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May 18, 2006

1907 cuban league statistics

Tonight I’m posting the batting, fielding, and pitching statistics for the 1907 Cuban League, a three-team league that played from January 1 to April 14, 1907.

Download 1907_cuban_league_1.1a.xls

This season is historically significant because it represents the first time North American black players participated in a regular Cuban League season.  The Negro Leaguers include Hall of Famers Rube Foster, John Henry Lloyd, and Pete Hill, as well as other well-known players like Grant Johnson, Bill Monroe, and Chappie Johnson.

I love compiling these early Cuban leagues, for several reasons:

1) The seasons are always complete, or nearly complete.

2) The seasons are short enough to compile quickly (sometimes taking less than a week), yet long enough to provide a significant look at players’ performances.

3) The schedules are balanced.

4) The box scores are excellent, almost always balancing perfectly, with sacrifice hits and hit batsmen, and pitcher breakdowns—as well as a unique feature: fielding breakdowns.  That is, the box scores break down fielding statistics for players who play more than one position in a game.

5) During most early seasons, all games were played at a single park—Almendares Park in Havana.  There are no complicated park factors to deal with.

For those of you I’ve sent these stats to before: this is version 1.1, and may represent a slight advance on what you have, as in the earliest versions I was still missing one game.  The compilation is now complete.

For all but a small handful of games, I have two box scores for each game, from two newspapers: La Lucha and Diario de la Marina.

If you happen to own Jorge Figueredo’s recent books on Cuban baseball, you will notice some small discrepancies between the numbers I have compiled and his, in most cases a matter of an at bat here, a hit there.  This could result from differences between the box scores and the official scoring, from errors in the official totals, or mistakes by me. 

Of more import are discrepancies in pitchers’ won/loss records: for example, Figueredo has Rube Foster going 10-5, whereas I have him at 9-6.  Foster started and completed 15 games; his team’s record in those games was 9-6.  He relieved in a sixteenth game that his team lost.  The only conclusion I can draw is that the 10-5 record is mistaken.

UPDATE 12/2/2006:  See this post for the true identity of Habana’s Bill Mack (I’ll correct the stats file itself soon FINALLY CORRECTED 2/14/2007).


I think Cuba in the 1900s and 1910s would have been a fantastic place for a professional balllplayer. A few Americans seemed to think so--Matty McIntyre seemed to be down there every winter, and even played in the Cuban League one year. But there weren't as many as you'd think. In part it was probably because both the Cuban players and fans resisted the importing of too many Americans (white or black); in 1910, the Cuban League season was held up because of a big fight over an attempt (ultimately successful) to ban foreigners. (The ban didn't last, of course.)

I no longer love Bill Mack!
Baseball-ref says he attended Syracuse University, died in 1971. Was 22-years-old during the '07 season. Probably would have been an interesting guy to talk to. These teams only played two or three games per week, I'm curious what the Americans would have done to pass their free time down there for four months. Palm trees, good food, gorgeous women, lively music... probably not a bad place to spend the winter.

Well, let's see: Bill Mack pitched for a combined team of major/minor leaguers that visited Cuba in fall 1906 (called the "All-Americans," with Matty McIntyre probably the best known player). Mack went 3-2 for them (the team as a whole went 7-7).

In fall 1907 he pitched for another major/minor all-star team in Cuba, the "All-Leaguers," going 1-3 this time.

Mack popped up in the majors to pitch six innings for the Cubs in 1908. He came back to Cuba for the 1908/09 season, going 0-2 for last-place Matanzas.

He never pitched in the American Association, Southern Association, or Texas League, as far as I can tell. I quickly scanned PCL pitching staffs from 1907 to 1909, and didn't see him.

There is, however, a "Mack," with no first name, listed with Jersey City in the 1906 Eastern League; he pitched well, going 15-9 for a second-place team. This could well be the guy.

I love Bill Mack!
Are there any theories about who this guy is? Here's this "nobody" playing in a league featuring the best Cuban and Black American players from the turn of the century. For last place Habana, he goes 4-2 on the mound, with a 2.87 tra (4th best in the circuit). His K/9 is 4.78, better than everybody in the league with more than 30 ip. He makes no errors on the mound, and hits .333, just for good measure. Is this possibly Billy Holland or Bill Gatewood, and if so, why the alias?

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