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.
On September 22, 1922, Almendares Park hosted an old-timers’ game, featuring a bunch of familiar names. El Mundo published a full play-by-play account of the game and included photos of the participants:
(El Mundo, September 23, 1922, p. 8)
Here are some close-ups:
Julián Castillo, Carlos Morán
Francisco “Pancho” Morán, Luis Padrón
The teams were the “Umpires” (so named after their captain, José “Kiko” or “Quico” Magriñat, a former player who had become the top umpire in Cuba), and the “Reliquias de Yoyo,” or Yoyo’s Relics, Yo Yo being that team’s captain, the turn-of-the-century pitcherSalvador Rosado. The game ended after four innings in an amicable 3 to 3 tie.
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:
More than a year and a half ago I reported on a couple of items from Cuban newspapers in 1909 claiming that Luis Padrón’s contract had actually been purchased by the Chicago White Sox when he tried out for them on July 22. According to the pseudonymous correspondent “Bancroft,” who was supposedly reporting from Chicago, Comiskey paid Abel Linares and Tinti Molina $1000 for the rights to Padrón. The player wasn’t supposed to report to the White Sox until mid-September. If true, this would mean not only that Padrón was twice the property of a major league club without being called up (the other team being the 1913 Boston Braves), but that he was the first Cuban League product to have been signed by the major leagues, predating Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans by nearly two years (even if he never actually played).
At the time I actually thought this story sounded unlikely, in large part because I strongly doubted that a major league club would bother to pay a club outside organized baseball—especially one that employed black players and played on the blackball circuit—for a player. There was, I supposed, the chance that Comiskey might have wanted to cultivate a relationship with Linares and Molina in the hopes of establishing a permanent pipeline of Cuban talent to the White Sox. That would have been a pretty noteworthy development, considering that no Cuban League players had made it to the majors yet, so I was dubious.
That was before I had heard of Rule 50, a clause added to the National Agreement in July 1909, right before Padrón’s tryout with the White Sox. Here’s the account in Sporting Life (July 10, 1909):
It may be worth noting that sources in the U.S. reported (mistakenly, I had previously assumed) that Comiskey had actually signed Padrón, as in this note from Sporting Life (July 31, 1909):
So protection was extended to semiprofessional clubs, especially those in the Chicago area, in early July, 1909—and within a few weeks Luis Padrón of the Cuban Stars (who spent a large portion of their summer in Chicago) was reported to have been signed by the White Sox for a fee. Coincidence?
There was also talk in early 1910 that the semipro Chicago City League would become formally a part of Organized Baseball. Considering that the League had featured one black team for several years (the Leland Giants in 1908 and 1909, the Chicago Giants in 1910) this would have been quite a landmark. The notion came to nothing, of course. One assumes in any case that if the Chicago League had joined OB, the black teams would have been kicked out—as in fact they were after 1910 anyway.
Rule 50—which became Rule 52 in 1910—and its protection of semiprofessional contracts lasted for less than a year. Francis Richter explains in Sporting Life (June 18, 1910)
NOTE: The image of the Luis Padrón baseball card, from the 1909 Cabañas set, can be found at Cubanball.com.
Hall of Famer James “Orator” O’Rourke and Cuban pitcher/outfielder Luis Padrón crossed paths in the 1908 Connecticut League.
While I’m doing Luis Padrón updates, here’s a piece I ran across recently from the Springfield Republican, July 24, 1908. Padrón, along with fellow Cubans Armando Marsans, Rafael Almeida, and Alfredo Cabrera, was playing for the New Britain club of the Connecticut League. Controversy swirled around them due to rumors about their racial identity, especially that of Padrón. In July the manager of the Springfield club, Dan O’Neil, teamed up with the recently-fired New Britain manager, Allie Paige (pictured in the previous post), to assert that Padrón was black in an attempt to get him banned.
All attention focused on a league meeting scheduled for July 17, but in the end O’Neil declined to bring up the subject. It’s unclear exactly why—but this article may suggest a reason. It seems that the grand old man of the Connecticut League, nineteenth-century star Jim O’Rourke, had something to say on the subject.
True to his reputation as a clubhouse lawyer, “Orator” O’Rourke looked into the rules, and couldn’t find anything “that would deny a negro the right to play.” And so for the 1908 season at least, the controversy was laid to rest—although of the four Cuban players with the 1908 New Britains, only Padrón did not return the following season.
UPDATE 5:50 pm The Padrón image above is from Cubanball.com’s fantastic page on the Cabañas card set commemorating the Detroit Tigers visit to Cuba in 1909.
As an addendum to the article on Luis Padrón I published a while back in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, here’s the smoking gun on the question of Padrón’s throwing hand: a team photo of the New Britain club of the 1908 Connecticut League. Padrón is in the front row on the far left (as we look at the photo), right in front of Armando Marsans. The photo hasn’t been accidentally reversed, as we can tell from the “N” in the New Britain logo on their jerseys; and Padrón is wearing a glove on his left hand, showing him to have thrown right-handed. (Whereas Juan Padrón, the younger, Cuban-American pitcher he has been confusedwith, was without question a southpaw.)
Apologies for the quality of the image, which comes from an online digital version of the Hartford Courant (April 29, 1908, page 10). I cited this photo in the Base Ball article, but didn’t actually reprint the image, for obvious reasons. There are probably actual prints of this photograph floating around somewhere, or at least a hard copy of the Courant, from which a much better version of the image could be scanned.
A while back David Lawrence sent me this image of Luis Padrón, from his 1910 Punch Cigars card (a series that also included Pete Hill). It is, as David put it, “a particularly distinguished portrait.” It would have gone well with my article on Padrón in Base Ball, had I remembered it.
I should mention that the latest issue of Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, which includes my article on the minor league career of Luis Padrón, has been out for a while now. Be sure to check out the rest of the issue, including Robert Schaefer on lively ball controversies through the years, Rob Edelman’s fascinating account of the advent of electric scoreboards, the late Gene Carney on Eddie Cicotte, and (how can I leave this one out) Peter Morris on “The Scandalous Elopement of Abraham Lincoln’s Granddaughter and Minor League Pitcher Warren Beckwith.”
My article concentrates on Padrón in the United States, specifically his career in organized baseball. There’s still plenty of research to be done on him in Cuba (not to mention Mexico and Puerto Rico, where he also played ball); many biographical details remain to be tracked down.
Since the article went to press, I have run across one significant detail about Padrón’s tryout with the Chicago White Sox on July 22, 1909. In U.S. newspapers I had previously seen only brief notices of the tryout and a few statements that the White Sox had signed him, which I had assumed to be mistaken, since no further mention was made anywhere of the matter and he certainly never appeared in a game for the Sox.
But I have recently found two items in the Havana newspaper Diario de la Marina by a correspondent based in Chicago who wrote under the pseudonym “Bancroft” (presumably in honor of Frank Bancroft, the man who brought the Worcester club to Cuba in 1879 and spent much of the next thirty years as one of the most important baseball ambassadors between Cuba and the U.S.). “Bancroft” claims that Charles Comiskey actually purchased Luis Padrón’s contract from Tinti Molina’s Cuban Stars for $1000, with Padrón slated to report to the White Sox in mid-September. These two items are so far the only sources for this claim, so I’m somewhat skeptical. But if true, it would mean that Padrón was at least twice the actual property of a major league club without being called up (the other time being with the Boston Braves in 1913).
I wanted to pull this find by John Thorn out of the comments section for this post on Luis Padrón (he posted it back on May 12).
FROM: Sporting Life, July 22, 1905:
On the 9th, at Newburgh, Padron of the Poughkeepsie team, gave an
exhibition of batting seldom seen in any game. He went to bat and the
Newburgh rooters began to hurl the epithet of "nigger" at him time and
again. Padron is very dark, being a full-blooded Cuban, but has no
negro blood. This seemed to make him mad, and with two men on bases, he hit the first ball pitched for a
home run. Several innings later he again went to the bat with two men
on bases. The crowd called: "The nigger can't do it again." At this
Padron hit the first ball pitched for another home run in almost the
identical spot, scoring six runs and winning the game for Poughkeepsie.