By Gary Ashwill
We are pleased to announce the addition of 1944 Mexican League statistics to the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database.
Special thanks to Steve Peissig, who provided fielding stats for the 1944 Mexican League, which makes this the most statistically complete Mexican League season we’ve released to date. Also, this helped us to, for the first time, split out playing records for players who played for more than one team.
For the 1944 Mexican League season, the league again featured only six teams. The Union Laguna team based in Torreon, which had finished only a half-game out of first place in 1943, was replaced by a new La Junta club in Nuevo Laredo. This was a different “franchise” from the 1940 La Junta de Nuevo Laredo. Out of the 138 league players, 34 were “Negro Leaguers” in at least one other season. The World War seems to have impacted the number of Negro League imports. Martín Dihigo, Willie Wells, Chet Brewer, Quincy Trouppe, Wild Bill Wright and Silvio García were some of the biggest names who went south of the border.
But the biggest news may have been who Azules de Veracruz hired as their manager – Rogers Hornsby. The 48-year-old Hornsby only lasted a couple of weeks before he quit, but during that time he put himself at bat in two games, resulting in a double, a walk, and three RBIs. This is the last known professional hit for the Hall of Famer.
The pennant race was close in 1944, with Azules de Veracruz, even without Hornsby, able to finish on top, 2 games ahead of Industriales de Monterrey, and 2½ games ahead of Pericos de Puebla. Veracruz was led by Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Ramón Bragaña, who in addition to taking over managerial duties from Hornsby, went 30-8 on the mound, pitching an incredible 325 innings in a 90-game schedule.
Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Lázaro Salazar of Monterrey had a great two-way season, going 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and hitting .379/.495/.498 as a first baseman. And like Bragana, he also managed the team. Cuban outfielder Alberto Hernandez of Pueblo led the league with a .395 batting average. Cuban-born catcher Salvador ‘Chico’ Hernández, fresh off two years as a backup for the Chicago Cubs, caught all 91 games for Veracruz while hitting .305/.398/.501.
Also of note, 20-year-old Roberto ‘Bobby’ Ávila, after struggling as a rookie in 1943, had a breakout year, finishing sixth in batting average and leading the league in triples.
Note: Additional games have also been added to the database for the 1947 Negro Leagues season.
Coming soon: The 1945 Mexican League season, 1924 ECL fielding & complete pitching stats, 1939 NNL & NAL fielding & complete pitching stats, more games between Negro league teams and white majors & minors, and more Cuban League seasons.
To view the award-winning Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, visit Seamheads.com/NegroLgs/index.php.
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- Read our Q&A with Gary Ashwill about the Negro Leagues Database
Originally published: September 29, 2020. Last Updated: September 29, 2020.