The Cuban Giants
were the first African-American
The team was originally formed in 1885 at the Argyle Hotel, a summer resort in Babylon
, New York
. The team was so skilled in the game, and achieved victory over so many of the nearby amateur "white" teams that they attracted the attention of a promoter, Walter Cook. To appeal to a broader audience, Cook styled them the "Cuban Giants," a common ploy to avoid referring to the players as "black" or "Negro." There were no Cubans
on the Cuban Giants. The team remained one of the premier Negro league
teams for nearly 20 years.
The team went on to become the "world colored champions" of 1887 and 1888, and spawned imitators.
Though there were no actual Cuban men on the Cuban Giants, the team had played in Cuba
in the fall or winter of 1885–1886.
In the September 1938 issue of Esquire
Magazine, Sol White
recounts the early days of the team:"…when that first team began playing away from home, they passed as foreigners—Cubans, as they finally decided—hoping to conceal the fact that they were just American Negro hotel waiters and talked a gibberish to each other on the field which, they hoped, sounded like Spanish" (Coover, 3).
It was a popular practice in the Sporting press at the time to refer to African-American players as Cuban, Spanish, or Arabian instead of admitting to the truth.
In 1896 ownership issues would lead... Read More