José Méndez

José de la Caridad Méndez
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2006
Primary team: Kansas City Monarchs
Primary position: Pitcher

Although he spent his entire career playing either in Cuba or the Negro Leagues of North America, José Méndez often faced major league competition in exhibition games. And he regularly bested some of the game's biggest starts like 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. Pitching for the Kansas City Monarchs, Méndez went 2-0, with a 1.42 ERA in four pitching games in the series and leading the Monarchs to the Negro Leagues World Series championship.

In 17 years in the Negro Leagues, Mendez posted a record of 77-26 with a 3.16 ERA.

In her memoirs, Mrs. John McGraw recalled how her husband, whenever Méndez pitched against the Giants, would express regret about the ban that kept Méndez out of the big leagues: “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.”

Mendez passed away on Nov. 6, 1928. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.

"The first time I met Méndez 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: Kansas City Monarchs
Position Played: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Cardenas, Cuba. Cuba
Birth year: 1887
Died: 1928, Havana. Cuba
Played for:
Chicago American Giants (1918)
Detroit Stars (1919)
Kansas City Monarchs (1920-1926)
Managed:
Kansas City Monarchs (1920)
Kansas City Monarchs (1923)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
HitsH
728
RunsR
328
Innings PitchedIP
934.1
WinsW
77
LossesL
26
Winning %Winning %
.748
Games StartedGS
91
ERAERA
3.16
Complete GamesCG
66
ShutoutsSHO
14
WHIPWHIP
1.011
SavesSV
5
Earned RunsER
82
WalksBB
217
StrikeoutsSO
492