Dihigo, Martín (1906–1971)

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Dihigo, Martín (1906–1971)

One of the most famous Latin American baseball players of all time, Martín Dihigo of Cuba is the only player to have been elected to all three Baseball Halls of Fame in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States. Throughout his career, Dihigo was known for his great strength and speed and his ability to play almost any position on the field.

Born on May 25, 1906, in the town of Cidra in Cuba's Matanzas Province, Dihigo began playing professional baseball as a substitute infielder for the Havana team of the Cuban League when he was only sixteen years old. In 1923 he went to the United States for summer baseball, where he played first base for the Cuban Stars in the Negro Leagues. (Because he played before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barriers in 1947, he was eligible only for segregated black teams.) Dihigo continued to play with the Negro Leagues through 1936, moving through all nine positions on the field.

Dihigo later played throughout Latin America, most often as a pitcher with an infamous fastball. He threw the first no-hitter in the history of the Mexican baseball league as well as no-hitters in Venezuela and Puerto Rico. In Mexico he was given the nickname "El Maestro" (the master); in Cuba he was called "El Inmortal" (the immortal one.) After retiring from the baseball field, Dihigo served as Cuba's minister of sport. He died on May 20, 1971, in Cienfuegos, Cuba.

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Bjarkman, Peter C. A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864–2006. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

Santana Alonso, Alfredo. El inmortal del béisbol: Martín Dihigo. Ciudad de la Habana: Editorial Científico-Técnica, 1997.

Wilson, Nick. Early Latino Ballplayers in the United States: Major, Minor, and Negro Leagues, 1901–1949. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005.

                                           Emily Berquist