Sporcle Saturday: Cuban-born

Good morning!

Over at The Athletic, James Fegan has a great story on former White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras and his mentorship of prospect Norge Vera. Contreras actually met Vera nearly two decades earlier, as James describes:

But Contreras’ first memory of Vera comes from his own last tournament with the Cuban national team before defecting to the United States in 2002. The team celebrated a tournament victory at a nearby hotel, and was enjoying an afternoon at the swimming pool with their families. There, Norge Luis Vera, whom Contreras considers one of the best Cuban pitchers of all time and is “like a brother to me,” introduced him to his young son with the same first name.

The whole article is worth your time, and indeed, Norge Luis Vera had a fine career in Cuba. One hopes that his son can follow in his footsteps; Contreras is really the last great Cuban to have thrown for the White Sox, as nearly all the Cuban White Sox players who have since appeared have been on the position player side of things.

Today’s tidy little Sporcle will be testing your knowledge of all White Sox players with Cuban roots. Throughout franchise history, 23 Cuban-born players have suited up in a White Sox uniform: how many can you name? Good luck!

Quiz Parameters

  • I’ve allotted 10 minutes for completion attempts.
  • For hints, I’ve provided the player’s tenure, and their position.

Useless information to amaze, annoy, confuse, and/or confound your friends and family:

  • The only positions truly underrepresented on this list are second base and right field.
  • The Cuban player with the most games on this list appeared in 1,373 games for the White Sox (and 1,946 overall: good for sixth-place all-time); the Cuban player with the most appearances in MLB history is Rafael Palmeiro with 2,831 games.

Direct link here

All data from stathead.com

(Image credit: Keith Allison / Flickr)

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Ted Mulvey
Ted Mulvey

White Sox fan, homebrewer, academic librarian. Not necessarily in that order, but quite possibly.

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11/23. Not my best effort.


16/23, and I would never have had a chance on the seven names I missed. Correctly guessing the 1980-81 outfielder is perhaps the most ridiculous example of Sox trivia lodged in my long-term memory since Sporcle Saturday began. (Now the challenge is for Ted to devise a quiz featuring Jim Siwy, Rich Barnes, or Steve Mura.)

This is a fun one, both to see the impressive parade of 21st-century players, and to see that the line began one century ago.


I followed the Sox pretty closely in the early 80s and I do not remember the 80-81 outfielder at all. The other guys in my lifetime I at least remember even though I couldn’t recall them for this quiz. And I do remember Siwy and Mura, though Rich Barnes does not ring a bell. I should have guessed the immortal Cy Acosta for this quiz. It would have helped me get one of the old guys.


The outfielder shared a Topps White Sox Future Stars card in 1982! The card came out after his final major-league game. I love the old Future Stars cards, where occasionally a Hall of Fame is pictured with someone who debuted at age 28 and ended his career at age 29. That 1982 card featured no one bound for Cooperstown, though Jay Loviglio started a few games that September after Tony Bernazard got hurt.

Barnes started a couple of games for the 1982 team, though your life is not missing anything by not having memories of his performance. Whether my life is missing a lot because of how much I remember of the 1982 White Sox is another question.


The 1982 team was pretty good. I followed them very closely. I really liked Steve Kemp (I got a White Sox jersey that year and had 22 put on the back!). I just looked it up- they were only 2.5 games back on Aug 16, then lost 10 of 12 to fall out of the race.


Yeah, the team did not fare well after Bernazard got hurt, but they were fun right out of the gate and through most of the summer. I’d watched Kemp in Tiger Stadium before and knew he was good, though it hurt to lose Lemon (especially watching Ron LeFlore attempt to play CF).

Rudy Law was so much fun to watch that year. As Rickey Henderson was obliterating the single-season SB record, it seemed like the Sox had their own version of Rickey. It wouldn’t last, but watching Law and Salomé Barojas make impacts joining the young core already in place looked like it was setting the Sox up for the next decade.


I did look up his Baseball-Ref page, which pointed me to a brother (who also played on the Washington Senators). That guy did have a SABR bio, so I read it. It’s a good one, and I could see it as the basis of an engrossing film.

Turns out they likely weren’t brothers, but the Washington media assumed that two Cuban-born men with the same surname would be related. “In researching articles on Merito, no mention was found of the two being related, even during International League games where they faced each other.”

Merito generated a fair amount of coverage, in part due to being called up just after turning 17. Quite an interesting life.


Thank you for providing us the opportunity to learn more about baseball history every week!


These are Neito Ted, thanks for doing them.

As Cirensica

13 of 23. Prior to 2000, I can’t remember anybody but Minoso

Trooper Galactus

Same. I’d never even HEARD of them.

As Cirensica

I was very familiar with Aurelio M. He was a big baseball figure in Venezuela. I didn’t know he played with the Sox

Trooper Galactus

Well, I think you have more occasion to be familiar with Venezualan baseball players than I do.