Cuban Giants Go to Bats with Mountain A.C. at Fleischmann's - August 10-12, 1903
Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Game's players draw a connection between the first all black professional baseball club featuring Bill "Hippo" Galloway - the last person of color to play in an integrated professional baseball game before Jackie Robinson - and two revered Jewish-American ball players.
In the Fleischmanns Museum of Memories there's a crisp image of the Cuban Giants taken at the Mountain Athletic Club Grounds by Will Earl during their three-game series with the M.A.C. over the weekend of August 10-12, 1903.
Much has been written about the Cuban Giants, who are actually from New Jersey and not from Cuba as their name suggests. Founded in 1885, they were the first professional baseball team composed entirely of African-Americans. The Cuban Giants spent over 20 years in the barnstorming circuit competing with white amateur clubs including many Upstate New York teams such as Oneonta Stars, Gloversville AJG's, and others. They were also a dominant force in the Negro League. For more info on their Club's history, start with their Wikipedia page.
It was not the first time that the Cuban Giants came to these mountains. In fact, the Pine Hill Sentinel reported on August 28, 1897 that the Cuban X-Giants - a derivative of the all professional Cuban Giants - beat up good on the M.A.C. on August 20th taking the first match by a score of 16-4 and then 12-6 the next day. Apparently, the M.A.C. was looking for another crack at 'em because the Sentinel reported on September 4, 1897 that they were to return again to play at the Margaretville Fair. Results of that contest have yet to be uncovered.
Hippo Galloway: First and Last in 1899
The most interesting thing about the Cuban Giants club that visited Fleischmanns in 1903 was their second-baseman, Bill "Hipple" Galloway (shown standing on the right in the above image). It was MLB Historian, John Thorn that first drew attention to Galloway and this photo in his 2004 homage to Fleischmanns, Mangled Forms.
Webster defines hipple as "a small heap." His nickname apparently became "Hippo" at some point later on. Galloway was born Dunnville, Ontario and in 1899 he became perhaps the earliest person of color in hockey while playing for Woodstock in the Central Ontario Hockey Association. Later that Summer, Galloway played for the Woodstock Bains, a professional baseball club in the Canadian League. According to GreatestHockeyLegends.com, Galloway left the Bains in 1899 after he was released when a white American import on the team objected to playing with a negro. A local sportswriter cried: "An effort should be made to keep Hippo in town. Our hockey team needs him." It would take another forty-seven years for a professional baseball team to racially-integrate with the advent of Jackie Robinson's debut at Ebbets Field with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.
For Hippo's place in sports trivia as having been perhaps the first black hockey player and the last black professional baseball player prior to formal integration, artist and baseball historian, Gary Cieradkowski featured Galloway in his book, "The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball's Forgotten Heroes."
'Goldie' Abe Goldburg: A Star of the M.A.C.'s
A scorecard in the Fleischmanns Museum of Memories for the first game in the series shows pitcher Abe Goldburg tossed a gem, allowing only one run (scored by Galloway) and besting the "Cubans" by a score of 3-1 in nine innings. A second scorecard (from the collection of Terry Pultz) for a contest on the following day appears in the No. 19 edition of the Fleischmanns Flyer published by Purple Mountain Press in 1976. That card shows the M.A.C. was downed by a score of 6-3 in seven innings. Goldburg played centerfield.
Though I wasn't able to ascertain a score for the third game on Monday, it apparently did happen. Professor E.L. Countryman was there...whoever that was I cannot say, but he was important enough to mention his presence in the Delaware Gazette:
Goldie was apparently a fixture in baseball in Delaware County in the 19 aughts. He appears with the M.A.C. around 1904, the Delhi club in 1909 and Managed the Walton RifRaffs in 1910:
Al Schacht: "The Clown Prince of Baseball"
In another connection to the M.A.C., the Walton team managed by Abe Goldburg in 1910 featured a rookie phenom pitcher fresh out of high school from Bronx, NY named Al Schacht. Goldie heard the Board of Education had forbid the kid from pitching scholastic ball because he'd played semi-professionally (on Sundays). So Goldburg - then a school principal in the off-season - offered Schacht $4 per week to join the Walton Rifraffs. Schacht obliged and joined the team Upstate that summer winning thirteen games in a row. Schacht began to clown around during games developing a bit of a comedy routine to entertain fans.
Al Schacht scrapped around for ten years in and out of semi-pro ball before he was called up to the Washington Senators where he pitched for two seasons. In 1920, he was pitching a spot start in place of an inured Walter Johnson when he badly injured his shoulder sliding into second base. Though he defeated the Yankees that day 4-1, Schacht would never win another game and joined the coaching staff in 1921 with Nick Altrock - the number one clown in baseball whose performances would gain him fanfare (and a salary) rivaling that of Babe Ruth. Altrock was one of several future major leaguers that played with Julius Fleischmann's M.A.C. in 1900 before turning pro.
Altrock and Schacht were coaches on that Senator's club in 1921 and roomed together. Although their relationship off the field was tense, they managed to become partners-in-shtick and clowned together until Schacht and Joe Cronin were traded to Boston in 1934. Following the split, Schacht continued as "The Clown Prince of Baseball" entertaining legions of baseball fans and even touring overseas entertaining American troops in WWII. All told, Schacht performed at 25 World Series and 18 All-Star Games.
So, I jumped around a little bit here, but it just goes to show that - like a movie starring Kevin Bacon - there might only be seven degrees of separation between any ball player and the Mountain Athletic Club. The Major Leagues are a indeed a small world.
Sources (in order of reference): Fleischmanns Museum of Memories, John Thorn, greatesthockeylegends.com, Gary Cieradkowski, Bob Mayer, Delaware County Historical Association, nyhistoricnewspapers.com, Ralph Berger - SABR BioProject Al Schacht, jewishbaseballmuseum.com