We remember José Méndez (1887 – 1928)

We remember today José de la Caridad Méndez Báez who was born in Cardenas, Cuba, in March 1887. He was a baseball hero in the early years of the new Cuban republic. Unfortunately, he died young in 1928. Mendez was a right-handed pitcher in the Negro Leagues for the following teams: Chicago American Giants, 1918, Detroit Star, 1919, and the Kansas City Monarchs, 1920-1926. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2006.

This is a bit of his baseball story:

Although he spent his entire career playing either in Cuba or the Negro Leagues of North America, José Méndez often faced AL/NL competition in exhibition games. And he regularly bested some of the game’s biggest stars like Christy Mathewson and Eddie Plank.

After a 1911 tour of Cuba, Philadelphia Athletics catcher Ira Thomas said: “More than one big leaguer from the states has faced him and left the plate with a wholesome respect for the great Cuban star. It is not alone my opinion but the opinion of many others who have seen Méndez pitch that he ranks with the best in the game.”

Nicknamed “The Black Diamond,” the Cuban-born hurler had a lean, wiry frame, with a deceptively hard fastball and a sharp curveball. He was also able to keep hitters off balance because of his ability to change speeds so well.

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