Joshua Gibson and Quincy Trouppe in Venezuela and Mexico: Part III

Part II concluded with Quincy Trouppe managing the 1956-57 Ponce Lions in Puerto Rico.  Part III transitions to Trouppe and Joshua Gibson playing in Venezuela and Mexico.  Gibson, his 1939-40 Santurce teammate Billy Byrd and Aguadilla pitcher-OF Leon Day traveled from Puerto Rico to Venezuela in early April 1940.  They missed the final doubleheader of their respective Puerto Rico teams on April 7, 1940.

Gibson with 1940 Centauros de Maracaibo

Miguel Dupouy Gómez published Joshua Gibson: El Babe Ruth de las Ligas Negras, July 19, 2020.  (Josh Gibson: The Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues).  It chronicles Gibson’s fine play in the Caribbean and the Negro Leagues.  http://beisbolinmortal.blogspot.com/2020/07/joshua-gibson-el-babe-ruth-de-las-ligas.html  On April 7, 1940, Gibson debuted for Centauros in an 11-inning contest won by Vargas, 2-1.  Per Dupouy Gómez, Gibson’s first hit in Venezuela was a line-drive double down the third-base line off  Day, who won that contest over Byrd.  Vargas’ Ray “Talúa” Dandridge hit a walk-off homer off Byrd, who fanned eight and walked three.  Day allowed four hits, struck out 11, and walked three.  

Joshua Gibson, 1940 Centauros de Maracaibo. Photo credit: Dupouy Gómez brothers’ archives.

On Saturday, May 11, 1940, Gibson drilled two homers off Cuban hurler Silvio García, to equal what Vidal López did in a 1938 Venezuelan tournament contest.  Gibson’s first homer was in the fifth frame and the longest blast hit at Caracas’ San Agustín Stadium.  Coincidentally, Juan Vené  

was 11 at the time.  Vené—a long-time Venezuelan baseball writer and commentator—saw this Gibson homer at San Agustín Stadium.  His godfather was Miguel Antonio Rivas, owner of this southern Caracas stadium where Centauros played home games.  “We would see Gibson and other American players at a hotel in Caracas,” recalled Vené. “Gibson was a joy to watch…he could hit the ball a mile.”

Centauros defeated Vargas, 4-1, Sunday, June 16, 1940, with Vargas’ only run via an error by shortstop Luis Aparicio Ortega “El Grande” when he mishandled Gibson’s potent throw on a double steal attempt with runners on first and third.  Two weeks later, Gibson hammered a long homer off Silvio García, estimated at landing 100 meters (328 feet) beyond the outfield fence.  Several kids who chased after out-of-play balls could not locate this baseball.

Gibson’s defensive prowess was exemplified when top base stealer Tetelo Vargas tried to steal second but quickly headed back to first, somewhat ashamed after seeing Gibson’s “rocket of an arm” get the ball to second.  Gibson mocked Tetelo by saying: “Run, Titilo, Run Titilo!

Miguel Dupouy Gómez indicated that Centauros left the tournament before the season’s end.  Thus, their player stats were excluded by a Venezuelan Baseball Association ruling.  However, Gibson batted .351, with 13 hits in 37 A.B., with three doubles, four homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs.  His .757 SLG led the tournament, and four homers tied him with Vidal López for most four-baggers.

Gibson with 1940 and 1941 Azules de Veracruz in Mexico

Tomás Morales, in his January 22, 2015 blog, summarized Gibson’s performances for team owner Jorge Pasquel of the 1940 and 1941 Veracruz Azules (Blues).  https://www.milb.com/news/gcs-107128516 In 1940, he only played 22 games but went 43-for-92, a .467 B.A., with 11 homers.  Per Morales, Pasquel paid Gibson $6,000 for about one month’s work.  Gibson returned to the Homestead Grays after being threatened with a $10,000 lawsuit and perhaps the loss of his Pittsburgh home if he did not return to the Grays and honor their contract stipulations.

Gibson was the first player in Mexican League history to hit three homers in a game, twice.  His first trifecta came against Mexico City Red Devils at Delta Stadium.  The second trifecta was in Chihuahua versus the last place (14-67) Dorados.  Gibson’s heroics helped Veracruz (61-30), behind player-manager Martín Dihigo, build an insurmountable lead over second-place Mexico City (57-38).  If Gibson played the entire 1940 season with Veracruz, he would win the Triple Crown instead of James “Cool Papa” Bell, with Torreón Algodoneros (Cotton Growers), via Table I.

Table I: Joshua Gibson, Martín Dihigo and Cool Papa Bell, 1940 Mexican Lague

PlayerGABRH2B3BHRRBIBASLGSBAB/HR
Gibson22923243741138.467.98938.36
Bell#8938211916729151279.437.6864531.83
Dihigo+7830260110176973.364.550933.56
Total189776211320532532190.412.6695724.25

#Bell was acquired by Veracruz later that season. +Dihigo was 8-6 for Veracruz on the mound.

Source: Pedro Treto Cisneros (Editor), Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano, 11th Edition, 2011.

Joshua Gibson, 1941 Veracruz Azules (Blues). Photo credit/creator: Kevin Ryan image; https://www.google.com/search?q=Joshua+Gibson+fotos+con+Veracruz+Azules&rlz=1C1GCEA

In 1941, Gibson won 2/3 of the Mexican League Triple Crown, with 33 homers, in 358 AB, and 124 RBIs, for first-place Veracruz (67-35), managed by Lázaro Salazar.  Gibson’s .374 B.A. trailed Bill Wright’s .390 B.A. with second-place Mexico City (52-47).  “We were rivals in the 1941-42 Puerto Rico Winter League, with San Juan [myself] and Santurce [Gibson],” recalled Wright.  “He was the most powerful hitter I ever saw without question.”

Alberto Romo Chávez, long-time Mexican League pitcher, told author Tomás Morales: “At the end of my career, I felt proud allowing home runs to two sluggers, Joshua Gibson, Mexican League, and Jimmie Foxx, in an exhibition game against big-league players.” Table II includes Gibson’s career stats in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.  Gibson played at 6’1” and 220 pounds.

Table II: Joshua Gibson: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela

CountryABRH2B3BHRRBIBASLGAB/HR
Cuba22461791051452.353.62916.0
DR+53NA2445221.453.83026.5
Mexico45013217738744162.393.80210.23
PRWL#3898713831101985.355.63220.47
Venezuela!3781330410.351.7579.25
Total1,153288431862783330.374.71113.89

+Dominican Republic.  #Does not include pre-1939 winter games, 1934 Estrellas de Ramírez and Concordia Eagles; and 1936 Brooklyn Eagles.  Sources: https://negroleaguerspuertorico.com/player/joshua-gibson/; http://beisbolinmortal.blogspot.com/2020/07/joshua-gibson-el-babe-ruth-de-las-ligas.html;

Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1978-1961, McFarland, 2003;

Pedro Treto Cisneros (Editor), Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano, 11th Edition, 2011; William F. McNeil, Black Baseball out of Season, McFarland, 2007.

As noted in Part II, Gibson was always a dominant hitter, despite playing the most difficult position—catcher.  His true dominance on the diamond goes beyond tape-measure home runs.

Quincy Trouppe in Mexico

Trouppe was a rarity for U.S. imports in Mexico—he played parts for three decades, starting with Monterrey Carta Blanca in 1939 and ending with 1951 Jalisco Charros.  Between 1940 and 1950, he played two more seasons with Monterrey (1940 and 1941), plus 1942-to-1944 with Mexico City Red Devils.  In 1939, posted a .307 BA and .518 SLG for 31-29 Monterrey. That seven-team League had each club facing opponents ten times, minus rainouts.  Monterrey finished fifth, 16 games behind the 46-12 Cordoba Cafeteros (Coffee Growers).  Cordoba skipper Lázaro Salazar did a Shohei Ohtani and young Babe Ruth “impersonation”: winning the batting crown (.347) and tying Veracruz’s Barney Brown for most wins (16).

Monterrey improved to 52-41 (third) in 1940, as Trouppe batted .337, with six homers and 67 RBIs. Batterymate Bill Jefferson (22-9) led the League in wins and win PCT (.710).  In a six-team competition, the 1941 Monterrey Industriales—their name as of 1940—regressed to last-place in 1941 (43-59).  Trouppe’s best Mexican League season was 1942, with a .364 B.A., 12 homers, 57 RBIs, and .536 SLG.  However, Mexico City (40-47) barely edged last-place Veracruz (39-46) for fifth place.  Dihigo (22-7, 2.53 ERA) was pennant-winner Torreón’s player-manager. Monte Irvin (.397 BA and 20 HR) won 2/3 of the Triple Crown, starring for Veracruz. (Silvio García, Trouppe’s teammate, drove in a league-leading 83 runs.)

Trouppe’s 1943 season included a .301 B.A., 12 homers, and 42 RBIs for cellar-dwelling (38-51) Mexico City. Monterrey (53-37) captured the pennant over 51-36 Torreón. Vidal López’s 2.08 ERA led the loop. He bested Torreón’s Dihigo, in a critical match-up to clinch Monterrey’s pennant.  Bill Wright (.366-13-70) won the Triple Crown.  (Veracruz’s Ray Dandridge’s 70 RBIs tied Wright.) Wright was Trouppe’s 1943 teammate.  He opined: “Trouppe was congenial off the field but a determined and tough competitor on the diamond.” The 1944 Mexico City Red Devils (28-62) finished last (sixth out of six clubs).  Trouppe batted .239 with seven homers that season.

Success and Disappointment with Jalisco Charros

The 1950 Charros—translated to Mexican Cowboys wearing nice outfits with a sombrero—were 50-34 to edge Torreón (48-36) to win the eight-team League crown.  Barney Brown’s league-leading 1.57 ERA kept Torreón in contention.  Bill Greason (10-1) won key games for Jalisco player-manager Trouppe. “Quincy was a pleasure to pitch, play for, and associate with,” noted Greason.  “He was a pro in every sense of the word.” The elation of a regular-season pennant turned into disappointment when Torreón bested Jalisco, four games to two, in a best-of-seven playoff.  In 1951, Trouppe managed Jalisco to a 40-44 record, sixth in the eight-team loop.  Negro Leaguers Jim “Libertad” Lamarque (19-6), with Mexico City; and Lino Dinoso (197 strikeouts and 2.55 ERA for Veracruz) were the top 1951 Mexican League hurlers.

Trouppe in Venezuela’s Winter League (1946, 1946-47, 1951-53)

The Magallanes Navigators were Trouppe’s team in Venezuela, in January 1946, after a November-December 1945 American All-Star Series featuring Jackie Robinson and other Negro Leaguers.  Trouppe had 25 hits/71 A.B., .352 B.A., two homers, and 14 RBIs for 1946 Magallanes, and made the first pinch-hit appearance in Venezuelan (pro) Winter League history in 1946. Two teammates, Luis Aparicio “El Grande” and Alejandro “Patón” Carrasquel, were born in 1912, same year as Trouppe. In 1946-47, Magallanes improved to 20-16, behind player-manager Trouppe and pitcher Samuel Nahem (12-6, 2.29 ERA, 14 C.G.), of Syrian-Jewish descent.  Trouppe, with a .329 B.A. and 13 RBIs, was Magallanes’ first North American manager in its modern era: 1946-present. Their best 1946-47 hitter was Vidal López: .317 BA, six homers, 25 RBIs. Trouppe and López played against each other in Mexico and Puerto Rico.  López briefly managed Trouppe, with 1946 Magallanes, following the departure of skippers Manuel Capote and Benito Torrens, a Puerto Rico native.  https://thereaderwiki.com/es/Navegantes_del_Magallanes            

Vidal López, “El Muchachote de Barlovento.” Photo credit: www.conlasbasesllenas.com

Trouppe returned to Magallanes, 1951-52 and 1952-53 campaigns, posting a .281 B.A. in both seasons.  The 28-28 Navigators finished second in 1951-52, under skippers’ Joe Becker and Lázaro Salazar.  Under Salazar, in 1952-53, they were in second with a 30-27 record.  On January 8, 1953, Trouppe set a League record by walking six times against arch-rival Caracas Lions.  The last winter, he may have caught the 18-inning game pitched by Johnny Hetki—most I.P. in a Venezuelan Winter League game—versus Cervecería Caracas, February 14, 1952, Valentine’s Day.  Table III summarizes Trouppe’s hitting stats in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Table III: Quincy Trouppe in Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela

CountryABRH2B3BHRRBIBASLGAB/RBI
Cuba3074678136537.254.3848.3
Mexico1,9014055771342861350.304.5005.43
PRWL58713218046176140.307.4744.19
Venezuela495741482841077.299.4326.43
Total3,2907579832215582604.299.4745.45

Sources: https://negroleaguerspuertorico.com/player/quincy-trouppe/;

Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1978-1961, McFarland, 2003;

Pedro Treto Cisneros (Editor), Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano, 11th Edition, 2011;

https://www.pelotabinaria.com.ve/beisbol/mostrar.php?ID=trouqui001

Post-Script

Joshua Gibson was inducted into Cooperstown in 1972, the year after Paige’s 1971 induction.  Gibson and Paige were installed in the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (1996)—last year PRWL players, managers, and executives were honored.  Paige once stated: “You look for his [Gibson’s] weakness, and while you’re lookin’ for it, he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.”

Trouppe was an amateur boxing champion in St. Louis, Missouri.  Archie Moore, the Benoit, Mississippi native, who became World Light Heavyweight Champion years after he was an amateur boxing rival of Trouppe, once told him: “Quincy, I don’t think you could ever be a fighter.  You’re just too nice.  You’re not the mean type…you have the punch.  You move faster than the average heavyweight, and you’ve got a real sharp left jab.  But you are not mean.” https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/quincy-trouppe/ Trouppe played at 6’2” and 225 pounds.

Trouppe got 10 A.B. for the 1952 Cleveland Indians.  On May 3, 1952, he caught RHP Sam Jones in the bottom of the seventh at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., to become the first African-American batterymates in American League history.  Bob Feller started that contest for Cleveland.  https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WS1/WS1195205030.shtml And Griffith Stadium was where Joshua Gibson hit many long home runs!

On May 1, 1952, at Wrigley Field, Joe Black pitched the sixth, for Brooklyn, with Roy Campanella catching.  So, Campanella and Black were the first African-American batterymates in National League history.  Three-time National League MVP Campanella once said: “Everything I could do, Josh could do better.” Walter Johnson said this of Gibson: “He can do everything.  He hits the ball a mile.  He catches so easy he might as well be in a rocking chair.  Throws like a rifle.” Monte Irvin said it best: “I played with Willie Mays and against Hank Aaron.  They were tremendous players, but they were no Josh Gibson.” These quotes plus the above one attributed to Satchel Paige were included in this Andrew Simon blog:

https://www.mlb.com/history/negro-leagues/players/josh-gibson

Thanks to Miguel Dupouy Gómez for a detailed and valuable blog on Joshua Gibson, including his 1940 season with Centauros de Maracaibo.  Thanks to Juan Vené for memories of watching Gibson play for Centauros. Quincy Trouppe shared thoughts on playing in Mexico and Venezuela.  Bill Wright provided input on Gibson and Trouppe in Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Bill Greason expressed views on player-manager Trouppe with 1950 Jalisco.  Tomás Morales’ 2015 blog on Joshua Gibson in Mexico was helpful.  Ditto for Andrew Simon’s mlb.com blog titled “Josh Gibson: A Larger-Than-Life Legend.” Raúl Ramos’ November 21, 2018 blog—“Vidal López, el Shohei Otani original” at Con Las Bases Llenas—was valuable. Jorge Colón Delgado, Official Historian, Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League, did the editing and photo placements.

1 thought on “Joshua Gibson and Quincy Trouppe in Venezuela and Mexico: Part III”

  1. My biggest surprise in this fantastic info is how many of the same black players I saw play in P.R also played in other countries, often during the same year!

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