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Alex Pompez: Cuban Star

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 5 (1101 words)
Categories: Baseball, My Favourite Player, Sports
Downloads: 43
Views: 1

Alex Pompez, a Cuban-American, established a link among organized baseball, black baseball, and Latin America. On February 27, 2006, he was welcomed into baseball’s Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the sport; he was a Negro-league team owner, a major-league scout, and a Negro National League (NNL) vice president. Throughout his years with the sport, he was the first of very few to have exclusive rights over a baseball field, experienced the transition of segregation to integration period, and helped ease the transition of black and Latin ballplayers into organized baseball.

Although Alex Pompez’s has many contributions to the sport, he was also infamous for his days as Harlem’s number king. Unfortunately, his actions destroyed his reputation; many labeled him as a criminal and disagreed with his entrance to the Hall of Fame. In Adrian Burgos Jr.’s book, Cuban Star: How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball, he states, “In their view numbers kings were vultures who preyed on the dreams of the less fortunate in Harlem’s black and Latino communities” (xii).

On the other hand, there were many individuals, Negro leaguers who played for Pompez and those he signed to the Giants, who were happy Pompez was placed into the Hall of Fame (xv). Regardless of his crimes and reputation, Alex Pompez life proved that baseball was not just an American sport, but it was an expression of Cuban culture; also, he welcomed other races from the darkest to lightest, and he had an act of finding Latino talent for much of the twentieth century.

Alex Pompez’s life revealed that baseball was not just America’s sport, baseball also enriched Cuban culture. Although baseball was first spread in the United States during the Civil War, students who studied in the States acquired the fondness for the sport and migrated back to Cuba with the knowledge and equipment for baseball. Burgos states, “Baseball subsequently arrived in Cuba in the early 1860s, before armed hostilities erupted between Cuban insurgents and Spanish colonial forces” (10).

Which ultimately infected Cuba’s culture and spread throughout other parts of the Caribbean. In fact, instead of Pompez gaining his love for baseball in the States, it was his teenage years in Havana, Cuba that influenced his passion for the game. Alex Pompez witnessed the emergence of baseball as the Cuban national game on sandlots in small communities, such as in Key West, Florida (9). When Pompez started the Cuban Stars, he was a man with an eye for good talent and his approach was used to create great major-league teams during the twentieth century. Cuban baseball proved to be more than just a recreation and diversion, it helped define them as a people (11). Wherever Cuban emigrants migrated, they took their love for the sport with them, which formed baseball clubs and local amateur and semiprofessional teams. Baseball was more than just a game to Cuban nationalists; it was an expression of their culture.

Pompez was aware of the social rules when it came to race and place. He used his knowledge as a Cuban-American to help aid blacks and Latinos on the social importance of the color line in the United States. Burgos states that Pompez was a witness to the rise and fall of the Negro leagues and saw first-hand the harsh realities of both southern and northern forms of segregation of the sport, so he drew on that experience to counsel African American and Latino prospects about the rules of social engagement (xii). For over thirty years, Pompez operated a Negro-league professional baseball team infused with men of color from dark to light. However, the light skinned players were more accepted than his dark-skinned players, so that created more opportunities for Cubans than for African-Americans (20).

The Jim Crow laws, which were a collection of regulations legalizing racial segregation, made playing baseball in the early and mid-1900s difficult for all those who were not accepted as white. In 1910, when Pompez left for Harlem, he started a new beginning, and thanks to his multicultural background, he was able to secure bookings. His Cuban Stars (later renamed the New York Cubans) were one of two Negro-league franchises to play in New York City (31). Although his team sometimes got treated poorly by racial violence, Pompez found minor-league and some big-league teams to play against his Cuban Stars. Pompez life as a baseball owner proved he could acquire bookings, regardless of societies importance of the color line during the twentieth century.

Although Alex Pompez associated himself as a black and Latino, and aided black and Latino players into organized baseball, Pompez was most significant in finding Latino talent during the twentieth century. He introduced Latino players into U.S. professional baseball more than any other race, and when it came to Latinos, he took a different approach when finding Latino talent. Burgos states that Pompez offered Latino players much more, not as a cheaper source, but because they were his central base (xiv). Competition for Latino players increased, so Pompez would travel to Latin American places where baseball was played the most to look for that talent. Before organized baseball abolished its color-line system, Pompez would sneak Latinos across the racial divide.

According to Burgos, “The Caribbean and Latin America were Pompez’s domain. Effective recruitment of Latino talent resulted from a network of scouts and contacts who alerted Pompez to emerging talent” (54). Pompez would use his bilingual skills and Cuban nationality to reach out to Latino talent throughout the United States. Even though Pompez acquired talented baseball players, he faced many issues with bringing over new Latin American recruits over to the States. He had to file official paperwork for visas or residency for players to legally enter the United States (55). Pompez put a lot more effort into acquiring Latino talent for his Cuban Stars. This approach brought Pompez more successful recruiter for Latino talent in the United States professional baseball leagues.

Despite Alex Pompez’s life as a numbers king, his life revealed his contribution to the legacy of black baseball by signing African American and Latino players who were part of the integration generation. First, his life proved the importance of baseball to not just Americans, but to Cubans as well. Baseball proved more than just a sport in Cuba; it helped define them as a people, a culture, and a nation. Second, Pompez helped dreams come true for men of color, dark to light. He especially changed the life of many Latinos. Alex Pompez entering the Hall of Fame proved that he impacted the lives of baseball, race, and Latinos.

Cite this essay

Alex Pompez: Cuban Star. (2020, Sep 15). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/alex-pompez-cuban-star-essay

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