Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Major League Puzzle

Luis Castro had a brief stint with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902, and has been recognized as the first player from Latin America to play big-league baseball in the modern era. Problem is, he might have been born in the United States.

According to e-mails exchanged between the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and a member of the SABR biographical committee in 2001, these were the facts uncovered for a baseball player named Louis Castro during that period: He was born on Nov. 25, 1876 in the United States, he worked in a saloon, married a woman named Margaret and lived in Flushing for most of his life. His father, Nestor Castro, and mother, Agnes Wasquees, were both born in South America and he died at the age of 64 on Sept. 24, 1941 at Manhattan State Hospital on Wards Island.
So that's it. Castro's not only American, he's a New Yorker, right? Maybe.

Castro's death record says he was born in the United States, but the 1910 Georgia Census gives his birthplace as Medellin, Colombia. [Link]
The reputed 1910 census entry for Castro is found on page 132A of roll 192 (Atlanta, Ward 6). His occupation appears to be "undertaker," which must have conflicted with the "long minor-league career after 1902" attributed to him on this forum.

Castro played ball at Manhattan College in the late 1890s. Was he the Louis Castro, born Aug. 1877 in New York, boarding at 2329 8th Avenue in 1900, not far from where the campus was then located? His parents were natives of Australia, which Wikipedia tells me is not the same place as South America.

Anyone with an subscription and time to kill want to look for Luis/Louis in their indexes?

Steve Danko

For what it's worth, N. Castro, banker, age 50, and Master Louis Castro, age 8, both born in the United States of Columbia, entered New York on 14 Oct 1885 on the S.S. Colon. This means that a Louis Castro, born in about 1876-1877 in Columbia, entered New York as a visitor in 1885. This information all matches the supposed background of Louis Castro, the ball player.

Another passenger record shows a Louis Castro, born in New York City on 25 Nov 1876, was traveling from Rio and arrived in New York on 11 Apr 1922.

The 1930 Census shows a Louis Castro, born in New York, age 51 (born 1878-1879), living with wife Margaret in Queens, whose occupation is ball player.


Excellent work!

An item in the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard of Dec. 28, 1902, confirms that he was the nephew of the President of Venezuela Cipriano Castro.

I've been able to piece together some of Louis' movements using online newspapers. After leaving Manhattan College, he played ball in Utica, N. Y. After his time in the big leagues, he bounced around to teams in Rochester, N. Y., Portland, Ore., Nashville and Kansas City.

It appears that the 1910 Atlanta census entry does refer to Louis and wife Margaret. This snippet from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1907 refers to "Count Louis Castro, the Atlanta shortstop." He was released by the team in 1908, and in 1909 was referred to as "Count Louis Michael Castro, the new manager of the Augusta South Atlantic League baseball team." In 1913, he was staging boxing matches in Atlanta.

By 1921 he had come back north and was attempting to buy a franchise in Jersey City. The 1922 manifest you found gives his residence as Philadelphia, which is in the right neighborhood.

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