From the Outsider Baseball Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 9 (August 4, 2010):
This is the death certificate for Cristóbal Torriente, showing that he passed away of pulmonary tuberculosis at Riverside Hospital in the Bronx on April 11, 1938, having been hospitalized since July of the previous year. It probably tells you something about his last years that he was still listed as a “Baseball player,” despite not having worked at that profession since August, 1933. According to the reverse side, Ramiro Ramírez, another Cuban ballplayer, took charge of his body, claiming to be Torriente’s cousin. It was Ramírez who employed one A. R. Hernández as undertaker.
According to John Holway’s Blackball Stars, Rogelio Crespo said that “they draped a Cuban flag over his coffin, and a politician arranged to return the body to Havana” (p. 132). Torriente is reported to be buried in the Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, where two monuments memorialize members of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. His death certificate, however, shows that he was supposed to have been buried at Calvary Cemetery (in Queens; “City Cemetery” is crossed out) on April 15. Presumably Torriente’s body was returned to Cuba instead, or else his remains were moved back to Cuba at some later time. But it might be worth checking out the Calvary Cemetery records to see if in fact Torriente never left the United States.
[Scott Simkus added this editor’s note in the original:] Ramiro Ramírez and Rogelio Crespo were both members of Syd Pollock’s 1933 Cuban Stars, featured in this week’s cover story. During the 1933 season, Torriente was in Chicago, managing a team called Falcon’s Giants, who played around the Chicago metropolitan area during the spring.
I originally published the above piece in the Outsider Baseball Bulletin on August 4, 2010. Today Ralph Carhart at the Hall Ball blog offers a much more complete look at Torriente’s final days. He points out that Riverside Hospital, located on the now-deserted and off-limits North Brother Island in the East River, also housed Typhoid Mary during the same time Torriente was there (she died in November 1938, seven months after Torriente).
Ralph did what I only suggested in my OBB article, actually contacting the two cemeteries in question, and finding out that neither burial ground has any record of Torriente’s interment. Given that Calvery Cemetery has interred some 3 million people since its founding in 1848, and the Colón Cemetery about 1 million since 1876, it’s certainly possible that over the years a few records have been misplaced. Nevertheless, there’s a mystery here that I barely suspected back in 2010.