Martin “El Maestro” Dihigo, Pitcher and Second Baseman
Martin Magdaleno Dihigo Llanos (May 25, 1906 – May 20, 1971) was a Cuban player in the Negro Leagues and the Latin American leagues who excelled at several positions, primarily as a pitcher and second baseman. He was boorn in the sugarmill town of Cidra, in Cuba. He began to play in 1922 at the age of 16 as a substitute infielder for the Habana team in the Cuban league, but was quickly drafted by the Cuban Stars (East) team in the Negro League, where he began a star from 1923 to 1936.
He led the Negro League in home runs in 1926 and 1935. As a pitcher, he once defeated Satchel Paige in an exhibition game in Cuba. During his career, he had a batting average of .307, a .511 slugging percentage, and 292 home runs in 1404 at bats. As a pitcher, he had an equally impressive 26-19 record with a 2.92 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 354 innings. He was an All-Star twice in that league.
His best year was elsewhere. In 1938, he played in the winter league in Mexico. He went 18-2 with a 0.90 ERA as a pitcher, while winning the batting title with a .387 batting average. He continued playing in the Mexico League until the early 1950’s, when he was known as “El Maestro”, or “The Master.”
After retiring, he bacame a radio announcer for the Cuban Winter League He fled Cuba in 1953 after the rise of Batista, but returned after Fidel Castro too over and he was appointed the minister of sports. He died in Cuba in 1971, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. A conversation between Dodgers general manager and broadcast Jaime Jarrin recorded that:
Al said, “Jaime, the best player that I have ever seen in my life is Martin Dihigo, but he never came to the Major Leagues,'” Jarrin said. “‘After Dihigo, I would put Roberto Clemente above Willie Mays. Those are the two best players I have ever seen in my entire life.