Leaguer of the Month
Cristobel (also spelled Cristobal) Torriente
Born:1895 in Cuba
Died: 1938 in New York City
Ht:5'-10", Wt: 190
Batted left and threw left
Teams: Cuban Stars, All Nations, Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago
American Giants, Detroit Stars, Gilkerson's Union Giants, Atlanta
Black Crackers, Cleveland Cubs
his name is rarely mentioned by today's baseball historians, Cristobel
Torriente was named to the Negro League's All-Time outfield in
a 1952 Pittsburgh Courier Poll, along with Monte Irvin and Oscar
Charleston, ahead of Hall of Famers Cool Papa Bell and Turkey
Stearnes. Irvin and Charleston are also in the Hall of Fame; Torriente
is not. Cum Posey, longtime owner of the Homestead Grays went
a step further and named Torriente the best outfielder he ever
grew up in Cuba and built his muscular body by carrying heavy
artillery while serving in the army.
first top teams were in Cuba: the Havana Reds and Almendares Blues.
In 1916, at age 20, Torriente lead the Cuban League in triples,
homers and stolen bases while hitting over .400.
was known as a fun teammate, and was very flashy, wearing a bandana
around his neck and bracelets on his powerful wrists.
1918, Torriente joined the Chicago American Giants, under Rube
Foster, and was the sole power hitter in a lineup of speed merchants.
The following year, Oscar Charleston joined Chicago, but he couldn't
move the great Cuban from the centerfield spot.
the fall of 1920, the New York Giants, with Babe Ruth added, ventured
to Cuba for a three-game series. In the third game, Torriente
blasted 3 homers off George "Highpockets" Kelly and
a double off Ruth himself. Kelly, who only pitched one game in
the Majors (which he won), made the Hall of Fame as a first baseman.
the series, Torriente batted .378 to Ruth's .345, out-homered
the Babe 3 to 2, and Almendares won 2 of the 3 games.
his prime, Torriente batted from .350 to .400, and also was an
active base-stealer. Torriente was a rare home run hitter in the
deadball era, and once the game changed to the tighter-wound ball,
his viscous line-drives were sometimes dangerous! Many of the
left-handed slugger's home runs cleared the left-center field
fence--another rarity for a home run hitter.
Defensively, Torriente played shallow like Tris Speaker and could
run down anything hit his way. He also possessed a strong arm,
which he also used to pitch.
the late 1920s, Torriente signed with the Gilkerson's Union Giants
and became one of their best pitchers. In a pinch, Torriente could
also play shortstop, second or third base, despite throwing left-handed.
Available statistics show Torriente winning 4 games without a
loss as a Union Giants' pitcher in 1929, and batting .361 with
a 20-5 pitching record in 1931.
was inducted into the Cuban baseball Hall of Fame in 1939, its
inaugural year. In Cuba, Torriente, Martin Dihigo and Jose' Mendez
are considered the best natives to ever play in the Negro Leagues.
died in his early 40s, reportedly from alcohol abuse.