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1887 Cuban Giants Record vs Major League Teams

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  • 1887 Cuban Giants Record vs Major League Teams

    In 1887, the Cuban Giants black team faced Major League teams 18 times in exhibition games in Trenton, NJ or at the Major League team's ballparks. The Giants overall won-loss record in these games was 6-11-1. I discount one 16-0 victory over the Philadelphia (AA) team on May 3rd, 1887, for the major league team brought only spare pitchers and a catcher or two to Trenton that day while their real club was playing in another city. A lineup consisting of only pitchers is in my view not a major league lineup. That gives the Cuban Giants a 5-11-1 record vs ML teams in 1887.

    So what does this tell us 125 years later?

    Had the Cubes faced top flight ML pitchers it might have told us a lot. Other than the famous 8-4 loss to Detroit on May 25th against 29-game winner Getzein, the Giants typically faced a rookie pitcher or a pitcher who won seven or less games that season. Four of their losses were by more than 10 runs and the Major League team reportedly took it easy on them. The glaring weakness the 1887 great black team had was starting pitching. ML teams feasted on their tosses to the tune of 17, 15, 20, 12, 10, 19, 13 19, 13, and 14 hits in 10 of these games.

    But the Giants demonstrated ability to hit Major League pitching in almost every game. Managing four runs off Getzein was significant as was scoring 11 runs each in games with Indianapolis and New York. The Giants defeated New York, Cincinnati(twice), Baltimore, and Indianapolis.

    This was the same season that St. Louis failed to show up for a game with the Cuban Giants after defeating the Giants back in 1886. The Cubes eventually would meet St. Louis again in 1894, and defeat them by a score of 13-9.

    Major League Baseball clearly had a good idea of the talent of black ballplayers in 1887. O. P. Caylor would later write that black ballplayers were not in the major leagues due to ability and not because of race, yet the New York team he managed in 1887 lost to the Cuban Giants 11-4 on May 6th, when Caylor was no longer managing.

    Still the Giants faced numerous obstacles including the usual excuses that the Major League team they had defeated was exhausted, or not giving 100%, or sitting down injured starters that day.

    Several Cuban Giant players would go on to play in 20 or more exhibition games against Major League teams during their careers and do very well in these contests. How many of them expected to get their chance to someday play in the major leagues?
    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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