November 16, 1893|
|Died: April 11, 1938
New York City,
|Negro leagues debut|
|1912, for the Habana Baseball Club|
|1932, for the Cleveland Cubs|
|Career highlights and awards|
Cuban Winter League Baseball
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
Cristóbal Torriente (November 16, 1893 – April 11, 1938) was a Cuban outfielder in Negro league baseball with the Cuban Stars, All Nations, Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs and Detroit Stars. He played from 1912 to 1932. Torriente was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Cuban League career
A native of Cienfuegos, Cuba, Torriente played in his homeland from 1913–1927 and holds the record for the highest career batting average in Cuban winter league history (.352). He earned two batting titles and hit as high as .402. In 1920, his team, Almendares, played a nine-game series against the New York Giants. The Giants added Babe Ruth for this tour of Cuba. Torriente outhit Ruth in most categories and Almendares beat the Giants, five games to four. Along with Martín Dihigo and José Méndez, Torriente is considered one of the greatest baseball players from Cuba. He was one of the first class of inductees of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
Negro league career
Torriente played much of the summer of 1915 and 1916 for the "Western" Cuban Stars team until an argument arose with the St. Louis manager in 1916. He tracked down former teammate and friend José Méndez and was hired by J. L. Wilkinson to play for his All Nations just before a big series with C. I. Taylor's Indianapolis ABCs and Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants. Torriente would play several years for both teams.
Torriente played on the great Chicago American Giants teams of 1918–1925. Torriente led the American Giants to Negro National League pennants from 1920 to 1922 while batting .411, .338, and .342 for these seasons. He won the batting title in 1920 and in 1923 with a .412 average. Torriente was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs in 1926 and led the team with a .381 batting average. He retired from the Negro leagues with a career .331 average.
Torriente was primarily a pull hitter, though he could hit with power to all fields. He had a stocky and slightly bowlegged build, but was known for deceptive power and a strong, accurate arm from center field. Indianapolis ABC's manager C.I. Taylor stated, "If I see Torriente walking up the other side of the street, I would say, 'There walks a ballclub.'" In the 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James ranked Torriente as the 67th greatest baseball player ever. Torriente was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Torriente was notorious for his love of the nightlife and this caused him disputes with team management throughout his career. Torriente was sent to the bench in front of 8,000 spectators in 1915 after he "kicked to an Umpire." He put on his street clothes and sat on the bench, then Umpire Goekle sent him to the bleachers, and sent an officer of the law after him. In 1923, he was sent out of the game in the third inning after objecting to Umpire Gholson's call at second base. He reportedly used "awful" language, then threw dirt on the Umpire's "newly creased trousers." His temper caused him to walk off the Monarchs in 1926 after a dispute involving a stolen diamond ring.
- "All Nations Tackle the American Giants" Chicago Defender, September 23, 1916, Page 5
- "Beckwith's Home Run Didn't Win Against Mendez" Chicago Defender, National Edition, May 5, 1923, Page 10
- "Stars Even Series With Republics" Detroit Free Press, July 17, 1920, Page 12, Column 5
- "The Cuban Stars Take Series From American Giants." Indianapolis Freeman, Saturday July 17, 1915, Page 4, Columns 4 to 6