Teammates would say when Negro League power hitter George “Mule” Suttles, born March 31, 1900 or 1901, swung his bat at a pitch they could feel the earth shake. “Kick Mule, Kick Mule”, is what fans and teammates would chant when “Mule” came up to bat. The fifty ounce bat he swung was a testament to his strength.
Although the year of his birth is in dispute one thing is not, other than Josh Gibson; no other power slugger was feared by Negro League pitchers more than “Mule”. Suttles may not have hit more home runs than Gibson, but he could hit them as far.
The following about Suttles is an excerpt from my book, Last Train in Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era:
“Because of the lack of documented Negro League baseball statistics, the total number of home runs hit by Suttles is not known. Supposedly, he led the Negro National League in round trippers twice. There is an eyewitness account of a 500 foot home run he hit over the centerfield fence at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame Negro League shortstop Willie Wells frequently told the story of a 600 foot home run “Mule” hit at Havana’s Tropical Park while playing in the Cuban Winter League. The ball carried out of the stadium and over the heads of the Cuban soldiers on horseback doing crowd control duty behind the fence. Afterwards, a marker was supposedly placed at the spot the ball landed commemorating “Mule’s” blast. Another version of that home run has it landing in the ocean.
Chico Renfro, former Kansas City Monarch’s infielder and longtime sports editor recalled, “Suttles had the rawest power of any player I’ve ever seen.” Since the major white newspapers mainly ignored Negro League baseball, “Mule” was not included when the Major League power hitters of that time ‐ Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, and others, were given national media recognition. However, “Mule” was popular among Negro League baseball fans because they knew the stories about his home run power.”
To read more about “Mule” Suttles and the Negro League baseball era Last Train To Cooperstown
Willie Foster George “Mule” Suttles
On September 10, 1933, the first Negro League Baseball East-West All Star Game was played at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Negro League fans used ballots in the Chicago Defender, Pittsburg Courier, and other leading African American newspapers to vote for their favorite to appear in the game. The annual contest would become the annual national showcase for Negro League baseball through the 1930s and 1940s.
Here is an excerpt from my book, Last Train to Cooperstown: The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era, describing the All Star Game:
“The NNL held its first East‐West All‐Star Game on September 10,
- It was the brainchild of Greenlee and two black newspaper
sportswriters, Roy Sparrow of the Pittsburgh Sun‐Telegraph and
Bill Nunn of the Pittsburgh Courier. It was played in Chicago’s
Comiskey Park where Major League baseball had its first All Star
Game earlier that summer.
The event was designed to be a national showcase for Negro
League baseball. Fans could use ballots in the Pittsburgh Courier,
Chicago Defender, and other black newspapers to vote for their
favorite player. “Mule” Suttles received 35,134 votes from fans for
the inaugural East‐West All Star Game. It was a tremendous success
as fans came from around the country dressed in their Sunday best
to see the game. With 19,568 attending the game, it was one of the
largest gatherings of African Americans for that time.”
The Negro National League (NNL) top vote recipients were divided into two squads for the game; East and West. It was won by the West 11 – 7. Willie Foster of the Chicago American Giants was the winning pitcher, going all nine innings. Teammate George “Mule” Suttles helped by hitting the first Negro League All Star Game home run.
There were eleven players on the field at Comiskey Park that day who would be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. James “Cool Papa” Bell, Oscar Charleston, Biz Mackey, Jud Wilson, Judy Johnson, “Satchel” Paige, and Andy Cooper were on the East All Stars. The West All Stars included Willie Foster, “Mule” Suttles, Willie Wells, and “Turkey” Stearnes.
To learn more about some of the players in the Negro League East-West All Star Game down through the years, read Last Train to Cooperstown. For more information go to www.klmitchell.com or BookLaunch (http://booklaunch.io/kevinlmitchell/last-train-to-cooperstown).