How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball
by Adrian Burgos, Jr.
A Baseball Book Review
Cuban Star is the story of Alejandro “Alex” Pompez, a baseball Hall-of-Famer who played major roles in the Negro Leagues and in the integration of major league baseball.
Pompez was born in 1890 in Key West, Florida to immigrants who had fled the Spanish colonial regime in Cuba. Pompez’ father was active in the fight for Cuban independence, and this book explains the importance of “beisbol” as a symbol of the resistance struggle against the Spanish and as a means of raising funds to support the 1890’s revolution.
Pompez lived in Key West and in Tampa before moving to Harlem as a young man. He built a business empire that included “running the numbers” as well as promoting sporting events, including his New York “Cubans” ball club. He was instrumental in bringing many darker-skinned Latinos into the Negro Leagues. As integration gradually destroyed the Negro leagues in the late 40’s to early 50’s, Pompez re-invented himself as a “super-scout” for the New York/SF Giants. In that role, he served as both recruiter and mentor for the first wave of dark-skinned Latins joining organized baseball.
This book paints a story of baseball integration that is very different from the well-known version featuring Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Alex Pompez was at the center of that integration story, especially as it involved the Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans that entered baseball in the 1950-60s. It’s a compelling and informative story that should be of interest to SABR members.
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Book: Cuban Star – How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball
Author: Adrian Burgos, Jr.
Author’s Credentials: Burgos is a professor of history at the University of Illinois. His previous book on baseball is Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line. His work has also been featured in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as on ESPN.
Published: 2011, Hill and Wang; ISBN: 978-0-8090-9479-0.
Length: 302 pages.
Price: Retail list – $28.00; Online – from $2.00 (used) + shipping.