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By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
A pretty much forgotten, but extremely intriguing figure from the 1920s and ‘30s was Alejandro Pompez, who was born in 1890 in Key West, Florida, to Cuban immigrant parents. Pompez has a rich history with the Negro Leagues, as well as organized crime.
In the ‘20s and ‘30s, Pompez was one of the riches men in Harlem, raking in more than $8,000 a day in an illegal numbers operation. The Dutch Schultz family forced Pompez to join forces with then in 1932, and his involvement with them led to his indictment in 1936. In 1938, Pompez was a star witness at the conspiracy trial of James Hines, a major player in the Dutch Schultz crime family. He is known as the only man who informed on another racketeer and lived.Pompez was not always on the wrong side of the law. When he was on the right side of it, he was one of the most influential owners in the Negro Leagues. New York City became Pompez’s home in the 1920s, and he was the owner of the Cuban Stars. He later named the team the New York Cubans. Pompez helped negotiate the first Negro World Series in 1924. In 1936, ’41, and ‘47, Pompez’s Cubans won the Negro League World Series.
With Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, Pompez knew that the Negro League’s days were number, so he negotiated a deal in which his team would become a farm team for the Major League New York Giants. He also convinced Giants owner Horace Stoneham to hire him as their top scout for Latin players throughout the Caribbean. Pompez signed some of the greatest Latin players of that era. Players such as Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, and the Alou brothers, Matty, Jesus, and Felipe. Later in life Pompez was a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s special committee for the Negro Leagues, and in 2006 he was inducted posthumously to the Hall of Fame, as a pioneer/executive.
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