14 de junio de 2024

Radio 26 – Matanzas, Cuba

Emisora provincial de Matanzas, Cuba, La Radio de tu Corazón

Memories of Martín Dihigo Llanos, «The Immortal», on his 118th anniversary.

On May 25th, 1906, Martín Magdaleno Dihigo Llanos, who is considered the most complete Cuban player to have ever played on a baseball field, was born in the former Jesús María, Cidra, today the municipality of Limonar.

On May 25th, 1906, Martin Magdaleno Dihigo, who is considered the most complete Cuban player to have ever played on a baseball field, was born in the former Jesús María, Cidra, today the municipality of Limonar.

His parents were Benito Dihigo, who became a sergeant in the Liberation Army in our War of Independence, and Margarita Llanos. He was the only child of this union, according to his biographer Alfredo Santana Alonso, although he had half-siblings Leonor and Gregorio, on his mother’s and father’s side, respectively.

When he was 3 or 4 years old, Santana refers in his book «El Inmortal del Béisbol, Martín Dihigo», his family established their home at 40 Buen Viaje Street, in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, near Palmar de Junco, the stadium where he took his first steps.

At the age of 14, he began to stand out among the other boys who practiced at the facility and by the age of 15, he was already a player who competed among the top level players.

He entered the professional ranks with the Habana team at the age of 16 and made his debut as a leadoff hitter on January 21st, 1923, at the old Almendares Park stadium, in a game against Marianao.

From that day on, much is the history of the promising young player from Matanzas. He participated in 21 seasons of the Cuban Professional League and in two independent tournaments, in which he left impressive marks, both in batting and pitching. Among the most outstanding are: three times he produced over the 400 mark; as a pitcher he won 107 and lost 56 games, for an average of 656, and he was the only one in those tournaments to be selected as Most Valuable Player on four occasions, in addition to the number of records he left in the books.

He made himself felt enormously in the so-called Negro Leagues of the United States between 1923 and 1947, where he played all positions and managed different teams.

World-renowned sports commentator Buck Canel said of his performance in those tournaments: «For me, he was the best third baseman that ever played in the Negro Leagues. Another great player and UVC manager Leonard, said of the Cuban: «He was the best of all time, black or white. You pick Ruth, Cobb and DiMaggio, I’ll take Dihigo».

James A. Riley also praised him in one of his edited books: «The most versatile player who ever played baseball. He came to the United States as a second baseman, but eventually played all positions.
positions. Then he went to the mound to pitch and when he wasn’t pitching he was still a major factor in the lineup».

In Mexico he became a sensation upon his arrival with the Veracruz Eagles and later with other national teams. There, in the brotherly Aztec country, he said goodbye to the sport on July the 26th, 1947.

To his merits as a player he added those of trainer, manager, radio commentator in Cadena Oriental de Radio and Radio 26, in Matanzas. He also worked with quality as a journalist in the newspaper Hoy where he had a section called Desde el Pan de Matanzas, in which, on more than one occasion, he raised his pen against wrongdoing.

His name appears in the Halls of Fame of Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, the Palmar de Junco Hall of Fame, where he was trained as a baseball player and on February 3rd, 1977, the Veterans Committee informed of his admission to the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in the United States. His plaque in that maximum enclosure of the Immortals states:

Martin Dihigo, El Maestro. Negro Leagues (1923-1947). The most versatile of the Negro Leagues. He played in the summer and winter championships. He recorded more than 260 victories as a pitcher and when he was not on the mound, he played in different positions to average more than 300. He also served as manager at different times.

On the 118th anniversary of his birth, the tribute to this man from Matanzas, who, according to Doctor of Science Félix Julio Alfonso, «besides being a phenomenal baseball player, was a sensitive, well-mannered, cultured man with infinite love for his homeland».

Written by Francisco Soriano.


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