Position: Outfielder; Pitcher; Infielder; Catcher; Manager
Teams: Cuban Stars, Homestead Grays, Philadelphia Hilldales, Baltimore Black Sox, New York Cubans, 1923-1945
Since the Negro League teams obtained such slender profit margins, often teams carried only 14 to 18 players. The most valuable player to a team was usually the one who could play several positions adequately. Martin Dihigo could pitch and play all the infield and outfield positions at an All-Star quality level.
Martin Dihigo was the first Cuban to be
selected to the Hall of Fame.
Born in Matanzas, Cuba, Martin Dihigo (1905-1971) began his pro career in 1923 in the Cuban Winter League as a 17-year-old strong-armed but weak-hitting outfielder. There is a legend that he won a distance-throwing contest against a jai alai player who was allowed to use his wicker-basket cesta. He is compared very favorably to Roberto Clemente by those who saw both players throw from the outfield.
Like the American-born Negro League players, Martin crossed and recrossed the 90 miles of water between the two countries to play his trade; he also played in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Venezuela. From the time he came to America in 1923 through 1936, he made only occasional forays to the pitching mound, having some success.
Dihigo pitched more often when he was in the Latin American countries. His pitching stats include an 18-2 record and an 0.90 ERA in 1938, and a 22-7 record and a 2.53 ERA in 1942. He twirled the first no-hitter in Mexican League history. According to records (albeit unsubstantiated records) found by historians thus far, he probably won 256 games while dropping only 136.
From his early troubles at the plate, Martin developed into a great hitter by age 20. He made his lasting impression with his bat in the United States. He was a fine hitter -- he hit over .400 three times and led two different leagues in batting average -- and he hit a 500-foot round-tripper in Pittsburgh in 1936.
At a substantial 210 pounds, Dihigo led his league in homers at least twice, in 1926 and in 1935. He used his strong arm to toss runners out at home plate with frightening regularity.
He posted a .316 career batting average in the Negro Leagues. He often left the outfield to pitch relief, especially when he was managing. Dihigo was a manager for the New York Cubans, in Mexico, and in Cuba until 1950. He also played all nine positions in one game on several occasions.
After his retirement, Dihigo became a broadcaster and the Minister of Sport in Cuba. He died in 1971 one of Latin America’s most admired players. Martin, the only player to be in the Cuban, Mexican, and American halls of fame, was inducted in Cooperstown in 1977.
Here are Martin Dihigo's negro league totals*:
|.316||415||1,435 ||453||53 ||18||64||32|
|W||L ||G ||CG ||IP||H ||BB||SO|
| 27||21 ||50 ||32 ||309 ||235 ||61 ||126 |
*Note: Dihigo's career statistics are incomplete.
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