José Méndez

José de la Caridad Méndez Del Valle
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2006
Primary team: Cuban Stars
Primary position: Pitcher

In 1912, Hall of Fame manager John McGraw said, “If (José) Mendez was a white man, I would pay $50,000 for his release from Almendares” and that Méndez was “sort of Walter Johnson and Grover Alexander rolled into one.”

Although he spent his entire career playing either in Cuba, or in the Negro Leagues of North America, during his prime Méndez faced major league competition in exhibition games besting some of the game’s best, including Hall of Fame pitchers Christy Mathewson and Eddie Plank. After a 1911 tour of Cuba, Philadelphia Athletics catcher Ira Thomas said, “More than one big leaguer from the states has faced him and left the plate with a wholesome respect for the great Cuban star. It is not alone my opinion but the opinion of many others who have seen Méndez pitch that he ranks with the best in the game.”

Nicknamed “The Black Diamond,” the Cuban-born hurler had a lean, wiry frame, with a deceptively hard fastball and a sharp curveball. He was also able to keep hitters off balance because of his ability to change speeds so well.

Arm trouble in 1914 forced Méndez to reinvent himself as a shortstop. Over the years Méndez played for several teams and returned to the mound from time-to-time, but it was not until the 1924 Negro Leagues World Series that Méndez’s pitching arm would again feature prominently. Then a player-manager for the Kansas City Monarchs, Méndez went 2-0, with a 1.42 ERA in four pitching appearances in the series and led the Monarchs to the Negro Leagues World Series championship.

In her memoirs, Mrs. John McGraw recalled of her husband, whenever Méndez pitched against the Giants, “Without mincing words, John bemoaned the failure of baseball, himself included, to cast aside custom or unwritten law, or whatever it was, and sign a player alone, regardless of race or color.”

"The first time I met Mendez was in Chicago, and boy, could he throw a ball! He had developed tremendous shoulders and biceps from chopping sugar cane. That ball was hopping. It looked like a pea coming up there. "
Arthur Hardy

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 2006
Primary Team: Cuban Stars
Position Played: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Cardenas. Cuba
Birth year: 1887
Died: 1928, Havana. Cuba
Played for:
Cuban Stars (1908)
Kansas City Monarchs (1920-1926)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
133
HitsH
1041
RunsR
485
Innings PitchedIP
1315.1
WinsW
95
LossesL
46
Winning %Winning %
.674
Games StartedGS
130
ERAERA
3.32
Complete GamesCG
99
ShutoutsSHO
19
WHIPWHIP
1.044
SavesSV
- -
Earned RunsER
- -
WalksBB
332
StrikeoutsSO
725