Negro Leagues

Discussion in 'Baseball' started by Babe_Ruth, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    We have one member here that knows a lot about the Negro Leagues, I am sure there's a few more that know about it as well. But it seems that Salsa knows a lot about it, he's read about it, he knows a lot about the players who played in the Negro Leagues.

    So I've decided to start a topic about the league itself and the players that played in it.

    DLFerguson likes this.

  2. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Registered Member

    I admit, I love the Negro Leagues, their history, you name it. It's very unfortunate that the game was segregated back in the day, but at the same time, it gave the best players in the world a chance to comptete against one another (my personal viewpoint). I'd like to start things off in this thread with the very first Black man to play in the major leagues, Moses Fleetwood Walker.


    Moses Walker (October 7th, 1857) was the very first African-American to play in the Major Leagues. A catcher, he was a fair singles hitter for the Toledo Blue Stockins of the long-gone American Association in 1884. He was a fine defensive catcher for his day, given the size of the gloves, had a very good throwing arm, and was considered by Tony Mullane, a pitcher to be "The best catcher I ever worked with, but I disliked a Negro and whenever I had to pitch to him, I would just throw whaever I wanted without looking at his signals". When the Blue Stockings faced Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings, Anson was not pleased yelling at Toledo to "get that nigger off the field" and that he team would sit out. It was only when the league threatened to withhold gate reciepts from The White Stockings that he played. His brother Welday played five games for Toledo that year as well. Fleet batted .263 with no homers. Hi only big-league season ended when he either broke his collarbone or a rib, plating sparingly thereafter, and being released in September. Toledo folded at the end of the year and Walker played the next two seasons in the minor leagues. In 1889 the so-called "gentlemen's agreement" was put in place, and Walker, George Stovey and the like were barred from playing in organized baseball. Hence, the formation of the Negro Leagues around that time period.

    Off the field, Walker was well-educated, handsome, and gentlemanly. He attended Oberlin College for three years and the university of Michigan for one. He took classes ranging from Greek, Latin, German, and French, to civil engineering, zoology, astronomy, and and chemistry butnever graduated. He wrote a book advocating the return of Blacks to Africa because of treatment of African-Americans at the time. He was later trid and aqcuitted of secod-degree murder when he was attacked by a convicted burglar and killed him in self-defense. He died on May 11, 1924.
  3. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    Nice first post, I cantwait to read the other stuff your going to add to this thread.

    I would like to add a few questions?

    Who was the greatest player of all time in the negro leagues?

    Who was the greatest baserunner, I am not just talking about stealing bases, I am talking all around baserunner?

    Who was the best defensive infielder?

    Who was the best defensive outfielder?

    Who was the best pitcher of all time?

    Please give reasons why you chose those players for every category?

    One one more question, why do you believe the Negro Leagues, had better talent than the majors at the time?
  4. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Registered Member

    I will take the time to answer all of the questions right now. I will add profiles to all of the players I list here, as well as many others, including photo, and if possible, videos.

    Josh Gibson, by far, was the greatest player in Negro League history (in my personal opinion, the greatest to ever play the game of baseball, period).

    James "Cool Papa" Bell is widely considered to be the greatest baserunner in Negro Leagu history. Absolutely blinding speed and natural instincts.

    John Henry "Pop" Lloyd is considered to be the greatest defensive infielder who ever lived, even more so than the great Hans Wagner, which is saying a lot.

    Oscar Charleston is considered to be the finest defensive centerfielder in Negro League history. More on him later.

    Satchel Paige without a doubt takes the honor as the greatest pitcher who ever lived, not just the Negro Leagues.

    And to answer your last question, I base my views on the fact that during the old exhibition games between the Major Leaguers and the Negro Leaguers, the Nego Leaguers would usually come out on top, and not by little. My opinions only, of course.

    I chose the players I did because of the stories written abut them and accounts from the players themselves, and of course, old press clippings and the like.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  5. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    The thing that makes me rank players from the major leagues higher than the Negro Leagues is that they actually have stats for most of the Major League players. They didn't keep the stats in the Negro Leagues, a lot of the stories that we hear from players like Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell is changed so many times that you don't know which one do believe.

    I am not saying I don't believe the stories, and I am sure they were very talented players, I wish they were given a chance to play in the Major Leagues so we can rank them better, but that's not the case unfourtunately.

    That's why I believe some of the great Major League players are better than some of the Negro League players.
  6. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Registered Member

    That's fine, and you beat me to it. Too bad thestat keeping wasn't so good for the NL than it was MLB, I was gonna add that to this piece as well. In a while, I'm gonna post Buck Leonard's profile, as KDMillz wanted to see it.
    Walter Fenner "Buck" Leonard 1907-1997


    A left-handed, power hitting first baseman, he teamed with Josh Gibson to lead the Homestead Grays to 9 consecutive Negro National League championships, 1937-1945. They were dubbed the "Thunder Twins" by the Black press. Leonard was indeed considered by many to be "The Black Lou Gehrig", while Gibby was "The Black Babe Ruth". While Gibson was known for his moonshot power, Leonard was more of a pull hitter who hit line drives just over the outfield walls. He was just as great in the field, considered one of the finest defensive first basemen ever. So fine, in fact, he was compared to George Sisler and Hal Chase, two of MLB's greatest defensive wizards at first base, a smart fielder who always made the right play. Leonard was considered by his teamates dependable and a steadying influence.

    As a child, Leonard grew up poor in his natove north Carolina, and like many Black kids, left school early because no high school for Blacks was avaliable where he lived. He worked in various jobs between the ages of 14 and 26.

    Leonard began his career in 1933 with the semipro Elks and Black Swans in his native Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, after he lost his job due to the Great Depression. After being picked up by the Portsmouth, VA Firefighters, he was soon signed by the Baltimore Stars. When the Stars broke up later that season, he finished with the Brooklyn Royal Giants. The next spring, he was recruited by former homestead ace Smokey Joe Williams for Cum Posey's (More on Cum Posey later in this thread) Grays. For the next 17 years, Leonard was the Gray's first baseman.

    Beginning in 1942, when Leonard hit 42 homers, the Grays appeared in 4 consecitive Black World Series and won championships in 1943-1944. Leonard tied Gibson for the home run lead in 1944, and in the World Series batted .500. He batted .375 in 1945, and finished up slighty behind Gibby in the home run chase. In 1948, Leonard battd .395 and tied for the home run lead. He lead the Grays to their tenth pennant that year and their a record third Black World Series.

    Years before Branch Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith approached Gibby and Leonard about playing in the majors, but later backed down. When the color line was finally shattered, Bill Veeck contacted Leonard about playing in the majors, but Leonard felt that he was too old and did not want to risk future Black players from getting the call. His only appearance in organized ball came in 1943, when at the age of 46, he played 10 games for Portsmouth and batted .333.

    Leonard batted .341 lifetime againt Negro League competition, and batted a whopping .381 against Major League pitching. He made 12 appearances in the East-West game (The Negro League version of the All-Star Game) batting .317 with an all-star record 3 home runs.

    After the Grays disbanded, Leonard played in Mexico from 1951 to 1955. He enjoyed the warmth of the climate, having spent winters in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Venezuela. In 1962, he organized the Rocky Mount club and served as it's vice-president. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1972.

    He is among the Sporting News' 100 greatest baseball players of all time, ranked 47.

    He passed away at the age of 90 in 1997.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  7. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    That's a very good read about Leanord, thanks for posting that. I now understand why he is called the Black Lou Gehrig. Imagine the the great 1927 Yankees team, who is arguably the best team of all time face the Homestead Grays. In the Yankees line up you have Ruth and Gehrig batting three and fourth and in the Grays line up you have Gibson and Leonard. That was would be amazing to watch. I still believe deep down though that Ruth and Gehrig were better, but that's just my personal opinion.

    If Leonard is compared to Chance and Sisler when it comes to defense then he must of had an hell of a glove, become those two especially Chance are the greatest defensive players of all time when it comes to first base, I dont care if people believe Hernandez was the best, he wasn't better than Chance or Sisler.

    Once again, good work.
  8. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Registered Member

    Thanks Babe_Ruth, and yeah, what a match-up that would have been. Not to mention the Grays had Stachel on the club as well. It would be an explosive series.

    Next up, William Julius "Judy" Johnson, third baseman: 1899-1989


    Connie Mack once told Judy Johnson "If you were a white boy you could name your price." Johnson was considered the top third baseman in the Negro Leagues during the 1920s and 1930s. He was known as "the Black Pie Traynor" because of his defensive abilities.

    Born October 26, 1899, in Snow Hill, Maryland, Johnson grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. His father set up a "fitness center" for the neighborhood children, complete with barbells, monkey bars, and the like. "My Daddy liked physical fitness and wanted me to be a prizefighter," Johnson recalled. He was exposed to baseball at an early age, serving as batboy for his father's local team. He realized then that his "greatest ambition was to play baseball." He quit school after the tenth grade and went to work on the New Jersey docks during World War I.

    After the war, Johnson caught on with the Chester Giants, playing on weekends. He then signed a pro contract with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, who paid him 5 dollars a game. In 1919, he played for the semi-pro Madison Stars of Philadelphia, which served as sort of a minor-league team for the Hilldale Club. Hilldale purchased Johnson for 100 dollars in 1920, and in 1921 gave him 150 dollars a month to be their starting third baseman. While with Hilldale, Johnson acquired the nickname "Judy", because he resembled a Chicago American Giants player, Judy Gans.

    Hilldale won a championship in 1921 and played in the first two Negro League World Series, in 1924 and 1925, winning the latter. In the 1924 NLWS, lost to the Kansas City Monarchs, Johnson led both teams in hitting (.341) and had five doubles, a triple, and a homer. Hilldale and Kansas met again in the 1925 series, and though Johnson batted just .250, he singled and later scored the winning run in tenth inning of a 1-1 tie in Game Three. Hilldale won, 5 games to 1.

    By the mid-1920s, Johnson had established himself as a top third baseman and a dangerous clutch hitter, with a career average of over .300. Hall of Famer John Henry Lloyd had great influence on him. Said Johnson of Lloyd, "He's the man I give the credit for polishing me; he taught me how to play third base." Johnson was a little slow afoot, be he studied pitchers incessantly and took every possible advantage on the basepaths. He quite often stole third. He played winters in Florida or Cuba (where he batted .334 in six seasons) but never again set foot on boat after his return trip from Cuba in 1931.

    In 1929, his final season with Hilldale, Johnson batted .401 - believe to have been his career high. The Eastern Colored League folded in 1930 as a result of the Depression, and Johnson joined the Homestea Grays as a player-coach. One night, when Grays catcher Buck Ewing split a finger, Johnson call on 18 year old Josh Gibson to make his pro debut as a catcher. Gibson would go on to be the greatest player in Negro League history.

    Johnson returned to Hilldale (which had become the Darby Daisies) in 1931 and with them until mid-1932, when he jumped to the Pittsburgh Crawfords. The Crawford's Limeup, which included Gibson and fellow hall of famers Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston, was often compared to the New York Yankees' "Murderers Row." He played in his last Negro League World Series in 1935 when the Crawfords faced The New York Cubans. He got a clutch hit in the ninth inning of the sixth game, wth the bases loaded, the score tied 6-6, and the Crawfords behind three games to two in the series. His sharp single down the first base line won the game for them and they went on to win the series the next day.

    He batted .344 for his career.

    After baseball's color line was shattered, Johnson scouted and coached for the Philadelphia Athletics. He worked for the Phillies from 1959 to 1973 and helped sign the great Richie Allen. He was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1975.

    Johnson passed away on June 15th, 1989, at the ae of 89 in Wilmington, Delaware.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  9. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    Wow this guy seemed very talented. He was an offensive and defensive weapon, and being compared to Pie Traynor is pretty good when it comes to a defence.

    The story that I like the most in this article about Rudy, is when Buck Ewing split his finger and Gibson had to make his debut. Ewing is considered of the best catchers of all time, and who knows what would of happened to Gibson if he never split that finger. Funny how things happen sometimes.
  10. salsanchezfan

    salsanchezfan Registered Member

    Exactly, couldn't have said it better. Those things happen.Like Wally Pipp missing a game, and then never playing again for New York because of Lou Gehrig taking his spot.

    Next up, Theodore Roosevelt "Double Duty" Radcliffe (1902-2005)


    Ted Radcliffe (Born July 7, 1902) was a star Negro League pitcher and catcher of the 1930s and 1940. Sportswriter Damon Runyon gave him the nickname "Double Duty" because of his equal success pitching and catching during the 1932 Negro League World Series. Radcliffe caught Satchel Paige in a 5-0 victory in the first game of a double header, then pitched a shutout in the nightcap.

    Standing just 5' 9", the 210 pound Radcliffe was a smart, strong throwing catcher. On the mound, he was the master of the emery ball and other pitches that were of questionable legality, such as the spitter ad the cut ball. Stats have him hitting .303 with well over 30 teams, 4,000 hits, and at least 400 home runs offensively. He was chosen to play in the East-West game six times, three as a catcher and three as a pitcher.

    He died in 2005 at the age of 103.

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