Brunt: Carlos Paula, the man who integrated the Washington Senators

From Larry Brunt at on August 18, 2016:

When the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum began its Digital Archive Project, one of the first collections digitized was the photographs of Osvaldo Salas – one of the most striking-yet-rarely-seen collections of baseball images known.

Salas was born in Cuba in 1914 and immigrated with his family to New York when he was 14 years old. He held a number of jobs before becoming a press photographer, whose images were published in Life and the New York Times. Salas loved baseball, and was especially interested in the black and Latino players were who becoming the new face of baseball in the 1950s. Many of his photographs are currently on exhibit on the third floor of the Museum, including a rare portrait of a player named Carlos Paula.

Paula’s story, however, remains largely untold.

Heading into the 1954 Spring Training, Washington Senators’ scout Joe Cambria touted Paula as “a player who can do everything well enough to be in the majors.” He will have “the best throwing arm in the outfield, is a terror on the bases, and can hit big league pitching.” Manager Bucky Harris, to whom Paula was nothing more than a rumor, responded, “If this fellow is such a great hitter, then how come he hit only .309 in the Big State League?”

The Washington Post called it “a reasonable question.” Several days later the Post said Cambria can’t be believed when he says a player is “can’t miss,” then adds a quote from Cambria on Paula: “Big, fast, plenty of power. He can’t miss.” The reporters had never seen him play, either.

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Originally published: August 19, 2016. Last Updated: August 19, 2016.