The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Parnell Woods

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Parnell Woods.

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Born on either February 16 or 26, 1912; Parnell Woods began his Negro League baseball odyssey with his hometown Birmingham (Ala.) Black Barons in 1933. The solid fielding third baseman, who occasionally hit over .300 during his career, finally left home in 1940 to play for the Cleveland Bears (Negro American League).  Formerly known as the Jacksonville (Fla.) Red Caps in the 1930s, the franchise moved back to Jacksonville for the 1941 season.  Woods returned to Ohio in 1942 to be the player/manager for the Cincinnati Buckeyes; the youngest skipper in Negro League baseball at that time.

The team relocated to Cleveland the next year and hired a new manager who named Woods team captain. As one of the team’s best hitters, he helped the Buckeyes surprisingly become one of the best teams in the Negro American League (NAL) from 1945 – 1948.  They won two NAL pennants (1945 and 1947) and defeated the Homestead Grays to be Negro League World Series Champion in 1945.

Negro League fans selected Woods to participate in five straight East West All Star Games (1938 – 1942).

In 1949 at 37 years old, Woods played with the Oakland Oaks (Triple AAA minor league), his only season in white organized baseball.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read about the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Eddie Dwight

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Eddie Dwight.

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Eddie Dwight first kneeling right to left

Born in Dalton, Georgia on February 25, 1905, Eddie Dwight played for the Kansas City Monarchs for two periods of time; 1928 – 1929 and 1933 – 1937. He made his home in Kansas City, Kansas, my hometown on the west end of Kansas City’s Intercity Viaduct.  The Dwight’s lived on the northeast side of KCK, his children went to school with members of my family.

Although a good outfielder with speed and range, Dwight could not break into the Monarchs’ starting line up during his first stint with the team. However, he returned in 1933 to become the No. 1 centerfielder.   A good contact hitter and bunter with base stealing speed, Dwight primarily led the Monarchs offensive attack batting first.  Negro League fans selected him to play in the 1936 East-West All Star Game.

After retiring, Dwight owned a retail store in the 1950s. In 1962, his son Eddie Dwight, Jr. became the first African-American chosen by NASA for astronaut training.

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Eddie Dwight, Jr.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history

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The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – John Henry Russell

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: John Henry Russell.

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Although primarily a second baseman, John Henry Russell’s versatility gave him the ability to also play first base, third base, or shortstop during his 12 year Negro League baseball career (1923 – 1934). Born February 24, 1898 in Dolcito, Alabama, he gained the reputation of being excellent on defense by using quick hands and feet combined with a strong throwing arm.  He did not consistently have a high batting average, but his speed made him a better than average baserunner.

After starting his career with the Memphis Red Sox, Russell played with the St. Louis Stars (1926 – 1930). He paired with Hall of Fame shortstop Willie Wells for the Stars to have one of the best double play combinations in the Negro Leagues during that time.  St. Louis, who also had Hall of Fame center fielder James “Cool Papa” Bell and Hall of Fame first baseman George “Mule” Suttles, won the Negro National League championship in 1928 and 1930.

While with the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1931 – 1933), Russell received honor from Negro League fans by being selected to play in the inaugural East-West All Star Game. On that September 10th at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, Russell shared the field with such Negro League greats as Satchel Paige, Oscar Charleston, and others.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read more about the Negro League Baseball Era Last Train To Cooperstown

 

 

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Raymond Brown

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact:  Raymond Brown.

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Like all pitchers in Negro League baseball during the 1930s and 1940s, Raymond Brown’s accomplishments on the mound were overshadowed by the talent, charismatic personality, and showmanship of Satchel Paige. However Brown, born on February 23, 1908 in Algiers, Ohio, helped pitch the Homestead Grays to eight Negro National League (NNL) pennants and two Negro League World Series championships.

In 2006, Raymond Brown was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The following is an excerpt about him from my book, Last Train in Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era. 

”Of the five players the sportswriters suggested to the Pirates,

Brown has received the least notoriety in his career. Like other

Negro League hurlers, Raymond Brown’s abilities on the mound

were overshadowed by the great Satchel Paige. The most famous

pitcher in Negro League baseball during the 1930s and 1940s,

Paige’s accomplishments and showmanship antics on the mound

were well known.  Articles on him appeared not only in Negro

newspapers, but also in large national ones that seldom carried

anything about black baseball. Because of their refusal to cover the

Negro Leagues, those newspapers missed heralding that no Negro League pitcher won

more than Raymond Brown.  When Brown

pitched his Homestead Grays knew they had a great chance for

victory. If he had possessed some of Paige’s talent for showmanship

on the mound, Brown would have received more of Satchel’s fame.

A versatile athlete, Brown made his debut into the world in

Algers, Ohio on February 22 or 23, 1908.  Located in western Ohio,

the town is half the distance between Toledo and Dayton.  He used

his 6’1”, 195 pound frame to become an all‐state basketball center

in high school. But that did not distract him from playing the game

he loved ‐ baseball.  Brown could not only pitch, but he swung a

solid bat. Early in his career he played outfield on days he had not

been scheduled to pitch. The switch hitter also frequently pinch hit.”

After leaving Negro League baseball in 1946, Brown pitched first in the Mexican League and then during the early 1950’s in Canadian semi-professional leagues

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read more about Raymond Brown and the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

 

 

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Charlie Peete

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Charlie Peete.

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Born February 22, 1929 in Franklin, Virginia; Peete had a short and unproductive stint in Negro League baseball. He played 31 games with the Indianapolis Clowns in 1950, batting only .231.  However, this did not prevent him from going further in baseball.

After serving in the military, he became one of the African-American players that integrated the Piedmont League (Class B minor league) in 1953. The speedy center fielder got the attention of the St. Louis Cardinals who signed him in 1954.  Peete won the batting title hitting .350 in 1956 with the team’s Omaha Class AAA minor league club.

When given the opportunity to play with the Cardinals towards the end of the 1956 season, Peete only hit .192 with six RBIs in 23 games. However, the team kept him on roster for the for 1957.  After team officials saw he had the skills to play centerfield and had promise as a hitter, they still considered him a good prospect.  In addition, the Cardinals had been criticized for misfiring on two previous African-American players.  Pitcher Brooks Lawrence won 19 games in 1956 after they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds.  Tom Alston, who in 1954 became the first African-American to play for the Cardinals had been demoted to their minor league system.  He and Peete were teammates at Omaha in 1955.

The center fielder for the Cardinals in 1956, Bobby Del Greco, only hit .216. Depending on how Charlie Peete would have hit in spring training of 1957, he had the opportunity to be the Cardinals’ main centerfielder.  However, on his way to play winter baseball in Venezuela; Peete, along with his wife and three children were killed in a plane crash on November 11, 1956.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read more about the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

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The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Bill Cash

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Bill Cash.

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Born February 21, 1919 in Round Oak, Georgia; William (Bill) “Ready” Cash played his entire Negro League baseball career (1943 – 1950) with the Philadelphia Stars.  A good defensive catcher known for his strong throwing arm, Cash also proved himself as an above average hitter. He played in the 1948 and 1949 East-West All Star Game, hitting two doubles in the latter to help the East squad to a 4 – 0 victory.

He signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1952 when 32 years old and never rose above the Class C level during two years in the teams’minor league system.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read more about the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Walter McCoy

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Walter McCoy.

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A right-handed pitcher born on February 20, 1924 in San Diego, California; Walter McCoy served in the military before beginning his Negro League baseball career.  After World War II, he pitched for the Chicago American Giants from 1945 to 1949.

In 1950, McCoy became the first African-American to play for the Sacramento franchise of the Class AAA, Pacific Coast League.  He spent the remainder of the decade in the lower minor leagues and Mexican League before retiring in 1955.

Negro League is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read about the Negro League baseball era Last Trin To Cooperstown

 

 

 

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today: Henry Kimbro

In celebration of Black History Month, here is Today’s Negro League Baseball History Fact: Henry Kimbro.

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Born 2/19/12 in Nashville, Tennessee, Henry Kimbro spent the prime years of his Negro League baseball career (1937 – 1950) with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Considered one of the best centerfielders in the Negro National League during the 1940s, Kimbro played in six Negro League East-West All-Star games.

Defensively, he had speed for great range in the outfield and he challenged baserunners with his strong throwing arm.  A good lead-off batter who consistently hit .300, the left-handed swinger also had home run power.  Kimbro gained the reputation of being a doggedly determined competitor who was not friendly with opponents and combative with teammates.

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During his years with Baltimore, Kimbro played alongside Roy Campanella, Joe Black, and Junior Gilliam; all of which went on to play in the Major Leagues. However, Kimbro did not. Scouts deemed him beyond his prime, over 35 years old, once the door to play Major League baseball opened for African-American ball players.

Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, but is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read about the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown

 

 

 

 

The Negro League Baseball History Fact For Today – Leroy Breedlove

In celebration of Black History Month, here is today’s Negro League baseball history fact for today:  Leroy Breedlove.

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A well-respected educator and coach (football, track and field) in the Orange, Texas school system, Breedlove died earlier this month.  Loved by parents and former students in the community, he was honored on last September 23 when the West Orange-Stark High School football field became the Leroy D. Breedlove Field.  More on the life of Breedlove can be read using the link to an article from the Orange Leader at the end of this post.  As mentioned in the article, before his career as an educator, Breedlove played with the Kansas City Monarchs.

Born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Breedlove moved to my hometown of Kansas City, Kansas while in grade school.  Like most of the African-American kids on the city’s northeast side, including me, he attended Sumner High School participating in all sports.  Breedlove  graduated in 1949, a classmate of my uncle and aunt.  I went to high school with his nephews.  After graduating, Breedlove received an athletic scholarship to Texas Southern, named Texas State University for Negros at that time.  He played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track.

It would be after his freshman year when Breedlove, a pitcher, played with the Kansas City Monarchs.  In 1950, African-American professional baseball players faced a time of both slow change and faster decline.  The racial integration of Major League had started its initial slow process that would increase by mid-decade.  However, Negro League baseball had begun a faster demise its eventual end in the early 1960s. Pitcher Satchel Paige and shortstop Ernie Banks, both in the Baseball Hall of Fame, played with the Monarchs in 1950.  Pitcher Connie Johnson and infielder Curt Roberts, who would both play on Major League teams in the 1950s, were also Monarch teammates of Breedlove.

After that one season,  Breedlove returned to Texas Southern and upon graduation in 1954 began his teaching/coaching career.

To read more about the life of Leroy Breedlove Leroy Breedlove

To learn more about the Negro League baseball era Last Train to Cooperstown

 

 

Celebrating Negro League Baseball as Part of Black History Month

Book Cover 47 KB

As African-American history is celebrated this month, the Negro League baseball era should be included in the celebration.  Negro League baseball is not just a part of African-American history, it is woven into the fabric of 20th Century American history.

To read more about the Negro League baseball era   Last Train To Cooperstown

 

 

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