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In his first book, Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, Burgos celebrated the role Latinos played in the development of professional baseball. Here he continues that theme in this highly readable in-depth account of one of the key Latino figures in baseball's early years: Alex Pompez (1890-1974), who overcame an early role in the Harlem numbers racket to become "the most successful force in the incorporation of Latino talent" in U.S. baseball history. Burgos expertly details Pompez's career over seven decades, including his troubled youth in Cuba during the 1900s; his move to the U.S. and his creation in 1923 of the wildly popular Cuban Stars team of the Eastern Colored League; and his role beginning in 1950 as a scout with the New York Giants in the "dismantling of baseball's color line" which not only helped the early careers of future legends Willie Mays and Willie McCovey but also aided such "talented Afro-Latino players" as Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou. Burgos definitively shows how Pompez helped create a "Dominican pipeline" of players that "laid the groundwork for what would become the major leagues' most significant source of foreign-born talent by the end of the twentieth century." (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Burgos' Cuban Star focuses on the rise of one Alex Pompez (1890-1974), who emerged from a Cuban cigar-manufacturing family as a key player in the Spanish Harlem numbers racket in New York City, then an owner in the Negro Leagues, and finally an extraordinary Caribbean scout, who discovered such Latin stars as Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Camilo Pascual, Tony Oliva, and the Alou brothers. In 2006, Pompez was elected a member of the Hall of Fame. Burgos explains in vivid detail the amalgam of talents Pompez brought to the fore: English-Spanish bilingualism, business savvy and toughness, a sympathetic ear for his players, a social network second to none, and keen judgment of talent. For an understanding of the ascension of Latin American baseball players in the U.S., pair this volume with Mark Kurlansky's similarly enlightening The Eastern Stars (2010).--Moores, Alan Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Burgos (history & Latina/Latino studies, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Playing America's Game) delivers the intriguing tale of the Afro-Cuban-American baseball mogul Alex Pompez, a leading Negro League team owner, a numbers racketeer in Harlem, and the man most instrumental in opening up baseball in the United States to Latin American players. The story initially shifts back and forth between the United States and Cuba, following Pompez as he runs black baseball's New York Cubans, lands reluctantly into the arms of mobster Dutch Schultz, finally captures the Negro League title, and becomes the conduit for an infusion of Latino talent into the MLB. Working with the Giants, Pompez helped sign future Hall of Famers Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and Juan Marichal, work that garnered Pompez himself a spot in Cooperstown. Highly recommended for those studying baseball and African American or Latino studies.-R.C. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.