Rafael D. Almeida
(Mike or The Matador)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 164 lb.
- Debut July 4, 1911
- Final Game July 18, 1913
- Born July 30, 1887 in Havana, Cuba
- Died March 19, 1968 in Havana, Cuba
Rafael Almeida was one of the first major leaguers from Cuba (after Cuba became independent from Spain), alongside Armando Marsans; they debuted on the same day. Marsans was Almeida's interpreter during his 1911 tryout with the Cincinnati Reds and ended up trying out as well. Almeida's habit of doffing his cap and bowing to the pitcher then bowing to the stands whenever he stepped up to the plate prompted his fellow Reds to call him "The Matador". Almeida also played for Cuban teams in the Negro Leagues, making him one of those rare players to appear in the majors and Negro Leagues prior to Jackie Robinson. Almeida was the second person to manage the Cuban national team, guiding them to Gold in the 1930 Central American Games.
"Mike", as he was sometimes called, also played in the minors for New Britain, Birmingham, Scranton and Montreal. In the winter of 1912-13, he managed the Almendares team in Cuba. One source says he played 17 seasons in winter ball in Cuba. As of 1914, Sporting Life said that Almeida lived on income from his property in Havana.
Almeida was among the first group of players inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He died in Havana in 1968.