Martin Dihigo

Martin Dihigo, a 6’3″ 210-lb righthanded Cuban, was one of the most versatile players of all time. His incredible skills gained him the unique honor of being elected to the Mexican, Cuban, and American Halls of Fame. Endowed with great speed and an exceptionally strong arm, Dihigo was a star performer at every position.

Dihigo began his American career in 1923 at the age of 18, playing first base with the touring Cuban Stars. He played in America from 1923 until 1936. After 1936 he played his summer ball in Mexico, except in 1945 when he was the player-manager of the New York Cubans. He reportedly continued to play in the Mexican Leagues until the 1950s, although his statistics are available only through 1947.

Statistics documenting Dihigo’s American career exist for 1923-31, 1935-36, and 1945. In those 12 years, Dihigo hit over .300 six times, including .325 in 1926 with a league-leading 11 home runs in 40 games, and .333 in 1935 with a league-leading 9 home runs in 42 games. His overall American statistics show a .295 career batting average and a 6-1 record as a pitcher in 1931.

Dihigo was primarily a pitcher in Latin America, where he was known for his blazing fastball. His Mexican League totals show a lifetime .317 batting average in 10 seasons (1937-44, 1946-47), including a league-leading .387 in 1938. He was 119-57 as a pitcher in Mexico, going 18-2 with a 0.90 ERA in 1938 and 22-7 with a league-leading 2.53 ERA in 1942. He threw the first no-hitter in Mexican League history, and also had no-hitters in Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Dihigo played for 24 seasons in Cuba (1922-29, 1931-46). The record of his Cuban career is somewhat fragmentary, but for the years which are documented (1922-29, 1931, 1935-46), he hit over .300 nine times, finishing with a lifetime .291 batting average. As a pitcher he was 93-48 in 1935-46.

Statistics exist for one year of play in the Dominican Republic (1937), when Dihigo hit .351.

Combining his Dominican, American, Cuban and Mexican statistics results in a lifetime .302 batting average with 130 home runs (11 seasons worth of home run totals are missing) and a 218-106 (.673) pitching mark. Dihigo often showed his versatility in Negro League competition by playing all nine positions in the course of a single game.

Known for his warm, friendly personality, Dihigo was a national hero in his native Cuba, where he served as Minister of Sport in his later years. He was elected posthumously to the American baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. In a poll conducted in the early 1980s among ex-Negro League players and other experts on black baseball, Dihigo gathered votes as best all-time outfielder and third baseman, and was voted to the first team all-time black all-star team as a second baseman.