Leovigildo Xiqués (Courtesy of Rory Costello)

Leovigildo Xiqués

This article was written by Rory Costello

Leovigildo Xiqués (Courtesy of Rory Costello)Until the Negro Leagues were officially recognized as major leagues in December 2020, there had never been a big-leaguer whose surname began with X.1 However, the reclassification meant that Cuban outfielder Leovigildo Xiqués — who played with the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns in 1944, 1946, and 1947 — filled this empty niche.

Xiqués also played in Mexico in 1945 and in his homeland from 1944 through 1948. He was the Cuban winter league’s Rookie of the Year for the 1944-45 season. Though he was viewed as talented, ultimately his production was insufficient. Also, sad to relate, he died less than a decade after his playing days ended.

As shown on his World War II draft card, Leovigildo Xiqués Lugo was born on September 23, 1917, in Cuba’s capital, La Habana. Research has not yet revealed anything more about the Xiqués family. Like many Latino players, however, this man became known by his maternal family name in the U.S. — the alias “Leo Lugo” was in effect. This may have stemmed from perceived difficulty in pronouncing Xiqués (in Spanish, it’s he-KESS).

Xiqués, who threw and batted right-handed, stood six feet even and weighed 163 pounds. He first came to attention with Orbay y Cerrato, a Cuban semipro team sponsored by a furniture company.2 Cuban baseball author Roberto González Echevarría described Xiqués as “a strong young black.”3

The outfielder was already 26 by the time his career in the U.S. began. He entered the country on a Pan Am flight from Cuba on April 9, 1944, and joined the Clowns, who played in the Negro American League. Updated figures on Retrosheet show that he played in 32 games, of which there are verifiable box scores for 28. He stole a league-leading six bases (plus one more in a postseason exhibition game). Based on the 28-game data set, he batted .376 (41-for-109). In his best game, he went 5-for-5 against Chicago at Indianapolis on June 4. He hit no homers but drove in 12 runners. He was impressive enough to be voted to the South All-Star team, going 2-for-4 and driving in the South’s lone run in a 6-1 loss to the North at Pelican Stadium in New Orleans.

Xiqués’ draft card shows his employer as Clowns owner Syd Pollock and his address to be the same as Pollock’s in Tarrytown, New York. In his book Barnstorming to Heaven: Syd Pollock and His Great Black Teams, Pollock’s son Alan mentioned that Xiqués — or Lugo, as he referred to him — was brought to the Clowns by a man named Máximo Sánchez. According to the younger Pollock, Sánchez was a high school English teacher in La Habana, “famous in his home city for being the first man to bring the Harlem Globetrotters to Cuba.” He added that Sánchez “became the Clowns’ most important scout and more; he was focal point for the U.S. entry of the Clowns’ Latin players.”4

That winter, Xiqués gained his first experience in Cuba’s professional league, joining the Almendares Alacranes (Scorpions), also known as the Blues. The Almendares club had been purchased in 1944 by a consortium comprising members of an upper-crust establishment in La Habana: the “prestigious and powerful” Vedado Tennis Club (VTC).5 According to Roberto González Echevarría, “Significantly, the first move the new group of owners made was to name Reinaldo Cordeiro manager. Cordeiro had never played as a professional, but had managed Fortuna [another sporting club], Cuban national teams, and the Vedado Tennis Club.”6

Indeed, under Cordeiro Almendares won the league championship convincingly that winter with a roster that included a number of Cuban big-leaguers. The pitching staff was led by Oliverio “Baby” Ortiz and Tomás de la Cruz, who had hurled for the Washington Senators and Cincinnati Reds, respectively, in 1944. The longstanding presence of Cuban talent in Washington, thanks to scout Joe Cambria, was visible. The catcher was Fermín “Mike” Guerra, also a Senator. The outfielders included yet another Senator, Roberto Ortiz (brother of Oliverio), as well as veteran star Santos Amaro. Xiqués, who hit .326 (31-for-95) with one homer and 11 RBIs, spelled them and Cleveland Clark (who, despite his English name, was Cuban-born).

Xiqués did not return to the U.S. in 1945. He went to the Mexican League instead, but the results were disappointing. He got into 73 games, split among three teams (mostly Tampico, but also Veracruz and Monterrey). Overall, he hit just .209 (52-for-249) with no homers and 23 RBIs. He did have five triples, but lack of extra-base pop was visible in his .268 slugging percentage. An article from the Laredo Times that July, when Xiqués was with Monterrey, referred to him as “the fleet center fielder.”7 He did have 16 steals that summer. (The statistics are from La Enciclopedia del Beisbol Mexicano and differ from those shown on Baseball-Reference.com and Seamheads.com.)

Back in Cuba for the winter of 1945-46, Xiqués had a new team, Cienfuegos. Under manager Adolfo Luque, an old-time Cuban star who’d won 194 games in the majors, Xiqués became part of his second straight league champion. However, coming off his impressive Rookie of the Year production, his .146 average (6-for-41) impressed no one. Two of his fellow Cienfuegos outfielders, Alejandro Crespo and French-Canadian Roland Gladu, were among the league’s leading run producers.8

Xiqués returned to the Clowns in 1946 and received praise in the Indianapolis Recorder, which said that he and first baseman Reece “Goose” Tatum were “expected to give the Clowns their best one-two punch in years.” Tatum, who was also a big basketball attraction with the Harlem Globetrotters, was described as “Negro baseball’s best showman.” Another teammate mentioned was catcher Sam Hairston.9

Xiqués played in left field for the Clowns, flanking center fielder Reinaldo Verdes Drake, a fellow Cuban who had come to the Clowns in 1945, also thanks to Máximo Sánchez. Alan Pollock described them: “Seatmates and roommates, both were good men and excellent players. Lugo spoke Spanish, English and French fluently, and Drake spoke Spanish and English fluently, and between the seatmates, they insulated young Latin players from temptations of travel and taught them the ways of the road.”10

Per Retrosheet, the available statistics show that Xiqués got into 26 games for the Clowns, of which there are box scores for 21. Those show his average at .239 (17-for-71) with no homers and 8 RBIs. A notable outing came on May 12, when he went 3-for-9 in a 20-inning marathon with the Chicago American Giants at Comiskey Park. The game ended in a 3-3 tie. Late that July, the Decatur Daily Review noted, “Timely hitting also has been furnished the team by outfielder Leo Lugo.” That article again singled out Tatum (as both player and showman) and Hairston.11

By Alan Pollock’s account, however, bad blood arose between Tatum and Xiqués. “At 3:00 A.M., on a jump from Minneapolis to Chicago, Goose decided he needed Lugo’s seat. Awakened, Lugo refused and said Goose had best let him sleep. Goose had Chauff [the driver] stop the bus. He took the keys, opened the outside baggage compartment, and grabbed a bat. Back aboard, he raised the bat to club Lugo, but the bat hit the ceiling on the upswing as Chauff started the bus.

“Months later, the Clowns bus pulled over for repairs in the blackness of an Everglades night on Florida’s Tamiami trail. Goose hit Lugo on the back with a bat then, and had it raised a second time, but dropped it and jumped on the bus when someone hollered, ‘Gator!’”12

Ahead of the 1946-47 winter season, Xiqués was slated to play again with Cienfuegos. The Cuban winter league was using “outlaw” players from the majors who had jumped to Mexico in 1946.13

Instead, as it developed, he played for Matanzas in La Liga de la Federación. This league sprang up after entrepreneurs Bobby Maduro and Miguelito Suárez built Havana’s new Gran Stadium. In response, Julio Blanco Herrera — the proprietor of the Cuban winter league’s old ballpark, La Tropical — started a rival circuit. The Federation was in good standing with Organized Baseball, but attendance was poor and losses were heavy. It folded at the end of 1946.14 The scanty available stats show that Xiqués hit .237 (33-for-139) and scored 20 runs. The Matanzas pitching staff included future Dodgers star Don Newcombe and Rogelio “Limonar” Martinez, a former marquee name in Cuban amateur ball who eventually pitched in two games for the 1950 Washington Senators.

The last Negro League action for Xiqués came in 1947. It consisted of just three games for the Clowns, in which (per Retrosheet) he went 1-for-8 (.125). Several articles from that summer mention Xiqués — again under the name Lugo — as a member of the Havana La Palomas, also operated by Syd Pollock as a Clowns farm team.15 One of them showed that club facing the Harlem Globetrotters — not the basketball team, but rather the baseball team of the same name, owned and operated by the same impresario, Abe Saperstein.16

The outfielder’s professional career concluded in Cuba in the winter of 1947-48. Xiqués was back with Almendares but managed just one hit in 25 at-bats (.040). Overall, during four seasons in his homeland, Xiqués hit .237 in 300 at-bats.

As with his early life, nothing is presently known of Xiqués’ life after baseball, any family that he may have formed as an adult, or what caused his untimely death. Leovigildo Xiqués Lugo died in La Habana on March 5, 1956. He was just 38 years old. His remains are in the Pantheon of Baseball Players (Panteón de Peloteros) in La Habana’s Colón Cemetery (El Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón).17



Thanks to these members of SABR’s Cuban Baseball Research Group for their efforts in finding information about the life of Leovigildo Xiqués: Reynaldo Cruz, Óscar Fernández, Yasel Porto, and José I. Ramírez.

Continued thanks to Eric Costello and Clemente Amézaga for additional research.

This biography was reviewed by Gregory H. Wolf and Jan Finkel and checked for accuracy by members of SABR’s fact-checking team.




Jorge S. Figueredo, Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878-1961, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company (2003).

Alex Painter, Blackball in the Hoosier Heartland, Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu Publishing (2020).

Pedro Treto Cisneros (ed.), Enciclopedia del Béisbol Mexicano, Mexico City, Mexico: Revistas Deportivas, S.A. de C.V. (11th edition, 2011).







1 Although “Leo Lugo” was the name by which this man was known in the Negro Leagues — and ipso facto, the major leagues — baseball reference sites give Leovigildo Xiqués as his “use name.” This stands in contrast to the cases of the Alou brothers, Luis Olmo, and Chico Ruiz, among other examples of Latino players whose “use names” in the majors differed from how they were known in their homelands. Gary Ashwill of Seamheads.com stated in an e-mail to Rory Costello on July 19, 2022, “I have preferred to use Xiqués (with a note that he played in the U.S. as ‘Leo Lugo’) because that’s how he was known in his home country as well as the other Spanish-speaking country in which he played, my assumption being that they were much more apt to render his name correctly.” On the same day, Jacob Pomrenke, SABR’s Director of Editorial Content, added, “In Leovigildo Xiqués’ case — as with most players whose names were Anglicized (with or without their consent) by their teams, families, or the media — I think we ought to err on the side of using his given name, unless there’s an extremely compelling reason to continue using ‘Leo Lugo’ anywhere.”

2 Roberto González Echevarría, The Pride of Havana, New York: Oxford University Press (2000): 205.

3 González Echevarría, The Pride of Havana: 291.

4 Alan Pollock, Barnstorming to Heaven: Syd Pollock and his Great Black Teams, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press (2006): 115.

5 Joseph L. Scarpaci, Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press (2002): 109.

6 González Echevarría, The Pride of Havana: page number not available online.

7 “Powerful Monterrey Plays Here Thursday,” Laredo Times, July 18, 1945: 7.

8 René Canizares, “Cienfuegos Club, Piloted by Luque, Wins Cuban Title,” The Sporting News, March 7 8, 1946: 7.

9 “Clowns Play Double Bill with Monarchs,” Indianapolis Recorder, April 27, 1946: 11.

10 Pollock, Barnstorming to Heaven: 133.

11 “Monarchs Lead Loop Batting,” Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review, July 25, 1946: 5.

12 Pollock, Barnstorming to Heaven: 133.

13 “Cubans Name Ineligibles on Winter League Roster,” The Sporting News, September 25, 1946: 24.

14 René Canizares, “Cuban Winter League Rival Ends Season,” The Sporting News, January 8, 1947: 17.

15 Pollock, Barnstorming to Heaven: 149.

16 “Globetrotters, Cubans Battle Here Tonight,” Decatur Daily Review, August 30, 1947: 6.

17 Death date and burial site came to light via research done by Dr. Oscar Fernández (SABR member from La Habana), who has created a database using the official registry of the Colón Cemetery.

Full Name

Leovigildo Xiqués Lugo


September 23, 1917 at Havana, La Habana (Cuba)


March 5, 1956 at Havana, La Habana (Cuba)

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