“Double Duty” did it all in Negro League baseball


After seeing Theodore Roosevelt Radcliffe pitch the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium and then get behind the plate to catch the second game, New York journalist/writer Damon Runyon was so impressed he wrote about the black ballplayer in his newspaper column.  Runyon gave Radcliffe the nickname “Double Duty”.  Born on July 7, 1902 in Mobile, Alabama, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe had a nomadic 32 year journey through Negro League baseball that covered four decades (1928 – 1950).

He played with and against many of the Negro League greats.  Along with Hall of Fame players Willie Wells, “Cool Papa” Bell, and Mules Suttles, Radcliffe won a Negro National League (NNL) pennant for the St, Louis Stars in 1930.  He was on the 1931 Homestead Grays team that included Hall of Fame players Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson, “Smokey” Joe Williams, and Jud “Boojum” Wilson.  He played the next year for a new team, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, that had six future Hall of Famers including fellow Mobile native Satchel Paige whose birthday is also July 7 (7/7/06).  He was also on the Birmingham Black Barons’ 1944 Negro American League (NAL) inning team.

Wearing the uniform of over ten Negro League teams, Radcliffe also played in the Mexican League and the Cuban Winter leagues.  His career was the extreme example of an African American ballplayer’s life before the integration of Major League baseball.  He experienced all the good and the bad of Negro League baseball first hand.

The 5’10”, 190 pound right hand thrower was a reliable pitcher that, according to available statistics, won 19 games in 1932.  He was a good defensive catcher with a strong throwing arm that hit over .300 that same year.  A fan favorite, “Double Duty” was elected to play in six Negro League Baseball East-West All Star Games; three times as a pitcher and three as a catcher.  His three run home run in the 1944 game help lead the West squad to a 7 – 4 victory.

“Double Duty” Radcliffe was also the player/manager for which teams during his Negro League baseball career?

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