Enrique “Ricky” Maroto, born on September 7, 1935, saw firsthand the societal and political changes that occurred in professional baseball during the 1950s.
The 5’6”, 165 pound dark skinned native of Havana, Cuba was a left handed pitcher that first played for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1954. Although small of a pitcher, Maroto was nickname “workhouse” because he pitched several times in both games of a doubleheader. He pitched in both the 1954 and 1955 Negro League All Star Games.
Players like Maroto still in Negro League baseball during its demise in the 1950s due to the integration of professional baseball were hoping to be signed by a Major League team. He was signed by the Washington Senators in 1957 and helped integrate the South Atlantic League (Class A minor league level) the next two years. The Senators never advance him any further.
He returned home to Havana in 1959 to play for the Havana Sugar Kings of the Class AAA International League. A minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Sugar Kings that year had Mike Cuellar, Cookie Rojas, Tony Gonzalez, and Leo (Chico) Cardenas who had solid Major League careers in the 1960s and 1970s.
Maroto’s second season with the Sugar Kings was disrupted by international politics. Communist rebel Fidel Castro had overthrown the Cuba government in 1959. With diplomatic relations between the island and the United States deteriorating to a point of being cut off, the team moved to New Jersey in the middle of the 1960 season.
After two seasons playing in Mexico and then going back to Cuba, Maroto retired from professional baseball.
For profiles on two former Kansas City Monarchs who are considered two of the greatest Cuban players, Jose Mendez and Cristobal Torriente, read my new book Last Train to Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era. For more information go to klmitchell.com or Book Launch (http://booklaunch.io/kevinlmitchell/last-train-to-cooperstown)