On June 4, 1939, George “Mule” Suttles hit four home runs in a doubleheader against the Homestead Grays. The games were played in Buffalo, New York which was a favorite stop on the Negro League baseball circuit.
After starting with the St. Louis Stars in 1926, Suttles became one of the leading home run hitters in Negro League history. A big man whose actual size varied from 6’ 3” to 6’6” and weighing 215 to 250 pounds according to differing accounts, he led the Negro National League (NNL) in home runs twice. The stories about the distances of his clouts, true and false, are many.
In his third year with the Eagles, Suttles had begun to show the decline of his skills due to age (38) and the years of hard grind in Negro League baseball. However, his performance that day in 1939 showed that “Mule” was still a dangerous hitter for pitchers to face.
As reported by the New York Amsterdam News (June 17 edition) and the Baltimore African American (June 10 edition), Suttles hit three home runs in the first game that June 4 day. The Eagles won 20 – 3. In the nightcap in which the Eagles won 14 – 6, he connected once. He also, according to both papers, stole home.
Despite their double victory that day, the Eagles could not put an end that year to the Homestead Grays dominance of the Negro National League. The Grays went on to win their third of what would be nine straight NNL pennants.
George “Mule” Suttles was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
There were four other Hall of Fame players on the Newark Eagles that day and three on the Homestead Grays. Name them.