Jints = Giants (Cuban 1889, NY 1908)

bapopik at AOL.COM bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Nov 4 18:25:38 UTC 2005

Thanks. I'' add it.
DURATION: 1885-1899 
The Cuban Giants began life in 1885 as a team that entertained guests at the Argyle Hotel in the resort town of Babylon, Long Island. Frank P. Thompson was the headwaiter at the Argyle, and Govern -- for many years a headwaiter in Philadelphia and Atlantic City -- was a business associate. In August 1885, Thompson, Govern, and C.S. Massey forged the Giants from the best of the Argyle Athletics, Washington Manhattans, and Philadelphia Orions. "Cos" Govern retained the role of manager.
The Giants toured the South in the winter of 1885-86, staying active and generating revenue all year. They wound up in St. Augustine, the beachhead of original Florida land baron Henry Morrison Flagler. That very year Flagler had built the Hotel Ponce de León, the start of Florida's transformation from pesthole to playground, and the "Cubes" (thanks to the Thompson/Govern axis) were featured entertainers. In addition, the tour had a leg in Havana. Indeed, though it has not been confirmed, Govern may have taken the Manhattans to Cuba as early as 1881 or 1882. His Caribbean background could well have been the key to recognizing the nexus of commerce and culture in baseball throughout the region.
Govern led the best teams assembled during the first brief period when black pro baseball flowered. The Giants were Colored champs in 1887 and 1888, and in June 1887 they beat big-league teams in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Cos must have had an eye for talent; he signed George Stovey, the premier black pitcher of the 19th century. It seems he was a good field manager too -- his teams were called well-balanced and crafty as well as physically gifted. 
-----Original Message-----
From: Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU>
Sent: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 06:11:02 -0500
Subject: Jints = Giants (Cuban 1889, NY 1908)

One for Barry (surprised it's not already on his site)...

Someone on alt.usage.english asked about the nickname "Jints", now
occasionally used for the New York football Giants (or the Jersey Giants,
as we say across the Hudson), but previously applied to the New York
baseball Giants. Turns out that it was used for the Cuban Giants, the
first professional black baseball team, back in 1889.

1889 _Washington Post_ 28 Apr. 16/3 The recent trip of the Cuban Giants
furnished them an excellent opportunity to lay in a stock of rabbits'
feet... When the "Jints" were here they were besieged by the colored
population of this city and fabulous prices were offered for their
good-luck emblems, but they steadfastly refused to part with them.
1908 _N.Y. Times_ 7 Oct. 7/2 "The swellest gent that ever visited the home
of the Jints [sc. the Polo Grounds]," said Mr. Humphreys, in a final
flight of enthusiasm... All the players, including the Jints, said Amen to
this sentiment.
1912 _N.Y. Times_ 6 Oct. S2/3 (letter to the editor) The evening papers,
with their so-called baseball experts who never give credit to any team in
the National League except the Giants, are sickening. ... The post mortems
of these baseball writers after last year's slaughter of the "Jints" by
the Athletics were absolutely pitiful.

More on the Cuban Giants here (they weren't really Cuban, of course):


I bet Barry could find earlier references to the New York "Jints" in the

--Ben Zimmer

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