Most Latin players of the early 20th century, like José Méndez and Martín Dihigo, were blocked from the majors by segregation, leaving the Negro leagues as their only option in the U.S.
"We can't help thinking what a sensation Méndez would be if it was not for his color. But, alas, that is a handicap he can't outgrow." - Cincinnati baseball writer W. A. Phelon, 1908
The Kansas City Monarchs line up during the World's Colored Championship in 1924. José Méndez (highlighted), a legendary pitcher in his native Cuba, led the Monarchs to three straight league titles (1923-1925).
Ball inscribed with names of the 1924 Kansas City Monarchs, including player/manager José Méndez, known as "the Black Diamond," whose three-hit shutout clinched the World's Colored Championship
"Martín Dihigo was the only guy I ever saw who could play all nine positions, run, manage, and switch-hit." - Hall of Famer Johnny Mize
Martín Dihigo, a Cuban superstar throughout the Caribbean and the Negro leagues, excelled everywhere on the field. In 1938, "El Inmortal" led the Mexican League in both batting (.387) and pitching (18-2 with 0.90 ERA).
Plaque honoring Martín Dihigo, donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame following his 1977 induction, and part of this country's rediscovery of Dihigo's dominance
The Alex Pompez-owned New York Cubans played the Newark Eagles in September 1944. A crafty pitcher in Cuba and the Negro leagues from 1926 to 1948, Luis Tiant Sr. pitched for the Cubans during his career.