Tag Archives: Negro League Baseball

MLB TIME CAPSULE 1950s: Bob Thurman’s Big Day

The focus for my blog posts during this COVID 19 shortened 2020 Major League baseball season has been baseball time capsules from the 1950s.  During that decade, the pace of integration in the Major Leagues slowly, but steadily went forward.  As a consequence, the talent pool for the Negro Leagues decreased setting it on a journey towards extinction by the early 1960s.  All of this with the early Civil Rights movement as a back drop.

This week’s post is about former Negro League outfielder Bob Thurman.  On August 18, 1956 while playing for the Cincinnati Redlegs, Thurman hit three home runs.  The make-up of his team, still called Redlegs and not Reds in 1956, gave an indication of racial integration in the Major Leagues nine years after the color line had been erased.

Drafted into the military while playing in the semi-professional baseball leagues of Wichita, Kansas, Bob Thurman saw combat duty during World War ll in New Guinea and the Philippines.  After leaving military service in 1946, he played with the Homestead Grays during the last years of owner Cum Posey’s “long gray line”.  Long time Negro League veterans Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, “Cool Papa” Bell and others were still with the Grays; however Posey died before the season started.  Signed as a left handed pitcher, Thurman proved to be a better power hitter and became the team’s regular centerfielder.  With the veteran players approaching the end of their baseball careers, Josh Gibson died in 1947, the Grays mixed in Thurman along with future Major League players Luke Easter and Luis Marquez to help the team remain competitive.  In 1948, the Grays defeated the Birmingham Black Barons in the last Negro League World Series.

With the Negro National League disbanding after the 1948 season, Thurman signed with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League.  Monarchs’ manager Buck O’Neil had a team that included future Major League players Elston Howard, Connie Johnson, Gene Baker, Hank Thompson, and Curt Roberts.  The Monarchs were looking to sell their best players to Major League teams in order to remain operating profitably.  On July 29, 1949 the New York Yankees purchased Thurman’s contract and he became the first African American signed by the team.   

Bob Thurman

However, the Yankees were not serious about integration.  Although Thurman batted .317 at Triple AAA minor league Newark Bears for the remainder of that season, the Yankees traded him to the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs were also slow embracing integration and released Thurman in 1952 despite him having respectable years in the team’s minor league system.  It would not be until 1954 before Ernie Banks became the first African-American to play for Chicago’s north side team. 

Thurman spent the next two years playing summer and winter Caribbean league baseball.  After a tremendous winter league season in 1955, he signed with the Cincinnati Redlegs mainly as a 34 years old reserve outfielder/pinch hitter and made his Major League debut on April 14, 1955; a little more than a month before his actual 38th birthday.

Bob Thurman

On August 18, 1956, the Redlegs hit eight home runs in a 13 – 4 victory over the Milwaukee Braves.  After hitting a double in the third inning, Bob Thurman hit home runs in the fifth, seventh, and eighth.

In addition to Thurman, the other former Negro League players on the Redlegs’ roster that season were George Crowe, Chuck Harmon, Joe Black, and Pat Scantlebury.  All were thirty-plus years old and nearing the end of their playing careers.  However, with Major League scouts draining the Negro League talent pool by 1956, more African-American and dark-skinned Latino players were being signed who never played Negro League baseball.  Twenty years old Frank Robinson hit two of the eight home runs for the Redlegs in that August 18 game.  The 1956 National League Rookie of the Year and 1986 Hall of Fame inductee did not play in the Negro Leagues. Neither had eighteen years old Redlegs’ outfielder Curt Flood.  He appeared in five games that season and later played 12 years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

If the New York Yankees in 1949 had known Bob Thurman’s real age of 32, they would not have signed him.  Neither would the Redlegs in 1955 had they known him being almost 38!  But finally given the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues, Bob Thurman certainly proved in that game on August 18, 1956 that his time for hitting a baseball had not passed him by.  He hit 35 home runs in his five seasons (1955 – 1959) with Cincinnati. 

All pictures via Google Images

For my daily historical notices go to Kevin L. Mitchell @Lasttraintocoop

MLB TIME CAPSULE 1950’s: Roy Campanella Night

It now appears that despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, there will still be a 2020 Major League Baseball season. The number of games that will be played and other details will be announced before July 1, the expected starting date.  My weekly blog posts for the season will be a baseball time capsule from the 1950s.  During that decade, the pace of integration in the Major Leagues slowly, but steadily went forward.  As a consequence, the talent pool for the Negro Leagues decreased setting it on a journey towards extinction by the early 1960s.  All of this with the early Civil Rights movement as a back drop.

This week’s post is about Roy Campanella.

Roy Campanella

91,103 fans were at Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum on May 7, 1959 for Roy Campanella Night, a special occasion which included a benefit  exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees.  On that evening, the Dodgers paid tribute to the 8-time All-Star, former Dodger catcher who did not have an opportunity to play for the team after it moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn.  Less than two months before the Dodgers would start 1958 spring training for the team’s first season in Los Angeles, he had a car accident that left him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. 

LA Coliseum May 7, 1959

Roy Campanella’s journey through professional baseball began in 1937 when at 15 years old he played for the Washington Elites of the Negro National League. He developed his skills as a backstop under the tutelage of his manager Raleigh “Biz” Mackey, considered one of the best catchers of that era despite not being allowed to play in the Major Leagues because of his skin color.

After nine years in the Negro Leagues, Campanella signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and became teammates with Jackie Robinson in 1948.   Although Robinson had erased the “invisible color line” in 1947, African Americans and dark-skinned Latino ballplayers would be faced with racial discrimination and prejudice in Major League baseball throughout the 1950s.

Campanella became one of the anchors for Brooklyn Dodgers teams that won five National League pennants (1949, 1952 – 1953, 1955 – 1956) and one World Series championship (1955).  Named National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) three times (1951, 1953, & 1955), he hit a career 242 home runs with 856 RBIs.

On that special night in 1959, former Dodgers’ teammate Pee Wee Reese pushed a wheelchair bound Campanella out to the infield of the Coliseum in front of a cheering crowd that gave a three minute standing ovation.  Also, Biz Mackey received a roaring ovation when introduced that night as Campy’s catching mentor. Mackey did not live to see the crowning acknowledgement of his baseball career that came in 2006 with his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Yankees, who were the 1958 World Series champions, won the game 6 – 2.  But it did not turn out to be an omen about the season for the teams.  For the first time since 1954, the Yankees did not win the American League pennant in 1959.  The Dodgers won the National League pennant that year and defeated the Chicago White Sox 4 games to 2 in the World Series.  It would be the last hurrah for Campy’s former long- time Brooklyn Dodgers teammates (“The Boys of Summer”) Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Carl Erskine, and Carl Furillo.

As his health permitted, Roy Campanella continued to be a part of the Dodgers’ family (coaching catchers during Spring Training, Community Relations Department, etc.) until his June 23, 1993 death.  

All pictures via Google Images

For my daily historical notices go to Kevin L. Mitchell@Lasttraintocoop

Centennial Anniversary – Negro League Baseball

Due to the current global COVID- 19 pandemic, I have been reluctant to post on my blog.  A blog post about baseball history seems very trivial when compared to the spread of the deadly virus that has at least for now changed our lives.  The voluntary and mandatory shelter in place and quarantines, recommended social distancing, and business shutdowns have been more than an inconvenience to everyone.  This is especially true for sports fans who have had to accept the cancellation of NCAA college basketball’s “March Madness”, the indefinite suspension of the both the NBA and NHL seasons, and the Masters Golf Tournament being postponed.  As for my favorite, baseball, the Major League Baseball season will not start until maybe June; if then.

However, I think a post about a milestone in baseball history would be a good change of pace from the constant serious life messages we are receiving about COVID-19 from MSNBC, CNN, FOX NEWS, and other media outlets.  The professional baseball historic milestone I am referring is the Centennial (100 years) Anniversary of organized Negro League professional baseball; the formation of the first Negro National League.

As the new decade of the 1920’s began, equality and justice for African Americans seemed an impossible dream.  African American soldiers returning from World War I battlefields did not receive a hero’s welcome, but instead a harsh slap of racial reality.  There were a number of African Americans lynched not only in the south, but throughout the country.  Racial violence prevailed in 1919 with deadly riots in East St. Louis, Tulsa, and Chicago.  This toxic national racial attitude spilled over into the sport of baseball, “the national pastime”.   Due to racial discrimination, African American and dark-skinned Latino baseball players were kept out of white professional baseball.

It is within this difficult racial environment that Andrew “Rube” Foster, African American team owner and manager of the Chicago American Giants birthed the Negro National League (NNL) on February 13, 1920 at the YMCA Building on 18th and The Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri.  The NNL has the distinction of being the first African American professional baseball league.

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Andrew “Rube” Foster

There had been a little more than a hand full of African American players in white professional baseball in the late 1880s.  However, by the beginning of the 20th Century, the racially discriminating “invisible color line” had been solidly formed.  In response to this, African Americans formed their own professional baseball teams.  The Cuban Giants, Cuban X Giants, Chicago Union Giants, Philadelphia Giants, and Pittsburgh Keystones were a few of the African American professional baseball teams at the dawning of the new century.  “Rube” Foster first gained fame as a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Giants.  Before 1920 there were a few Negro pro baseball leagues formed, but they either quickly folded or had no impact on the structure of black baseball.  However, the Negro National League (NNL) operated from 1920 – 1931.

The NNL consisted of eight teams its first year:  the Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Detroit Stars, St. Louis Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Indianapolis ABCs, and Cuban Stars.  Due to the financial and racial obstacles African American pro baseball franchises faced, the league make up changed from season to season as some teams folded and new ones added.  Foster’s American Giants along with the Kansas City Monarchs, Detroit Stars, and the St. Louis Stars (new owners changed name from Giants to Stars in 1922) were the only teams in the league every NNL season.  At one time or another during its duration, the NNL showcased 14 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  In addition, it is acknowledged as the successful forerunner and blueprint for the leagues formed that kept Negro League professional baseball alive before finally ending in the early 1960s; the Negro National League (1933 – 1948) and Negro American League (1937 – 1962).

This past February 13, 2020, the centennial celebration of this baseball historic milestone began with Major League Commissioner Rob Manfred making a $1 million joint donation from Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association to the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City.  The funds are to support the museum’s continuous effort to keep highlighting the historical impact Negro League professional baseball had on the sport and on American society as a whole.

Also, that ceremony included the unveiling of the Centennial Anniversary’s logo.

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Once the 2020 Major League Baseball season hopefully begins, the centennial celebration will continue to be recognized.  During all MLB games, the Negro League 100th anniversary logo will be worn on the uniforms of all players, managers, coaches, and umpires.  Also, many clubs have planned centennial anniversary activities such as Negro Leagues tribute games with throwback uniforms, pregame panels with special guests, and game day giveaways.  The timing of these activities is now pending on the adjustments that will be made to the MLB season based on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remembering Those Who Played Their Last Inning in 2019 – Part One

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It is not only the start of a new year, 2020; but also a new decade.  Whether you are continuing the weekend celebration of the beginning of both or putting the finishing touches on your 2020 goals and objectives; take a moment to pay tribute with me to a group of former Negro League and Major League baseball players who died in 2019.

Due to their advancing ages, the number of surviving former Negro League baseball players decreases each year.  Most of those who played before Jackie Robinson erased “the invisible color line” in 1947 opening the door for the racial integration of Major League baseball have died.  The remaining former Negro League players began their careers in the late 1940s and 1950s.  Some played only in the remaining Negro Leagues; others spent their career integrating professional baseball’s minor league system and only briefly played in the Major Leagues, while others had productive Major League careers.

Of the five former Negro League players listed below, three played only in the Negro Leagues, one played briefly in the Major Leagues, and one had a stellar Major League career.

There may be other former Negro League baseball players whose deaths in 2019 I missed, so this list could be incomplete.

 

Don Newcombe – February 19, 2019

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Don Newcombe (Center)

Born 6/14/26 in Madison, New Jersey.  Newcombe began his career with the Negro League baseball Newark Eagles in 1944.  Starting in 1949, “Big Newk” (6’4”, 220 pounds) became the workhorse pitcher of the Brooklyn Dodgers “Boys of Summer” era winning 138 games between 1949 – 1956 despite missing 2 two seasons due to military service (1952 & 1953).  On average, he pitched 215 innings per year.  Named National League Rookie of the Year in 1949, the 3-time National League All-Star won 20 games three times.  In 1956 when he won 27 games, “Big Newk” became the first recipient of the Cy Young Award and also received National League Most Valuable Player honors.  World Series horrors:  0 – 4 with 8.22 ERA in five Series starts against New York Yankees. Plagued by alcohol abuse his entire career, Newcombe retired from baseball at age 34.  He worked many years after retirement in programs providing support for individuals suffering from alcoholism and in community relations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

Charles “Chuck” Harmon – March 19, 2019

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Chuck Harmon

 

Born May 23, 1924 in Washington, Indiana, Harmon earned All-American basketball honors at the University of Toledo in 1943.  After three years of military service, Harmon signed with the Indianapolis Clowns in the summer of 1947 to make extra money before returning to school.  He used a different name in order to keep his NCAA college basketball eligibility.  After just a one week road trip, the St. Louis Browns offered him a contract. Although he had good offensive years, the slow pace of Major League baseball racial integration kept him stuck in the Browns’ minor league system.  However, the Browns traded Harmon to the Cincinnati Reds in 1952.  In 1954, he and Nino Escalera became the first African American and the first dark-skinned Latino players to appear in  a Major League game for the Cincinnati Reds.  Used as a utility player, Harmon spent 1954 – 56 with Cincinnati and 1957 with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Bob Mitchell – June 12, 2019

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Bob Mitchell

 

Born November 18, 1932 in West Palm Beach, Florida, Mitchell pitched in the Negro baseball minor leagues in Florida after high school.  In 1954, he pitched for the Florida Cubans against the barnstorming Kansas City Monarchs managed by Buck O’Neil.  O’Neil liked the talent he saw in Mitchell and offered him a contract. Mitchell played for the Monarchs from 1954 – 1957 and then retired from baseball to spend more time with his wife and young children.  He had a 30 – 14 career pitching record.

 

Lee Vester Spann  – October 19, 2019

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Lee Vester Spann (front far left)

 

Spann, born June 4, 1948 in St. Louis , Missouri,  played with Indianapolis Clowns in 1965 after coming out of Hadley Tech High School .  Not much else is known about him.  His name came in the news when his insurance claim failed and the family had to make attempts to raise money for his funeral this fall.

 

Paul Jones – December 12, 2019

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Paul Jones

 

Born October 11, 1927 in New Iberia, Louisiana, Jones first played in the Louisiana network of Negro amateur/semi-professional baseball barnstorming teams after coming out of the military in 1946.  From 1949 – 1951, Jones caught for the New Orleans Black Pelicans; the top Negro minor league team in Louisiana.

In my next blog post, I will make note of 3 former Major League players who died in 2019.

Historical notices from last week:  Birthday for Ted Strong former Kansas City Monarchs INF/OF (1939 – 1942, 1946 – 1947) born January 2, 1914, in South Bend, Indiana and Tito Fuentes 2nd baseman for San Francisco Giants (1965 – 1974) born January 4, 1944, in La Habana, Cuba.

All photos for this post the courtesy of numerous internet sites via Google Images

The Last Negro League World Series Champions -Part Two

A major mews media story line about the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series is the team’s ending of a 95 year drought of no World Series championship for Washington D. C. baseball fans. However, as I discussed in my previous blog post, the 1924 Washington Senators were not the last professional baseball team in Washington, D. C. to win a World Series.  The last professional baseball champions from Washington D. C. were the 1948 Homestead Grays.

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Buck Leronard

The 1948 Negro League World Series pitted the Homestead Grays against the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League, a third Series re-match.  The Grays had defeated the Black Barons in the 1943 and 1944 Series.

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Birmingham Black Barons

The teams played the 1948 Series as aftershocks from the racial integration of Major League baseball were just beginning.  Jackie Robinson’s 1947 successful season erased the “invisible color line” opening the door for the initially slow but eventual flow of African American and dark-skinned Hispanics into the Major Leagues.  The erasing of the color line had come too late for 40 years old Homestead Grays first baseman Buck Leonard and the Grays’ power-hitting catcher Josh Gibson who had died in early 1947.  However, 1948 Grays’ players first baseman Luke Easter, pitcher/outfielder Bob Thurman, pitcher Bob Trice, and outfielder Luis Marquez, all went on to play in the Major Leagues.  For the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons infielder Artie Wilson, pitchers Bill Greason and Jehosie Heard would briefly play in the Major Leagues.  But the Black Barons’ 17 years old center fielder, Willie Mays, would have a Hall of Fame Major League career.

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Willie Mays

Having to rent playing facilities for their games, Negro League teams had to adjust game schedules to field rental availability.  Griffith Stadium had been booked for Washington Redskins football games, so the Grays did not play any home games in the Series.  Three of the games had to be played at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, home of the Birmingham Barons Southern League team.

Not all the Negro League World Series games were played in the cities of the participating teams.  World Series games were played also in other cities with a large population of African Americans.  Negro League officials saw playing the Series in multiple cities would afford more African American baseball fans the opportunity to see the games and hopefully maximize ticket sales.  For the 1948 Series in addition to the games played in Birmingham, Kansas City and New Orleans also hosted games.

The Grays won the first two games of the Series, 4 – 3 and 5 – 3.  The Black Barons rebounded to win Game Three. The Grays outscored the Black Barons 25 – 7 to win the final two games of the Series.

The shift in the interest of African American baseball fans clearly revealed itself during the 1948 Series.  The fans were more interested in following the few African American players in the Major Leagues.  They saw the integrated Major League games as racial and social progress.  African American baseball fans were focused on the 1948 Major League World Series contest between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Braves.  Former Negro League players Larry Doby and Leroy “Satchel” Paige played for the Indians.

The October 16, 1948 issue of the Baltimore Afro American, one of the leading national black newspapers at that time, is an example of the fan interest shift. The weekly paper’s front page headline that day:  “DOBY SERIES HERO, Young Fielder Is Brilliant.  Single in Sixth Game Beats Boston.  Slams First Homer Over CenterField.”  The adjoining front page article highlights Larry Doby’s contributions, his leading .318 Series Batting Average with 1 home run, in the Cleveland Indians’ four games to two games victory over the Boston Braves.  Also on the front page, the photo of teammates Doby and Cleveland pitcher Steve Gromek in a smiling embrace after the Indians’ 2 – 1 win in Game 5.  The photo of Doby whose third inning homer broke a 1-1 tie and Gromek the winning pitcher sent a new visual message across the country of racial harmony in Major League Baseball.  On the front page also, an article questioning  “Satchel” Paige’s role with the Indians for 1949.  He had only pitched two-thirds of an inning in the Series.

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On the Sports Page, buried under additional headlines, articles, and pictures about Doby, and Paige, the paper had a brief article about the Homestead Grays’ 11 – 6 win over the Birmingham Black Barons in Game Five to be the 1948 Negro League World Series champion.             

The Negro League World Series ended after 1948.  The Negro National League disbanded before the next season began.  The Homestead Grays stopped functioning as a professional baseball team.  Negro League baseball limped through the 1950s selling their best players to the Major Leagues before fading away in the early 1960s.

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Luke Easter

In 2009 the Washington Nationals paid tribute to the Homestead Grays by placing a statue of Grays’ Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson in the Center Field Plaza at Nationals’ Park.  Negro League baseball operated in the shadow of the Major Leagues for nearly half of the 20th Century.  However, the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series triumph shined a larger spotlight on the Homestead Grays.  The Nationals’ 2019 World Series championship brought the Homestead Grays from behind that shadow to show the teams’ place in Washington D. C. professional baseball history.

The Last Negro League World Series Champions – Part 1

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals, the 2019 Major League Baseball World Series Champions! With their 6 – 2 win in Game Seven over the Houston Astros, the Nationals become the seventh team qualifying for the playoffs as the “Wild Card” to win the World Series; the last being the 2014 San Francisco Giants.

Also, as one of the 2019 Fall Classic’s story lines, with their victory the Washington Nationals ended a 95 year drought of having a World Series championship for Washington D. C. baseball fans.  Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck mentioned this as the Nationals took command of Game Seven Wednesday night.   The 1924 Washington Senators were World Series champions after defeating the New York Giants 4 games to 3.   Hall of Fame pitcher Walter “Big Train” Johnson (23 – 7 with a 2.72 ERA) and Hall of Fame outfielder Goose Goslin (12 HRs, a league leading 129 RBIs, .344 BA.) lead that Senators’ championship team.  However, the 1924 Washington Senators were not the last professional baseball team in Washington, D. C. to win a World Series before the Nationals won this year.  That distinction had belonged to the Homestead Grays, one of the most renowned franchises in Negro League professional baseball.  The Grays were Negro League World Series champions in 1943, 1944, and 1948.

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After losing the 1933 World Series to the New York Giants, the Washington Senators finished .500 or above only once more in the 1930s, twice in the 1940s, and twice in the early 1950s.  Despite showing signs of improvement in 1960, the team finished below .500 for the seventh straight year.  The franchise then moved to Minneapolis and became the Minnesota Twins.

In 1961 the American League placed a new Washington Senators franchise in D.C., an expansion club, but it finished near or at the bottom in the league’s standings from 1961 – 1968.  Hall of Fame slugger Ted Williams became manager in 1969 and led the Senators to an 87 – 75 record.  However, after finishing below .500 for the 1971 season the Senators’ owner moved the franchise to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the team became the Texas Rangers.  Major League Baseball would not return to Washington, D. C. until 2005 when the Montreal Expos National League franchise moved to the nation’s capital and became the Washington Nationals.

For nearly the first half of the 20th Century, the “invisible color line” in white organized professional baseball kept African Americans and dark-skinned Hispanic players out of Major League baseball.  In the face of this racial prejudice, Homestead Grays owner Cumberland Posey created a winning tradition in Negro League professional baseball.  At one time or another ten Negro League players enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame wore the uniform of the Homestead Grays, including long time Grays’ first baseman Buck Leonard and catcher Josh Gibson.  Beginning in 1937, the Grays won eight consecutive Negro National League pennants.  The Grays originated out of Homestead, Pennsylvania across the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh.  However, in 1940 it began playing half of its home games in Washington, D. C. to tap into the increasing African American population in the city.  The city previously had been the home of two other Negro League teams; the Washington Pilots briefly in 1932 and the Washington Elite Giants in 1936 – 1937.  The Grays leased the Senators’ home ballpark, Griffith Stadium, for their home games.  In 1943, Washington became the home base for the Homestead Grays.  As the Senators continued to struggle on the field, many considered the Grays the best professional baseball team in the nation’s capital from 1940 – 1948.  Despite being mainly a second division team during this period, the Senators remained profitable due to the fees charged to the Grays for leasing Griffith Stadium.

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Cumberland Posey

The Washington Nationals being in this year’s World Series helps to shine the spotlight on the Homestead Grays, who played in the shadow of the Washington Senators.   Part two of this post will tell more of the 1948 Homestead Grays, the playing of the last Negro League World Series, and the beginning of the end for the Negro League baseball era.  Stay tuned!

Negro League Baseball Managers – Part 2

Following are the remaining 10 of my Twitter posts, Kevin L. Mitchell @Lasttraintocoop, I began this past spring on Negro League baseball managers.  Three were catchers when they played, two pitchers, and one played both positions.  Three played on Negro League Baseball World Series champions, two managed their teams to World Series championships, and four were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  They all made outstanding contributions in building the legacy of Negro League baseball,  a forgotten sports institution.

Negro League Baseball Managers:  Frank Duncan, C, playing career included Kansas City Monarchs 1922 – 1934, 1937, catcher on Monarchs’1924 WS champs, player/mgr. Monarchs 1941 – 1947, won 2 NAL pennants 1942 & 1946, WS champs 1942.

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Frank Duncan

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Raleigh “Biz” Mackey, catcher, playing career 1920 – 47, player/mgr. Newark Eagles 1941, 1945 – 47, Negro League World Series Champions 1946 (team included Monte Irvin & Larry Doby), elected HOF 2006.

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Biz Mackey

 

Quincy Trouppe, career 1930 – 48, player/mgr. Cleveland Buckeyes 1945 – 47, World Series champs 1945, Chicago American Giants 1948, signed Cleveland Indians 1952, MLB debut 6/3/50, played 6 games

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Quincy Trouppe

 

Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, catcher & pitcher, career 1928 – 1946, player/manager Cincinnati Tigers 1937, Memphis Red Sox 1938 – 1941, Chicago American Giants 1943

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Ted Radcliffe

 

Sol White, born 6/12/1868, Bellaire, OH., inf, white organized baseball before solid color line & teams early beginnings Negro Leagues 1880 – 1900 Cuban Giants, Cuban X Giants, etc, player/mgr Philadelphia Giants 1902 – 07, HOF 2016

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Sol White

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Andy Cooper, 2006 Hall of Fame LHP, Manager Kansas City Monarchs 1937 – 1940, won 3 Negro American League pennants, 2-time manager of Negro League All-Star game west squad

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Andy Cooper

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Felton Snow, 2-time Negro League All-Star 3B, player/manager Baltimore Elite Giants 1939 – 1947, manager East squad 1940 East-West All-Star Game

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Felton Snow

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Grant “Home Run” Johnson, 1897 – 1912, mainly Cuban X Giants 1903 – 1905, Brooklyn Royal Giants 1906 – 1909, 1912, Philadelphia Giants 1911

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Grant “Home Run” Johnson

 

Lorenzo “Piper” Davis, born 7/3/17, Piper, AL., 4-time Negro League All-Star INF., Birmingham Black Barons 1942 – 1949, player/mgr. Black Baron’s 1948 Negro American League pennant winner, played in minor leagues of 4 MLB teams

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Piper Davis

 

Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, born 7/28/1893, Oklahoma City, OK., P/OF, Kansas City Monarchs 1920 – 1938, no wind-up motion, hard thrower, 1924 World Series champs, 2-1 with 2.57 ERA & .325 BA, Monarchs’ player/mgr. 1928 – 34, HOF 1998

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“Bullet” Rogan

 

Again, you can find me on Twitter at Kevin L. Mitchell@Lasttraintocoop

 

All photos for this post the courtesy of numerous internet sites via Google Images

Negro League Baseball Managers – Part 1

This past spring on Twitter, follow me at Kevin L. Mitchell @Lasttraintocoop, I began posting a series of tweets about Negro League baseball managers.

Starting their careers first as players themselves, then player/managers, and then just managers after their playing days; they each developed an insight into baseball from their many years of involvement in the game.  Not included in my series of tweets, former pitcher Andrew “Rube” Foster, the most well-known Negro League owner/manager.  The 1981 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee managed his Chicago American Giants from the 1910s through 1920s into one of the most renowned franchises in Negro League baseball history.

Of the managers in my tweets, some are more famous than others.  There were also many others not in my series such as Jose Mendez, Ben Taylor, John “Pop” Lloyd, Willie Wells, and John “Buck” O’Neil.  Negro League managers made outstanding contributions in building the legacy of Negro League baseball as a forgotten sports institution.

Following are 10 of my Twitter posts on Negro league baseball managers:

 

Frank Warfield, Hilldale Club 1923 – 1927, Eastern Colored League pennant 1924 & 1925, 1925 World Series champs, Baltimore Black Sox 1929 – 1931, American Negro League pennant, Washington Pilots 1932

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Frank Warfield

 

 

William “Dizzy” Dizmukes, went to Talladega College, managed various Negro League teams including Indianapolis ABCs 1923 – 1924, Memphis Red Sox 1925, St. Louis Stars 1937, Birmingham Black Barons 1938

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Dizzy Dismukes

 

 

Charles Isham (CI) Taylor, Birmingham Black Barons 1904 – 09, West Baden Sprudels 1910 – 13, Indianapolis ABCs 1914 – 21, mgr. contemporary to Andrew “Rube” Foster, VP Negro National League 1920

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CI Taylor

 

 

Dick Lundy, best SS Negro Leagues 1920s, SS/mgr. Bacharach Giants 1926 – 28, ECL pennants 1926 & 1927, Philly Stars 1933 & Newark Dodgers 1934, All-Star 1933 – 34, mgr. 1934 East All Stars, mgr. Newark Eagles 1938 – 40

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Dick Lundy

 

 

“Candy” Jim Taylor, managed in NL 3 decades including St. Louis Stars 1923 – 28, Chicago American Giants 1937 – 39, 1941 – 42, 1945 – 47, Homestead Grays 1943 – 44, started as 3B Birmingham Black Barons 1904 – 08 bro. CI Taylor mgr

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Candy Jim Taylor

 

 

Vic Harris, 7-time Negro League All-Star OF, player/mgr. Homestead Grays 1937 – 1942, 1946 – 1948, won NNL pennant 1937 – 42, Negro League World Series champs 1948, 6-times named All-Star Game mgr.,

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Vic Harris

 

 

Jose Maria Fernandez, C/1B, 30+ years Negro League with Cuban teams beginning 1916, except 1930 Chicago American Giants, player/mgr. New York Cubans 1939 – 48, 1947 Negro League World Series champs

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Jose Fernandez

 

 

Oscar Charleston, OF/1B, one of best players baseball, 1915 – 41, teams he was manager Pitts. Crawfords 1932 – 38, Philly Stars 1941 – 44, 1946 – 50, Bklyn Brown Dodgers 1945, Indy Clowns 1954, HOF 1976

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Oscar Charleston

 

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Winfield Welch, Birmingham Black Barons 1942 – 1945, Negro American League pennant winner 1943 & 1944, 4-time manager West squad Negro League All-Star Game, mgr.  Chicago American Giants 1949

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Winfield Welch

 

 

Negro League Baseball Managers: Fred “Tex” Burnett, C/1B, playing career 1922 – 1941 including New York Black Yankees 1931 – 1932, 1941, Homestead Grays, 1934, Newark Eagles 1937, manager Newark Eagles 1937, NY Black Yankees 1940 – 1943

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Tex Burnett

 

Again, you can find me on Twitter at Kevin L. Mitchell@Lasttraintocoop

 

All photos for this post the courtesy of numerous internet sites via Google Images

 

Negro League Second Basemen – Part 2

Last fall I had a series of Twitter posts, Kevin L. Mitchell@Lasttraintocoop, listing Negro League Second Basemen.  In last week’s blog I listed ten of those posts.  Following are ten more.

Two of them listed were multiple time Negro League All-Stars, three were on Negro League World Series championship teams, and one broke through the color barrier of a Major League team.  Each of them exemplified the high quality of talent that played the position during the Negro League baseball era:

Curt Roberts, Kansas City Monarchs 1947 – 50, 1st African American to play Pittsburgh Pirates, signed 1953, Pirates 1954 – 56, MLB debut 4/13/54, 1954 hit .232 in 134 games, 1957 – 63 in AAA minor league

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Curt Roberts

 

Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss, considered 1 of best defensive 2nd baseman in Negro Leagues 1910s and early 1920s, mainly Chicago American Giants 1917 – 1925

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Bingo DeMoss

 

McKinley “Bunny” Downs, teams include Hilldale 1917 – 22, Brooklyn Royal Giants 1923 – 24, Harrisburg Giants 1925, as exec Indianapolis Clowns signed high school prospect Henry Aaron early 1950s

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Bunny Downs

 

Barney Serrell, Chicago American Giants 1941, Kansas City Monarchs 1942 – 1945, 10 hits vs Homestead Grays 1942 Negro League World Series won by Monarchs, late 1940s & 1950s in Mexican League

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Barney Serrell

 

John Henry Russell, known for his defense, Memphis Red Sox 1923 – 1925, St. Louis Stars 1926 – 1930, DP combo with HOF SS Willie Wells and HOF 1B Mule Suttles, Pittsburgh Crawfords 1931 – 1933

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John Henry Russell

 

Sammy T. Hughes, 5-time Negro League All-Star, good fielder, consistently solid #2 hitter , speedy base runner, Nashville/Columbus/Washington/Baltimore Elite Giants 1933 – 1940, 1942, 1946

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Sammy T. Hughes

 

Johnnie Cowan, Birmingham Black Barons 1940, Cleveland Buckeyes 1942 – 1947, starting second baseman for Buckeyes’ 1945 Negro League World Series championship team, Memphis Red Sox 1948

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Johnnie Cowan

 

Pat Patterson, 4-time Negro League All-Star, played on various teams, member 1935 Negro National League champion Pittsburgh Crawfords , KC Monarchs 1936, Philadelphia Stars 1938 – 39, 1941 – 42

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Pat Patterson

 

Frank “Weasel” Warfield, Negro League career 1914 – 1932, including Hilldale of Darby, Pennsylvania 1923 – 1928, on Hilldale’s 1925 Negro League World Series Championship team

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Frank Warfield

 

Wilson Connie Day, Indianapolis ABCs 1921 – 1923, Baltimore Black Sox 1924 – 1926, Harrisburg Giants 1927

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W. Connie Day

 

All photos for this post the courtesy of numerous internet sites via Google Images

Negro League Baseball 2B: Part 1

Last fall on Twitter, follow me at Kevin L. Mitchell @Lasttraintocoop, I posted a series of tweets about Negro League baseball second basemen.

Frank Grant, inducted in 2006, is the only former Negro League baseball second baseman with a plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. However, that does not indicate a lack of talent existed at the position in Negro League baseball.  Listed below are Twitter posts for 10 Negro League second basemen.  At a point in their careers, seven were chosen by fans as to be a Negro League All-Star.  One had a successful AAA minor league career after the integration of white professional.  One has a plaque in the Hall of Fame as an outfielder after changing positions when playing Major League baseball.

Dick Jackson, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants 1921, New York Bacharach Giants 1922, Brooklyn Royal Giants 1923, Harrisburg Giants 1924 – 25, Baltimore Black Sox 1926 – 28, Hilldale 1930, good hitter, hot-tempered

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Dick Jackson

 

Herberto Blanco, New York Cubans 1941 & 1942, Negro League All-Star 1942, also played in the Mexican League, Canadian Provincial League, and US minor leagues, brother Carlos played 1B for Cubans in 1941

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Herberto Blanco

 

William “Billy” Horne, 2B/SS, Chicago American Giants 1938 – 1941, Negro League All-Star 2B 1939 & 1941, Cleveland Buckeyes 1942 – 1944, 1946, military service 1945, good defense, base-stealing speed

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Billy Horne

 

Chester Williams, 2B/SS, multiple teams, 1931 – 1942, Pittsburgh Crawfords 1931 – 1938, Philadelphia Stars 1939 – 1940, Homestead Grays 1941 – 1942, Negro League All-Star 1934 – 1937, solid defense, aggressively competitive attitude

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Chester Williams

 

Lorenzo “Piper” Davis, Negro League All-Star multiple times, Birmingham Black Barons 1943 – 49, Boston Red Sox minor league system 1950, integrated Triple AAA minor leagues (PCL) 1951 – 57

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Piper Davis

 

Dick Seay, 2-time Negro League All-Star 2b, career 1926 – 47, mainly Newark Eagles 1937 – 40, part of 1938 Eagles’ “million dollar infield”, New York Black Yankees 1940 – 42, 1945 – 47, good defense, light hitter

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Dick Seay

 

Walter Cannady, 1921 – 45 Negro League career, INF/OF but 2B best position, played with various teams including New York Black Yankees 1933 – 39, 1-time Negro League All-Star 1938

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Walter Cannady

 

Jimmy Ford, various Negro League teams 1933 – 1945, including Memphis Red Sox 1937, 1944 – 1945, 1941 Negro League All-Star while with St. Louis/New Orleans Stars

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Jimmy Ford

 

Larry Doby, Newark Eagles 1942 – 44, 1946, Negro League All-Star 1946, Negro League World Series champs 1946, signed Cleveland Indians 1947, switched to OF, 7-time MLB All-Star, elected HOF 1998

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Larry Doby

 

Jesse Warren Douglass, Chicago American Giants, 1937, 1944 – 45, Kansas City Monarchs 1940, Birmingham Black Barons 1941, also played shortstop and outfield, independent minor leagues & Mexican League 1950s

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Jesse Douglas

 

BUT WAIT!  I will have a list of others who played the position in Negro League baseball next post.  STAY TUNED!

All photos for this post the courtesy of numerous internet sites via Google Images

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