Honorary 500HRC Member Martin Dihigo Called Greatest All-Around Player By Baseball Historians Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Monday, 31 May 2010

Known as the only man to ever be elected in to the Cuban, Mexican, and MLB Baseball Halls of Fame, “El Maestro” Martin Dihigo played professional baseball for 30 years (split between the Negro, Cuban and Mexican leagues).  During his three decades as a player, he not only hit for power and average (consistently recording a .300+ batting average and .500+ slugging percentage), he was also a superb pitcher who dominated on the mound (winning 2-out-of-every-3 games he pitched in and recording a miniscule ERA of .200 or less over several seasons.     

To appreciate how gifted Dihigo was, in 1938 in the Mexican League, his .387 average won the batting title and as a pitcher he was 18-2 with an 0.90 earned run average.  In fact, he is credited with the first no-hitter in Mexican League history and when he wasn't pitching he regularly started in the outfield or infield and batted near the clean-up spot.

"Dihigo was the best all around baseball player I've ever seen," commented Baseball Hall of Fame member Buck Leonard, who was known as the “Black Lou Gehrig” for leading the Homestead Grays to nine consecutive Negro National League championships (1937-45) and played played with many greats, including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige and Cool Papa Bell.

The tall, lanky, Cuban-born Dihigo was a star in many positions. "He was the only guy I ever saw, who could play all nine positions, manage, run and switch-hit," said Johnny Mize, the Hall of Fame first baseman who finished his career with the Yankees and once played for a team Dihigo managed in the Dominican Republic.

Also nicknamed "El Immortal" in Cuba, Dihigo began his U.S. career as an 18-year-old second baseman for the Cuban Stars. After five years he moved on to the Homestead Grays, and had short stints with the Philadelphia Hilldales, the Baltimore Black Sox, and the New York Cubans.  But in the decades before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier after World War II, Dihigo could not play in the major leagues. Instead, he played in the Negro leagues, mostly for the New York Cubans (his eventual ticket to Cooperstown) when he wasn't playing in Cuba or elsewhere in Latin America.

After retiring as a player, Dihigo served as the Minister of Sports in Cuba until his death at age 65 in 1971.   A manager's dream, an opponent's nightmare, he remains today one of few players in baseball history who could do it all.

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