Seven former players from the Negro League baseball era are on the ballot that will be considered by the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Early Baseball Era Committee on this coming Sunday, December 5th. If any of the players receive a vote from at least 75% of the 16-member Committee (12 votes), he will be a part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class for 2022. The induction ceremony will be July 24 at the Hall of Fame Museum in Cooperstown New York.
This will be the first-time former Negro League players have been given Hall of Fame consideration since 2006. Prior to that year, 24 former players from the Negro Leagues were in the Hall of Fame. Realizing that number not being a true representation of Negro League baseball’s contribution to the game, Major League Baseball commissioned a group of Negro League historians to make recommendations for addition potential inductees. As a result, 12 ballplayers and 5 owners/executives were a part of the Hall of Fame Class for 2006: the Hall of Fame’s largest number of inductees from Negro League baseball in one year.
However, a concern arose as to whether the number inducted in 2006 indicated there were no others from the Negro Leagues worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. To address this and other issues concerning past eras, the Hall of Fame switched to an Era Committee format to select potential inductees. One of the Era Committees, the Early Baseball Era, considers candidates whose contributions to baseball were realized prior to 1950. This committee will vote on candidates for Hall of Fame induction once every 10 years.
The former Negro League players/managers this year on the Early Baseball Era Committee ballot for Hall of Fame induction are as follows:
John “Bud” Fowler (Infielder, Pitcher)
The first African American professional baseball player, Fowler played with several minor league white professional teams beginning in 1877. After the establishment of the “invisible color line” in the late 1880’s which barred African American and dark-skinned Latinos from white professional baseball, he played with many of the early African American professional baseball teams.
Grant “Home Run” Johnson (Shortstop)
One of the best hitters in black professional baseball during the dead-ball era (1900 – 1920), Johnson wore the uniform of top African American teams during that era such as the Philadelphia Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, and Chicago Leland Giants. He received the nickname from his clutch timing of hitting home runs, not the quantity.
Richard “Cannonball Dick” Redding – Pitcher
One of the best pitchers in black professional baseball in the dead-ball era and the early 1920’s. The blazing speed of his fastball made Redding a contemporary of Walter Johnson, Major League baseball’s ace during that period.
John Donaldson – Pitcher
Starting in 1913, Donaldson spent over 20 years in black professional baseball. The left-hander pitched for black independent teams that born-stormed through the country during 1913 – 1919. He also pitched with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro National League (1920 – 1924), the first African American professional baseball league.
George “Tubby” Scales – Infielder
A career .319 hitter, Scales spent 27 years in the Negro Leagues (1921 – 1948) with teams including the New York Lincoln Giants 1923 – 29 and Homestead Grays 1925 – 26, 1929 – 31, 1935. He also led the Baltimore Elite Giants as player/manager in 1938, 1943, and 1947.
Vic Harris – Manager
A career .305 hitter, Harris spent most of his entire Negro League career as left fielder and then manager with the Homestead Grays (1925 – 1933, 1935 – 1948); one of the most renown franchises in Negro League baseball. As manager, he led the Grays to nine consecutive Negro National League pennants (1937 – 1945).
John “Buck” O’Neil – 1B/Manager
The three-time All Star played first base for the Kansas City Monarchs, another of the most renown Negro League franchises, during the periods 1938 – 1943 and 1946 – 1955. He became the team’s manager in 1948. The first African American to become a Major League coach (Chicago Cubs 1962), O’Neil is one of the co-founders for the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
It will be 2032 before the Early Baseball Era Committee will next consider candidates for Hall of Fame induction.
The Hall of Fame’s Golden Days Era Committee considers candidates for induction who made contributions to the game from 1950 – 1969. Saturnino Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, who had a 17 year, nine-time All Star career in Major League baseball is on the ballot in which this committee will vote Sunday. Minoso, who got his start in the Negro Leagues, played on the 1947 Negro League World Series champion New York Cubans.