First and foremost, special thanks to Steve Peissig, who provided FIELDING stats for the 1944 Mexican League, which makes this the most statistically complete Mexican League season we’ve released to date. Also, this helped us to, for the first time, split out playing records for players who played for more than one team.
For the 1944 Mexican League season, the league again featured only 6 teams. The Union Laguna team based in Torreon, which had finished only ½ game out of first place in 1943, was replaced by a new La Junta club in Nuevo Laredo. This was a different “franchise” from the 1940 La Junta de Nuevo Laredo. Out of the 138 league players, 34 were “Negro Leaguers” in at least one other season. The World War seems to have impacted the number of Negro League imports. Martin Dihigo, Willie Wells, Chet Brewer, Quincy Trouppe, Wild Bill Wright and Silvio Garcia were some of the biggest names who went south of the border.
But the biggest news may have been who Azules de Veracruz hired as their manager – Rogers Hornsby. The 48-year-old Hornsby only lasted a couple of weeks before he quit, but during that time he put himself at bat in two games, resulting in a double, a walk, and 3 RBI’s. This is the last known professional hit for the Hall of Famer.
The pennant race was close in 1944, with Azules de Veracruz, even without Hornsby, able to finish on top, 2 games ahead of Industriales de Monterrey, and 2 ½ ahead of Pericos de Puebla. Veracruz was led by Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Ramon Bragana, who in addition to taking over managerial duties from Hornsby, went 30-8 on the mound, pitching an incredible 325 innings in a 90-game schedule. Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Lazaro Salazar of Monterrey had a great two-way season, going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and hitting .379/.495/.498 as a 1st baseman. And like Bragana, he also managed the team. Cuban outfielder Alberto Hernandez of Pueblo lead the league with a .395 batting average. Cuban born catcher Salvador ‘Chico’ Hernandez, fresh off 2 years as a backup for the Chicago Cubs, caught all 91 games for Veracruz while hitting .305/.398/.501. Also of note, 20 year old Roberto ‘Bobby’ Avila, after struggling as a 19 year old rookie in 1943, had a breakout year, finishing 6th in batting average and leading the league in triples.
Database Notes: Additional games have also been added to the database for the 1947 Negro Leagues season. Coming up will be the 1945 Mexican League season, 1924 ECL fielding & complete pitching stats, 1939 NNL & NAL fielding & complete pitching stats, more games between Negro league teams and white majors & minors, and more Cuban League seasons.
A brief note on an update we made a few weeks ago. We have added:
2) 1921 games between Black teams and a very good white semiprofessional team, Jeff Tesreau’s New York Bears. Playing their home games in Harlem’s Dyckman Oval, the Bears featured a number of former or future major leaguers (Tesreau himself, Larry Doyle, Manuel Cueto, Herb Kelly, Curtis Fullerton, Paddy Smith), minor leaguers (Bobby Crowell, Tommy Taguer, Paul Dietz) and well-known New York-area semipros (the brothers Willie & Frank Kelleher, George “Shorty” Page, Cy Curran). The Bears, probably the equivalent of a good minor league team, went 20-17-4 against Black teams in 1921.
Coming up: 1924 ECL fielding & complete pitching stats, 1939 NNL & NAL fielding & complete pitching stats, more games between Negro league teams and white majors & minors, more Mexican League & Cuban League seasons.
We’ve added data from the 1942 Mexican League, a season of 84-88 games that finished with three teams within two games of first place. Union Laguna de Torreon posted the best record (48-40) thanks to Martin Dihigo, who proved why he’s one of the greatest players in baseball history.
The 37-year-old Dihigo not only led the team in hitting with a 144 OPS+, but he pitched in a career-high 35 games, went 22-7 with a 2.53 ERA, and was the best pitcher in the league. Not surprisingly, another all-time great–Monte Irvin –was the league’s best hitter and enjoyed a season that would have made Ted Williams envious. In 63 games, the young shortstop slashed .397/.502/.772 with 20 homers, 79 RBIs, 74 runs, and 11 stolen bases. Add in his time with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League and his numbers become even more impressive–.412/.508/.792 with 21 homers, 90 RBIs, and 81 runs in 67 games.
We also see Quincy Trouppe having a very strong season in his prime, perhaps solidifying himself as one of the top 5 Negro League catchers all-time.
In addition we added new box scores and new data for 1938, two box scores for 1928, three for 1933, and as always, additional biographical data uncovered by Seamheads Lead Researcher Gary Ashwill.
Later this year, we plan on adding fielding and various secondary statistics (pitchers’ HRs allowed, HBP for batters, etc.) to Negro League seasons where they are not complete, plus many Latin American seasons (Mexico 1943-1954, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela), as well as the California Winter League, Negro leagues vs. minor league games, the ManDak League, the Negro leagues after 1948, perhaps the Provincial League, and a lot more.