A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006

From BR Bullpen

Written by Peter Bjarkman and originally published in 2007, A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006 provides information on every season in the Cuban Winter League and Cuban Serie Nacional through 2005. It covers the performance of the Cuban national team in every major international tournament since the 1930s. The book includes detailed biographies of Cuban baseball legends such as Martin Dihigo, Dolf Luque, Connie Marrero, Omar Linares as well as shorter biographies of Cuban major leaguers, Cuban Serie Nacional and national team stars and Cuban defectors. Not a comprehensive statistical work as it focuses primarily on history, the book does provide career statistics for many of the players detailed.

Downsides of the book include:

  • Inconsistency/lack of fact-checking: On page 127, it claims the 1960-1961 Cuban Winter League season was the first without North American players since the 19th Century. On page 101, though, it had stated that it was the first time since 1910. And on page 91, it says there were no North American players in the league in 1917
  • Hyperbole. Max Lanier, a two-time All-Star with a 125 career ERA+ and four times in the NL top 10 is called a journeyman. The book repeatedly tries to claim that Dolf Luque is considered only as a character, not as a star pitcher, when Luque received Hall of Fame votes nine different years. The author says that Orlando Hernandez and Minnie Minoso are "easily the two most recognizable Cubans ever" in the majors, a claim many would dispute due to other options that jump to mind.
  • Errors. It is stated that no one has ever hit higher than Luis Padron's .463 in any Cuban league (pg. 110) but on pg. 293, Osmani Urrutia is listed with a .469 average one year. The book says that only Cubans Cesar Tovar and Bert Campaneris played every position in a MLB game but Scott Sheldon had done so as well. Additionally, Tovar is not even Cuban. On pg. 262, it is claimed that Nicaragua's David Green was considered for a throwing competition against Roberto Clemente and Armando Capiro in 1972 - but Green was only 12 years old at the time, making it highly unlikely.

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