Armando Marsans

Marsans was not the first Cuban in the major leagues, but he was the first successful and highly popular one. Half black, he was light-skinned enough to cross baseball’s rigid color line, and could be considered the first black in 20th-century major league ball. He was discovered by Clark Griffith, Cincinnati manager and the principal exploiter of the world of inexpensive Latino players. A swift outfielder, Marsans could also play the infield when needed. Though only an average hitter, he was an audacious baserunner. His slide was a thing of beauty. He was also an early challenger of baseball’s restrictive contracts, giving Cincinnati ten days’ notice in 1914 and jumping to the Federal League. An injunction barring him from playing for the St. Louis Feds was eventually dismissed, but by the time he was free to play again, he was nearing the end of the trail.