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Bernardo Baro

Bernardo Baro

Career: 1913-1930
Positions: 1b, rf, cf, p, c
Teams: Cuban Stars (1913), New York Cuban Stars, (1916), Cuban Stars-West (1917-1921), Cuban Stars-East (1922-1929), Kansas City Monarchs (1930)
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Born: Cuba
Died: June 1930, Cuba

A brilliant outfielder, he could make all the plays but "showed off" too much in the field. The small, light complected Cuban starred in centerfield with the Cuban Stars in the Eastern Colored League, and in 1923-1924 he formed, along with Pablo Mesa and Alejandro Oms, one of the greatest outfields in black baseball history. A left-handed batter, the veteran outfielder was a five-point player, a player who can run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power. (These are the five points that scouts look for in a player.) He was an excellent hitter who hit to all fields with extra-base power and was a good bunter. He was very fast and a great base runner, and had wide range in the field and a good arm.

He was a violent man, edgy, quick-tempered, and ready to fight. He once threatened an opposing player with a bat. In retaliation, he was hit by a fastball by Juanelo Mirabal and broke his ankle. In 1924 he suffered a compound fracture of the leg while running into the stands to get a foul ball, and it was feared that his career would be over. Surgery was required, and after the last operation, it was reported that one leg would be shorter and that he would have a limp. However, although he had lost his once exceptional speed, the gritty competitor refused to give up and continued to play for another half-dozen seasons.

The Cuban began his career as a pitcher in 1915 with Almendares in his homeland. The following year he came to the United States as the regular right fielder on owner Alejandro Pompez's 1916 Cuban Stars, but also did some pitching. However, existing statistics from five seasons show his combined record to be 2-6. At the plate he was much more productive, hitting .337, .347, .381, and .364 for the years 1920-23.

Returning after his injury, he played first base for the first two seasons back in the lineup, but moved back to the outfield and hit .300, .292, and .275 for the years 1927-1929 to conclude his career with the Cuban Stars in both leagues.

Playing in his homeland during the winter seasons, primarily with Almendares, he had a lifetime Cuban League batting average of .313 for an intermittent eleven-year career that scanned the period of 1915-1929. His best year came in 1922-1923, when he led the league with a .401 average. Other sterling seasons showed averages of .364 and .352 (1918-1920), two consecutive seasons of .309 (1925-1927), and .311 (1928-1929). Playing with Almendares in a 1920 series against the New York Giants, he hit .405, with I home run and 6 doubles in 37 at-bats for a slugging average of .649. In honor of his great career, he was elected to the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1945.

In 1929, while playing in the Negro Leagues, Baro suffered a "mental collapse" and had to be restrained with a straitjacket. The next year, he closed out his Negro Leagues career with a lifetime batting average of .302, after appearing with the Kansas City Monarchs for a portion of the season. After leaving the Monarchs he returned to Cuba, and a short time later, in June 1930, he died suddenly in his homeland.

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