Torriente, a slugging Negro League superstar, was one of the three greatest Cuban players (with Jose Mendez and Martin Dihigo) to have been kept out of the American major leagues because of race. He had a light complexion and, according to teammate Jelly Gardner, the New York Giants' John McGraw would have signed him to a major league contract had it not been for Torriente's kinky hair. C.I. Taylor, longtime manager and Negro League executive, said, "If I should see Torriente walking up the other side of the street, I would say, `there walks a ballclub.'"
Torriente was a powerful, 5'9" lefthanded pull-hitter, and a notorious bad-ball hitter. He began his career in the United States in 1914 with the touring Cuban Stars. An outstanding outfielder with great range and a strong arm, when he joined the Chicago American Giants in 1919, Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston moved from centerfield to left field. Torriente led the American Giants to consecutive Negro National League championships in 1920-22. He batted .396 in 1920, and until 1925 never dipped below .332. When he dropped to .241 in 1925, he was traded to the Kansas City Monarchs, with whom he bounced back to hit .339 in 1926. From 1919 through 1928, he compiled a 16-5 record as a pitcher. He was absent from league play in 1929-31, but returned for a single game in 1932.
In the 12 documented years that Torriente played in the Cuban League, he hit .352. He led the league in doubles twice, in hits and in stolen bases three times, in triples and in HR four times. Though he captured only one batting title (1919), he topped his league-leading mark of .360 in three other seasons, with a high of .402 in 1916. Against major leaguers in exhibition play, he hit .281 (27-for-96) with three HR. He reportedly died of tuberculosis in Cuba in 1948. (JJM)