Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Huh. From the Did You Know Files.

Chances are if you are reading this soon after the publishing time, I am on a flight to Dayton, as long as the Snowpocalypse backups don't affect my flight from National Airport. I do look forward to eating Skyline and Cassano's sometime in the coming days!

A few days ago Red Reporter gave a final rundown of the Best 100 Reds series. An interesting side note was some of the fun names the Reds have had in the past. I like to look at turn of the century rosters to see all of the unusual names and the great nicknames they had back then. As I was pouring over a few rosters from the early twentieth century, I came across some interesting names, not for their unusual sound, but because of their unusual ethnicity, at least for that time - Armando Marsans and Rafael Almeida.

Turns out, Marsáns and Almeida, who both debuted on July 4, 1911 for the Reds, are recognized by Major League Baseball as the first Cuban MLB baseball players. Both of them spent time in the Negro Leagues. Though they were light skinned Cubans, the Reds had to refute rumors that they had "negro blood."

Almeida spent only three years in MLB, all with the Reds, mostly as a bench player. Marsáns, on the other hand, was a good player who finished 18th and 24th in MVP voting in 1912 and 1913 respectively. However, a falling out with the manager of the Reds led to his quitting the team and going to play for the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League in 1914. It was his last good season. Legal battles with the Reds plagued him for the next few years, forcing him at one point to return to Cuba. He went to the Browns the next year and to the Yankees for two seasons after that, but he was never the player he was for those two brilliant seasons for the Reds.

The Reds discovered the pair on a trip to Cuba in 1908 to play exhibition games against the Cuban teams.

You can read the great bio of Marsáns here at the Baseball Biography Project. Interesting stuff.

Of all the firsts the Reds have had, this is one I didn't know about.

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