Here are statistics for the 1908/09 Cuban League. I was able to find box scores for 63 of 73 known games (86 percent); of the missing ten, nine were the games played in Matanzas, and one was a 2-0 Almendares victory over Habana, José Méndez tossing the shutout.
This was the second straight year in which the league experimented with a fourth club from Matanzas. Rafael Conte, the Matanzas manager, tried to compete by importing several Negro Leaguers and, for the first time in Cuban League history, major league players: the Phillies’ George McQuillan (who had pitched for Habana in 1906/07, before he debuted in the majors), the Athletics’ Biff Schlitzer, and the Cardinals’ infielder Chappy Charles. Schlitzer had introduced the spitball to Cuba on a previous visit with the “All-Leaguers,” a mixed team of major and minor leaguers, in the fall of 1907; his nickname in Cuba was “El Salivito.” Matanzas also added first baseman Mert Whitney of the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs, and a couple of white minor leaguers, “W. Chech” (or Schick) and “A. Cuthbert,” whom I haven’t been able to identify.
As described here, the Matanzas experiment did not work out; McQuillan and Schlitzer clashed with Conte over pay and workload issues, and left the island in a huff. “Los melancólicos,” as La Lucha called the Matanzas club (January 11, 1909), withdrew from the league soon after. The Cuban League would remain a three-club, Havana-only circuit until the 1922/23 season.
The season ended in a dispute over the championship, though in truth there was not actually much of a controversy. Here’s what the English page of La Lucha had to say (April 20, 1909):
The tie game between Habana and Almendares (4 to 4) was played way back on December 28. The final standings as I have them are:
Which matches what La Lucha says; a victory in a replay for Almendares would make them 29-14, leaving Habana at 28-14.
Jorge Figueredo, by the way, has slightly different final standings, which appear to include an extra victory for Habana over Fe:
I scoured the newspapers and could not find this extra game. However, these standings don’t match the description of the state of affairs given above by La Lucha, that another win by Almendares over Habana would hand them the pennant, as that eventuality would leave the two teams tied at 29-14. So at this point the standings I constructed seem to fit the evidence a little better.
UPDATE 8:45 p.m. No big deal, but I just realized that there are a few small issues with the stats file: I forgot to include a listing of positions played on the batting tab, and mistakenly left pinch-hitting appearances in the fielding tab (the position “0” denotes pinch-hitter). A new file will be up sometime this weekend.
UPDATE 11/3/2007 OK, I put up a new file, with cosmetic issues fixed (fielding games on batting tab, pinch-hitting removed from fielding tab). I also realized that I had Esteban Santa Cruz of Matanzas listed twice; now his stats are combined. Slightly more importantly, I’ve decided that the “Buckner” who caught for Habana on March 8 was more probably James “Pete” Booker (who appears in one other box score and also on a passenger manifest leaving Cuba in early Cuba along with other Negro Leaguers) than the Harry Buckner who pitched for Fe.
UPDATE 11/4/2007 The file is updated one last time, with “Buckner” and “Booker” combined in Habana catching stats, and a note about batters’ strikeouts (incomplete for individuals).