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.
Here’s a cool photo sequence from the Detroit Free Press (November 17, 1910) showing scenes from the Detroit Tigers’ fall 1910 trip to Havana.
(click to enlarge)
Especially interesting is the leftmost photo, which purports to show Grant “Home Run” Johnson batting left-handed. All sources I know about say he was a right-handed hitter, and all photos I’ve seen show him as such—though I don’t know of any in-game photos showing him actually at bat. This photo has definitely not been inadvertently reversed, as Oscar Stanage was of course a right-handed catcher, and his glove is shown here on his left hand. Unfortunately the printing-microfilming-digitizing sequence has so degraded the quality of what might have not been a very sharp photo in the first place that there’s no way to tell whether this is really Johnson, or maybe someone else on the Habana team, say Pete Hill or Carlos Morán, both left-handed hitters.
For what it’s worth, here are early photos of Hill and Johnson posing with bats (from the Philadelphia Inquirer, April 23, 1905). The photo of Johnson would later be reprinted in Sol White’s History of Colored Base Ball—I don’t think I’ve seen the photo of Hill elsewhere.
I don’t think I have seen a photo of Carlos Morán batting, but here’s Pete Hill, actually at bat in a game for the Leland Giants vs. the Cuban Stars, probably in late June, 1909.
Chris Gamble has, after years of looking, dug up a fantastic photograph of the Cincinnati Reds team that visited Havana in the fall of 1908, taken evidently at Almendares Park.
•Standing, L to R: Miller Huggins, John Kane, Ducky Pearce, Frank Bancroft, Larry McLean, Dick Hoblitzell, Mike Mitchell. •Seated, L to R: Bob Spade, Billy Campbell, Jean Dubuc, Rudy Hulswitt, Hans Lobert.
If you have a chance, pick up Jerry Kuntz’s seriously fascinating new book about the Lawson brothers—Alfred Lawson, who was (briefly) a major league pitcher, a baseball promoter who organized outlaw minor leagues and barnstorming tours of Cuba, an important figure in early aviation, and founder of his own religion, called “Lawsonomy”; and his younger brother George, a.k.a. “Andy,” a con man, vaudeville manager, and anti-Klan activist who tried to organize the racially-integrated Continental League in 1921.
This is a Baseball Chronology entry for November 29, 1910, describing the Detroit Tigers’ visit to Havana that fall:
It’s the Cuban’s turn today as Cuban ace Jose Mendez shuts out the Tigers‚ 3-0. On steal attempts‚ Ty Cobb is thrown out three times by Bruce Petway‚ who played last year for the Chicago Leland Giants‚ and Gervasio “Strike” Gonzales. On his last attempt‚ Cobb argues that the bag is three inches too far. When measured‚ Cobb is proved correct‚ but is still out stealing. A frustrated Cobb will cut short the tour and return to the U.S. The Tigers will end their Cuban swing at 7-4‚ with a tie. This is a reversal of last year’s 4-8 record‚ when they played the Cuban teams without Cobb and Sam Crawford. The champion A’s also played in Havana at the same time‚ finishing with a 4-6 record.
Nearly everything in the first five sentences is wrong:
--There were games played on November 27 and 28, but not on November 29. Detroit indeed won on November 27, 4-0 over José Muñoz and Almendares.
--On November 28 Habana, with Luis González (not José Méndez, who played for Almendares) on the mound, defeated the Tigers 3-0.
--Bruce Petway and Gervasio González were not on the same team, as this implies. Petway caught for Habana, González for Almendares.
--Cobb was not thrown out stealing three times in the November 28 game against Habana (see below).
--The tape measurement incident did not happen at all, as far as I can tell (also see below).
--Cobb did not cut the tour short in frustration. He arrived late, after his teammates had already played seven games, going 3-3-1. With Cobb, the Tigers won four of five games, and became the first major league team to win a series in Cuba since Brooklyn swept its four games in 1900. “Taken all in all,” La Lucha said, “the Detroit bunch is going away well pleased” (December 6, 1910).
To expand on two points:
First, Cobb’s basestealing troubles in the series, specifically the November 28 loss to Habana. In that game, Cobb tried to bunt his way on with two outs in the first, but Petway pounced on the ball and tossed him out. And in the fourth inning Cobb walked, then Petway cut him down at second (the account doesn’t say who took the throw). In his other two plate appearances he rolled out to the pitcher, Luis González, and popped up to second baseman Home Run Johnson. So Petway did, in fact, throw him out twice in the game, but only once on a steal attempt. Here is La Lucha’s English page on Cobb’s (and John Henry Lloyd’s) performance in this game:
La Lucha printed play-by-play accounts for three of Cobb’s five games; in those games, the only other incident on the basepaths involving Cobb occurred on November 27 game against Almendares, when Cobb tried to score from first on a hit by Sam Crawford, but was out at home (manned by González). The accounts I have don’t give the play’s details, so I don’t know who threw him out.
It’s quite possible Cobb tried to steal unsuccessfully in the two games that lack play-by-play accounts. In the 3-2 Tigers win over Almendares on December 1, Cobb went 1 for 5, and González had three assists. And in the Tigers’ 12-4 trouncing of Habana on December 4, Cobb went 2 for 5 with three runs scored, while Petway had two assists. But if Cobb tried to steal in these games, there is no indication of it in any of the game stories I have.
Second, there’s nothing in Diario de la Marina or La Lucha (including the English-language page) about Cobb stopping the game to have the base path measured. Billy Evans, who was the umpire for the series, wrote several articles about it for American newspapers, and didn’t mention the incident at all. It doesn’t appear in any of the Cobb biographies, or in Cobb’s own memoir in 1961 (which, as far as I can tell, makes no mention of his Cuba trip whatsoever). Aside from The Baseball Chronology, which was originally published in 1991, the earliest English-language source I’ve been able to find for this story is Michael and Mary Oleksak’s El Béisbol: Latin Americans and the Grand Old Game, published in the same year (p. 21):
Cobb’s visit is remembered in Cuba not for his outstanding play, but for his wily twist of an umpire’s arm. In one of the games, Bruce Petway threw Cobb out on a steal attempt. Cobb protested that second base was implanted farther than the standard 90 feet from first base. Cobb insisted that the umpire measure the base path. Cobb was proved correct when the tape measured 90 feet, 3 inches. The story lived on for years in Cuba, a famous footnote to the major league barnstorming tours.
This anecdote, unfortunately, isn’t footnoted. At best, then, we have an oral tradition of unknown provenance surfacing some eighty years after the fact. I’d be very interested if anyone knows of an earlier appearance for this story, especially in Cuban sources.
By the way: Ty Cobb, as it happens, did give thought to the advantage a few inches could represent—for him. In his chapter on base-stealing in My Life in Baseball he (or Al Stump) wrote (p. 171):
The base itself, for instance, often wasn’t strapped
down tight. The writers used to mention my “superstitious” habit of
kicking the bag after I’d arrived at a base. Others thought it a
nervous habit. What they didn’t know [was] that with each kick, I
moved that bag a few inches closer to me, after I’d taken my lead-off.
If I had to dive back, that inch or two could be the difference. Never
overlook the smallest percentage.
UPDATE 10:58 p.m. I forgot to mention that I also discussed the 1910 Detroit Tigers series in this post on Carlos Morán.
Joe Niese has written in to correct the identity of pitcher/outfielder “Wilson” of the 1906/07 Habana club in the Cuban League. This player is identified by Jorge Figueredo as the Negro Leaguer Ray Wilson, who came to Cuba with the Cuban X Giants in 1903, 1904, and 1905 (this is verified by passenger manifests). I just followed Figueredo in assuming the Habana player in 1906/07 was Ray Wilson.
But Ray Wilson was a first baseman in Cuba, and didn't pitch at all in his previous visits. Meanwhile, I ignored the fact that Roberto González Echevarría calls this player “George Wilson,” mostly because he goes on to speculate that was really former Boston Americans pitcher George Prentiss, who played under the name “George Wilson” in 1901 (The Pride of Havana, p. 127). More importantly, I completely overlooked James Riley’s entry on the turn-of-the-century lefthanded pitcher George H. Wilson, who had pitched for the integrated Adrian club in the 1895 Michigan State League, reportedly going 29-4 (one teammate being Grant “Home Run” Johnson). Riley comments that Wilson “pitched with the Havana team in the Cuban winter league in 1907” (p. 863).
While researching Wilson’s time with white clubs in Wisconsin in the mid- to late 1900s, Joe Niese came up with this, from the Racine Daily Journal (September 9, 1907):
“Though the baseball season in the Lake Shore League will not be finished until October, overtures are already being made here by the Havana team of the Cuban league for George Wilson, the colored twirler who has pitched such sensational ball for the Manitowoc team. Wilson pitched Havana into being a contender for the pennant in the Cuban league last winter, winning over two-thirds of his games and the management there is again desirous of securing the dusky slugger. Wilson, however will decline the offer of the Havana team even though the figure set for his salary is $500 per month, since he finds that arm will not stand a winter and summer pitching siege.”
I checked in Cuban newspapers, and while I didn't find Wilson's first name or any very specific information about him, I did find an indication in Diario de la Marina (February 8, 1907) that he was brought to Cuba on the recommendation of “Johnson,” presumably his teammate Chappie Johnson (Wilson arrived several weeks after the season had started). Chappie Johnson and George H. Wilson played together for several years on the Page Fence Giants, Columbia Giants, and Chicago Union Giants, whereas Chappie Johnson and Ray Wilson had never been teammates (to my knowledge) up to 1907. Ray Wilson was an east coast player, Chappie Johnson and George Wilson were both midwestern players. So I see much better reason for thinking the Habana player is in fact George H. Wilson rather than Ray Wilson, absent any evidence to the contrary. So I’ve corrected my 1906/07 Cuban League stats to reflect this change. This would mean that two pitchers on the 1906/07 Habana club, Wilson and George McQuillan, are wrongly identified in Figueredo.
Available passenger manifests, by the way, do not show any known player named Wilson returning to the U.S. that spring, so no help there. (His teammates McQuillan and Johnson can't be found, either.)
Joe Niese also found that Habana or some other Cuban outfit made overtures to Wilson in the fall of 1908. According to the Sheboygan Daily Press (September 14, 1908), “George Wilson will leave Manitowoc in a few days for Cuba where it is expected he will sign with some Cuban team. It is not certain whether he will return to Manitowoc next summer.” The same paper would refer the following spring (May 20, 1909) to “Wilson[,] who went to Cuba last fall to play with Havana.” Wilson didn’t play in the Havana-based Cuban League that fall or winter, but it’s possible he performed in the Las Villas championship, or some other provincial league.
In the Indianapolis Freeman, February 24, 1917, Dave Wyatt compiles a list of 38 black ballplayers who had died within the past ten years, including three we’ve discussed here (Bill Monroe, Bill Lindsay, and John Chenault). He includes the cause of death (tuberculosis for Monroe and Lindsay, heart failure for Chenault) and the place of death (he mistakenly gives Kansas City for Lindsay, though he’s correct on the other two), but not the date.
Appearing consecutively are: R. Wilson—Insanity, Cuban X Giants, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. George Wilson—Insanity, Page Fence Giants, Palmyra, Michigan.
Yes, Wyatt lists “insanity” as the cause of death for both men. Here’s an interesting discussion of what that might mean (which would depend on Wyatt’s sources, of course; he would most likely have been relying on newspaper reports, which presumably would have often been less precise than a medical examiner’s report or death certificate).
On December 21, [1879,] an American team named the Hop Bitters, headed by Cincinnati promoter Frank Bancroft, visited Havana and easily disposed of a Cuban squad that scored a single run by Carlos Zaldo, who got on base following a successful bunt, the first native player to master this particular craft.
In Cuba the team was indeed promoted as the “Hop Bitters,” a name usually associated with Rochester, New York. And in fact the trip appears to have been financed by a “Mr. Soule of Rochester, N.Y.” (New York Clipper, November 29, 1879). But it turns out that Bancroft’s team was really, as the Clipper remarked in its November 29 issue, “composed entirely of the Worcesters of 1880”—that is, the Worcester, Massachusetts, club of the (minor) National Association of 1879, with the players they intended to use the following season. The Worcesters joined the National League for the 1880 season, and would play there through 1882 (they are called in all the reference books the “Worcester Ruby Legs,” though I’m not sure how prevalent that nickname was at the time); so the nine that visited Cuba in 1879 was, if not technically a “major league” club, practically one. The latest standings I could find for the 1879 NA shows the Worcesters at fourth place of nine clubs with a 19-23 record. In 1880 they would fare about the same in the NL, at 40-43 and fifth (though with Lee Richmond and Fred Corey added on the mound, and Harry Stovey in the outfield). The roster is listed in the Clipper (November 22, 1879); here is the passenger manifest for their return to the United States, arriving at New Orleans on December 31:
The players are: George Wood Alonzo Knight Charlie Bennett Art Whitney J. F. “Chub” Sullivan C. J. “Curry” Foley A. J. “Doc” Bushong Arthur Irwin Frederick “Tricky” Nichols
Seven of these players (all but Foley, who would go to Boston, and Nichols, who would only pitch two games for Worcester) would be regulars for Worcester in 1880.
The trip was not a financial success. As far as I can tell, they ended playing only two games in Cuba, spending the rest of the winter in New Orleans. This piece, from the Clipper (January 3, 1880), explains it from the American point of view:
It’s important to remember that the United States had made several attempts to acquire Cuba, most recently offering to purchase the island in 1869, just after the Ten Years’ War, a Cuban rebellion, had begun. Baseball, probably considered a symbol and symptom of U.S. subversion, was banned by Spanish authorities in that same year (though the ban was apparently flouted often, or only intermittently enforced). In 1873, war had nearly broken out between the United States and Spain over the “Virginius Affair,” a Bay of Pigs-like incident involving an American-manned ship caught attempting to smuggle arms, ammunition, revolutionary leaders, and about 100 soldiers into Cuba (you will be hearing more about this soon). When the Worcester players visited in 1879, the Ten Years’ War had been over for only a year, and the atmosphere they encountered was surely tense.
From Jorge Figueredo’s Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, p. 7 (on the 1879/80 Cuban League season):
Pitcher George McCullar and catcher Urban Carpenter became the first Americans to play (for Colón) in the Cuban league. Oddly enough, the other teams objected to their presence when McCullar struck out 21 Habana batters in a game and also belted the first home run. When the circuit high command upheld the protest, Colón withdrew from the competition and the Americans went home.
And from Roberto González Echevarría’s The Pride of Havana, p. 100:
In the 1879-80 season Colón Base Ball Club hired two Americans—Carpenter and McCuller, a pitcher and a catcher—who so dominated the games that other teams refused to take the field against them.
I’ve always been curious about the identity of these U.S. players who so outclassed the Cubans. Neither Urban Carpenter nor George McCullar played in the major leagues, and I couldn’t match them with any minor leaguers at the time, either.
However, I was able to find passport applications for two men who had played for the National League’s Syracuse club in 1879, James F. Macullar (who managed the club briefly) and Warren W. “Hick” Carpenter. The applications are dated September 24 and 25, 1879:
Neither application mentions their destination. But according to Figueredo, the Cuban League season started on November 11. Colón played only two games, one against Habana and one against Almendares, winning both; the club withdrew from the league on January 11, 1880. And on the passenger manifest for the steamship City of Veracruz, arriving in New York from Havana on 15 January 1880, we find “James F. Maculler” [sic] and “W. W. Carpenter” (at the bottom, partly obscured by a crease), both 24 years old:
(click to enlarge)
Obviously, as the dominance of these players (or Esteban Bellán, for that matter) shows, Cuban baseball was just getting started. (By some curious coincidence, both Carpenter and Macullar were left-handed infielders in the majors.) Perhaps a more interesting question is what official reason was given for barring them from the league. Was it because they were foreigners? Or was it because they were paid?
I’ve been able to find U.S. passport applications for thirteen Negro Leaguers—the complete North American roster of the “Bacharach Giants” aggregation that played in Cuba during the 1920/21 season (both American Series and regular Cuban League). These applications have enabled me to fully identify two of these players—Willis “Pud” Flournoy and James York—for, I believe, the first time. I’ll put up a separate post on Flournoy soon.
Before 1916, U.S. law did not require American citizens traveling abroad to carry passports, though some countries did require them. An executive order in 1916 mandated passports, and this was made law by Congress in 1918. The requirement was lifted in 1921, not to be reinstated until 1941. So, unless the country of destination required passports, Americans did not have to get them before 1916, or from 1921 to 1941.
The one foreign nation Negro Leaguers were apt to visit was Cuba, which evidently did not require passports for entry. So we have only the narrow window of 1916 to 1921 to find Negro Leaguers’ passport applications. As it happens, the 1920 Bacharachs were the only Negro League team to visit Cuba during these years.
One thing we learn about this 1920 team: it is often linked to Rube Foster (despite featuring none of his players at the time), but I’m not sure he had anything to do with it. For one thing, he probably didn’t accompany the team, as no passport application for him could be found.
For another, the team’s organizer appears to have been Edward B. Lamar, former manager/owner of the Cuban X Giants, and promoter of that team’s trips to Cuba in the 1900s. Lamar provides affidavits swearing to the identity of every player but Toussaint Allen (see below) and Philip Cockrell, who apparently had forgotten to apply, and had to send his application right before leaving from Key West, with instructions for it to be sent to him in Havana. Somebody typed up his application for him, and misunderstood his name to be “Phillip Cochran.”
I’m no handwriting expert, but with the exception of Cockrell’s application (and maybe the signatures), the forms all seem to be filled out by Lamar.
Here are the photos of the Bacharach players; I’ve never seen most of these (or possibly any of them) before.
Toussaint Allen * Born: 7 June 1896, Atlanta, Georgia (WWI draft card has 7 June 1895) * Father: Riley Allen (dec’d), born in Atlanta * Height: 5’9” * Affidavit attesting to Allen’s identity signed by Richard Redding—though Redding’s World War I draft card signed with his mark.
Charles Blackwell * Born: 12 December 1894, Brandenburg, Kentucky (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Charles Blackwell, born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, currently residing in Brandenburg * Height: 5’7”
Oscar McKinley Charleston * Born: 14 October 1896, Indianapolis, Indiana * Father: Thomas Charleston, born in Charleston, South Carolina, currently residing in Indianapolis * Height: 5’8” (does not match Riley, who has him as six feet tall, or his WWI draft card, which describes him vaguely as “tall”)
Morten Avery Clark * Born: 19 December 1889, Bristol, Tennessee (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Joseph Henry Clark, born in Richmond, Virginia, currently residing in Los Angeles, California * Height: 5’9” * The middle name “Avery” is new information (his WWI card has the middle initial “A.”). The form also indicates that Clark was in France with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during the war. * Now we can see his “gafas blancas” for ourselves. As in 1915, Figueredo identifies him as “Dell Clark.”
Philip Cockrell (“Phillip Cochran”) * Born: 9 July 1895, Augusta, Georgia * Father: “Wm. Cochran” (William Cockrell), born in Georgia, currently residing in Philadelphia. * Height: 5’11”
Willis Flournoy * Born: 9 August 1895, Monticello, Georgia (WWI draft card has 9 August 1894) * Father: William Flournoy, born in 1855, currently residing in Monticello. * Height: 6’5” * The birthdate and place is, I believe, brand-new information; more on him in another post.
Joseph Hewitt * Born: 7 August 1885, Nashville, Tennessee (date matches WWI draft card) * Father: Price Hewitt (dec’d), born in West Virginia * Height: 5’5” * The birthplace is new information (1920 census record has him born in Alabama). His middle name was William (WWI draft card; he was nicknamed “Joe Bill”).
Louis Santop Loftin * Born: 17 January 1889, Fort Worth, Texas (matches WWI draft card; Riley & HOF have 17 January 1890, Tyler, Texas) * Father: Andrew Loftin, currently residing in Tyler, Texas * Height: 6’2”
Richard Lundy * Born: 10 July 1898, Jacksonville, Florida (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Richard Lundy, born and currently residing in Jacksonville, Florida * Height: 5’11”
Oliver Marcelle * Born: 1 June 1895, New Orleans, Louisiana (WWI draft card has 21 June 1895) * Father: Daniel Marcelle, born in Thibodaux, Louisiana, currently residing in New Orleans * Height: 5’10” * His World War I draft card is signed “Marcell,” with no “e.” Here the signature is unclear, though the form definitely says “Marcelle.”
Richard Redding * Born: 15 April 1893, Atlanta, Georgia (WWI draft card has 14 April 1893) * Father: Richard Redding, born in 1869 and currently residing in Atlanta * Height: 6’1” * Form is signed, though Redding’s World War I draft card is signed with his mark.
Merven John Ryan * Born: 11 July 1897, Brooklyn, New York (matches WWI draft card) * Father: John Ryan (dec’d), born in Brooklyn. * Height: 5’11” * The middle name “John” is new information (WWI card has middle initial “J.”).
James Henry York * Born: 11 July 1895, St. Peters, Pennsylvania * Father: Wallace Jacob York, born in Altoona, currently residing in Coatesville, Pennsylvania * Height: 6’1/4” * Middle name, birth date and place are all new information.
Ancestry.com has digitized U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925. Here is Babe Ruth’s application for a passport prior to his famous trip to Cuba in 1920. Note the affidavit (attesting to Ruth’s identity) signed by “Brother Paul,” one of the Xaverian Brothers who ran St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore.
(click to enlarge; the first half is from the previous application in the file)
(click to enlarge; the lower right-hand shows part of the next application in the file)
Tomorrow I’ll post some information on Negro Leaguers with passport applications—including photos.
UPDATE 5:48 p.m. I found this bit in Marshall Smelser’s The Life That Ruth Built: A Biography, on Ruth’s participation in the major league tour of Japan in 1934 (p. 481):
Before they left [for Japan] Babe Ruth discovered his true birthday. He thought he had been born on February 7, 1894, but his sister Mamie, helping to make up his passport application, found that the date was February 6, 1895 (it had been and still is entered that way in the Baltimore birth records). Ruth had received a passport for the unlucky Cuba caper of 1920 with an affidavit of birth sworn to by a Xaverian who accepted the wrong date. Claire, many years later, said Babe’s quick reaction to the truth was to say, “I can play a year longer.” Up to this time they had been celebrating his birthday with a party every February 7. They decided to keep it that way.
Here’s a note from W. Rollo Wilson’s “Eastern Snapshots” column in the Pittsburgh Courier (October 11, 1924), writing on José Méndez, manager of the Kansas City Monarchs, just before the World Series vs. Hilldale:
I thought I’d check to see how Mike Donlin fared against Méndez in Cuba. Turns out he only faced him there once, during the Giants’ visit in 1911.
On November 30, 1911, in the second Almendares/Giants game, came the big matchup everyone was waiting for: Méndez vs. Christy Mathewson. Mathewson came out on top, 4 to 0. In the first inning, Donlin was safe on a fielder’s choice and scored when Beals Becker tripled. In the third Donlin grounded out to Méndez. In the sixth inning, Gene Paulette hit for Donlin, the only substitution made by the Giants in the game.
On December 10, Méndez lost an 11-inning game to Otis Crandall, 6 to 3. Donlin stayed in the whole game and hit 2 for 6 (both singles), but struck out three times.
On December 14, Méndez replaced Pedroso in the sixth inning with Almendares leading 5 to 3, the bases loaded (including Donlin on first), and nobody out. Méndez gave up a sac fly to Beals Becker, scoring Buck Herzog. Fletcher grounded to third baseman Rafael Almeida, who forced Donlin at second, then Gervasio González gunned down Fletcher trying to steal—and Méndez was out of the inning. He coasted through the last three innings, allowing a single hit (to Larry Doyle), and Almendares won comfortably, 7 to 4. Donlin only faced Méndez once, popping to the shortstop in the eighth. Altogether, Méndez faced the miminum twelve batters in the four innings he pitched. And, by the way, Christy Mathewson went the whole way on the other side, so Méndez did actually pitch four strong innings in a winning effort against Mathewson.
On December 18, Méndez lost to the Giants for the third time. He pitched eight innings, giving way to Pedroso in the ninth with the score 3 to 1, Giants. Unfortunately, I don’t have a play-by-play account of this game. The Giants scored one run in the ninth; the description of the scoring begins with Becker, who batted after Donlin, and it seems very likely Becker was the first batter in the inning. That would mean all of Donlin’s plate appearances were against Méndez—and he went 0 for 4.
Overall, Donlin hit 2 for 13 against José Méndez in the 1911 series (or possibly 2 for 12, if he came to bat once against Pedroso in the last game)—either .154 or .167, with no walks or extra base hits, and at least three strikeouts. Of course, Donlin probably faced Méndez in exhibition games in the United States, possibly a number of times (I haven’t checked). Maybe Méndez was referring to one of those games. But the fact remains that Donlin hit poorly against him in Cuba, and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in his first appearance.
UPDATE 8:28 p.m. I forgot to mention that overall Donlin hit .333/.367/.422 (series averages .224/.283/.303), 15 for 45 with 2 triples and a team-leading 8 RBI. He was the second-best hitter on the Giants, behind only Art Wilson (.382/.425/.471). So he did have a specific problem with Méndez in this series.