October 23, 2020

THE 1944 MEXICAN LEAGUE SEASON

September 26, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

First and foremost, special thanks to John Russell and Steve Peissig, who provided rare Mexican League guides that enabled us to have FIELDING stats for the 1944 Mexican League and, 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.

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