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.