“The Latins from Manhattan”
Confronting Race and Building Community
in Jim Crow Baseball, 1906–1950
Adrián Burgos Jr.
A chilly wind swirled about Dyckman Oval as the New York Cubans readied themselves. Although New York City seemed cultural worlds away for the club's new Latino players, the opening-day scene at Dyckman was familiar for most; some of the players had appeared in the black baseball circuits as early as 1916. Unlike the other Negro League teams that called New York City home, the Cubans played the majority of their home games in Harlem and Manhattan. Fans and local reporters took note, adopting the Cubans as “Harlem's own” and referring to them as the “Latins from Manhattan.” 1
Under the ownership of Alejandro Pompez, a Latino of Cuban descent, the New York Cubans baseball club introduced the majority of Latino talent to the Negro Leagues and New York City's baseball fans between 1935 and 1950. 2 Composed of Latino and African American players, the team featured a high level of talent, including, among others, future Major Leaguers Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso, José “Pantalones” Santiago, and Edmundo “Sandy” Amoros. More significantly, the team provided a cultural link that mediated the distance between home and diaspora for the city's Latino population.
Despite perceptions of segregation as a Southern phenomenon, New York City staged a significant part of the U.S. segregation drama throughout the twentieth-century era of Jim Crow baseball, 1906–1950. 3 More Major League and Negro League organizations called New York City home than