President Obama’s Statement On The Passing Of Ernie Banks

President-Obama-awarded-Hall-Fame-baseball-player-Ernie-Banks

Michelle and I send our condolences to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him.

Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class – “Mr. Cub” – is ready to play two.

6527786_G

The Museum Remembers The Great Ernie Banks

dal_halloffame_16

The baseball world received the heartbreaking news late on Friday evening.

Baseball hall of fame member, Presidential Medal of freedom winner, former Kansas City Monarch and Chicago Cub – the great Ernie Banks passed away at the age of 83.

Banks holds a very special place in all of our hearts whether you were a Cubs fan or not.

If you had to designate two former players who are largely responsible for the great work that is done at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum it would hands down be Buck O’Neil and Ernie Banks.

Buck O'Neil and Ernie Banks as part of the 1950 Kansas City Monarchs

Buck O’Neil and Ernie Banks as part of the 1950 Kansas City Monarchs 

The two of them were kindred spirits and when together in a room displayed enough energy from their spirits and smiles to power city blocks forever. Mr. Sunshine (along with Mr. Cub) was a very appropriate nickname for Banks.

They will be linked together in memories and stories as well as baseball lore as it is O’Neil who is credited with signing Banks to be a Cub when Buck worked as a scout for Chicago.

That’s just how they were. No two people were ever better ambassadors for baseball, the Negro Leagues and humanity as a whole than Buck and Ernie.

BZiiPVBCMAAQF7D

I had the honor of chatting with Ernie on two occasions – both were he left right at home – the ballpark.

On both instances it was like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while. With a handshake and a smile we caught up and talked baseball. He made everyone – whether it was your first time talking to a legend or were a dear friend – like he knew you his entire life. That’s how Banks lived his life and why the world is a far worse place this morning without him.

Below is a statement released by Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick.

Statement from the NLBM on the passing of Ernie Banks:

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) joins the baseball world in mourning the death of Ernie Banks. The man affectionately known as “Mr. Cub,” left his mark on the sport as one of the game’s greatest players and personalities. The former Kansas City Monarch’s amazing Hall of Fame career brought joy to fans worldwide and gave even greater credence to the remarkable talent that played in the Negro Leagues. His infectious smile, wit and charm will be missed but his legacy will live on forever. The staff and board of directors of the NLBM extend our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to his wife, Liz, and the entire Banks family.

Bob Kendrick, President
Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

A Peak Inside The Business of Negro Leagues Baseball

download

Ever wonder how much it costed for fans to see Negro Leagues Baseball?

Thanks to recent finds by collector Jim Stinson – we get an inside look at the books.

Check out the ledgers for individual games between some of the Negro Leagues best.

Special thanks to the website BaseballHappenings.net  and @ExamineBaseball for posting this story.

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

McPhail Letter Shows Staunch Objection To Integrate Baseball

 

okeeffee14s-2-web

As we celebrate the legend and lasting legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on this national holiday – we are reminded that all history in our country isn’t good history.

A glaring example of this was the inhuman treatment of African-Americans during the civil rights movement.

The United States was segregated at every level especially in the south and in professional sports.

The integration of baseball by Jackie Robinson started a movement of equality way before Dr. King began organizing marches.

But as you can imagine and have read- some were very much against change.

In a  letter written by former New York Yankees executive Larry McPhail  – which was recently acquired by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum at a Leland’s auction – the Bronx Bombers had no plans of signing an African-American ball player. The letter was written two-years before Robinson donned the Dodgers blue and changed the lives of thousands.

“We typically don’t go buy pieces for the museum, ” Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick said. “But this is a piece of baseball history that I wanted in the museum for people to see. Throughout the museum you see story after story of those who overcame the obstacles put in front of them by both society and Major League Baseball. This letter is a great example of THE OBSTACLE.”

The really interesting part of the letter to me isn’t that it was written. We all know that the stance taken by McPhail was not only his own but was shared by many around Major League Baseball.

The letter was written in response to New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. LaGuardia had formed a committee, the purpose of which was to study segregation in baseball and, ultimately, pressure the New York teams to sign black players.

Why was LaGuardia so interested? That’s the curious part to me.

African-Americans couldn’t vote – we were a couple of decades away from that. So politically how would this have benefited him?

The country and world were about to come out of World War II and heroic veterans of all colors were coming home and civil rights groups began to organize. In 1945, the New York state lawmakers passed an bill that banned discrimination. Maybe LaGuardia saw the future and was trying to get in front. We may never know.

As you read through the letter – there are some really intriguing things.

“The opinions of McPhail and other executives was why Jackie Robinson was the perfect choice to break the color-barrier,” Kendrick said. “He not only had to excel on the field but he had to prove those opinions about the abilities of all black ballplayers wrong.”

The other revealing thing in the letter is how much money the Yankees made from the Negro Leagues. That’s right, the Yankees made A LOT of money from Negro Leagues teams playing in stadiums owned by the New York franchise.

“Negro Leagues teams played in stadiums owned by the Yankees across the United States,” Kendrick said after spending the day celebrating the birthday of our countries greatest civil rights leader in Dallas. “From Kansas City to Newark and New York, the Yankees made over $300,000 each year as the Monarchs and others used their minor league stadiums and Yankees Stadium to play games so there was a financial aspect that went into the thinking by the New York team to keep baseball segregated.”

The letter appears in its entirety below.

1image

 

okeeffee14s-3-web

 

image 2

image 3

You’ll be able to see the letter in person at the Negro Leagues baseball Museum in the very near future.

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

 

 

 

 

Still Waiting On The Call

hof logo

Cooperstown came calling this week for Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.

Unfortunately we may never see another Negro Leagues player get tabbed with the honor of being selected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

“I think we’ve seen the last,” Negro Leagues President Bob Kendrick said. “The Veterans Committee had a chance to do the right thing and bring Minnie Minoso in a couple of weeks ago but did not.”

Baseball’s greatest honor has eluded great players through the decades whether it has been Major League Baseball or the Negro Leagues – an argument can be made for many through the ages.

There were 18 players from the Negro Leagues inducted into Cooperstown:

Satchel Paige

Josh Gibson

Buck Leonard

Monte Irvin

Cool Papa Bell

Judy Johnson

Oscar Charleston

John Henry Lloyd

Martin Dihigo

Rube Foster

Ray Dandridge

Leon Day

Willie Foster

Willie Wells

Bullet Rogan

Smokey Joe Williams

Turkey Stearnes

Hilton Smith

Until 2006, when a special committee on African-American baseball voted on a ballot that contained the names of 39 great players, managers and executives. Of those, 17 more were elected including:

Ray Brown

Willard Brown

Andy Cooper

Frank Grant

Pete Hill

Biz Mackey

Effa Manley

Jose Mendez

Alex Pompez

Cum Posey

Louis Santop

Mules Suttles

Ben Taylor

Cristobal Torriente

Sol White

J.L. Wilkinson

Jud Wilson

So, with the help of Kendrick and a piece of paper that Buck O’Neil used to carry around in his pocket of great Negro Leagues players who belong in Cooperstown – here are some players/ contributors who should be in the Hall of Fame.

Buck O’Neil

ONeil_Buck_and_Dismukes_Dizzy

We all believe that Buck should be in and in 2006 thought it was a done deal. Unfortunately it was not. While his career numbers may not knock you out of your chair there is no doubt that baseball has never had a better ambassador than O’Neil. Many of the names above were elected in part because of the campaigning of O’Neil. The main force behind the creation of the Negro leagues Baseball Museum however came up short.

“God’s been good to me. They didn’t think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s the way they thought about it and that’s the way it is, so we’re going to live with that. Now, if I’m a Hall of Famer for you, that’s all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck. Don’t weep for Buck. No, man, be happy, be thankful.”

 

Gus Greenlee 

GreenleeGus

Gus Greenlee was an innovator who did not stand for the baseball “status quo”.

In 1933 Greenlee founded the annual East-West Classic, an all-star baseball game in Chicago between Negro League stars. That same year he was the primary founder of the second Negro National League, which he served as president for five seasons.

For a while the Crawfords were the best-financed team in black baseball. Revenue generated from his gambling and bootlegging operations allowed Greenlee to sign black baseball’s biggest names. The 1935 squad may be the best ever to play in the Negro Leagues, as it fielded five Hall of Fame players. Money also enabled Greenlee to build his own ballpark. When he bought the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1930. In 1932 he opened Greenlee Field, the first black-owned and black-built baseball park in America.

Greenlee was a philanthropist who helped African -Americans with loans, scholarships and the means to purchase their own homes.

 

John Donaldson

John Donaldson portrait

Where do we begin describing the greatest pitcher of his era.

Over 400 confirmed wins in his 30-year career.

Pitched 13  no-hitters during that time.

Over 4,400 confirmed strike outs in his career.

There are no shortage of words that come to mind when describing Donaldson. Both Buck O’Neil and Major League baseball and Hall of Fame Giants manager John McGraw both said he was the best that they ever saw.

Satchel Paige accredited Donaldson as a huge influence on his pitching career.

The southpaw from Galsgow, Missouri had many fans around the country whether it was playing independent ball in Minnesota, barnstorming through rural America or playing in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs (a nickname he has been credited with originating).

 

Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe

ted-radcliffe-birmingham-black-barons1

Jackie Robinson’s roommate in 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs, Radcliffe could do it all.

His career spanned three decades beginning with the Detroit Stars in 1928 and ending as a manager with the Chicago American Giants in 1943.

Radcliffe was handed the nickname “Double Duty” by Damon Runyon as Radcliffe caught and pitched in both games of a 1932 Negro Leagues World Series doubleheader between the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Kansas City Monarchs. Radcliffe caught Satchel Paige’s shutout in game 1 and threw one himself in the night cap.

Double Duty, who some claim to be the best player in baseball history also played in six Eat-West All Star games pitching in three and catching in three.

 

Dick Lundy

Dick Lundy

In the discussion as the greatest shortstop in Negro Leagues history and one of the best ever – Lundy was among 39-players considered for entry into Cooperstown in 2006.

A career .305 hitter, Lundy was a mainstay of the famed “million dollar infield”, along with Oliver Marcell, Frank Warfield and Jud Wilson for the Baltimore Black Sox in 1929.

 

Newt Allen

220px-Newt_Allen_1924

For a 20-year period of time in baseball history (1920-1940) there was no better second baseman in all of baseball than Newt Allen.

The longtime Kansas City Monarch player / manager could do it all. A slick fielding infielder who could turn games with not only his glove but his ability to bunt for hits and steal bases, Allen was a managers dream.

He would know as he took over the managerial duties for the Monarchs in 1941 as Andy Cooper suffered a stroke and Allen led Kansas City to the Negro American League championship. After the season he resigned and returned to his role in the infield.

Allen owned a .293 carer batting average and like Lundy was on the 2006 list considered for enshrinement.

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

 

Players With Negro Leagues Ties On Veterans Committee Hall of Fame Ballot

PKG_BASEBALL-bahofanytime

The Major League Baseball Veterans Committee is slated to hold its vote on 10 candidates for enshrinement into Cooperstown Monday, December 8.

Players, managers, umpires and executives considered part of the 1947-72 era are eligible for ballot. The last time the Committee convened, Ron Santo was selected for the Hall of Fame (2011).

The 10 players under consideration this time around are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, Luis Tiant and Maury Wills. Six of these greats are holdovers from that 2011 vote.

Of those 10 – there are some with definite ties to the Negro Leagues.

 

Orestes-Minoso

Minnie Minoso

We just did a story on him last week celebrating his birthday. His defensive prowess and speed helped revolutionize the game.

 

dick-allen-chisox

Dick Allen

As an African-American player who broke into the big leagues in 1963 with the Philadelphia Phillies (he was the organizations first black player) Allen put up Hall of Fame numbers in a very difficult time. He admits that he wasn’t exactly a nice guy at times when he played but his numbers are equal to or surpass many of baseball’s best hitters who are already in Cooperstown. Other than being an African – American and being influenced as a baseball player by great Negro Leagues players – Allen is mentioned in this post because he is one of my favorite players of all-time. If Eddie Murray can get into the Hall then so can Dick Allen.

 

MLB Photos Archive

Luis Tiant

One of the great strikeout pitchers of all-time, Tiant and his whiplash delivery is the son of Luis Tiant Sr. who like Minoso brought the entire country of Cuba with him every time he stepped on the diamond. Tiant Sr. played for the New York Cubans for 12-seasons where he was a part of a Negro leagues World Series Championship season in 1947 and was twice named an All Star. As for Tiant Jr. – he won 229 games with a 3.30 ERA while striking out 2,416 batters in his 19-year career.

 

boys of summer

Gil Hodges

One of the most well known Brooklyn Dodgers, Hodges played and managed in the Major Leagues from 1943-1971. He broke into the big leagues and the Dodgers lineup in 1947 along side Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella. Hodges was an 8-time All Star and won three World Series rings with the Dodgers.

 

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

 

 

Minor Leagues Cities Hold Negro Leagues History

ball

During its history the Negro Leagues had profound effects on the cities that its teams either called home or its players barnstormed through.

Everyone, at least I hope everyone, knows about great Major League Baseball cities like Kansas City, Chicago and New York that fielded Negro League teams and helped write so much baseball history.

But many may not know about the number of great Minor League  cities whose baseball roots are planted in the Negro Leagues.

 

Akron Black Tyrites

Akron had a short history in the Negro National League – just half a season in 1933.

1939_akron_rubberducks-jersey-2014

Now the Akron Rubber Ducks are entering their 35th season as a Double-A team and are the affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and have supplied the Major Leagues with great players like Bartolo Colon, Carlos Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Jim Thome and Jason Kipnis.

 

Birmingham Black Barons

Birmingham_Black_Barons_logo

One of the historically great franchises – the Black Barons were a part of the Negro Leagues for 40-years from 1920-1960 winning league titles on three occasions. Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Willie Mays played for the Black Barons.

barons

 

Now the Barons are entering another year of a long term relationship as the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Barons baseball has seen a multitude of great players come through the clubhouse like Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa, Bo Jackson and even a basketball player named Michael Jordan.

 

Dayton Marcos

dayton_marcos

The Dayton Marcos club was a charter member of Rube Foster’s original Negro National League in 1920. After a dismal finish near the bottom of the league the Marcos dropped out of the league and turned to independent play. In 1926 made a second attempt at competing in black baseball’s big time and rejoined the Negro National League. Whether in the Negro Leagues or barnstorming – the Marcos franchise lasted until World War II.

DaytonDragons_logo

Now the Dayton Dragons are a Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. There have been 67 former Dragons go on to play in the big leagues including Joey Votto,  Jay Bruce and Billy Hamilton.

 

 

Harrisburg Giants

 

harrisburg

The Giants had a brief history but was it successful and full of great players. Led by the legendary Oscar Charleston in 1924, the Giants entered the Eastern Colored League. In five years of existence, the Giants were widely known for offense with Charleston and the great Heavy Johnson who won was a triple crown winner.

harrisburg-senators-logo

Now in Harrisburg, the Senators – a Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals have been very successful in Eastern League play sending great players to the Majors like Stephen Strasburg,  Bryce Harper, Vladmir Guerrero and Moises Alou.

 

Indianapolis ABC’s, Clowns

indy_abcs

The ABC’s (American Brewing Company) and later the Clowns hold a very special place in Negro Leagues baseball history. On two  occasions, the ABC’s played in the Negro Leagues before finally relocating to Atlanta in 1938 where they became the  Crackers. As for the Clowns, they were the definition of entertainers.  Players like Harlem Globetrotters great Goose Tatum, home run king Hank Aaron as well as the first two female players in baseball history Connie Morgan and Mamie “Peanut” Johnson all were Clowns.

indians

The Indianapolis Indians are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the illustrious history of the Indians – six Hall of Famers have taken the field including Grover Cleveland Alexander, Nap Lajoie and Luke Appling.

 

Little Rock Black Travelers

The Travelers are one of only a couple of current Minor League teams who use their Negro Leagues counterparts nickname.

Arkansas_Travelers

There is not much history available about the Black Travelers but the Arkansas Travelers through relationships with the St. Louis Cardinals and now the Los Angeles Angels, have seen great players come through Ray Winder Field and now Dickey-Stephens Park most recently American League Most Valuable Player Mike Trout.

 

Louisville Black Colonels, Clippers

Much like the Travelers, not much is known about the Black Colonels or Clippers. The most famous Louisville Clipper of all-time was easily country music and Negro Leagues great Charley Pride.

bats

The Louisville Bats began as an organization in 1982 as the Louisville Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals) and are now the Triple-A club of the Cincinnati Reds. Adam Dunn, Vince Coleman, Homer Bailey and Deion Sanders -all were Cardinals / Bats.

 

Memphis Red Sox

Memphis Red Sox

The 39-year history of the Red Sox was filled with historic players and no titles. Satchel Paige, Charley Pride, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe and Buck O’Neil all wore Red Sox wool at one-time or another.

 

redbirds

The Memphis Redbirds have been the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals since the clubs inception in 1998. Adam Wainwright and Albert Pujols all played at Auto Zone Park.

 

Montgomery Grey Sox

tn_MONTGOMERY_GRAYSOX_NEW (1)

The Montgomery Grey Sox spent most of it’s history as a minor league club with just one season (1932) as a member of the Negro National League. The only Grey Sox player that you need to know – a very young Willie Mays.

Montgomery_Biscuits_2

Since 1973, Montgomery baseball has played host to four different Major League clubs and since 1999 the Tampa Bay Rays have called Montgomery home. Players like David Price, Carl Crawford, James Shields and Evan Longoria are all  former players now in the big leagues.

 

Mobile Black Bears

HankAaron6

Although the Black Bears were a semipro team they did help groom the career of one baseball’s greats – Hank Aaron. The vast majority of Black Bear history is written as a barnstorming team.

bay bears

The Mobile Bay Bears are the Double-A club of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Throughout time, Mobile has had professional baseball in one form or another since 1887. Pitcher Jake Peavy, Paul Goldschmidt and Max Scherzer are all Mobile alumns.

 

Nashville Elite Giants

1935_NashvilleGiants

The Elite Giants produced Negro Leagues greats like Leon Day, Roy Campanella and Joe Black.  In its 30-year history, the team moved from Nashville to Cleveland to Columbus, Ohio to Washington D.C. and finally settling in Baltimore where they enjoyed the majority of their success.

Nashville-Sounds-logo-b

The Sounds are beginning their first season as a farm club of the Oakland A’s after a long relationship with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Sounds also have a new logo and a new stadium  that they will move in to when the 2015 seasons begin. Hall of Fame Sounds players include Hoyt Wilhelm and Barry Larkin.

 

New Orleans Eagles / Black Pelicans / Stars

pels

Members of the 1940 Black Pelicans giving a kids clinic at Pelican Stadium.

 

The New Orleans Black Pelicans of the Negro League played at Pelican Stadium. The Black Pelicans were one of several Negro League teams that played in New Orleans through the years, including the New Orleans Stars and the New Orleans Eagles. The St. Louis – New Orleans Stars split games in both cities in 1940 and 1941 with games in NOLA being played in historic Pelicans Stadium.

zephyrsjpg-0b4172a6f6089dd1_medium

The New Orleans Zephyrs became the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins in 2008.

 

Toledo Crawfords

download

After a very successful run in Pittsburgh that saw the Crawfords win league titles in 1935 and 1936 and fielding arguably the greatest baseball team no matter their color in 1932 managed by Oscar Charleston with Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson and Cool Papa Bell – owner Gus Greenlee sold the club and Greenlee Field was demolished. They moved to Toledo and played just the 1939 season in the Ohio city before moving to Indianapolis where they played in 1940 before folding.

 

mud

The Toledo Mud Hens have been a staple of the northern Ohio city off and on (mostly on) since 1908. They are the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The hat mad famous by corporal Max Klinger in MASH has produced great players from Kirby Puckett to Max Scherzer.

 

Washington / Wilmington Potomacs

eastern-colored-league-2

The Potomacs played in the Eastern Colored League from 1923-1925 before folding as the league contracted to seven teams.

Wilmington_Blue_Rocks_2010_Bull

The Wilmington Blue Rocks are the Class A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Retired jersey’s include Johnny Damon, Mike Sweeney and Robin Roberts. Most of the core of young players for the American League champion Royals played for Wilmington including Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.

 

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

 

The Minnie Minoso Effect

minnie minoso 1

So much was made – and rightly so this past season about the impact of young, exciting players from Cuba.

Today, on his birthday – we celebrate the man who opened the door for players like Yasil Puig and Jose Abreu – Minnie Minoso.

minoso

Born Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta in Perico, Cuba – the Cuban Comet began his professional baseball career in the Negro Leagues appropriately with the New York Cubans where he quickly became an All Star at third base. In his first year for the Cubans, Minoso hit .309 and followed that up in 1946 helping New York win the Negro National League pennant and capture the World Series from the Negro American League’s Cleveland Buckeyes.

t1_minoso

Minoso’s Negro Leagues career lasted only three seasons (he was an All Star in 1947 and 1948) as in 1949 he made the move to the Major Leagues as the color barrier was slowly falling and joined Larry Doby on the Cleveland Indians roster.

Minnie Minoso

Every move to the big leagues from the Negro leagues is historic even after Jackie Robinson signed with the Dodgers. Minoso’s move was not only historic because of the color of his skin but also because he became the first Black Cuban player to play Major League Baseball. Later in 1951, Minnie was traded to the Chicago White Sox becoming their first player of color. He “quickly” led the Sox in stolen bases his first three seasons.

Between his Negro Leagues, Major and Minor League baseball career and an almost decade long time in Mexico, Minoso played in five different decades making his last appearance for the Pal Hose in 1980. Thew only player in baseball history to do so. Chicago retired his #9 in 1983.

Inexplicably, Minoso is not in the Hall of Fame after a career that saw him make nine All Star games, win three Gold Gloves and hit .298 during a career which saw crowds chant Go! Go! when he wheeled around the bases.

Minoso like Robinson, will be most remembered as a player who brought a new never before seen form of entertaining baseball to stadiums across the country and someone who influences the game even today by opening the door to the baseball crazed country of Cuba.

Happy birthday Minnie!

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

 

 

Negro Leagues Players Played Major Role In World War II

memorialday

There are many well known stories of Major League Baseball players who served their country valiantly. From Bob Feller to Yogi Berra, dozens of baseball players who now are enshrined in Cooperstown fought in World War I, World War II and the Korean War – 64 to be exact.

Buck in the Pacific

Buck in the Pacific

Of that heroic list – Leon Day, Jackie Robinson, Buck O’Neil , Larry Doby and Monte Irvin all fought in the Second World War while Ernie Banks and Willie Mays fought in the Korean Conflict.

Larry Doby

Larry Doby

Below is a list of Negro Leagues players who fought for a country that had yet to begin to fight for them in World War II. From the Army Air Corp to the Army, Navy and Marines – 119 players Negro League baseball players put their lives on the line and baseball careers on hold when their country asked for their ultimate commitment.

While wartime and baseball are forever linked because of the great players who fought and the break from the sadness and death of war that it provided. Today we remember those who served their country and those who paid the ultimate price. We should forget about balls and strikes and pay homage to the bravery and courage that each of these and thousands of others displayed.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Special thanks to one of my favorite baseball websites Baseball In Wartime for the help with all of the names on this list.

Name Position Team Service Location Years Details
Russell Awkard OF Newark Eagles Army ETO 1941-1945 Quartermaster Corps in England, France and Belgium.
John “Red” Bailey Toledo Crawfords Army USA 1942- Fort Bragg
Dan Bankhead P Birmingham Black Barons Marines 1943-1945
Richard A “Skeeter” Banks Richmond Giants Army MTO 1941-1945 Trucking company in N Africa, Sicily and Italy
Lamb “Bud” Barbee 1B Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1943-1945
Sam Barber P Cleveland Buckeyes Army 1942-1945
Bill Barnes P Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1944-1945
Jeremiah Bennett Philadelphia Stars Army Pacific 1942-1945
Charlie Biot OF Baltimore Elite Giants Army Pacific 1942- Captain of 93rd Division baseball team. (369th Infantry Regt)
Joe Black P Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1943-
Garnett Blair P Homestead Grays Army 1942-1945
William “Bill” Blair P Cincinnati Clowns Army Youngest African-American to serve as first sergeant
Jim Bolden P Cleveland Buckeyes Army 1942-1946
Lyman Bostock, Sr 1B Birmingham Black Barons Army 1942-1945
Herb Bracken P Cleveland Buckeyes Navy Pacific 1944-1945 Was 13-1 at Great Lakes and served in Hawaii.
Sherwood Brewer 2B Kansas City Monarchs Army Pacific 1943- Discovered playing baseball in Guam. Also served in Korea.
Barney Brown P Philadelphia Stars Army 1943
James Brown P Newark Eagles Army ETO 1944-1945
Willard “Home Run” Brown OF Kansas City Monarchs Army ETO 1944-1945 Played for ETO champion OISE All-Stars in 1945.
Allen “Lefty” Bryant P Kansas City Monarchs Army 1941-1945 Sergeant.
Chester Buchanan P Philadelphia Stars Navy 1944-1945
Ernest Burke P Baltimore Elite Giants USMC Pacific
Matthew “Lick” Carlisle 2B Homestead Grays Navy 1945
Elmer Carter Kansas City Monarchs Army ETO/MTO 1942-1945 In N Africa and Normandy
Marlin Carter 3B Memphis Red Sox Coast Guard  Pacific 1943-1945 Saw Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
James “Bus” Clarkson SS Philadelphia Stars Army Pacific 1943-1945 Camp Clarkson, CA and New Caledonia with field artillery unit
Jim Cohen P Indianapolis Clowns Army USA 1942-1946 Camp Lee, Virginia.
Jim Colzie P Indianapolis Clowns USAAF USA 1943-1945 Orlando AAB, Florida
Bill Cooper C Philadelphia Stars Army 1943-1945
Jimmie Crutchfield OF Chicago American Giants Army 1943-1945
Ross “Satchel” Davis P Cleveland Buckeyes Army 1944-1945
Spencer Davis OF New York Black Yankees Army 1944-1945
Leon Day P Newark Eagles Army ETO 1944-1945 At Utah Beach on D-Day with 818th Amphibian Battalion. Played for ETO champion OISE All-Stars in 1945.
Larry Doby SS Newark Eagles Navy 1944-1945  Was at Ulithi.
Mahlon Duckett INF Philadelphia Stars Army 1944-1945
Frank Duncan, Jr C/MGR Kansas City Monarchs Army  ETO  1942-1943 Drafted in 1942/43 aged 42. Sergeant with 371st Infantry, 92nd Division.
Frank Duncan III P Kansas City Monarchs Army 1942-1943
Jake Dunn SS Philadelphia Stars Army 1942-1945 One of the first Negro Leaguers to enter military service.
Howard Easterling 3B Homestead Grays Army 1944-1945
Jim Elam P Newark Eagles Army 1944-1945
Wilmer “Red” Fields P Homestead Grays Army 1943-1946
Joe Fillmore P Philadelphia Stars Army 1943-1946
Jake Flowers IF Army ETO 1944 Corporal
Jonas Gaines P Baltimore Elite Giants Army USA 1943-1945  Fort Lewis
Jerry Gibson OF-P Homestead Grays Army 1944-1945
Bill Greason P Birmingham Black Barons USMC
James “Pea” Greene C Kansas City Monarchs Army MTO 1943-1945 92nd Division, anti-tank company. In North Africa and Italy.
Bob Griffith P New York Black Yankees Army ETO 1944-1945 Corporal
Paul Hardy C Birmingham Black Barons Army 1943-1945
Chuck Harmon SS US Navy USA Great Lakes NTS
David “Bill” Harvey P Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1944-1945
Johnny Hayes C New York Black Yankees Army  ETO 1944-1945
Curtis Henderson SS New York Black Yankees Army 1944-1945
Leo “Preacher” Henry P Indianapolis Clowns Army 1944-1945
Billy Horne 2B Cleveland Buckeyes Army 1945
Sammy T Hughes 2B Baltimore Elite Giants Army Pacific 1943-1946 196th Support Battalion during invasion of Guam.
Monte Irvin OF Newark Eagles Army ETO 1943-1945 GS Engineers 1313th Battalion
Clarence “Pint” Israel INF Homestead Grays Army 1943-1945
Willie Jefferson P Cleveland Buckeyes Army 1942-1943
Byron Johnson SS Kansas City Monarchs Army ETO Quartermaster Corps. Landed in Normandy June 11, 1944.
Clifford “Connie” Johnson P Kansas City Monarchs Army 1943-1945
Josh Johnson C New York Black Yankees Army ETO 1942-1945 2nd Lieutenant. Anti-aircraft unit. Red Ball Express convoy system.
Ralph Johnson P Philadelphia Stars Army 1942-1944
Larry Kimbrough P Philadelphia Stars Army 1944-1945
Rufus Lewis P Newark Eagles USAAF 1943-1954
Max Manning P Newark Eagles USAAF ETO 1942-1945 316th Air Squadron Quartermaster Corps. Red Ball Express
Tom Martin USAAF USA Salt Lake City
Nath McClinic OF Cleveland Buckeyes Army
Clint “Butch” McCord 1B Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1944-1945
Walter McCoy  P Chicago American Giants Army USA 1943-1944
John “Mule” Miles 3B/OF Chicago American Giants USAAF USA 1942-1945 Trained as aircraft mechanic
James “Red” Moore 1B Baltimore Elite Giants Army ETO 1941-1945 Served combat engineer battalion of Third Army
John “Buck” O’Neil 1B Kansas City Monarchs Navy Pacific 1943-1945 Construction Battalion.
Tom Parker P New York Cubans Army 1944
Charlie Parks C Newark Eagles Army  ETO 1943-1945
Andrew “Pat” Patterson 3B Philadelphia Stars Army 1942-1945
Bill Perkins C Philadelphia Stars Army 1944-1945
Leornard “Len” Pigg C Indianapolis Clowns Army Pacific 1940-1945 Quartermaster Corps at Ft Still (OK). Nine months in Philippines.
Nat Pollard P Birmingham Black Barons Army 1944-1945
Dave Pope OF Army USA 1943-1946 Camp Lee, Virginia
Henry “Hank” Presswood SS/3B Kansas City Monarchs Army 1945-1947
Bill Randall OF Homestead Grays Navy USA 1943-1946 Great Lakes
Ulysses Redd SS Birmingham Black Barons Army ETO
Earl Richardson SS Newark Eagles Navy 1944-1945
John “Hoss” Ritchey C Chicago American Giants Army ETO/Pacific 1943-1945 Combat Engineer in Europe. Also seven months in Pacific.
Henry Frazier Robinson C Baltimore Elite Giants Navy 1943-1945
Jackie Robinson SS Kansas City Monarchs Army USA 1942-1944 761st Tank Destroyer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.
Robert Romby P Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1943-1945
Leon Ruffin C Newark Eagles Navy 1943-1945
Frank Russell INF Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1945
Joe Scott 1B Birmingham Black Barons Army ETO 1941-1945 Staff Sergeant. 350th Field Artillery, 46th Brigade.
Dickie Seay 2B-SS New York Black Yankees Army  USA 1943-1945  Dow Field
Robert Sharpe P Memphis Red Sox Army 1945-1946
Hubert “Bert” Simmons P/OF Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1943-1945
Herb Simpson 1B/OF Homestead Grays USAAF ETO 1943-1945 2057th Quartermaster Corps, Eighth Air Force.
Gene Smith P New York Black Yankees Army 1943-1945
John Ford Smith P Kansas City Monarchs USAAF 1942-1945 Lieutenant.
Raymond Smith P Philadelphia Stars Army 1943-1945
T R “Ted” Strong OF Kansas City Monarchs Navy 1943-1945
Lonnie Summers C Chicago American Giants Army ETO 1942-1945 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
Alfred “Slick” Surratt OF Detroit Stars Army Pacific Served at New Guinea and the Philippines.
Reece “Goose” Tatum USAAF
Johnny “Schoolboy” Taylor P New York Cubans Army 1942-1945
Olan “Jelly” Taylor 1B Memphis Red Sox Army 1942-1945 One of the first Negro Leaguers inducted after Pearl Harbor.
Henry “Hank” Thompson 2B Kansas City Monarchs Army ETO 1944-1945 1695th Combat Engineers. At Battle of the Bulge.
Robert “Bob” Thurman OF Homestead Grays Army Pacific 1942-1945 Discovered playing baseball in New Guinea and Philippines.
Ted Toles P Pittsburgh Crawfords Army
Johnny Washington 1B Baltimore Elite Giants Army 1942-1945
Andy “Big Six” Watts 3B Cleveland Buckeyes Navy Pacific 1944-1945 With 1944 Great Lakes baseball champions. Also at Guam.
Roy Welmaker P Homestead Grays Army 1942-1944
David “Speed” Whatley OF Homestead Grays Army 1944-1945
Frank Williams OF Homestead Grays Army 1944-1945
Jesse Williams SS Kansas City Monarchs Army 1943-1945
Wilmore Williams OF Newark Eagles Navy 1944-1945
Al “Apples” Wilmore P Philadelphia Stars Army Pacific 1943-1946 595th Field Artillery Battalion, 93rd Division.
Emmett Wilson OF New York Black Yankees Army 1944-1945
Fred Wilson OF Indianapolis Clowns Army USA 1944 Fort Benning, Georgia.
Johnny Wright P Homestead Grays Navy USA 1944-1945 Great Lakes baseball team
James Zapp OF Baltimore Elite Giants Navy Pacific 1942-1945 Discovered on Hawaii teams that won 1943 and 1944 championships.

Dave Barr (@daveabarr)

NLBM To Celebrate 103rd Birthday of Buck O’Neil

buck 2

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) has planned a series of  “movin,’” and “groovin’” events in celebration of the 103rd birthday of baseball legend John “Buck” O’Neil. The celebration gets underway on Saturday, Nov. 8 and concludes on Sunday, Nov. 9. O’Neil, or Buck, as he was affectionately known, would have turned 103 on Nov. 13.

For nearly a decade, O’Neil, who was born Nov. 13, 1911, in Carrabelle, FL, used his birthday to raise money and awareness for the NLBM (1616 E. 18th Street, KCMO).  That selfless act resulted in excess of $1-million in support for the museum he co-founded and served as Chairman of the Board for 16 years before his untimely passing in 2006. Eight years after his death, the NLBM continues the tradition of celebrating O’Neil’s illustrious life. Events are planned for Nov. 8 and 9 with a goal to raise at least $103,000 in support of the NLBM.

“All Buck ever wanted for his birthday was for people to visit and support the museum that he helped create, said Bob Kendrick, NLBM president. “For 16 years, Buck gave his all to build an institution that would pay rightful tribute to America’s unsung baseball heroes and worked tirelessly until the very end of his life to help our nation understand the importance of the Negro Leagues and its place in American history.”

The celebration gets off to a running start at 9 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 8 with the Buck O’Neil 2.2 Mile Walk and a newly created 5K run. Participants will blaze a trail through the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District with the race culminating at the NLBM for post-event award presentations. The unusual walk distance is derived from O’Neil’s Monarchs jersey number 22. The entry fee is $22 for the walk and $35 for the 5K run and includes a commemorative Buck O’Neil long-sleeve Monarchs t-shirt and free admission to the NLBM.

No one loved a good party more than O’Neil, and it’s in his spirit of love and fun that his annual Birthday Bash gets underway at 6 p.m., Sat., Nov. 8 with a “red-dress” inspired cocktail party at 6 p.m. at the NLBM and continues at 8 p.m., at the Gem Theater (1615 E. 18th Street, KCMO). This year’s uplifting event is aptly called “What’s Going On?,” a soulful tribute to Buck inspired by the music of the late, great Marvin Gaye and a post-event concert with R&B star Leela James.

Prior to the tribute, former Kansas City Royals Willie Wilson and Al Fitzmorris along with Hy-Vee will receive the Buck O’Neil Legacy Award presented annually in recognition of “Outstanding Support of the NLBM.” Wilson and Fitzmorris have volunteered their time serving as longtime co-hosts of the museum’s “Legends Luncheons” series as a tandem since 2007. Since that time, the lunch series has raised more than $100,000 in support of the NLBM. Hy-Vee has been a committed NLBM partner for well over a decade, but their recent generosity helped the NLBM launch two new initiatives in the “Heart of America Hot Dog Festival” and the “Hall of Game.”

On Sun., Nov. 9, area gospel choirs, and other performers, will raise the rafters of the Gem Theater at the 4th Annual Gospel Salute to Buck. For years, O’Neil led a cross-country crusade preaching the gospel of the Negro Leagues and the virtues of the NLBM to a legion of fans. The gospel music extravaganza takes place at 3:30 p.m. and is free to the public.

All proceeds from the Buck O’Neil 103rd Birthday Celebration benefit the NLBM. For more information, call (816) 221-1920.

buck

WHAT’S GOING ON?

Buck O’Neil’s 103RD Birthday Celebration

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Nov. 8:

9 a.m.:           Buck O’Neil 2.2 Mile Walk & 5K (Register at www.nlbm.com)

8 p.m.:           A Marvin Gaye Musical Salute to Buck O’Neil (Gem Theater)

Buck O’Neil Legacy Award presentation to Willie Wilson, Al Fitzmorris & Hy-Vee

9 p.m.:           Post-tribute concert by Leela James

Sunday, Nov. 9:

3:30 p.m.:        4th Annual Gospel Salute to Buck (Gem Theater)

For tickets or more information, call the NLBM at (816) 221-1920 or visit www.nlbm.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers

%d bloggers like this: