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Alejandro Oms

Alejandro Oms
Nicknames: El Caballero, Walla Walla, Papa

Career: 1917-1935
Positions: cf, lf, rf, p
Teams: Cuban Stars (East) (1917, 1922-1932), All Cubans (1921), New York Cubans (1935)
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Height: 5' 9''   Weight: 190
Born: March 13, 1895, Santa Clara, Cuba
Died: November 9, 1946

Flanked by Bernardo Barn and Pablo Mesa, Oms was the centerfielder of the great outfield of the Eastern Colored League's Cuban Stars of the 1920s. He had exceptional range and an accurate but not strong arm. A colorful player, if a game was not close he would give the crowd a show by catching fly balls behind his back. He also was a very fast base runner and a skilled base stealer but was best known for his batting ability. A left-handed batter, he was a great hitter, hit to all fields with power, and was credited with setting a record of 40 home runs in the early '20s. During the six-year history of the Eastern-Colored League (1923-1928) he batted third except for two years when he hit cleanup behind Martin Dihigo, and hit for averages of .400, .326, .318, .342, .348, and .308.

In 1929 he and two other players were suspended by the ballclub for not reporting. After a year's absence he returned to the team, and four years later the slugging outfielder batted cleanup and hit .381 to help the New York Cubans win the second-half title before losing to the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the 1935 Negro National League championship playoff series. That season, his last year in the Negro Leagues, Oms was selected to play in the East-West All Star game and went 2-for-4 in his only All Star game appearance. He began his Negro Leagues career in 1921 and finished with a .332 batting average for the years he spent with the Cuban teams in the United States.

He was a gentleman and controlled his temper, never arguing with an umpire. However, he did devise an unusual ploy to filter out anything that he chose not to hear, pretending not to speak or understand English until one day when he blew his cover after being hit in the head by a pitch and asking teammates to "give me some water" when they gathered around as he lay on the ground after being revived.

During the latter years of his baseball career, during the 1940s, after he had stopped playing in the Negro Leagues, he played in Venezuela and was the league's top defensive outfielder in 1943. In Cuba, earlier in his career, playing primarily in his hometown of Santa Clara, he earned the nickname "El Caballero" and set records for hitting over .300 eleven times, eight of those times consecutively. His lifetime Cuban batting average was .351 for fifteen years during the interval 1922-1946, with five intermittent winter seasons when he did not play in Cuba.

He led the league three times in batting with averages of .393, .432, and .380. Including these marks, his yearly batting averages from 1922 to 1930 were .436, .381, .393, .324, .366, .328, .432, and .380. His last three seasons were not in succession, but his marks were .389 (1931-1932), .311 (1935-1936), and .315 (1937-1938). He displayed his speed in 1931-32 when he led the league with 14 stolen bases. His power performance is illustrated by his back-to-back slugging percentages of .619 and .572 in 1928-1930. A proven winner, he played on four championship teams. For his remarkable diamond feats in his homeland, he was elected to the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1944. His skills and playing style were considered to be similar to those of Paul Waner.

Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.