Martin Dihigo Autograph
This delicate sheet of paper boasts the hard to find signature of one of baseball’s hardiest men -- the legendary Cuban Martin Dihigo, arguably the best all-around ballplayer ever, black or white. Dihigo wrote on the 3 x 6” sheet his full name “Martin Dihigo Llanos”, the date August 16, 1946, with “Torreon Mex.” in the upper right-hand corner, indicating he was playing in the Mexican League at the time and was 40 years old. While Jackie Robinson would break the major league color barrier a year later, it was too late for Dihigo, though he kept on playing into his mid-40s out of his love for the game. Dihigo’s career was legendary but rarely seen by white Americans. Famously, he could play all 9 positions, though he most excelled as a pitcher and centerfielder all over the Western Hemisphere since 1923, periodically in the Negro Leagues, and his epic mano-a-mano battles against Satchel Paige still echo in the Caribbean’s breezes. Elected to the U.S., Mexican, Venezuelan and Cuban HOFs, he was revered in his native land, and particularly in his home town of Cienfuegos, where he died in 1971. Known as “El Immortal,” a statue of him stands today in front of Havana’s Estadio Latinoamericano, where Cienfuegos won the Cuban League title the year prior in ‘46. Dihigo’s signature is a rare treat for collectors, and this might just the best one around, big and bold and graceful, just as he was, and applied in blue-gray ink contrasting nicely with the lightly toned sheet of paper – a NRMT marker by any standard. The sheet itself is a technical G-VG for the slightly irregular borders with mild foxing/soiling, but the writing itself is unaffected and displays very impressively. A tight framing would elevate the condition to near pristine status.