Tag Archives: Sports History

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

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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

Remembering Those Who Played Their Last Inning in 2018 – Part One

A BELATED HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Before getting further into 2019, I need to briefly mention the Negro League players who took the field for the last inning of life’s game in 2018.  Of the five listed, one briefly played Major League baseball and another in the minor leagues after Jackie Robinson erased the “invisible color line” in 1947.  The others played during the rapid decline of the Negro Leagues in the 1950’s or on teams in the Negro minor leagues.  Neither of the ex-players in the post is considered a “famous name”, but the lives of each are a chapter in the Negro League baseball story.

I may not have been aware of the death in 2018 of others from the Negro League baseball era, so the list could be incomplete.

 

Roosevelt Jackson – May 5, 2018

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Born 12/20/17 in Gay, Georgia; Jackson became known at events honoring Negro League baseball during the last years of his life as the “oldest player from the Negro League era”.  He played both infield (2B) and outfield during the 1930’s and 1940’s with Negro minor leagues teams in Florida;  Miami Globetrotters, Hollywood (Fla.) Redbirds, Miami Red Sox, Belle Glade Redwings.  These teams were on the Florida spring barnstorming circuit of the major Negro League clubs.  After integration, Jackson did scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

William “Youngblood” McCrary   – July 21, 2018

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While attending high school in Beloit, Wisconsin; McCrary drew interest from the St. Louis Cardinals.  However, with African-Americans still barred from organized white baseball, the team referred him to the Kansas City Monarchs.  Beginning as a 17 years old reserve shortstop, McCrary played for the Monarchs from 1946 – 1948.  Because of his young age, “Satchel” Paige called him “Youngblood”.  McCrary signed with the New York Yankees in 1949 and spent two years in its minor league system.

 

Jose Santiago – October 9, 2018

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Born September 4, 1928 in Coamo, Puerto Rico, Santiago pitched for the 1947 Negro League World Series champion New York Cubans.  Before the next season, Cubans’ owner Alex Pompez sold a number of his players to Major League franchises for money to keep his team operating.  Santiago went to the Cleveland Indians.  He stayed in the team’s minor league system for six years before making his Major League debut on April 17, 1954.  He became the second player from Puerto Rico to be in the American League.  After he had a 2 – 0 record in 1955, the Indians traded Santiago to the Kansas City A’s who released him halfway through the 1956 season.  He never again pitched for another Major League team.

 

Edward Burton – October 18, 2018

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The Harrisburg Giants were a strong team in the Eastern Colored League (ECL) from 1925 – 1927.  Famous Negro League players such as Oscar Charleston, Rap Dixon, Clarence “Fat” Jenkins, and John Beckwith played with the team at one time during the period.  The ECL disbanded in 1928 and by the time Edward Burton joined the Giants in 1947, it had become a low-level, Negro minor league team.  A second baseman, Burton played against Negro American League teams barnstorming though Harrisburg until 1955.  For the last few years he had participated in activities honoring Negro League baseball in Charlotte, NC; where he died.

 

Frank “Bubba” King   – December 8, 2018

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Born 6/23/23 in East Point, GA., King played professional/semi-professional baseball from 1936 – 1958 with local black teams in the Atlanta area; East Point Bears, Atlanta Cards, College Park Indians.  These teams kept black baseball alive in Atlanta down through the Negro League era.  In the 1940’s King, an outfielder, played with the Atlanta Black Crackers of the Negro Southern League (NSL); a Negro minor league team.

 

I need to mention five former players not from the Negro League baseball era who died in 2018.  For each I have my own personal reflection which will be in my next post.  Stay tuned!

 

Willie McCovey & My World Series Nightmare: Part Two

As I mentioned in my last blog post, many times I have been the fan of the team that lost the World Series.  I called those painfully disappointing losses my World Series nightmares.   One of those nightmares involved Hall of Fame slugger Willie McCovey who died this past October 31.

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Willie McCovey

The 1962 World Series would be the seventh “Yankees vs Giants”, but with a huge difference.  After being a New York franchise since 1883, first the Gothams then in 1885 the Giants, the New York Giants moved to the west coast after the 1957 season to become the San Francisco Giants.    By 1962, center fielder Willie Mays and manager Alvin Dark were the only Giants who had played with the team in New York.   They were on the Giants’ team that lost the 1951 World Series to the New York Yankees.

Before the boom in television coverage of sporting events, all World Series games were played in the afternoon.  In grade school, I could only watch the first innings during my lunch break.  The games were over by the time school ended.  I would have to wait until the weekends to see a complete game.

In Game One at Candlestick Park the Giants’ stopped pitcher Whitey Ford’s World Series scoreless streak at 33 2/3 innings, but still lost to the Yankees 6-2.  With Ford being a left-handed pitcher, left-handed hitting Willie McCovey did not play.

The Giants’ continued the World Series miseries of Yankees’ pitcher Ralph Terry in Game Two, winning 2 – 0.  Willie McCovey hit a seventh inning home run.  Terry, who won 23 games during the 1962 regular season, had been the goat of the 1960 World Series surrendering the walk-off Seventh Game winning home run to Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In the 1961 World Series Terry dropped   Game Two; New York’s only loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

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Willie McCovey’s HR Game Two 1962 World Series

The Series switched to Yankee Stadium for Game Three that Sunday and I got to watch it all on TV. However, New York won 3 – 2.  McCovey played right field, zero for three at the plate.

When I came home for lunch during Game Four the next day, the Giants were ahead 2 – 0.  Juan Marichal had held the Yankees scoreless the first four innings, but left the game with a sore hand.  After my lunch break, the Yankees tied the score.  But later, from a friend who missed school due to a stomach ache, I learned the Giants scored five runs the last three innings to win 7 – 3.  Claiming to have the same type of stomach ache the next morning, I stayed home to watch Game Five.  However, it rained in New York forcing the game to be cancelled!  My mother told me though the expression on her face, “You got what you deserved for your stunt”.  Returning home from school the next day, I had no more “sick day” options, I painfully learned the Yankees had won Game Five behind Ralph Terry’s sound pitching 5 – 3.  McCovey, playing first base, got one hit.

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Willie McCovey Game 5 – 1962 World Series

A Northern California rain storm cancelled Game Six a Series’ record three times, including during the weekend when I would have been able to watch.  When play resumed, the Giants won 5 – 2 tying the Series at three games apiece.

My school’s janitor had a bet with my teacher that New York would win the World Series.  After listening to Game Seven on his transistor radio, he came into my classroom to collect on his bet.  I learned the details on the game after school.  With Ralph Terry pitching, the Yankees led 1 – 0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.  Matty Alou singled to lead-off for the Giants.  With two outs, Willie Mays doubled.  Willie McCovey, who had tripled in the seventh inning, then hit a line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson to end the Series.

The 1962 World Series brought triumphant vindication to Ralph Terry, but disappointment to Willie McCovey.  For the remainder of his great career, McCovey did not get another opportunity for World Series success.  For me, due to the rainouts, I only saw one entire game and my stunt to see another failed.  Also, in the words spoken by Charlie Brown in the newspaper comic strip Peanuts on 11/22/62; “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just 3 feet higher?”  It probably needed to be more than three feet, but that tells how painfully I still think about it now.  What a nightmare!

 

 

 

Negro League Baseball Catchers – Part Two

From March through June on Twitter, follow me at Kevin L. Mitchell @LastTraintocoop, I wrote about Negro League Baseball catchers.

Currently there are four former Negro League catchers in the National Baseball Hall of Fame:  Roy Campanella (1969), Josh Gibson (1972), James Raleigh “Biz” Mackey (2006), and Louis Santop (2006).  However, there were others who developed the skills necessary to handle the responsibilities of the position and who made outstanding contributions to the success of their teams.

I listed ten of my Negro League catcher Tweets in the May 28th blog post, “Negro League Baseball Catchers – Part One”.  Following is listed another ten.  They all came before the erasing of the “invisible color line” and did not play Major League baseball.  But, they helped to build the legacy of the Negro Leagues.

 

John Hines, Chicago American Giants 1924 – 1930, 1932, 1934. Negro League World Series champs 1926 and 1927, attended Wiley College.

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John Walter Burch, Negro League baseball 1934 – 1946, teams included Atlantic City Bacharach Giants 1931, Homestead Grays 1936, Cleveland Buckeyes 1943 – 1944, 1946.  Buckeyes manager in 1942.

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Leon “Pepper” Daniels, Detroit Stars 1921 – 1927, battery mate of Hall of Fame pitcher Andy Cooper, Chicago American Giants 1931.

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Bob Clarke, Negro League career 1923 – 1948.  Played mainly with Baltimore Black Sox 1923 – 1928, New York Black Yankees 1933 – 1940, Baltimore Elite Giants 1941 – 1946.

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Pete Booker, Negro League 1905 – 1919, teams included Philadelphia Giants, Leland Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis ABCs, Also played 1B

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Lloyd “Pepper” Bassett, Negro League career 1935 – 1946, played with several teams including Pittsburgh Crawfords and Birmingham Black Barons (1943 & 1944 Negro American League champions)

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WG “Bill” Perkins, Negro League career 1928 – 1948, 2-time Negro League All-Star, best years 1931 – 1936 Pittsburgh Crawfords, frequent battery mate of Satchel Paige.

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Joe Greene, Kansas City Monarchs 1939 – 1943, 1946 – 1947.  Handled pitching staff that included “Satchel” Paige, Connie Johnson, Hilton Smith, Jack Matchett, etc.

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Frazier Robinson, Kansas City Monarchs 1942 – 1943, New York Black Yankees 1943, Baltimore Elite Giants 1943, 1946 – 1950.

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Bill “Ready” Cash, 2-time Negro League All-Star, Philadelphia Stars 1943 – 1949.  Briefly played in Chicago White Sox minor league systems 1950s.

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

Negro League Baseball Catchers – Part One

Since the beginning of March on Twitter (follow me at Kevin L. Mitchell @Lasttraintocoop) I have been tweeting about Negro League baseball catchers.

If you have been reading my blog posts any length of time, you are aware of my journey through playing Little League and high school baseball handling the so-called “tools of ignorance”.  That is the nickname given to a catcher’s protective equipment:  catcher’s mask, chest protector, shin guards.  Supposedly coined by Major League catcher “Muddy” Ruel who played in the 1920s and 1930s, the phrase ironically points out the so called smarts needed by a catcher to handle the responsibilities of the position and the foolishness needed to play a position where such protective equipment is required.  My less than stellar performance at times questioned if I had the smarts to required for the position, but the pain experienced from being hit by foul tips and from base runners crashing into me trying to score (catchers could block home plate back then) showed my foolishness in playing it.

The catchers I mention in my tweets have not gotten the recognition as the four former Negro League catchers currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame:  Roy Campanella (1969), Josh Gibson (1972), James Raleigh “Biz” Mackey (2006), and Louis Santop (2006).  However, some did briefly play Major League baseball.  Others were outstanding contributors to the success of their team.  They all developed the skills necessary to handle the responsibilities of the position and helped to build the legacy of Negro League baseball.

Following are a few of my Twitter tweets on Negro League baseball catchers:

Bruce Petway, best defensive catcher in Negro League baseball in early 1900s.  Cuban X Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Chicago American Giants 1911 – 1919, Detroit Stars 1920 – 1925.

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Larry “Iron Man” Brown, Negro League career 1921 – 1946, teams included Memphis Red Sox and Chicago American Giants, 7-time Negro League All-Star, Memphis player/manager 1942 – 1944.

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Frank Duncan, Kansas City Monarchs 1921 – 1934, 1937, 1941 – 1947.  Played on both of Monarchs’ Negro League World Series champions 1924 and 1942.  Monarchs’ manager 1942 – 1947.

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Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, Negro League All-Star, 3-times catcher and 3-times pitcher, 1931 Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords 1932, Memphis Red Sox 1938 – 39, 41, Birmingham Black Barons 1942 – 1946.

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Quincy Trouppe, 5-time Negro League All-Star, St. Louis Stars 1930 – 1931, Indianapolis Clowns 1938, Cleveland Buckeyes 1944 – 1947, signed Cleveland Indians 1952, Major League debut 4/30/52.

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Joshua Johnson 1934 – 1940  Homestead Grays 1934 – 35, 1940 back up to Josh Gibson, also played with New York Black Yankees 1938.

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Albert “Buster” Haywood, most productive years Cincinnati/Indianapolis Clowns 1943 – 1953, Negro League All-Star 1944, named manager of Clowns 1948, first manager for Henry Aaron 1952.

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Sam Hairston, Indianapolis Clowns 1945 – 1948, Signed Chicago White Sox 1950, MLB debut 7/21/51, 1952 – 1960 mainly in White Sox minor league system, 2 sons and 2 grandsons played MLB .

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Ray Noble, New York Cubans 1946 – 1948, played on team’s 1947 Negro League World Series champion, New York Giants 1951 – 1953, MLB debut 4/18/51.

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Otha “Little Catch” Bailey, Negro League career 1950 – 1959, Cleveland Buckeyes, Houston Eagles, Birmingham Black Barons, 5’6’’, 150 pounds, One of the best catchers in talent diluted Negro Leagues in 1950s.

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All photos the courtesy of a variety of internet sites via Google Images

 

Remembering Those Who Played Their Last Inning in 2017: Part 1

Before getting further into 2018, I need to briefly mention the Negro League players who took the field for the last inning of life’s game in 2017.  The lives on each one I name in this post were a chapter in the Negro League baseball story.  I may not have known about the death this year of others from the era, so the list could be incomplete.

I need to mention three players who died in 2017 not involved in the Negro League baseball era, but were a part of the game’s “Golden Age” (1950s and 1960s).  They will be in my next post.

 

Art Pennington  –  January 4, 2017

The legendary story surrounding Art Pennington has him briefly lifting  the front or back-end of an automobile when 10 years old while helping fix a flat tire.  From this event, whether true or false, he got childhood nickname “superman” which remained with him during his baseball career.  The left-handed 1b/OF played with the Chicago American Giants from 1940 – 1946, and 1950.  A 2-time Negro League All-Star (1942, 1950), Pennington also played in the Mexican League during the late 1940s.  One of a group of African-American players that integrated professional baseball’s minor league system in the early 1950s, Pennington finally signed with the New York Yankees in 1958.  At 35 years old, he briefly played in the team’s lower minor league before retiring after the 1959 season.

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Art Pennington

 

Paul Casanova  –  January 12, 2017

An excellent defensive catcher from Cuba with a strong throwing arm, Casanova first signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1960.  After being released, he finished the 1961 season with the Indianapolis Clowns, the final remnant of Negro League baseball.  While Casanova played with a semi-pro team in 1963, a scout for the Washington Senators noticed him.  He remembered seeing Casanova play with the Clowns and signed him.  Casanova went on to have a 10 year Major League career, 7 with the Senators (1965 – 1971).  In 1967, he played in 141 games and was named to the American League All-Star team.

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Paul Casanova

 

Cleophus Brown  –  March 14, 2017

The left-handed pitcher and first baseman played in the Negro Leagues during the decade the era limped to its eventual end.  A Korean War vet, Brown signed on with the Louisville Clippers in 1955 an independent team.  It had been in the Negro American League (NAL), but dropped out after the 1954 season.  After one season with Louisville, Brown worked in the Birmingham, AL. steel mills (17 years) and then the Post Office while playing in the city’s semi-professional baseball Industrial Leagues.

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Cleophus Brown

 

John L. Gray  –  May 4, 2017

Gray attended Central State College in Wilberforce, Ohio and then signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1956 as a catcher and outfielder.  He played that first year with the Indians’ Class D minor league affiliate the Daytona Beach Islanders (Florida State League).  In 1958 after some dissatisfaction with the Indian’s minor league system, Gray signed with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League (NAL).  While with the Clowns, Gray hit a home run at Yankee Stadium which he frequently mentioned to his children and grandchildren in his golden years.  He finished his baseball career playing in the minor league system of first the Chicago Cubs in 1959 and then the Chicago White Sox in 1960.

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John L. Gray

 

Maurice Peatross  –  June 26, 2017

In 1944, while 17 years old, Peatross played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the short-lived United States Negro Baseball League.  The 6’1”, 230 pound first baseman went into the military after high school and returned in 1947 to sign with the Homestead Grays as backup support for the aging Buck Leonard.  The legendary first baseman was 40 years old and still the main drawing card for the Grays.  Signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949, Peatross spent the next four years in the team’s minor league system and then retired from baseball to spend more time with his growing family.

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Maurice Peatross

 

Bob Motley  –  September 14, 2017

The last surviving and one of the most well-known umpires in Negro League baseball, Motley entertained fans during the late 1940s and the 1950s with his animated calls.  The ex-marine World War II Purple Heart recipient handled the umpiring duties for the games of such Negro League players who went on to the Major Leagues such as Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Henry Aaron, and Elston Howard.  Motley tenaciously fought to overcome the racial discrimination he faced as a professional umpire.  He became the second African-American umpire in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1959.

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Bob Motley

 

Willie James Lee and Archie “Dropo” Young

The former teammates on the Birmingham Black Barons died within the same week in 2017.  Willie James Lee died on October 12 and Archie “Dropo” Young died October 19.  They were briefly teammates with the Black Barons in 1956.  After one game Lee (left on the picture below) went on to the Kansas City Monarchs where he got the reputation of being a power hitting outfielder.  Constant injuries hampered his development in the minor league systems of first the Detroit Tigers and then the Minnesota Twins from 1959 – 1964.  A Korean War veteran, Archie Young (below right)  played with the Black Barons in 1956 and 1957 while also working in job in the coal mines.  The power hitting first baseman got the nickname “Dropo” after the American League first baseman during that time, Walt Dropo.

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Mamie “Peanut” Johnson  –  December 19, 2017

One of three women (also Connie Morgan and Toni Stone) who played Negro League baseball in the 1950s, Mamie Johnson pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns from 1953 – 1955.  Johnson stood 5’3” and weighed 120 pounds.  An opposing player said she “looked like a peanut” on the mound and that started the nickname “Peanut”.  With Negro League baseball on a steady decline during the 1950s, the Clowns added comedy routines to their performance on the field in hopes of attracting fans to the games.  But Johnson’s pitching had nothing to do with comedy.  A regular in the Clown’s rotation, she had an arsenal of pitches to throw against opposing batters; slider, curveball, screwball, change of pace, and a fastball that got to home plate sooner than hitters expected.  Her unofficial 3-year record is given as 33 – 8.  Racial discrimination banned her from playing in the All-American Girls Professional League (AAGPL) as in the movie “A League of Their Own”.  After baseball, Johnson had a long successful nursing career.

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Mamie “Peanut” Johnson

 

 

Happy New Year – 2018

Riverside (2)

Although it is 23 days into 2018, this blog post is still necessary.  Thanks to everyone who supported www.klmitchell.com in 2017.  Your visits to my web site and the feedback you give are sources of encouragement for me.  They give me inspiration to continue providing content for my blog each week.

The focus of my posts this year will continue to be on the Negro League baseball era.  Through the stories and information you read about the players and teams it is my hope you will get a picture the era from both inside and beyond the ballparks.  That picture will indicate how Negro League baseball is part of both African American and 20th Century American history.

I will also focus on the time period of the late 1940s and the 1950s when the “invisible color line” for professional baseball had been erased, but the process of integrating Major League baseball slow due to the prevailing racial prejudice and discrimination.  For African-American and dark-skinned Latino ballplayers it was a period of joy, but also frustration.

During the latter years of this period my lifelong love affair with the sport began.  Some of my posts this year, as the one on January 5, will be a reflection of that period (early 1960s) as I remember having a youthful innocence about the game.

Stay tuned for exciting news about my book “Last Train to Cooperstown:  the 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era”.  Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of it.

Also, I hope to have news later this year about my second book.

Continue to enjoy http://www.klmitchell.com in 2018 and spread the word about them it!

And again even though it is late:     HAPPY NEW YEAR  –   2018!

 

Happy New Year – 2017

 

Happy New Year! Thanks to everyone who supported my blogs, THE BASEBALL SCROLL and www.klmitchell.com in 2016. Your feedback encourages and inspires me to continue providing content for both each week.

Atlanta Picture (1024x679) - Copy (2)

Thanks to everyone also for the support you gave my first book, Last Train to Cooperstown. ( http://booklaunch.io/kevinlmitchell/last-train-to-cooperstown)  The response towards it continues to be fantastic and I anticipate more in 2017.  I will keep you posted.

The focus of both blogs this year will continue to be on the Negro League baseball era. The players of this era did not let racial discrimination be an excuse or rational for not giving their best on the baseball field.  They did their best with the talent God gave them no matter the circumstances and that should be an inspiration to us all to do the same.

I will also focus on the time period when the “invisible color line” for professional baseball was erased and the process of integrating Major League baseball began; the late 1940s and the 1950s. This was a period of joy, but also frustration for African-American and dark-skinned Latino ball players.  The door to the Major Leagues had opened, but the process of integration was slow due to the prevailing racial prejudice and discrimination.

There will also be some content about the 1960s, a decade that has a special place in my heart. During it, I had the peak years of my baseball card collecting activity (Topps, Post Cereal, etc.) and a youthful innocence about the game.

In addition, I will periodically give updates on the writing of my second book, “Sunset at Daybreak: The Final Years of Negro League Baseball”.

Continue to enjoy THE BASEBALL SCROLL and http://www.klmitchell.com in 2017 and spread the word about them!

 

HAPPY

NEW

YEAR

2017

 

 

Jim Gilliam: 1953 Rookie of the Year

In 1953, eight former Negro League players made their Major League Baseball debut.  Only in 1951 did as many from Negro League baseball go through the door into the big leagues Jackie Robinson had broken down in 1947. Gene Baker, Ernie Banks, Jim “Junior” Gilliam, Dave Hoskins, Connie Johnson, Jim Pendleton, Al Smith, and Bob Trice all were former Negro League players who were Major League rookies in 1953.  Banks went on to have a nineteen year Hall of Fame career with the Chicago Cubs.  But it was Gilliam who the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) named 1953 National League “Rookie of the Year” on that December 23.

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Five of the first six previous winners of the National League Rookie of the Year award had been former Negro League players.  Jackie Robinson (Kansas City Monarchs) in 1947, Don Newcombe (Newark Eagles) in 1949, and Joe Black (Baltimore Elite Giants) in 1952 all won playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Sam Jethroe (Cleveland Buckeyes) won the award with the Boston Braves in 1950 and Willie Mays (Birmingham Black Barons) won it playing for the New York Giants in 1951. Gilliam was the sixth and last one from the Negro Leagues to win the award.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee; Jim Gilliam began playing with the Baltimore Elite Giants in 1946 as a seventeen year old second baseman. With the Giants, he became a switch hitter and got the nickname “Junior” because of his age.  Gilliam appeared in three Negro League East West All Star games and was signed in 1951 by the Brooklyn Dodgers.  In his rookie year, he hit .278 with 63 RBIs and a league leading 12 triples.  He also scored 125 runs.  Walter Alston, the Dodgers’ manager, loved Gilliam’s ability to play second base, third base, or left field.  Gilliam hit .296 with two home runs in that year’s World Series as the Dodgers lost to the New York Yankees 4 games to 2.  He hit .292 in the 1955 World Series win against the Yankees; the Dodgers only World Series Championship while in Brooklyn.

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When the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Gilliam played on three more Dodgers World Series Champion teams (1959, 1963, and 1965). He played in a total of seven World Series (39 games) with the Dodgers.  The “Dodger blue” was the only uniform Gilliam wore in his 14 year (1953 – 1966) Major League career.

 

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