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From BR Bullpen
Alejandro Crespo y Quinonez (Filete, Alex, Home Run)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 206 lb.
Alejandro Crespo led his leagues five times in doubles, four times in RBI, twice in hits, twice in average, once in triples, once in homers, once in steals and once in runs. His only drawback offensively was a middling walk rate.
Crespo debuted in the 1939-1940 Cuban Winter League, playing for Cienfuegos. He hit .339 and slugged .452 as a superb rookie. He led his team in RBI (28) and runs (36), outperforming teammates like Mule Suttles and Ray Dandridge who would wind up in the Hall of Fame. In early 1940, the Cincinnati Reds visited Cuba and Crespo cracked a grand slam off Johnny Vander Meer.
Alex took his bat to the USA in 1940 with the New York Cubans. Hitting cleanup, he batted .255, but still made the East team for the 1940 East-West Game. Pinch-hitting for Ed Stone in the 6th, he stayed in the game in left field and wound up 1 for 2 with a triple (off Hilton Smith), run, RBI and time hit by pitch. Crespo was back with Cienfuegos in 1940-1941, hitting .288 and slugging .404. He led the league with 3 homers and 15 steals and his 29 RBI were one behind pacesetter Sungo Carrera. He was named to the All-Star outfield alongside Bobby Estalella and Helio Mirabal.
Crespo came to the Mexican League in 1941 and batted .361/.423/.579 with 14 triples, 90 runs and 86 RBI in 104 games for the Torreon Cotton Dealers. He led the league with 36 doubles as well, was 7th in average and tied Dandridge for third in RBI, trailing only Josh Gibson and Santos Amaro. Alejandro fell to .232/?/.328 for Cienfuegos in 1941-1942 but led the circuit with 12 doubles and joined Amaro and Estalella as the All-Star outfielders. In an exhibition series against the 1942 Dodgers, he went 4 for 21 but made a leaping catch to rob Pee Wee Reese of a home run.
At age 27, he hit .332/.379/.466 withy 50 RBI in 61 games for Torreon in 1942. Returning to Cienfuegos for the winter, he batted .337 and slugged .433 as the bright spot on a last-place entry. He led the CWL in average, hits (63) and doubles (12) and joined Jacinto Roque and Roberto Ortiz as the All-Star outfielders. In '43, he put up a .331/.385/.542 line for Torreon, with 31 doubles, 13 triples and 70 RBI in 87 contests. He tied Dandridge and Wild Bill Wright for the league lead in RBI and led in both doubles and triples.
Alejandro hit .260 and slugged .341 for the 1943-1944 Cienfuegos club, leading Cuba with 11 doubles. In 1944, he batted .316/.363/.498 with 10 triples and 83 RBI in 91 games for the Nuevo Laredo Owls, tying Silvio Garcia for third in RBI. In the winter, he hit .296/?/.362 for Cienfuegos and his 29 RBI tied Andrés Fleitas for the lead. He joined Claro Duany and Pedro Pages as the All-Star flyhawks.
The veteran slugger's batting line for the 1945 Owls read .311/.384/.489 with 10 triples, 79 RBI and 84 runs in 90 games. He ranked 5th in the Mexican League in RBI after Duany, Ortiz, Garcia and Pancho Coimbre. In 1945-1946, he hit .298 and slugged .405 for Cienfuegos. He led the league in hits (72) and RBI (35) and his five triples were one behind the lead. He helped Cienfuegos to its first title in 15 years, winning him not only All-Star honors (joining Roland Gladu, Pages and Ducky Davenport in the outfield) but also the MVP.
Crespo got his second look at US baseball in 1946. He hit .419 for the New York Cubans. Had he qualified, he would have been second in the Negro National League in average, trailing only Josh Gibson. In 1946-1947, he not only failed to repeat as MVP, but he failed to make the All-Star team for just the second time in the 1940s, hitting just .231 with a .324 slugging percentage. He was back in Mexico for the summer of 1947 and hit .293/.346/.427 for the Puebla Parrots. He led the circuit with 96 RBI, 14 more than the runner-ups, Roberto Ortiz and Bobby Estalella, both former major leaguers and 17 ahead of #4 Gladu, another player with big league experience.
Alejandro starred in the 1947-1948 Cuban Players League, splitting time between two clubs and hitting .271 with a .376 slugging percentage. His 53 RBI were second, two behind Ortiz and his 19 doubles were also second, two behind Ortiz. He was named as one of the All-Star outfielders (Ortiz and Luis Olmo were the other two players tabbed). In '48, he hit .311/.365/.438 for Puebla. Back with Cienfuegos in 1948-1949 after one winter away, he batted .326 and slugged .451. He led the CWL in average and his 40 RBI were third behind Lenny Pearson and Monte Irvin. He joined Irvin and Hank Thompson as the All-Star outfielders; it was his 7uth and last All-Star selection in Cuba.
Crespo sat out the summer of 1949, the first time he had not played summer baseball. The 34-year-old was back in a Cienfuegos uniform for the winter but looked rusty (.244 AVG, .344 SLG). In 1950, he played for Mexico's Veracruz Eagle, going 25 for 78 with four doubles, two homers and ten walks. He split 1950-1951 between Cienfuegos and Habana, batting .234 and slugging .360; with Habana, he won his second CWL pennant. He went 1 for 5 for the club in the 1951 Caribbean Series, pushed into an unfamiliar backup role.
In 1951, Crespo batted .301/.363/.412 for Veracruz to end his Mexican League career. He hit .253/?/.392 for Habana in 1951-1952 as they won another title. He was atrocious in the 1952 Caribbean Series, going 0 for 16; Habana still won it all thanks to the stardom of a younger outfielder, Sandy Amoros. In 1952-1953, he won a third straight title with Habana, but was now a backup behind Amoros, Bob Usher and Pedro Formental, hitting .266 and slugging .372. He went 1 for 3 in the 1953 Caribbean Series.
Alejandro ended his CWL career with the 1953-1954 Marianao Tigers, going only 8 for 50 with 6 runs, 2 RBI, no extra-base hits and no steals, a shadow of his former self. At age 40, he got his one look at Organized Baseball, the color barrier now gone. He appeared with the Charlotte Hornets (.254, .407 SLG) and Hobbs Sports (.324, .534 SLG, 16 HR in 87 G; 1-2, 1.20 as a pitcher).
He was also noted for his aggressive base-running and head-first slides.
Overall, Crespo hit .320/.375.,485 with 565 RBI in 712 games in the Mexican League, .306/?/.501 with 19 homers in one season at age 40 in the US minors and likely over .300 in two Negro League seasons. When the CWL ended in 1961, Crespo ranked among the all-time leaders in at-bats (2,886, 4th behind Hector Rodriguez, Silvio Garcia and Minnie Miñoso), runs (369, 6th, between Alejandro Oms and Amoros), hits (794, 4th behind Rodriguez, Garcia and Miñoso), doubles (130, tied for fist with Rodriguez), triples (39, tied for 6th with Cristobal Torriente) and RBI (415, second to Rodriguez).
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
- Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester
- Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros