Tag Archives: Jose Mendez

“Mendez is a Wonder”

15 May

Edgar Forrest Wolfe, the cartoonist and sports columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer who wrote under the pen name Jim Nasium, joined the Phillies on their Cuban barnstorming tour after the 1911 season.

When he returned, he told readers:

“Baseball fans throughout the United States, in trying to dig up an answer that will explain away the wallopings that have been handed our big league ball teams by the Cubans during their annual winter pilgrimages to the ‘Sunny Isle.’”

 

josemendez.jpg

He said some fans tried to claim it was “change of climate” or players not adhering to “strict discipline,” but:

“While you can work this stuff and probably get away with it if you happen to be conversing with some guy who has never been south of Oshkosh, Michigan [sic]”

No, Wolfe said, climate and discipline were not the issue— “Good pitching and sensational fielding is the bulk of the answer.”

In particular, Wolfe singled out Jose Mendez, in an article that flirted with the progressive idea of integrating baseball while loaded with the racist ideas and language of the time.

Phillies manager Hans Lobert told Wolfe:

“Mendez is a wonder, and so is his catcher (Gervasio) Gonzalez. If we could give those two coons a coat of white paint and ring them in with the Phillies next summer, we’d win the pennant.”

Referring to Mendez’ first start against major leaguers in 1908, Wolfe noted:

“Mendez not only showed his ability as a pitcher, but his nerve and absolute immunity from stage fright, but going in and shutting out the Cincinnati team in this game with but one little hit, and that was a little scratch affair made by Miller Huggins in the ninth inning. Mendez fanned nine of the Reds in this game and as his own team could get him but one run to win with, you will see that he had to go some to win even with that great pitching.”

Wolfe chronicled what are now well-known highlights of Mendez’ performances against white professionals from 1908 to 1911, and then described what made him so unhittable:

“Mendez’ chief asset in a pitching way is terrific speed with a fast-breaking jump to the ball, which he mixes with a fast breaking curve, and excellent control and fine judgment in working the batsmen. Ballplayers from the states who have batted against Mendez or tried to, rather, assert that there is no pitcher in baseball, barring possibly Walter Johnson, who has as much ‘smoke’ as this ‘Black Mathewson’ of Cuba. The thing that causes the most wonderment among our players who have played in Cuba, however, is the wonderful ability of Mendez in fielding his position. He is remarkably fast on his feet and a quick starter, has a cool head and excellent judgment, and can throw from any position like a rifle shot.

“Mendez plays the whole infield when he is pitching, and it is almost impossible to lay down a safe bunt against him or even sacrifice, as he will invariably get the ball in time to nail the advance man.”

Wolfe said Mendez was so good fielding his position that he allowed his fielders to play “closer to the foul lines and leaving Mendez to plug up the holes in the center.”

And, he said Mendez worked “twice as hard” as other pitchers because of how much ground he covered fielding his position in the heat of Cuba:

“What a corking hot weather pitcher he would make up here if he could only be whitewashed.”

Wolfe also noted that Mendez had “never been the author of a boneheaded play,” and highlighted his character:

“Mendez is known in Havana as a modest and well-behaved gentleman at all times, both on the field of play and off, as he seems to realize that his color bars him from many privileges accorded to the white baseball hero. While pitching he is constantly smiling, showing his teeth in a broad grin, their whiteness forming a vivid contrast with his black skin. Every cent Mendez earns through his ball playing goes to the support of his mother, whom he can now afford to give every pleasure of the wealthy class of Cubans.”

Wolfe said during November of 1911, the pitcher earned $584 from gate receipts when he pitched:

“(A)s every time Mendez works down there, they play to capacity, the fans in Havana, white as well as colored, idolizing their ‘Black Mathewson’ much in the same way as New Yorkers idolize their white one.”

In closing, Wolfe lamented:

“It is one of the pathetic instances of life to see this Cuban negro, possessing all the characteristics of a gentleman and an ability that would make him one of the great figures in a great pastime, qualities that would bring him worldwide fame and popularity and wealth, barred from reaping the full benefits of these qualifications through the misfortune of birth. Jose Mendez will always have to be content just to be Cuba’s ‘Black Mathewson’”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Cum Posey’s “All-Americans”

18 Nov

In 1937, Homestead Grays owner Cumberland Willis “Cum” Posey Jr. set out to name the all-time Negro League all-stars–his “All-Americans”– in The Pittsburgh Courier; six years later he expanded his “All-American” team and conceded that picking an all-time Negro League team was a nearly impossible task:

“Due to the changes in umpiring, parks, baseballs, ownership, in the last three decades, it is merely a guess when any of us attempt to pick an all-time All-American club.  Under any system we would hesitate to put ourselves on record as picking the club without placing some of the boys from the islands on the team.  We know some star players from Cuba, who played Negro baseball in the US and they cannot be ignored.”

Cum Posey

Cum Posey

Posey said no team would be complete without considering pitchers Jose Mendez, Eustaquio “Bombin” Pedroso, and Juan Padron, shortstop Pelayo Chacon, outfielders Cristobal Torriente and Esteban Montalvo and “(Martin) Dihigo, probably the greatest all-around player of any decade.”

Cristóbal Torriente

Cristóbal Torriente

“If one could be a spectator at an argument between those closely associated with baseball—fans, players, owners—he would be surprise at the differences of opinions.

Ted Page, who is now manager of Hillvue Bowling Alley (in Pittsburgh), and was formerly one of the star players of Negro baseball was mentioning one of the players of former years.  Ted contends (Chester) Brooks, one of the few West Indian (Brooks was said to hae been born in Nassau, Bahamas, but several sources, including his WWII Draft Registration and death certificate list his place of birth as Key West, Florida) players ever on the roster of an American baseball club was one of the real stars of all time.  Brooks, formerly of the Brooklyn Royal Giants, was probably the most consistent right hand hitter in the history of Negro baseball.  When the Homestead Grays were at odds with everyone connected with Negro Organized Baseball we tried to get Brooks on the Grays club.”

Chester Brooks

Chester Brooks

In his 1937 picks, Posey placed Brooks on his all-time all-star team as “utility” outfielder.

The 1937 team:

Manager:  C. I. Taylor

Coaches:  Rube Foster, Sam Crawford, and Chappie Johnson

Catchers:  Josh Gibson and Biz Mackey

Pitchers: Smokey Joe Williams, Dick Redding, Pedroso, Bullet Rogan, Satchel Paige, Dave Brown and Willie Foster

First Base:  Ben Taylor and Buck Leonard

Second Base: Sammy Hughes

Third Base: Jud Wilson

judwilson

Shortstop: John Henry Lloyd

Left Field:  Torriente

Center Field: Oscar Charleston

Right Field: Pete Hill

Utility:  Infield: Dick Lundy; Outfield: Brooks

Posey added several players for consideration in 1943, many who were largely forgotten by then:

Pitchers: Mendez, Padron

Catcher:  Bruce Petway, Wabishaw “Doc” Wiley

First Base: Leroy Grant, George Carr, Eddie Douglas

Second Base:  Frank Warfield, Bingo DeMoss, George Scales, John Henry Russell, Frank Grant

Bingo DeMoss

Bingo DeMoss

Third Base: Connie Day, Judy Johnson, Ray Dandridge, Dave Malarcher, Henry Blackmon, Walter Cannady, Billy Francis, Bill Monroe

Shortstop:  Willie Wells

Posey concluded:

“Too many outfielders to mention.  You have Dihigo, (Pee Wee) Butts, (Sam) Bankhead, Cannady (and) Monte Irvin to play in any position and nine hundred ninety-nine others.  Our personal preference for manager is C.I. Taylor, but what about Rube Foster?”

“Three of the Greatest Pitchers the Game ever has Produced”

15 Jul

In 1915, Frank G. Menke, who wrote for the Heart Newspaper’s International News Service told readers:

“The color line drawn so tightly around major league baseball has barred from major league fields three of the greatest pitchers the game ever has produced.”

The three were John Donaldson, Frank Wickware, and Jose Mendez.

In May, Donaldson, who pitched for the All Nations, had thrown 30 consecutive no-hit innings against Kansas City based semi-pro clubs.

Sketchy contemporary accounts with some transposed numbers in newspaper articles seem to have led to confusion about Donaldson’s feat in later years: some sources claim the streak was over two games—a regulation contest and a 21-inning game , but it appears from the earliest reports in The Kansas City Times and The Indianapolis Freeman that he pitched a nine-inning and 12-inning no-hitter against the Schmelzers, a powerful semi-pro club sponsored by the Schmelzer Arms Sporting Goods Company in Kansas City and another no-hitter against a team called the KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) All-Stars.  (Later in the summer of 1915, Schmelzers became the sponsor of the All Nations after the club lost their original sponsor, Hopkins Brothers Sporting Goods).

John Donaldson

John Donaldson

Menke quoted New York Giants Manager John McGraw’s assessment of the All Nations’ star after having watched him pitch in Cuba:

“If Donaldson were a white man, or if the unwritten law of baseball didn’t bar Negroes from the major leagues, I would give $50,000 for him—and think I was getting a bargain.”

Menke said of Wickware of the Chicago American Giants:

“(He) is another Negro pitcher who would rank with the Walter Johnsons, Joe Woods and Grover Alexanders if he were a white man…Wickware has marvelous speed, a weird set of curves and wonderful control.  And he has a trick that has made him feared among batters.  He throws what seems like a ‘bean ball,’ but his control is so perfect that he never yet has hit a batter in the head.  But when the batters see the ball, propelled with mighty force, come for their heads, they jump away, and the ball, taking its proper and well-timed curve, arches over the plate for a strike.”

Frank Wickware

Frank Wickware

The final pitcher on Menke’s list was Mendez,  another member of the All Nations:

“He’s known as “The Black Matty” and his work has been almost as brilliant as that of “The Big Six” of the Giants.  Mendez is only of medium height (5′ 9”), but he has terrific power in his arm.

“The Cuban Negro has a canny brain and he always has used it.  He has mixed his fastball with his slow one, has an assortment of beautiful curves and perfect control…Like Mathewson, he never pitches air-tight ball unless he has to.  He conserves his strength.  But when he needs to pitch hitless ball he does it.  When he needs to strike out a man he usually succeeds.”

Jose Mendez

Jose Mendez

Incredibly, a story about three pitchers who deserved notice by the major leagues written by an influential white sportswriter received barely a notice in the black press.

The Indianapolis Freeman ran the story with no further comment, and no mention of who wrote the original story, simply attributing it to The Indiana Daily Times which had run Menke’s piece.

The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier ignored the story entirely.  The New York Age didn’t mention Menke’s story, but the same week did make a pitch for black players—not with the positive portrayal of three great pitchers as Menke had done, but by highlighting the bad behavior of some major leaguers.

Lester Aglar Walton, who wrote about baseball and theater for The Age and later became the United States Ambassador to Liberia, said:

“(I)f baseball magnates are not color prejudiced can it be that they have misgivings as to how Negro players would conduct themselves on and off the field if permitted to play in the big leagues?  However, if this is their chief cause of concern and the stumbling block in the way of crack Negro players, big league managers should be reminded of the Ty Cobbs, Larry McLeans and others who have distinguished themselves by acts of ruffianism on and off the diamond.”

Lester Aglar Watson

Lester Aglar Watson

Walton related the story of McLean’s recent fight with Giants Manager John McGraw and coach “Sinister” Dick Kinsella in the Buckingham Hotel in St. Louis.

“(H)ad McLean been a colored player the incident in St. Louis would have brought about the disbarment of all Negroes from hotels in St. Louis—had a policy of accommodating Negroes existed.”

Larry McLean

Larry McLean

Walton also noted that when white teams met black teams on the field after the regular season, “The mixing of the races does not provoke racial conflicts and the best of feelings exist” among the players.

Then, he asked the men who owned major league clubs:

“The question is therefore put up to big league magnates that if the Indian with his dark skin and the Cuban are permitted to play in the big leagues, and if there is not the least possibility of the record for ruffianism established by the Ty Cobbs and Larry McLeans being eclipsed, why not give the Negro player a chance?”

As would be the case for three more decades, there was no reply.

“Another Phil Pitcher was Sacrificed on the altar of a Futile Attack”

6 Aug

When George Chalmers returned from Cuba with the Philadelphia Phillies in November of 1911 he wasn’t the same pitcher.

After pitching the first game of the series against Almendares and the great Cuban pitcher Jose Mendez, Chalmers saw little action in the final eight games.

While training in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the spring of 1912 it became clear that Chalmers’ shoulder was in bad shape.  The Philadelphia Inquirer said he was sent from Hot Springs to Youngstown, Ohio to “visit ‘Bonesetter’ Reese.” (John D. Reese was a Welsh-born “practitioner of alternative medicine.” The  “self trained”  Reese was, according to The Pittsburgh Press, visited by many of baseball’s biggest stars, including Frank Chance, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and John McGraw.  At the same time he was condemned by Ohio physicians who said there was no evidence of Reese “curing a single case where there was actual fracture or displacement of bone.”)

The famous “Bonesetter” was unable to do anything for Chalmers.  The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader said in April:

“It is reported on good authority that Chalmers, one of the Phillies star pitchers, will be unable to deliver the goods this season owing to the condition of his pitching arm.”

As a result of the injury Chalmers only appeared in 12 games in 1912, with a 3-4 record, and didn’t pitch at all from July 5 until September 4.   At the end of the season Phillies owner Horace Fogel, who would soon find himself chased out of the game, used Chalmers’ injury to suggest a change in how pitchers were paid.  According to The Philadelphia Bulletin:Ho

“Horace wants to employ pitchers on the percentage basis, paying them so much per game—no game, no pay.

“The Phillies President conceived the idea after he had figured that it had cost him an average of $800 per game for the few games pitched by George Chalmers during the present season.”

Phillies team photo from George Chalmers personal collection--appears to be the 1912 team.

Team photo from George Chalmers’ personal collection

The $800 per game figure was clearly wrong—Chalmers would have not earned anywhere near $9600 for the 1912 season (Christy Mathewson made between $8000 and $9000), Chalmers and “Pete” Alexander both probably made less than $3000.  It is doubtful Fogel’s plan would have gone anywhere had he remained president of the Phillies.

The following season was no better; with no improvement to the injured shoulder, Chalmers appeared in 26 games, 15 as a starter, and was 3-10 with 4.81 ERA.  It got so bad that after a loss near the end of the season The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader said:

“Our old friend ‘Dut’ Chalmers got another trimming yesterday.  It has gotten to be such a regular thing for Chalmers to be beaten that he doesn’t mind it anymore.”

Two of the Phillies best pitchers in 1913, Tom Seaton (27-12), and Addison “Ad” Brennan (14-12) jumped to the Federal League, making Chalmers and his injured shoulder even more critical to the Phillies hopes for 1914.

In March The Philadelphia Inquirer said Chalmers had spent the winter in Hot Springs rehabilitating his shoulder and appeared “to be in splendid shape,” when he reported to spring training in Wilmington, North Carolina, and “(Charles “Red”) Dooin is thanking his lucky stars that Chalmers is in camp.”

The season turned out to be Chalmers’ worst.  He pitched in three games, losing all three with an ERA of 5.50, and he Phillies released him on June 22.  The Inquirer said his shoulder had never healed and attributed the injury to “rheumatism and a misplaced muscle.”

George "Dut" Chalmers

George “Dut” Chalmers

The Pittsburgh Press said:

“The frailty of baseball life and the quickness with which a career in the big show may be ruined are shown again in the case of George Chalmers…Chalmers may recover and come back some time, but it is doubtful, and his going marks the untimely end of a career that promised to be one of the most brilliant in baseball pitching history.”

According to The Inquirer, he was not yet ready for the end:

“Chalmers…had mighty little money, about $400 in all, and his best friends advised him to stick the little old four hundred into some good business and forget baseball…Good doctors had told George that his arm was gone.  Other pitchers, real friends of the Phillies star, had told him the same thing…Then he heard of a specialist in New York who had done a great job on another pitcher’s arm which had seemed to be gone (no articles mentioned the name of the specialist or the other pitcher).”

With his arm seemingly better, Chalmers was invited to spring training with John McGraw’s New York Giants in Marlin, Texas.  The New York Mail said “he looked good at Marlin,” but the Giants let him go before the season began.  On April 20 he was signed again by the Phillies, and sent out to pitch the next day.  The Inquirer said:

 “George Chalmers, once a Philly discard and lately spurned by the Giants, with whom he trained during the spring trip to the Southland, was the hero of today’s festive occasion for Philadelphia.  Chalmers had been without a big league contract and he was signed by (manager Pat) Moran only yesterday.  But he gave him a quick trial by shunting him at the Giants, and he showed his gratitude to the Quaker boss by pitching the best game of his career.”

Chalmers gave up only two hits and beat the Giants 6-1.

As the Phillies fifth starter in 1915 he was 8-9 with a 2.48 ERA, appearing in 26 games.  Jack Kofoed, a sportswriter for The Philadelphia Record said in “Baseball Magazine”that Chalmers’ record did not reflect how well he pitched:

“Throughout the season Chalmers twirled splendid ball, but played in tougher luck than any man on the Philly staff.  Had fate been as kind to him as to Al Demaree (14-11 3.05 ERA) , for instance, he would have won twice the number of games he did.  But the Phillies played more weird ball behind him than in back of any man on the staff.”

The Phillies won the National League pennant, and met the Boston Red Sox in the World Series.  With Philadelphia down two games to one, Chalmers was Moran’s choice to pitch game four in Boston.

Facing Ernie Shore, who won 19 games for the Red Sox, Chalmers pitched well, but lost 2-1 (the same score of Philadelphia’s losses Geo 2 and 3); The Inquirer said:

“Another Phil pitcher was sacrificed on the altar of a futile attack…through the futile efforts of his companions to obtain for him even the slender margin that was all he required.”

The Red Sox beat the Phillies four games to one.

In November of 1915 several Pennsylvania papers said Chalmers had used his “World Series coin as a matrimonial nest egg.”

The following season was his last.  The shoulder injury returned and the Phillies only used Chalmers in 12 games, he was 1-4 with a 3.19 ERA.  He did not appear in a game after August 7, and was released at the end of the season.  After an unsuccessful attempt to catch on with the Kansas City Blues in the American Association in 1917 Chalmers career was over before his 29th birthday.

In the waning days of his career, The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader said:

“’Dut,’ as George is called by his playmates is a fine, upstanding, intelligent young fellow, with all the sturdy Scotch virtues as well as a Scotch burr in his speech, and whether or not he lasts in baseball he is very likely to be successful in life.”

Chalmers retired to New York and died in the Bronx in 1960.

Special thanks to Karen Weiss, George Chalmers’ great niece, for generously providing copies of photos from Mr. Chalmers’ scrapbook.

George Chalmers

5 Aug

George “Dut” Chalmers is one of only seven big league players born in Scotland.  He came to New York City as a young child and, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer “his baseball education was begun” with the Bradhurst Field Club which played their games at 145th and Lenox Avenue.  He also played on amateur teams in Hoboken, New Jersey and Red Hook, Brooklyn.

After attending Manhattan College, Chalmers began his professional career in 1909 with the Scranton Miners in the New York State League, managed by Gus ZeimerThe Sporting Life said:

“In George Chalmers, the giant young Manhattan College grad, Zeimer has landed what looks to be the prize-package pitcher of the league.   His work has been sensational.”

There are no complete statistics for 1909, but the following season the 22-year-old Chalmers was 25-6 for Scranton; finishing second in victories to 23-year-old Syracuse Stars pitcher Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander who was 29-11.

The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader said Chalmers:

“Looks like one of the very best in the minor leagues, having a major league head and everything in the pitching line, including fine control and a spitball.”

At the end of the 1910 season the Philadelphia Phillies acquired both of the New York League’s star pitchers; Chalmers was purchased, for either $3000 or $4000, depending on the source, and Alexander was obtained through the Rule 5 Draft.

Both rookies made the club after spring training in Birmingham, Alabama.  Six years later The Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger said of Chalmers’ first days with the 1911 Phillies:

“Chalmers came with an elaborate trousseau, together with lots of pinch neckwear and considerable toggery that aroused the brunette population of Birmingham to deep, empurpled envy. “

chalmersasadude

George Chalmers, left, with teammate Alonzo Earl “Crossfire” Moore Displaying the style “that aroused the brunette population of Birmingham to deep, empurpled envy. “
Caption reads “Chalmers as a Dude.”  Photo from Chalmers’ personal scrapbook.

In addition to his fashion sense, Chalmers also impressed the Phillies with his pitching ability.

While Alexander got off to a great start, Chalmers started slow, but after back-to-back victories in July, Phillies manager and catcher Charles “Red” Dooin told The Philadelphia Times:

“That youngster is a great twirler.  You know they told me up in the New York League that Chalmers was a better pitcher than Alexander.

“Of course this is impossible because I think that ‘Alex’ is the greatest pitcher that ever drew breath, but I am going to say there’s not a club in either league which could beat the ball Chalmers has pitched for the last two weeks.

“I think I have another Alexander in Chalmers and if he don’t make good prediction I will say that he lacks the nerve and nothing else.  Chalmers has more stuff than Matty (Christy Mathewson) had.  He needs the experience and knowledge of batsmen, but aside from that he is the best young twirler I have ever seen excepting Alex.”

A syndicated story from The American Press Association said Chalmers had given up other sports for baseball:

“George Chalmers, one of the pitching sensations of the Philadelphia National League team, is a motorcycle rider as well as a box artist.  Before he joined the Phillies Chalmers occasionally picked up a little spare change acting as a pacemaker for Elmer Collins, the bicycle rider.  Chalmers has paced Collins several times in the latter’s races against Bobby Walthour.  Chalmers, however, doesn’t intend riding any more.  He fears a spill that might injure his arm and affect his pitching.

“Chalmers at one time had an ambition to become an automobile race driver.  He gave up this notion when he got his chance to join Philadelphia.  The big right-hand pitcher is not sorry that he sidetracked that ambition, for his pitching now is yielding him a healthy income.”

While he was overshadowed by Alexander, who was 28-13 with a 2.57 ERA, Chalmers had a respectable rookie season posting a 13-10 record with a 3.11 ERA.

In September it was announced that the Phillies would travel to Cuba for a 12-game series with the Almendares and Havana teams in November.  As the October 31 departure date drew near it became clear that, for a variety of reasons, many of the Phillies would not be making the trip.  Most notably Alexander, locked in a contract dispute, and Dooin would remain at home.

Besides Chalmers, the players who made the trip were:

Wallace “Toots” Shultz P

Eddie Stack P

Bill Killefer C

Fred Luderus 1B

Otto Knabe 2B

Hans Lobert 3B/MGR

Jimmy Walsh SS

Sherry Magee OF

Mike Mitchell OF (Borrowed from Cincinnati Reds)

Dick Cotter OF

Chalmers and his Phillies teammates on the beach in Havana, Cuba

Chalmers and his Phillies teammates.  Caption reads “In the surf Havana Cuba”
Photo from Chalmers’ personal scrapbook.

The first game of the series, reduced from 12 to nine games because of the Phillies’ limited roster, took place on November 5.  Chalmers faced Almendares and Cuban legend Jose Mendez; the Phillies lost 3-1.  It is likely Chalmers hurt his arm during the series; he did not start another game, and Schultz picked up the slack, pitching six games, he was credited with the victory in the five games the Phillies won.

Upon returning to Key West the last week of November, Chalmers was briefly detained by authorities. The Philadelphia Times said the ship’s manifest listed Chalmers as American, but:

“On arrival in the states when he had to sign a long paper of identification, he told the officials that he was Scotch and never naturalized…Chalmers was reprimanded and the ship company was fined for carelessness”

Heading into the 1912 season The Philadelphia Times, and the second year pitcher, had high hopes:

“Chalmers is young and has every confidence in himself.  He is big and strong and is a perfect running mate for Alexander the Great.”

But the George Chalmers who returned from Cuba would never be the same pitcher.

More tomorrow.

Special thanks to Karen Weiss, George Chalmers’ great niece, for generously providing copies of photos from Mr. Chalmers’ scrapbook.

Thanks to Mark Fimoff co-chair SABR Pictorial History Committee for identifying Earl Moore in the first picture and correcting my incorrect, original caption placing Chalmers on the right–the information has been corrected in the caption.  October 18, 2013

Adventures in Barnstorming—Fake Cuban Stars

27 Mar

One of the pitfalls when trying to book a famous barnstorming team to play your local club was making sure you were actually getting what you thought you were getting.

Fake House of David teams crisscrossed the country for years; there were reports of fake Negro League teams and fake versions of the Nebraska Indians.  Most made an attempt to field a competitive team who could at least pass for the team they were fraudulently representing;  some didn’t even bother.

Charles A. Mills thought he was getting the authentic Cuban Stars for a May 1910 game against his St. Louis Giants; the Cubans roster included the great pitcher Jose Mendez, and well-known players like pitcher-outfielder Luis Padron, first baseman Augustin “Tinti” Molina and shortstop Luis Bustamante.

None of them arrived in St. Louis.

Jose Mendez

Jose Mendez

The Freeman said:

“Much talk is going the rounds over the way in which the management of the St. Louis Giants were deceived by a bunch of get-rich-quick schemers, who claimed to be the real Cuban Stars, when in fact there was not a Cuban in the club.”

More than thirty-six-hundred fans came to Kuebler’s Field to see the famous barnstormers play the hometown team, but:

“Mr. C.L. East, advance agent for the supposed Cubans, brought to the city a set of misfits to fool the public and get the money.”

The Freeman insisted that Mills, who bore the brunt of the reaction from angry fans, was an innocent victim of a scam and that the impostors were “in no way the fault of the St. Louis Giants.’”

Mills called it a “high-handed game to defraud the public,” an “unpleasant occurrence that has caused (The Giants) to be unjustly criticised (sic) by some of our best followers.”

There is no record of the outcome of the game or a mention of whether the game was even completed.

The legitimate Cuban Stars, with Mendez, played in St. Louis the following year.

Luis Bustamante

Luis Bustamante