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Alex Pompez

Alex Pompez

Alejandro Pompez

  • Born May 14, 1890 in Key West, FL USA
  • Died March 14, 1974 in New York, NY USA

Alejandro "Alex" Pompez (May 14, 1890 - March 14, 1974) was an American executive in Negro league baseball who owned the Cuban Stars (East) and New York Cubans franchises from 1916 to 1950. Outside of baseball and numbers he was educated as an attorney and he had owned and operated a cigar shop in downtown Manhattan. He later served as a scout, and as director of international scouting, for the Giants franchise in Major League Baseball.

Born in Key West, Florida to Cuban immigrant parents, he signed numerous Latin American players for his Negro League teams, including Martín Dihigo, Minnie Miñoso and Alejandro Oms. He also helped organize the first Negro League World Series in 1924.

Alex Pompez was one of the Negro National League's finest promoters. He bought the New York Cuban Stars after having made money in the Harlem numbers racket. Pompez was instrumental in getting lights installed for night games in 1930, eight years earlier than the first major league night game.

Pompez, like many owners of eastern Negro League teams, was involved with organized crime figures. He was one of New York's leading numbers bankers during the 1920s but was forced to join Dutch Schultz in 1932. His connections with Dutch Schultz's organization led to his indictment in 1936 for involvement in policy rackets when New York County District Attorney Thomas Dewey selected him as one of the targets in a crackdown on New York City racketeering. Pompez fled to Mexico after being tipped off to his arrest; he was eventually arrested by Mexican authorities, but Mexican officials refused to extradite him. Pompez decided to return to the U.S. as a state witness in the investigation.

He returned to field a team in 1939. During the 1940s, Pompez served as vice president of the Negro National League.

In 1948, Pompez agreed to make the Cubans a farm club for the New York Giants. Through this agreement, the Cubans were able to play at the Polo Grounds when the Giants were on the road.

Giants owner Horace Stoneham often asked Pompez for recommendations on players from the Caribbean. Pompez helped hundreds of young players make the leap from sugar cane fields to major league ball fields. Among his notable signees were Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Oliva, and Camilo Pascual. The Guides list Pompez as a scout for the New York Giants/San Francisco Giants from 1952 to 1974.

When the Hall of Fame began electing players from the Negro Leagues, Pompez was asked to serve on the committee. He was responsible for helping to elect the first four classes of Negro Leaguers to the Hall.

Alex Pompez died in 1974 at age 83. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election on February 27, 2006.

Further Reading

  • Adrian Burgos, Jr.: Cuban Star: How One Negro-League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball, Farar, Strauss & Giroux, New York, NY, 2011.
By BR Bullpen

 

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