From BR Bullpen
Claro Duany y Hiedra
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 215 lb.
Claro Duany won four batting titles in his career and also led in leagues in hits, homers, doubles, walks and RBI at different times.
Duany debuted in his native Cuba in 1942-1943 at age 25, going just 4 for 30 for a double for the champion Almendares club. He was the 4th outfielder behind Roberto Ortiz, Santos Amaro and Jacinto Roque. In 1943-1944, he hit .273 between Almendares and Habana. He came to the USA in 1944 with the New York Cubans and hit .300, joining Puerto Rican Pancho Coimbre and Dominican Tetelo Vargas in a Pan-Latin American outfield. In 1944-1945, he blossomed back home, hitting .340 for Almendares and Marianao to win the batting title; for comparison's sake, Marianao outfield mate Carden Gillenwater, a major leaguer, batted .200. Duany joined Pedro Pages and Alejandro Crespo as the Cuban Winter League's All-Star outfielders.
Claro went to the Monterrey Sultans of the Mexican League in 1945 and hit .375/.457/.552 with 31 doubles and 100 RBI in 93 games. He led the league in hits (140), tied Carlos Blanco for the most doubles, led in average (9 points ahead of Hall-of-Famer Ray Dandridge) and led in RBI. Only one prior league leader, Josh Gibson (124 in 1941) had finished with more. In 1945-1946, Duany fell to .288 for Marianao but his 32 RBI still tied Andres Fleitas for second in Cuba behind Crespo.
Back in Mexico in '46, Duany hit .364/.443/.572 to win another batting title. This one was perhaps more impressive as Mexican League owners shelled out big money that year to lure both white major leaguers and Negro League stars. Duany won the batting title by .003 over Nap Reyes and .005 over Bobby Avila. He tied for second with 27 doubles, one behind Ortiz, and was second to Ortiz in slugging. He ranked third in OBP behind Bobby Estalella and Agustín Bejerano.
Duany hit .368 for the Havana Reds in 1946-1947, leading the Cuban National Federation for his fourth career batting title. At age 29, he spent his second season in the Negro Leagues, hitting .297 for the New York Cubans. He started in right field for the East in the first 1947 East-West Game. Hitting 6th between fellow Cubans Silvio Garcia and Minnie Minoso, he went 0 for 2 with a RBI in a 5-2 loss. In the second 1947 East-West Game, he pinch-hit for Pee Wee Butts in the 6th and was retired by Joe Black in a 8-2 defeat. He hit .421 in the 1947 Negro World Series to lead the Cubans past the Cleveland Buckeyes.
Duany batted .306 to lead Marianao in 1947-1948, beating out teammates like Minoso, Hal Rice and Johnny Welaj. His 40 RBI were second in the league to Lennie Pearson and his 20 doubles paced the CWL. He was named an All-Star outfielder alongside Americans Sam Jethroe and Henry Kimbro. In the summer, he hit .365 and slugged .738 for the Sherbrooke Athlétiques. His 27 homers were fourth in the Provincial League; two of the players ahead of him were future major leaguer Dave Pope and Bus Clarkson. In 1948-1949, the veteran flyhawk fell to .244 for Marianao but cracked 9 homers (one behind league leader Monte Irvin) and drove in 38.
Duany played for the Athlétiques in 1949, driving in a Provincial League-leading 99 runs. In 1949-1950, he hit .274 for Marianao and led the league with 67 walks. His 18 doubles were one behind Pearson, the pace-setter. In 1950, he was with the Veracruz Eagle, batting .280/.460/.548 with 31 walks and 28 RBI in 28 games. He batted .314 in the winter of 1950-1951.
The strong left-hander hit .289/.389/.402 in 25 games for the 1951 Mexico City Red Devils. He also played for Sherbrooke again, batting .337 with 23 long balls. He tied Alfonso Gerard for 6th in average, tied for 5th in homers and was 5th in slugging (.588). He was at .273 for Marianao in 1951-1952, slipping in his mid-30s.
Duany got a chance to help integrate the Deep South in 1952, joining Dave Barnhill in becoming the first blacks in the Florida International League. He hit .243/~.388/.406 and his 13 homers tied Charles Harig for second in the pitching-dominant circuit, two behind leader Nesbit Wilson. Claro continued to fade, hitting only .184 for Cienfuegos in 1952-1953, backing up Walt Moryn, Jim Pendleton and Gino Cimoli. In 1954-1955, he went 0 for 6 for Cienfuegos.
Overall, Duany hit .352/.445/.542 with 208 RBI in 876 AB and 145 walks to 56 strikeouts in 231 games in the Mexican League. His 37 homers were 10th in CWL history; eight of the nine players ahead of him wound up in the majors, with Pedro Formental the lone exception.
In 1997, Duany was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
- I Had a Hammer by Hank Aaron