelo, José María Fernández, Rogelio Hernández, Agapito Lázaga, Alejandro Oms, Juan Padrón, Ramiro Ramírez, Francisco Rivas, and Julio Rojo), plus that of Alex Pompez himself.* The house was next door to the former home (13 W. 131st) of Philip A. Payton, Jr., a black real estate mogul known as the “Father of Harlem.” This New York Times article from 1991 about Payton’s “Victorian Gothic row house” includes a couple of references to No. 11. Apparently the Pompez/Cuban Stars house was by 1938 “a vacant shell” and by 1944 “a vacant lot,” one that by 1991 had expanded to include the lots at No. 7 and No. 9 as well.
Taking a cue from Scott Simkus and looking at Google Maps, it appears that those lots are not vacant anymore. The house numbers are too blurry to read, but it’s easy enough to ascertain that the Harlem Pentecostal Assembly shown here is located at 12 W. 131st St., so the Payton house at No. 13 and the former location of the Pompez house at No. 11 would presumably be across the street.
*-Patrick Rock originally found many of these Cuban players’ draft cards.
Bill Mullins found that the Kokomo Tribune credited Juan Padrón with 20 strikeouts in his June 4, 1916, game against George Mullin and the Kokomo Red Sox—and printed a full, play-by-play account of the game:
In the article I posted the other day from the 1959 Grand Rapids Press, there’s a reference to Juan Padrón striking out 22 in a 2 to 1 victory over former major leaguer George Mullin in Kokomo, Indiana. There were also references in the Cuban press (La Lucha January 27 and November 4, 1917) to Padrón setting a “world record” for strikeouts in a game with 21.
The game seems to have occurred on Sunday, June 4, 1916. This is from the Indianapolis Freeman (June 10, 1916):
By the way, on that day (June 4, 1916) Luis Padrón started for the Long Branch/Jersey City Cubans against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds ran up six runs in three innings before Padrón was moved out to right field and Francisco“Paco”Muñoz (photo here) came in to pitch. Padrón did get two singles that day, but the Reds romped to an 11-6 win.
Here is a letter Oscar Padrón wrote in 1980, recommending his uncle Juan Padrón for the Hall of Fame. Thanks again to the Padrón family! (Note: one of the articles about Juan Padrón he refers to is posted here.)