A 120 years old gentleman

This March 13 marked the 120 years of the birth of one of the best players in the history of Cuban baseball. Cosme Alejandro Oms, or simply “El Caballero Oms’ (The gentleman Oms) – has been one of the great figures of Cuban sports. Beyond a street named after him in Santa Clara or his election by the people among the hundred best athletes of the Cuban twentieth century little is known of the sublime player.

Historian Felix Julio Alfonso, always attentive to the rich baseball history of this country, reminds me about him, and early morning does not prevent the performance of work. Oms, Cristóbal Torriente, the Black Diamond and Adolfo Luque deserve memories as great ancestors of the sport.

Alejandro Oms participated in 16 championships of the General Baseball League of Cuba and three separate tournaments. He was, along with Pablo «Champion» Mesa and Oscar Charleston, architect in the triumph of mythical Leopardos de Santa Clara that in the 1923-1924 season equaled the difficult record of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894, batting collectively for 343. To make that feat even more impressive they had an eleven and a half lead over second place Havana.

In the Cuban tournament was the third highest average hitter League (average of 345 with 627 hits in 1820 at-bats), fifth in runs scored (373), sixth in triples (35) and eighth in doubles (99). He holds the record for most consecutive seasons connecting over 300 with 8, and more seasons with tat average with 11. In 1928 he set a record of 30 consecutive games hitting at least a hit, from October 31 until December 24. He batted in the campaign for an astronomical 432 that seems from another galaxy.

For fourteen seasons in the Negro Leagues in the United States he hit 332 with 495 slugging and magnificent OBP of 404. He was inducted to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame. He also played two championships in the Dominican League in 1929 and 1937, and did so well in the Venezuelan ball.

In the twilight of his career and life had virtually no money to live; Conrado Marrero, head of Cienfuegos in the 1945-1946 season, decided to help him and put him on the roster for him to receive some money that way. He had only two at-bats as a pinch-hitter: in one he was walked by Pedro “Natilla” Jimenez and ended his work as an active baseball player striking out against another illustrious Villa Clara pitcher: lefty Agapito Mayor. He died of tuberculosis in 1946, in a sanatorium in Havana, poor and forgotten by all

The greatest recognition he received in life was to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1944. The main entrance of the stadium “Augusto Cesar Sandino” of Villa Clara province where he was born has a picture of him on the wall with his uniform and a summary of his work, but few stop to contemplate the exemplary record of the Santa Clara player.

The man made the Leopards of Santa Clara great in the 20s and 30s of last century alone remains alive in the streets of his hometown. Nobody remembers the 120 years old gentleman.

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