The New York Cuban Giants was the first team to get paid salary wages. Plus, they were first professional black team was the Cuban Giants. They called themselves "Cuban" to hide the fact that they were black. They used "Giants" after the popular New York Giants. It was said that they spoke gibberish to each other during the game so that fans would think they were speaking Spanish. Formed and financed by Trenton promoter and businessman Walter Cook in 1885 -- and without a single Cuban among them -- the Cuban Giants won all 10 of their games against white Long Island clubs that first summer and came to be dubbed the "world colored champions’’ of 1887 and 1888, according to a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum website.
The team’s name, The Cuban Giants, was one which Cook believed would feed off whites’ prejudices at the time, according to Mark Ribowsky’s "Complete History of the Negro Leagues."
Cook believed that white crowds would have sooner handed over their money to see Latinos play ball than they would to see blacks play.
So the black Cuban Giants were instructed to "bound onto the field chirping pidgin Espanol and cackling loudly, in a gross parody of everybody’s idea of how Hispanics acted,’’ Ribowsky wrote.
In his book, "In Search of a Community’s Past: The Black Community in Trenton, New Jersey, 1860-1900," city high school history teacher Dr. Jack Washington says the Cuban Giants managed to look past the racial hatred of the day and play the game with near perfection.
Washington said the Cuban Giants was "perhaps one of the most, if not the most, respected African-American team."
The team won 40 consecutive games in its first full season of summer baseball in 1886.
In that first season, Clarence Williams, catcher Arthur Thomas, Billy Whyte, Shep Trusty, pitcher George Stoney, first baseman Jack Frye, second baseman George Williams, shortstop Abe Harrison, third baseman Ben Holmes, left fielder Bill White, and center fielder Ben Boyd, ushered in a new era for baseball and chipped away at America’s color complex.
"Pitchers and catchers were paid $18 a week (a handsome sum for the 1880s and 1890s), plus expenses; infielders got $15 and outfielders got $12," according to Washington’s book.
The Giants won many championships including:
HONORS: COLORED CHAMPIONS (1887-'88)
EASTERN CHAMPIONS ('94)
AFFILIATIONS: INDEPENDENT ('85-'88, '92-'99)
MIDDLE STATES LEAGUE ('89-'90)
CONNECTICUT STATE LEAGUE ('91)