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Cuban Giants

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  • #16
    I've recently exchanged more than a few emails with TonyK and I must say he is on top of the subject of the Cuban Giants. His collective archives and insight helped my project myopic immensely. If there is a question pertaining to the Cubans, it's a good idea to seek Tony's advice first.

    Box scores or jst scores are always needed, as this is a huge topic with some difficulty tracking the club's movements.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-30-2011, 12:59 PM.


    • #17
      I've reached my first goal of 500 box scores of Cuban Giants & Cuban X-Giants games between 1885 to 1897. I'm always interested in help with hard to find games in New England, NY State, NJ, PA, and Washington DC. When I get to the 1,000 game mark I'll have a good idea what the careers of Frank Grant, Andrew Jackson, Clarence Williams, William Selden, and John Nelson, to name a few, really looked like.

      But we still do not know when the team's first game was played or who their opponent was. We don't know what years they went to Cuba or what their record was down there.

      My focus is on recording their team and individual records and sharing them with SABR's Negro Leagues Committee. That ensures all future baseball fans will have access to information about the Cuban Giants. Eventually I will try to publish articles detailing their exploits, their clowning days, and their experiences with bigotry. It is a fascinating subject and one I believe will interest many of today's baseball fans.
      "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
      "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


      • #18
        1885 Cuban Giants Revisited

        If you google "Cuban Giants" chances are you will learn:

        1. Frank Thompson, Argyle Hotel headwaiter, formed a team of black waiters in 1885 who successful defeated several Long Island baseball teams.
        2. When the hotel season ended, the team journeyed south under Manager S. K. Govern. After defeating the Philadelphia Orions, the team signed the best three Orions to contracts and became the Cuban Giants.
        3. The team name originated either from the merger of three black teams into one powerful club, or because they wished to hide the fact they were black. The players were said to speak gibberish to each other on the ball field while pretending to be Cuban.

        But if you look a wee bit closer at newspaper reports from 1885 you learn a different story:

        1. "Sporting Life" April 29, 1885: "The Athletic Base Ball Club, organized last summer at Babylon L.I., and managed by Mr. Frank P. Thompson, of that city, has, during the winter, been continued at Sr. Augustine, Florida. The members were waiters at the San Marco Hotel, and nearly all belong in Philadelphia."
        (The paper noted the team's successful 1884 summer campaign and losing only a single game in Florida during the winter)
        2. "Sporting Life" July 1, 1885: "A very interesting game of baseball was played on the Argyle Hotel Base Ball Grounds, Babylon, on June 25 between the Wawas and six players of the Keystone Athletic Base Ball Club."
        (The Keystone Athletic Base Ball Club was from Philadelphia and began the 1885 season around May 1st in Philadelphia. Research is needed to find out more about the team's movements besides a June 1st loss to the Harrowgates. The Argyle Hotel did not open up in 1885 until June 10th.
        3. "Trenton Times" September 2, 1885, courtesy Brian McKenna: "John Lang of Philadelphia, has organized and will manage a colored base ball club, to be known as Lang's Colored Giants. They take their name from the fact that all the players are nearly six feet in height."
        "Lock Haven Daily Democrat" September 19, 1885: "The next game in this place will be played on Thursday, the 24th, when the celebrated colored club, Lang's Cuban Giants, will be the visitors."
        "Scorecard from September 22, 1885 Cuban Giants vs Williamsport game" The team name is recorded as the Cuban Giants of Philadelphia.
        "Sporting Life" October 1885: "On the 22d a colored club from Philadelphia, known as Lang's Cuban Giants and composed mainly of players from the Orion Club, was defeated by 18 to 2."

        Little by little the puzzle pieces are joining together to try and make sense of what really happened. After 126 years we still don't know when the first Cuban Giants game was played, and if the Orions obtained players from the Keystone Athletics, or was it the other way around? The "New York Sun" reported the Cuban Giants team was made up of Philadelphia, Trenton, and Long Branch, NJ players. We know nothing about the 1884 season of the team that played at the Argyle Hotel Grounds, and next to nothing about the team that played for the San Marco Hotel during the winter of 1884/1885.

        I hope to find out when the Keystones returned to Philadelphia in August or September of 1885. Finding the box score of their game with the Orions will reveal the future Cuban Giants on each of the teams. And what was John Lang's role on the team named after him? The origin of the Cuban Giants is as much a mystery today as it was when Jerry Malloy first researched it.


        Tony Kissel
        "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
        "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


        • #19
          It's Black History Month" so I'll try to present some new findings for you.

          We may never know when the team was offically named the Cuban Giants. I have read 19 primary source newspapers from 1885 so I have a few conclusions of my own. John Lang of Philadelphia financed the team and arranged a schedule of games throughout Pennsylvania, New York City, Brunswick,NJ, and Bridgeport, CT. The earliest team names I have encountered are "Lang's Colored Giants" and "The Colored Cuban Giants of Philadelphia."

          I expect newspapers weren't thrilled with the elongated second name so they abbreviated it as the Cuban Giants, but added the team was a colored team. John Lang was with the team in early September of 1885, but I do not know if he was still with them one month later when they played the New York and Philadelphia American Association teams. Some reports describe the Cuban Giants as "the champion colored base ball club," "the celebrated colored club," and "the crack colored team of the United States." (The Cubes were never shy when it came to promoting themselves to the white press)

          But the Philadelphia Record considered this new club to be the Philadelphia Orions team reorganized. The October 11th, 1885 edition noted that the Giants were "made up principally of the players of the Orion club." The September 22nd, 1885 box score of the Williamsport game shows the first four hitters as former Orions. You would think that at least one of the many Philadelphia newspapers would have written a story about the new colored team from their city. Or provided a box score or two of Cuban Giants games like the one played in Philadelphia against the major league Athletics.

          Sadly this was not the case.

          In 1886 the Cuban Giants played home games in Trenton and one of the first things Mr. Cook did as owner was to rename the team the Trentons. But the stubborn press continued to use the Cuban Giants name whenever possible.
          "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
          "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


          • #20
            You most likely have these 2 teams of 1905 and 1906 the Cuban Giants..but will pass them on.
            Attached Files


            • #21
              Originally posted by Dto7 View Post
              You most likely have these 2 teams of 1905 and 1906 the Cuban Giants..but will pass them on.

              Thanks and I have seen these photos before. The caption saying "Organized in 1883" is wrong. By 1906 the Cuban Giants were no longer the premier black team.

              Owner/Manager John M. Bright kept the team going from 1886 or 1887 to 1913 when he passed away. He witnessed discrimination, racism, and plenty of barriers put up by organized baseball to prevent black ballplayers from playing in white leagues. At times Bright went on the field and took the place of a racist umpire or took his players off the field in protest.
              "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
              "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


              • #22
                1891 Cuban Giants Roster:

                Frank Grant
                Sol White
                Clarence Williams
                George Stovey
                William Jackson
                John Nelson
                Jack Frye
                Ben Boyd
                Bob Jackson
                George Douglass
                Frank Bell
                George Barton
                Windsor Terrill
                George Evans
                Ed Chamberlain
                Frank Miller
                Eddie Day
                ? Mulcahy
                ? Watkins
                Charles Brown
                ? Stanton
                Jim Malson
                Harry Cato
                George Freeman
                Henry Gant
                Billy Whyte
                ? Gifford
                Ben Holmes
                Job Trusty
                Nat Collins
                Abe Harrison
                ? Paige
                Ambrose Davis
                ? Cook
                ? Baker
                Yeoman Fisher
                ? Fager
                ? Lovill
                ? Robinson
                ? Paul

                Note: Several players were also with the 1891 Gorhams. I suspect Mulcahy was a white semi-pro player on loan by Owner J.M. Bright from his Jersey Blues team for one game on Sept. 13th.
                "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                • #23
                  1885 Cuban Giants Roster:

                  Ben Boyd
                  Abe Harrison
                  Ben Holmes
                  George Jackson
                  John Oliver
                  George Parego
                  Andrew Payne
                  Andrew Randolph
                  G. Shadney
                  Art Thomas
                  Shep Trusty
                  Billy Whyte
                  Clarence Williams
                  George Williams

                  Former Philadelphia Orions: Harrison, Jackson, Trusty, G. Williams, Payne
                  Former Keystone Athletics of Philadelphia and Babylon, NY: Boyd, Holmes, Parego, Randolph
                  Former Washington Manhattans: Boyd, Holmes, Thomas
                  Billy Whyte: Boston Resolutes
                  Clarence Williams: Williamsport
                  Unknown: Oliver, Shadney (Oliver might have been a player on the Brooklyn Remsens)
                  Last edited by TonyK; 09-20-2015, 06:02 PM. Reason: Update.
                  "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                  "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                  • #24
                    The first No-Hitter by a Cuban Giant was on July 9, 1889. William Selden no-hit Bordentown, PA in a 2-0 victory, walking two batters and striking out three.

                    He followed it up the next day with four innings pitched in relief in a loss to Burlington, NJ.
                    "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                    "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                    • #25
                      Looking at the Pottsville Daily Republican of September 30, 1885, I came across this tidbit from the Mahanoy City Correspondent:

                      "Manager Lang skipped the town on Sunday, leaving his base ball players in the lurch. The "Giants" threaten to do him up if they meet him around Lombard Street."

                      Lang's Cuban Giants played Mahanoy City on Saturday, September 26th, 1885, and the Giants earned a sizable portion of the gate as the crowd was large. They had a 5-2 record on this tour of Central PA, and these funds may have come at the right time. John Lang might have been desparate for money and not willing to wait until his Giants played New York and Philadelphia in a few weeks.

                      The picture I see is the Giants wake up on a Sunday morning and discover that their white owner and promoter has left town with all of their money. They proceed with the remainder of their schedule under the guidance of S. K. Govern and some head south to St. Augustine, FL to play ball in the winter.

                      The team name is shortened to the Cuban Giants, and by 1887, John Lang's name is never even mentioned in an interview in a black newspaper about the origins of the team. Nor are the team names Colored Giants and Colored Cuban Giants. Since the original names include the word Colored, it leads me to believe they never tried to pass themselves off as Cuban.

                      Lang must have been left wondering what a fool he was to abandon the team.
                      "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                      "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                      • #26
                        New York World, May 13, 1892: Mike King Kelly, catcher for Boston: "New York is the Cuban Giants whitewashed."

                        New York Herald, May 30, 1892: St. Louis Owner Chris Von Der Ahe: "I will trade you all for dem Cuban Giants."

                        Sporting Life, July 30, 1892: Correspondent: "I think the Cuban Giants could do the Bostons just about this time."
                        Last edited by TonyK; 10-27-2012, 01:55 PM.
                        "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                        "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                        • #27
                          I received a newspaper article which lists the Cuban Giants game by game record for the 1887 season...107 wins and 54 losses and 4 ties...a total of 165 games played. They scored more than 1,300 runs. Many games played against ML and minor league teams. The article claimed they were the best independent club in America. I'll provide more details later on.
                          "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                          "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                          • #28
                            In early October of 1887, Owner J. M. Bright took his Cuban Giants to watch the NY - PHILA National League game on a day off. Although the Cuban Giants lost to NY twice that season and tied them once, they did have six wins against NL and AA teams. Was this a scouting trip, or a visit to show the ML's there was a good black team wishing to play ML ball, or merely a reward for the players?
                            "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                            "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."


                            • #29
                              Tentative Cuban Giants record against minor league teams between 1885 and 1897: 62-87

                              The Cuban Giants record as a team in three minor leagues from 1889 to 1891: 103-40-1

                              The 1894 Cuban Giants had a 12-5 record against minor league teams and a 13-9 victory over the St. Louis NL team. They won 8 games in a row against minor league opponents.
                              "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                              "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."