Otha Bailey experienced Negro League baseball die up close. Born on June 30, 1920 in Huntsville, Alabama, Bailey started his career by first playing with the Cleveland Buckeyes, Houston Eagles, and Birmingham Black Barons in 1950. By 1952 he was signed again by the Black Barons and stayed with them until he retired in 1959. African American players by then had firmly established themselves in the Major Leagues and Negro League baseball was no more than a semi-pro organization.
After Jackie Robinson successfully erased the “invisible color line” in 1947, Major league teams began to sign the most talented Negro League players. African American and Latino players still encountered racism and discrimination after integration. However; former Negro League players such as Robinson, Willie Mays, Roy Campanella, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, and others went on to have stellar Major League careers.
Others like Otha Bailey, a 5’6”, 150 pound catcher whose nickname was “Little Catch”, never signed with a Major League team. Despite his size, he was one of the best catchers in the talent diluted Negro Leagues in the 1950s.
Who was Otha Bailey’s battery mate with the Black Barons in the late 1950s that went on to country and western music fame?