Tag Archives: Sports History

MLB TIME CAPSULE 1950s: Tom Alston’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, due to the decrease in its talent pool, Negro League baseball had begun 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 Tom Alston, the first African American to appear in a Major League game for the St. Louis Cardinals.  On May 2, 1954, in a doubleheader against the New York Giants, the rookie first baseman had the best game of his short Major League career. In the first game Alston had four hits including a home run, his third of the young season, and two RBIs.  The second game he hit a bases loaded double (3 RBIs) in the Cardinals’ first inning.  He ended the day batting .313. 

Tom Alston

In 1947, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers erased Major League baseball’s “invisible color line” that had kept out African American and dark-skinned Latino players since the end of the 19th century.  Over the next six years, along with the Dodgers, African American and/or dark-skinned Latinos would play with seven other teams; the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, New York Giants, Milwaukee Braves, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia A’s.  In 1954, the color line would be erased on four other teams; the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, and St. Louis Cardinals. 

The Cardinals, one of the Major League’s most renowned franchises, had been reluctant to accept the changing winds for racial diversity in professional baseball.  The progress of racial integration in St. Louis mirrored that of cities in southern states at that time.  Many stores and restaurants refused to serve African American customers.  Also, the Cardinals were the last Major League team to abolish racially segregated seating at their home stadium.  However after buying the team in 1953, new Cardinals’ owner August A. Busch, Jr. wanted the team to be reflective of the African American target market for his company’s product; Budweiser beer.

Born 1/31/26 in Greensboro, North Carolina; Thomas Edison Alston played baseball at North Carolina A & T following a stint in the military.   After two minor league seasons on teams coached by former Negro League pitcher Chet Brewer, he caught the Cardinals’ attention while playing for San Diego (Pacific Coast League) in 1953.  With Alston having a power hitters’ body (6’, 5” and 210 lbs.) along with showing agility playing first base, the Cardinals paid $100,000 to obtain his contract.

Tom Alston

For the first time in the franchise’s history, the 1954 Cardinal team would have African American players; Alston along with pitcher Brooks Lawrence and former Negro League pitcher Bill Greason.  The 28 years old Alston made his Major League debut on April 13 becoming the first African American to play in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Although not as historic, his debut occurred a little more than a month before the 1954 landmark US Supreme Court Brown vs Board of Education ruling (May 17) that struck the first blow in making racial segregation against African Americans unconstitutional.   

Tom Alston

 After a slow start, hitting only .211 in April, Alston hit .411 the first 11 days of May which included that May 2 doubleheader against the New York Giants. But, National League pitchers discovered his weakness; the high inside fastball and Alston hit .181 in June with no homes runs. The Cardinals sent him to the minor leagues and moved Hall of Fame outfielder Stan Musial to first base.  Alston tried regaining his batting hitting 21 home runs with 80 RBI playing for AAA Omaha in 1956.  However, it never resurfaced for him at the Major League level.  In 1955 – 1957, he hit .139 in 25 games with the Cardinals.

Wally Moon, Stan Musial, & Tom Alston on May 2, 1954

Alston began a battle with mental illness during the 1957 season. Diagnosed as having schizophrenia in 1958, he would spend the next 11 years in a North Carolina psychiatric institution.  It is unclear if Alston’s mental condition played a role in his inability to handle the pressure of being the Cardinals’ first African American player his rookie season.   However, what happened on May 2, 1954 is forever clear. On that day, Tom Alston had the best day of his short Major League baseball career.

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: Osvaldo Jose “Ozzie” Virgil

The focus for my blog posts during this COVID 19 shortened 2020 Major League baseball season is 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 Ozzie Virgil, who accomplished two milestones in the integration of the Major Leagues during the 1950s.  Virgil became the first Dominican Republic born player in the Major Leagues (1956) and he broke through the Detroit Tigers’ color barrier in 1958.

Born Osvaldo Jose Virgil on May 17, 1933 in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, Ozzie moved to New York City (The Bronx) when 13 years old.  After two years in the US Marine Corp., he signed with the New York Giants in 1953.  Versatility became Virgil’s strength, he could play all infield positions including catcher and also in the outfield.  Virgil made his Major League debut on September 23, 1956.  The next season he made the Sporting News’ All-Rookie team as a utility player; seeing action when needed at four positions, including third base and catcher.

Ozzie Virgil

Of the dark-skinned Latinos who had played in the Major Leagues at that time, most were from Cuba or Puerto Rico.  Virgil would be the first of many Major League players from the Dominican Republic including Baseball Hall of Fame inductees Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero, and Pedro Martinez. By the mid-1950s, talented young African American and dark-skinned Latino players were bypassing the Negro Leagues and directly signing with Major League teams.  Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Bill White, Curt Flood and others in addition to Virgil who began their Major Leagues careers during that time did not play Negro League baseball. 

Ozzie Virgil

Before the 1958 season, the Giants moved to San Francisco and traded Virgil to the Detroit Tigers.   Eleven years after Jackie Robinson erased the “invisible color line” in professional baseball (1947), Detroit and its American League counterpart Boston Red Sox were the only Major League teams never to have an African American or dark-skinned Latino on the roster.  It had been a strong Negro League baseball city with the Detroit Stars in the 1920s and 1930s.  However, the Tigers’ previous long-time owner Otto Briggs (1935 – 1952) had a bad relationship with African Americans due to the prejudice many of them experienced working at his automotive body factory.  Also, African Americans were not allowed to sit in the box seats at Briggs Stadium.

The Tigers were World Series champions in 1945, but had finished no higher than fifth place since 1950 and efforts were being made to build the team around outfielder Al Kaline and pitcher Jim Bunning who would both have Hall of Fame careers.  Jake Wood, the first African American to make his way through Detroit’s minor league system, played at the Class B level in 1958 and would not become the Tigers’ starting second baseman until 1961.

On June 6, 1958, at Griffith Stadium against the Washington Senators, Ozzie Virgil became the first nonwhite player to appear in a Major League game for the Detroit Tigers.  He played third base and hit a double in the team’s 11 – 5 win.  Virgil hit .244 in 49 games.

Ozzie Virgil

For the majority of the 1959 season, the Tigers were again at their pre-integration level.  Virgil spent the entire season in the team’s minor league system (Double AA level).  Newly acquired 35 years old Larry Doby, the first African American or dark-skinned Latino to break through the American League’s color barrier in 1947, played only 18 games before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in July.  Also, the Tigers briefly promoted African American pitcher Jim Proctor, who appeared in only 2 games before being sent back to the minor leagues.

But, in 1960 Virgil appeared in 62 games as the Tigers used him as a key utility player. The Tigers traded him to the Kansas City Athletics In 1961 and he would spend the next seven years splitting time between the minor leagues and four major league teams.  Virgil finished his playing career with the team that first signed him, the San Francisco Giants. 

Ozzie Virgil

After retiring Ozzie Virgil coached 19 years in the Major Leagues and   his son, two-time All Star catcher Ozzie Virgil Jr, had an eleven year Major League career.

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 Two

There were three former Major League baseball players I need to mention who died in 2019.

One is Hall of Fame (1986) outfielder Frank Robinson, the first African American baseball superstar who did not get his start in the Negro Leagues.  Robinson died on February 7 last year in Los Angeles, California.

Another is Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, the first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox.   He died on July 12 in San Leandro, California.

Finally, there is Jim Archer.  He has no place in baseball history as the previous two.  However, as one of the starting pitchers in the first Major League game I attended, Archer has a place in my personal history with baseball.   He died on September 9 in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

 

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Frank Robinson

If you read my two March 2019 blog posts, you would know what I think about Frank Robinson; born August 31, 1935 in Beaumont, Texas.  I took his death from bone cancer personally.  When the first time I saw him on television circling the bases after hitting a home run in the second Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1959, he became my favorite professional baseball player.

Frank Robinson’s autobiography is called “My Life is Baseball” (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 1975).  That title reflects a true picture of his accomplishments in the game.  National League Rookie of the Year in 1956, he hit 38 home runs.  Robinson is the only one to receive the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in both leagues; in the National  League with the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1961 (they went by the Redlegs, not Reds back then) and in the American League in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles.  Hitting 586 career home runs, he played on five pennant winning teams and two World Series Champions; 1966 and 1970 Baltimore Orioles.

Robinson became the first African American Major League manager in 1974 with the Cleveland Indians; first of the four teams in his 16 year career as a manager (1,065 wins and 1,176 losses).  He had the reputation as having a “hardnosed”, “old school” approach, although he did mellow in the in the way he handled players as he got older.   During his career, he also served as a batting coach, an outfield coach, a consultant for club owners, and held positions in the Office of Major League Baseball.

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I will miss my favorite baseball player.  However, I still have his 1959, 1960, 1964 Topps baseball cards (lost the 1965) and also the Post Cereal Frank Robinson cards for 1961 – 63.

 

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Elijah “Pumpsie” Green

On July 21, 1959 when he entered the game against the Chicago White Sox in Comiskey Park as a pinch runner, Elijah “Pumpsie” Green became the first African American to play for the Boston Red Sox.  Twelve years after Jackie Robinson broke into Major League baseball, the Red Sox were the last Major League team pre-expansion (existing before 1969) to have an African American or dark-skinned Latino player on the Major League roster.

Born on October 27, 1933 in Boley, Oklahoma, Green’s family moved to Richmond, California when he turned eight years old where he became a three sport star (baseball, football, and basketball) in high school.  At 6’ and 175 pounds, he became a switch hitting shortstop that played baseball in junior college.  While playing in the California League (Class C minor leagues) Green signed with the Red Sox in 1955.

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Ted Williams and Pumpsie Green

He made his Major League debut after four years in the team’s minor league system.  In his four years, (1959 – 1962) with the Red Sox, the team used Green as a utility infielder and outfielder.  In 1961, he played 69 games at shortstop and 41 at second base.  After the 1962 season, the Red Sox traded Green to the New York Mets.  After his one season with New York, Green played two more years in the minor leagues and then retired. In 344 Major League games, Green batted .246 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs.

 

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Jim Archer

On August 20, 1961 I attended my first Major League baseball game at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.  I saw the Kansas City A’s play the Chicago White Sox.  Seven-time All Star left-hander Billy Pierce started for the White Sox.  The starting pitcher for the A’s that game, Jim Archer.

Born May 25, 1932 in Max Meadows, Virginia, Archer signed with the New York Yankees in 1951.  In 1961, he came to the Kansas City A’s as a rookie southpaw in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles.  By that August, he had become one of the A’s front line pitchers.

On the field for the White Sox that day were two former Negro League players; outfielders Orestes Minnie” Minoso and Al Smith.  Also, the White Sox had Hall of Famers Luis Aparico at shortstop and Nelson Fox at second base.

Scoring three runs in the sixth, the White Sox won 5 – 3.  It would be the ninth of Archer’s fifteen losses for the season.  He won nine games and had a 3.20 ERA.  The A’s were 61 – 100, finishing in ninth place.  Problems developed in Archer’s left shoulder in 1962.  He pitched only 27 innings and the A’s sent him to the minor leagues.  He never again appeared in a Major League game.

Historical notices from week of January 5:  Birthday for Jim Pendleton former Negro League and Major League player born January 7, 1924 and Earl Battey former All-Star catcher for the Minnesota Twins (1960 – 1967); born January 5, 1935.

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

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

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!

 

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