Dihigo, Martin

May 24, 1905- May 20, 1971

  • "Dihigo was the best all around baseball player I've ever seen," Baseball Hall of Fame member Buck Leonard.
  • The Polo Grounds hosted the Negro League's New York Cubans, whose roster included the most versatile player to ever play in the Negro Leagues, Martin Dihigo (#17). The tall, lanky Cuban-born Dihigo was a star in many positions. "He was the only guy I ever saw, who could play all nine positions, manage, run and switch-hit." said Johnny Mize, the Hall of Fame first baseman who finished his career with the Yankees and once played for a team Dihigo managed in the Dominican Republic Winter League in 1943.
  • Known as "El Maestro" in Mexico and "El Immortal" in Cuba, Dihigo began his U.S. career as an 18-year-old second baseman for the Cuban Stars. After five years he moved on to the Homestead Grays, and had short stints with the Philadelphia Hilldales, the Baltimore Black Sox, and the New York Cubans.
  • He was a superb pitcher who dominated on the mound. In fact, Dihigo is credited with the first no-hitter in Mexican League history and when he wasn't pitching he regularly started in the outfield or infield and batted near the clean-up spot.
  • But in the decades before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier after World War II, Dihigo could not play in the major leagues. Instead, he played in the Negro leagues, mostly for the New York Cubans (his eventual ticket to Cooperstown) when he wasn't playing in Cuba or elsewhere in Latin America.
  • Dihigo was arguably the greatest Cuban ballplayer of all time. His speed, size, and strong throwing arm made him one of the most versatile players in baseball history. During his 30-year career, Dihigo played every position on the field. Sometimes more than one in the same game. Among Cuban-born players, only Cristobal Torriente was considered his peer at the plate.
  • To appreciate how gifted Dihigo was, in 1938 in the Mexican League his .387 average won the batting title and as a pitcher he was 18-2 with an 0.90 earned run average.
  • In a classic moment that same year, Dihigo met Satchel Paige in a much-anticipated pitching match-up that has become a Mexican League legend. Paige, hindered by a sore arm and relying on underhand and trick pitches, battled Dihigo for six scoreless innings. In the seventh, Paige's control faltered. After two walks and a single loaded the bases, he threw a wild pitch, giving Dihigo's team the lead. Paige left for a pinch hitter, and his team later tied the game, 1-1. Dihigo took matters into his own hands in the ninth and homered to win the game.
  • At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Dihigo was a tall, fun-loving goofy man. Once, while safely on third base, he screamed at the pitcher, "You balked! You balked!" He continued to holler as he strolled toward home. Everyone stared as if Dihigo had suddenly gone mad. But when he crossed the plate and walked slyly into the dugout, the fans laughed and cheered.
  • Dihigo played sparingly as player-manager for the New York Cubans in 1945 and continued to play and manage in Cuba and Mexico until the early 1950s, when he returned to Cuba to stay.
  • Martin Dihigo, "El Maestro", served as the Minister of Sports in Cuba, until his death at age 65 in 1971. Dihigo, baseball's magic man is buried in Cienfuegos, Cuba. A manager's dream, an opponent's nightmare, he remains today one of few players in baseball history who could do it all.
  • Dihigo finished his career winning three Negro League home run crowns and tied Josh Gibson for another. As a pitcher, he racked up more than 200 wins in American and Mexican ball.
  • Martin Dihigo is the only man to ever be elected in to the Cuban, Mexican, and United States Baseball Halls of Fame.