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
"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.
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.