1925 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM, 4th MVP

P-Nelson Dean, KCM

P-Andy Cooper, DS

P-Juan Padron, CAG

P-Bill McCall, CAG

P-Bill Drake, KCM

P-Bill Foster, BBB/CAG

P-George Harney, CAG

P-Steel Arm Tyler, MRS

P-William Bell, KCM

C-Poindexter Williams, BBB

C-Mitchell Murray, SLS

1B-Willie Bobo, SLS

1B-Edgar Wesley, DS

2B-Anderson Pryor, DS

3B-Dewey Creacy, SLS

3B-Dave Malarcher, CAG

SS-Willie Wells, SLS

LF-Wilson Redus, SLS

LF-Earl Gurley, MRS/CAG/ABC

CF-Turkey Stearnes, DS

CF-Cool Papa Bell, SLS

RF-Branch Russell, SLS

RF-Clarence Smith, DS

RF-Esteban Montalvo, CSW

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 31 Years Old, 4th MVP

1921 1922 1923 1924

155 1/3 IP, 15-2, 1.74 ERA, 96 K, 302 ERA+, 1.011 WHIP

125 AB, .360, 2 HR, 40 RBI, .360/.424/.592, 170 OPS+

WAR-9.3

Wins Above Replacement-9.3 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-7.4 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: Yes (Inducted in 1925) 131 Tot/47 P

Kansas City Monarchs

59-23-2, 1st in NNL, Won CS over St. Louis Stars, 4-3; Lost WS to HIlldale Club, 5-1

Manager Jose Mendez

OPS+-99, 3rd in league

ERA+-153, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 9.3

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-9.3 (4th Time)

WAR for Pitchers-7.4 (3rd Time)

Win-Loss %-.882

Strikeouts-96 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-15 (3rd Time)

Shutouts-4 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.097

Adj. Pitching Runs-59 (4th Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-6.0 (3rd Time)

5th Time All-Star-The year 1925 was the sixth year of the Negro National League being a Major League and it has its first entrant into my Hall of Fame, this stellar talent, Bullet Rogan. I had written back in his 1921 blurb that I thought it would be between him and Oscar Charleston as to whom would be my first Negro League Hall of Fame inductee and it was none other than the multi-faceted Bullet. Along with making my Hall, I also gave him the NNL Most Valuable Player for the fourth time. I’m also calling this his best season ever.

                Then to add to all of that above, he also guided the Monarchs to their third straight NNL title. In the Championship Series against the St. Louis Stars, Rogan started three games and won them all, compiling a 2.42 ERA, and also hit .450 (nine-for-20) as the Monarchs won, 4-3.  In the World Series, he didn’t play as Hilldale beat KC, 5-1. Wikipedia explains his absence: “Rogan may have reached his peak in 1925, leading Kansas City to its third straight league championship with a 17–2 record and a .381 batting average. In the playoffs against the St. Louis Stars he hit .450 and won three more games, including one shutout. However, before the World Series rematch with Hilldale, Rogan suffered a knee injury while playing with his young son. Forced to undergo surgery, he missed the series. Without their star, the Monarchs were defeated in six games.” What a difference one man can make, especially if it’s this man!

P-Nelson Dean, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

134 2/3 IP, 11-3, 2.74 ERA, 67 K, 192 ERA+, 1.062 WHIP

56 AB, .196, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .196/.196/.196, 6 OPS+

WAR-5.1

Wins Above Replacement-5.1 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.3 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Nelson Dean was born on February 18, 1899 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The five-foot-seven righty pitcher had this great rookie year for the best team in the league. In the Championship Series against the Stars, Dean started one game and lost, giving up three runs in four innings. KC still went on to win four games to three. In the World Series versus Hilldale, Dean pitched two games, going 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA. It didn’t help as Hilldale won the Series, 5-1.

                There’s not much on Dean out in the Internets, so here’s Wikipedia’s wrap-up of the Monarchs’ season: “Motivated by the Monarchs’ runaway pennant victory, NNL president Rube Foster changed the league schedule to a split-season format for 1925. Kansas City nevertheless took the league title again in 1925, but lost the World Series to Hilldale when Rogan was injured just before the series began and won one game and lost five to Hilldale. Even though Méndez was the manager, it was still possible to see him on the mound during the few years he held the position. Among the team’s regulars during these years were the brilliant-fielding second baseman/shortstop Newt Allen who in the 1924 series alone had an average of .282 and seven doubles and Frank Duncan, one of the best-regarded defensive catchers in Negro league history. Newt Joseph played third base for the Monarchs from 1922 through their NNL years, hitting a composite .284 during that time.”

                Before reading this article in Wikipedia, I wasn’t aware there was a split-season.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 27 Years Old

1922 1923 1924

146 2/3 IP, 12-2, 2.88 ERA, 49 K, 182 ERA+, 1.077 WHIP

54 AB, .241, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .241/.293/.407, 86 OPS+

WAR-4.7

Wins Above Replacement-4.7 (4th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.3 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Detroit Stars

56-44, 4th in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-114, 2nd in league

ERA+-92, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Turkey Stearnes, 5.4

Led in:

Saves-4 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-I’ve noted over the years how sorry I feel for Mike Trout, baseball’s best player, who has only made the postseason once and played in just three games. He’s not the first good athlete to whom that happened and won’t be the last. Andy Cooper is one of those players. He will pitch phenomenally for years, but isn’t going to make the playoffs for quite a while. I’m calling his 1925 campaign his best season ever.

                Dirk Lammers of nonohitters.com writes, “Today would be the 122nd birthday of Andy Cooper, who threw a Negro National League no-hitter for the Detroit Stars in 1925.

                “On Sunday, June 28, 1925, during the second game of a Sunday doubleheader, Cooper no-hit the Indianapolis ABCs for a 1-0 win.

                “The 6-foot-2, 220-pound southpaw from Waco, Texas, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.”

                Robert F. Darden writes a long article about the great pitcher in Waco’s Magazine and says of this season: “In June 1925, Cooper threw a no-hitter against the Indianapolis ABCs. That year he won his first nine decisions, but a couple of days after the no-hitter, he broke his leg and was out until September. Cooper finished 11-2 in 1925.”

                Here’s another bit from that article: “Because he played and coached in the segregated times of the 1920s through 1940s, Cooper doesn’t have much of a paper trail. He is in baseball’s Hall of Fame mostly because the players who played in the so-called Negro Leagues insisted he was one of the best to ever play (and manage) the grand old game. Due to their efforts and the work of a handful of baseball fans and experts, Cooper was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame in 2006, along with 16 other Negro League luminaries.”

                Read the whole thing.

P-Juan Padron, Chicago American Giants, 32 Years Old

1922 1923 1924

122 1/3 IP, 10-5, 3.09 ERA, 60 K, 170 ERA+, 1.136 WHIP

43 AB, .233, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .233/.267/.233, 35 OPS+

WAR-4.5

Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (6th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

57-41-2, 3rd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-70, 8th in league

ERA+-140, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Juan Padron, 4.5

4th Time All-Star-Padron has now made my list four consecutive years, but this is going to be his last. In 1926, he’s going to move to the Indianapolis ABCs and go 2-4 with a 5.95 ERA. Age, along with pitching in a hitter’s park, caught up with him. He was part of the American Giants’ 1922 pennant team, but he never got to pitch in a Negro World Series. Still, for four years, he was one of the Negro National League’s very best.

                The Hall of Miller and Eric writes, “Padrón’s record also doesn’t explain much of what happened to him. I can’t either. He pitched at the highest levels from 1915 to 1926, and suddenly, he fell off the map. To be honest, it looks like a classic case of a pitcher’s arm just giving out. He’s cookin’ with gas in 1925 (ERA+ of 170) then disappears after 1926. Riley indicates he began pitching semipro ball a few years later in Michigan, which seems plausible. His arm gave out, a few years later, it comes back a little but not enough to compete at the top level, so he makes his bread where he can. He ended up staying in Michigan.

                “One whale of a pitcher. In many ways, he’s Hippo Vaughn with an extra All-Star-level season in there. Vaughn is about one All-Star-level year from being a very serious contender for the Hall of Miller and Eric, so Padrón will clearly be a person of considerable interest to us.”

                Padron died on December 7, 1981 at the age of 89 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

P-Bill McCall, Chicago American Giants, 27 Years Old

1924

119 IP, 6-6, 2.95 ERA, 61 K, 178 ERA+, 1.202 WHIP

44 AB, .182, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .182/.234/.205, 19 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After pitching for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Kansas City Monarchs in 1924 and actually pitching (terribly) in the Negro World Series, McCall came to Chi-town and actually pitched his best season ever. It was the only time in his Major League career he had a .500 season. Of course, it always helps to pitch in Chicago which was a notoriously difficult home park for hitters, but he still did well.

                There isn’t a lot out there on McCall, so I’m going to post a little bit from Baseball History Daily on Rube Foster, Chicago’s skipper. He believed as far back as 1914 that blacks would be let into the Majors. Unfortunately, he was wrong for way too many years. Here’s part of the article: “At the beginning of the 1914 baseball season, Andrew Bishop “Rube” Foster believed baseball’s color line was on the verge of being broken.

                “He talked about it with The Seattle Post-Intelligencer while touring the West Coast with the Chicago American Giants:

                “’Before another baseball season rolls around colored ball players, a score of whom are equal in ability to the brightest stars in the big league teams, will be holding down jobs in organized baseball…They’re taking in Cubans now, you notice and they’ll let us in soon.’

                “Billy Lewis, a writer for The Indianapolis Freeman did not share Foster’s optimism:

                “’It goes without saying it emphatically, that Foster’s opinion sounds mighty good to the “poor down-trodden” colored players who have to do so much “tall” figuring in order to make ends meet.  But the plain fact of the matter is that Rube has drawn on his imagination for the better part of his opinion.  For as much as I hope and as colored players and people hope for better days for the colored players there’s nothing to warrant what he had to say. Foster is having the time of his life, riding about in special cars out west, and naturally enough with the distinguished consideration paid him and his bunch of players, he feels to give out something worthwhile.’”

                Read the whole thing.

P-Bill Drake, Kansas City Monarchs, 30 Years Old

1921

123 2/3, 9-6, 3.35 ERA, 57 K, 157 ERA+, 1.156 WHIP

45 AB, .133, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .133/.188/.200, 4 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.8 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After Drake made my All-Star team for the St. Louis Stars in 1921, he started 0-4 for the Stars in ’22 before moving on to the Monarchs. With the Monarchs, he started to shine. In the 1924 Negro World Series that Kansas City won over Hilldale, Drake pitched in relief four games, going 0-1, with a 4.61 ERA. This season, he pitched in the Championship Series against his former team, the Stars, and went 0-1 with a 0.75 ERA. In the World Series that the Monarchs lost to Hilldale, he struggled, going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA.

                Baseball Reference says of Drake, known as “Plunk”: “Plunk was known for his trick pitches and curveball.

                “Drake played with white semipro teams in North Dakota during his career but refused to play in the Florida Hotel League due to racial conditions in the South. Later in life, he did take a basketball team to Atlanta, GA to play against black college teams. Bill also refused to play in the Caribbean due to the response Cuban batters in the USA had to his tendency to work inside.

                “Off the field, Bill had the reputation as a jokester.

                “Drake did not plan much for his post-baseball life and did not hold a steady job until the 1940s; from age 52 to 62, he worked for Famous & Barr before retiring. He struggled financially due to his lack of planning and sought aid where available, once claiming war service in a pension appeal.”

                Plunk died on October 30, 1977 in St. Louis.

P-Bill Foster, Birmingham Black Barons/Chicago American Giants, 21 Years Old

78 IP, 6-0, 1.62 ERA, 49 K, 327 ERA+, 1.000 WHIP

25 AB, .240, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .240/.296/.400, 85 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1996)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Birmingham Black Barons

27-59-1, 7th in NNL

Manager Sam Crawford

OPS+-82, 5th in league

ERA+-80, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Poindexter Williams, 2.1

American Giants Team Stats

Led in:

1925 NNL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-1.62 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.000 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.577 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.654 (2nd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-327 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-William Hendrick “Bill” or “Willie” Foster was born on June 12, 1904 in Calvert, Texas. The six-foot, 190 pound switch-hitting, lefty pitching hurler started with his brother Rube’s team in 1923, pitching just eight innings and allowing seven runs (five earned). In 1924, he started his season with the Memphis Red Sox and then came to Chicago. It was a very good year and he could have made my list. This season, he started his season with the Birmingham Black Barons and then finally came back to his bro’s team where he would pitch for the next 10 seasons. He is going to make my list a lot.

                Thomas Kern writes in SABR, “Foster’s first stint with the Chicago American Giants, from 1923 to 1930, witnessed his ascendence to elite status. From 1923 to 1925, he pitched on a limited basis for the American Giants, and was also loaned to Memphis in 1924 and to the Birmingham Black Barons in 1925. However, Rube had no intention of losing Bill and, in fact, indicative of his embracing his brother in his orbit, called on the services of his younger brother to serve as majority shareholder when Rube orchestrated the initial incorporation of the Negro National League in the winter of 1924-1925. Lester notes, however, that later on ‘Willie Foster did not play an active role in the league’s operation, leaving the administrative decision to his older brother Rube.’”

                You are going to be absolutely dazzled by some of Willie’s upcoming seasons.

P-George Harney, Chicago American Giants, 35 Years Old

116 2/3 IP, 7-5, 3.63 ERA, 50 K, 145 ERA+, 1.320 WHIP

41 AB, .171, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .171/.209/.171, 3 OPS+

WAR-3.4

WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-George Arthur Harney was born on June 1, 1890 in Bessemer, Alabama. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty pitcher and rightfielder started with the American Giants in 1923. He went 11-3 in 1924, but didn’t make my list, but had a good year this season. He probably would have had a chance at Cooperstown had not his Major League career started so late in life.

                 William McNeil wrote a book entitled The California Winter League: America’s First Integrated Professional Baseball League, a league of which Harney was a participant. McNeil said, “Willie Foster, one of the greatest southpaw pitchers in Negro League history, arrived on the scene midway through the streak, and 6-0 the rest of the way to put the icing on the cake. In his first winter start, on January 16, he shout out Pirrone’s All-Stars 4-0, behind an eleven strikeout masterpiece. A week later, Rube Foster’s little brother chalked up another whitewash job, trouncing the White Kings 11-0, and fanning five in the seven inning nightcap. Stearnes with a homer and sing (sic), Mackey with a homer, and Dixon with three singles led the attack. George Harney got into the act by blanking the kings (sic) in game two, 4-0, scattering seven hits. Turkey Stearnes had a single and a home run.”

                I’d like to know more about this California Winter League and maybe sometime I’ll have time to read up more on it, but needless to say it had a lot of stars, including Turkey Stearnes, Biz Mackey, and Bill Foster, Hall of Famers all.

P-Steel Arm Tyler, Memphis Red Sox, 19 Years Old

171 2/3 IP, 9-12, 4.14 ERA, 93 K, 127 ERA+, 1.113 WHIP

53 AB, .132, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .132/.179/.132, -15 OPS+

WAR-3.2

WAR for Pitchers-3.5 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Memphis Red Sox

34-49-1, 6th in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes

OPS+-82, 5th in league

ERA+-80, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Steel Arm Tyler, 3.2

Led in:

Games Started-23

Losses-12

1st Time All-Star-William “Steel Arm” Tyler was born on September 26, 1905 in Evansville, Indiana. The five-foot-eight, 165 pound righty pitcher and outfielder had this impressive rookie year and he’ll be back on this list possibly once more. This would be the last year for the Memphis Red Sox, a team that finished sixth both years of its existence. Teams tended to come and go during these years of the Negro Leagues, unless they were the stalwart franchises like the Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, or Kansas City Monarchs.

                Now there isn’t much on Tyler, but before him was a player nicknamed “Steel Arm” Taylor, who is written about on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page by James A. Riley. He wrote, “Taylor often coached college teams, beginning in the spring of 1899, when he coached the Biddle University team. He returned to that post again in 1905, and also coached the M&I College team of Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1908, developing players who later went into the professional ranks. This included a battery with the Birmingham Giants- Pinson, a pitcher, and Cobb, who did the brunt of the backstopping in the 1909 season.

                “As a coach, Taylor emphasized clean living and hard work, and set an example for his players, abstaining from the use of both alcohol and tobacco in any form. He was a hard worker and possessed a sweet baseball disposition. When his younger brother Ben Taylor was appointed manager of the Washington Potomacs in 1924, Johnny was asked to go with him as the pitching coach.”

P-William Bell, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

112 IP, 10-3, 3.21 ERA, 44 K, 164 ERA+, 1.054 WHIP

47 AB, .043, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .043/.063/.043, -71 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-3.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 75 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-William Bell was born on the same day as my niece Chiara, just many years beforehand. He was born on August 31, 1897 in Hallettsville, Texas. The five-foot-seven, 170 pound righty pitcher and outfielder started his Major League career with the Monarchs in 1923. In 1924, he started three games against Hilldale Club in the Negro Leagues World Series, going 1-0, with a 2.63 ERA. This season, he started two games in the Championship Series against the St. Louis Stars, and went 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA. In the World Series rematch against Hilldale, Bell pitched in three games, starting two and lost his only decision despite a 1.15 ERA. In the postseason, he had terrible luck, giving up 24 runs, but half of those were unearned.

                Kevin Larkin and Frederick C. Bush of SABR write, “Bell returned to the Monarchs in 1925 and went 11-5 with a 2.80 ERA over 144⅔ innings in 22 appearances (15 starts) in the regular season and World Series. Mendez managed again, and the team included pitching stalwarts Rogan (15-2) and Nelson Dean (11-3) alongside Bell. The offense continued to be stout as four players hit .300 or better: Rogan (.360), center fielder Hurly McNair (.332), third baseman Newt Joseph (.323), and shortstop Dobie Moore (.312).

                “The 1925 Monarchs won the first half of the Negro National League season and finished the year with a record of 62-23. They played against the second-half winner, the St. Louis Stars, for the league championship. The St. Louis lineup included such luminaries as shortstop Willie Wells, center fielder James ‘Cool Papa’ Bell, and the veteran Candy Jim Taylor, who also managed the team. William Bell took the mound in the third game of the seven-game series, losing to the Stars, 3-2. He also started Game Six, facing the Stars’ Roosevelt Davis – another future Pittsburgh Crawfords teammate – and came away with a 9-3 victory that tied the series at three games apiece. Rogan started Game Seven, which the Monarchs won, 4-0, to capture the NNL title.”

C-Poindexter Williams, Birmingham Black Barons, 27 Years Old

242 AB, .335, 6 HR, 49 RBI, .335/.374/.525, 139 OPS+

WAR-2.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 43 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Poindexter Williams was born on September 10, 1897 in Decatur, Alabama. The six-foot-195 pound righty catcher started his Major League career with the Chicago American Giants and Detroit Stars in 1921. He stayed on Detroit the next year. Williams didn’t play in the Majors in 1923 before coming to his home state and playing for Birmingham in 1924. This year, he was the Black Barons’ best player, according to WAR.

                The Negro Southern League Museum-Birmingham webpage says of the Barons, “The Birmingham Black Barons were organized in 1920 as the Birmingham Stars, one of the first eight teams of the Negro Southern League. That same year, Rube Foster organized the Negro National League. Frank Perdue paid $200 for the rights to be the first owner of the new team. The Stars nickname was quickly discarded, and the team became the known as the Black Barons – a reference to the name of the white team in the city. In 1923, the Black Barons became associate members of the Negro National League under new owner Joe Rush. They became full members of the league in 1925.

                “Several members of the Black Barons during the 1920s had careers that led to their induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Those were pitcher Bill Foster, the legendary Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige, and George ‘Mules’ Suttles. Paige is considered by many to be the best pitcher in baseball history. Suttles hit 127 known home runs in Negro League competition, a number that may make him the League’s all-time home run king.”

                There’s nothing on Williams, who would play quite a while with the Black Barons and died on March 17, 1969 at the age of 71 in Homewood, Alabama.

C-Mitchell Murray, St. Louis Stars, 29 Years Old

1923 1924

176 AB, .375, 3 HR, 38 RBI, .375/.439/.483, 147 OPS+

WAR-2.0

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 24 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Stars

59-30-2, 2nd in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-136, 1st in league

ERA+-110, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Willie Bobo, 4.6

3rd Time All-Star-Murray has made the All-Star list three consecutive times now and will most likely make it four next season. He is part of a fantastic St. Louis team, a squad that has seven players on this list. There are no pitchers, but they have a player at every position except second base. The Negro National League had a split season this year and the Stars won the second half to face the Monarchs in the Championship Series. Unfortunately they lost, 4-3. Murray hit only .091 (two-for-22) with a homer and three RBI.

                Cnlbr.org reports about the League Championship series: “The first three games of the series were played in St. Louis. Game one was played on September 19th. The Monarchs took game one by a score of 8-6. Kansas City was paced by three homeruns hit by Newt Allen, Frank Duncan and Dobie Moore. Bullet Rogan picked up the win in game one for the Monarchs and Slap Hensley took the loss for St. Louis. The St. Louis Stars rebounded and took games two and three by the scores of 6-3 and 3-2. The series was moved to Chicago for the final four games. Bullet Rogan opened the series in Chicago on September 26th win a 5-4 victory over the Stars. In the game Rogan collected four hits and drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The St. Louis Stars came back in game five with a tough 2-1 victory to take a one game lead in the series. With a must win situation in game six, William Bell pitched the Monarchs to a 9-3 victory to even the series at three games apiece. Jose Mendez (Manager of the Kansas City Monarchs) sent Bullet Rogan to the mound for his third start of the series. Rogan did not disappoint and pitched a 4-0 shut out for the win and the Negro National League championship title.”

1B-Willie Bobo, St. Louis Stars, 23 Years Old

323 AB, .359, 14 HR, 84 RBI, .359/.452/.616, 184 OPS+

WAR-4.6

Wins Above Replacement-4.6 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.6 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-4.6 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons, Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Bases on Balls-55

Def. Games as 1B-86

1st Time All-Star-Willie Alphonso Bobo was born in 1902 in Tennessee. The lefty first baseman started with the Monarchs in 1923, playing just one game and going oh-for-four. He went to St. Louis the next year and by this season was the Stars’ best player. It was also his best season ever and chances are this is first and only All-Star year. In the League Championship against Kansas City, Bobo hit .360 (nine-for-25) with a double, but it didn’t help as the Monarchs won the Series.

                John Fleming of St. Louis Bullpen put together a list of the 10 greatest players in St. Louis Stars history and ranked Bobo number 10. He wrote of him, “10. Willie Bobo–As is often the case for Negro League players, the biographical information available is somewhat scant. We know he was born in 1902, though we do not have a birth date. He died on February 22, 1931 in San Diego, though I couldn’t find a cause of death from anything approaching a reliable source. But we do know Willie Bobo was a St. Louis Star from 1924 through 1928 and that the first baseman was one of the most feared hitters in the Stars lineup. In 1925, his best season, Bobo had a 1.068 OPS in 391 plate appearances, with his walk rate and solid contact abilities bringing his OPS+ to a staggering 184, heights achieved by Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire, and no other St. Louis first basemen. He never again reached quite those heights, but he remained a solid hitter for the remainder of his Stars career.”

1B-Edgar Wesley, Detroit Stars, 34 Years Old

1922 1923

228 AB, .404, 17 HR, 73 RBI, .404/.469/.715, 213 OPS+

WAR-3.9

Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (8th)

WAR Position Players-3.9 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1925 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.404

On-Base %-.469

Slugging %-.715

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.184

Adjusted OPS+-213

Offensive Win %-.880

AB per HR-13.4 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-After last making the list in 1923, Wesley moved from the Stars of the Negro National League to the Harrisburg Giants of the Eastern Colored League in 1924 and had an off year. He was back with Detroit again this season and had his best season ever. Turkey Stearns and he (that’s them above) paired up to once again be the early black “Bash Brothers” as Wesley hit 17 homers and Stearnes parked 19. Babe Ruth put homers in vogue and Detroit fans reaped the benefits.

                Richard Bak of Vintage Detroit writes, “Wesley returned to Detroit in 1925. That summer, he and Stearnes turned Negro League pitching inside out. Turkey hit .364 while topping the circuit in home runs (19) and RBIs (60). Wesley hit a blistering .413 to win the batting crown while finishing runner-up to Stearnes in homers and ribbies. Wesley would have posted even greater numbers, but his season was cut short by a broken ankle. He played another season and a half with the Stars before being traded to Cleveland in 1927. From there he went on to play ball in Cuba and South America, just one more itinerant ballplayer past his prime and trying to make a living the only way he knew how.

                “Wesley quickly faded away. As is the case with so many other Negro Leaguers, not much is known of his life away from the diamond. He was 75 years old when he died in Detroit one July day in 1966. By then Mack Park, the scene of many of his and Stearnes’s greatest hits, had been torn down.”

2B-Anderson Pryor, Detroit Stars, 24 Years Old

1924

326 AB, .285, 6 HR, 47 RBI, .285/.379/.439, 119 OPS+

WAR-2.7

WAR Position Players-2.7 (9th)

Offensive WAR-2.6 (9th)

Defensive WAR-0.3 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 92 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 2B-76

2nd Time All-Star-Pryor made the All-Star team for the second consecutive season as the Negro National League’s best second baseman. This was the 24-year-old’s best year ever, but he’s going to decline quickly after this. He’s got three seasons left in the Majors, but he’ll never play over 39 games during any of those years. Still, the little man (5’4”, 146 pounds) made his mark at the beginning of the Negro Major Leagues.

                In 1923, Pryor played for the Milwaukee Bears in their only season of existence. Dan Curran of OnMilwaukee writes of this squad, “The Milwaukee Bears faced some other baseball legends during its one season of play. Wilber “Bullet Joe” Rogan was a standout pitcher and hitter for the Kansas City Monarchs. “He may have been the best all-around baseball player of all time, better than Babe Ruth,” says Dixon, referring to players who excel at both pitching and hitting. Rogan was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

                “Player statistics for the Bears are not available. Based on the batting order of the few box scores published in the Milwaukee papers, some of the top offensive players for the Bears would have been first baseman Percy Wilson and second baseman Anderson Pryor. Shortstop Leroy Stratton was ‘said to be the best looking infielder among the colored leaguers,’ according to the Sentinel. A man named Fulton Strong was likely the team’s top pitcher.”

                Since the above article was written, Baseball Reference has now added Major League stats.

3B-Dewey Creacy, St. Louis Stars, 26 Years Old

331 AB, .323, 14 HR, 72 RBI, .323/.378/.550, 146 OPS+

WAR-3.4

WAR Position Players-3.6 (6th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Power-Speed #-15.4

Def. Games as 3B-83

1st Time All-Star-Albert Dewey Creacy was born on April 13, 1899 in Fort Worth, Texas. The five-foot-nine, 160 pound righty third and second baseman started with St. Louis in 1924, but became the team’s fulltime third sacker this season. He would have a long career and he’ll make a lot of my lists, but he’s going to fall short of making Cooperstown and also my Hall of Fame.

                In the Negro National League Championship Series against the Kansas City Monarchs, Creacy hit .261 (six-for-23) with a homer and three RBI. The Stars lost to KC, four games to three.

                From cnlbr.org, there is an article about this newfangled invention, the league championship series. It says, “The schedules for most Negro League seasons were played in two halves with a winner being declared for each half of the season. If different teams each won one half of the season or if the season ended in a dispute over who should be crowned the “league” champion, a Play-Off Series was held.

                “After the 1925 regular Negro National League season, the Kansas City Monarchs, winners of the first half of the season, met the St. Louis Stars, winners of the second half of the season, in a Play-Off Series to determine which team would be crowned the Negro National League champion.

                “The St. Louis Stars finished the season with a record of 71-27 (.724). Candy Jim Taylor (Manager of the St. Louis Stars) had a starting lineup in which all but one of the starters hit over .300 for the season.

                “St. Louis Stars (1925)

1B Willie Bobo .352

2B Eddie Watts .314

SS Willie Wells .270

3B Dewey Creacy .394

C Mitch Murray .387

C Fat Barnes .359

OF Frog Redus .381

OF James Bell .348

OF Branch Russell .311”

You’ll notice the stats in this article differ from the stats I have on this page.

3B-Dave Malarcher, Chicago American Giants, 30 Years Old

1923 1924

315 AB, .324, 2 HR, 35 RBI, .324/.410/.381, 114 OPS+

WAR-2.6

Defensive WAR-0.3 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-Was Malarcher the best third baseman in the league? On the positive side, this is his third consecutive All-Star list. He didn’t hit too well, though this was his best year at the bat, but how much of that had to do with Chicago playing in a pitcher’s park. He wasn’t the best player at the hot corner this season, falling behind Dewey Creacy. As a matter of fact, in just glancing over the stats, Creacy seems to be a better all-around player.

                James A. Riley writes in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, “Back to full strength in 1923, he hit .295, and in 1924 Foster moved him to the third slot in the batting order for a season, and he responded with another solid season, hitting .293. In 1925 he succeeded Bingo DeMoss as team captain after DeMoss was shipped to the ABCs by Foster to maintain league balance. Leading by example, Malarcher was a model of consistency, hitting for a .330 average during the season, his last under Foster.

                “Malarcher overcame many obstacles in life to experience his diamond accomplishments. He was born the youngest of ten children to parents struggling to escape the underside of society. His father was a farm laborer on a sugar plantation and his mother was a former slave, but they instilled positive values in their son that he retained throughout his life.”

                Because of the way Rube Foster ran his team and the lack of good offensive stats for Malarcher, it’s tough to tell whether he’s going to be making any more of my lists.

SS-Willie Wells, St. Louis Stars, 20 Years Old

1924

338 AB, .290, 8 HR, 53 RBI, .290/.386/.459, 126 OPS+

WAR-3.2

WAR Position Players-3.2 (7th)

Offensive WAR-3.2 (7th)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1997)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-I’m going to be writing a lot about Wells over the years, Lord willing, because he was an incredible ballplayer. During this time in the National and American Leagues, there weren’t a lot of great shortstops. I put Dave Bancroft and Glenn Wright on my list for the NL and Joe Sewell for the AL and I think Wells was better than any of them. What I’m saying is it would have been great to see how Wells did against those other Major Leaguers.

                In the Negro National League Championship Series, Wells hit .208 (five-for-24) with a double and a homer. The Monarchs beat Wells’ Stars, four games to three.

                Kevin Larkin of Legends On Deck lists Wells as the 12th Greatest Negro League player of all-time, writing of him, “‘El Diablo’ Willie Wells played primarily as a shortstop in the Negro Leagues and black baseball from 1924 to 1949. The sand lots of Texas were where Wells learned to play and love the game and in 1923 while with the San Antonio Black Aces, Rube Foster of he Chicago American Giants and Dr George Keys of the St Louis Stars discovered him. Wells opted to sign a contract with the Stars. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance early on in his career but Wells turned himself into a pretty good hitter. He would hit .378 in 1926 and .346 in 1927. Wells also set a home run record in 1926 when he hit 27 home runs in just 88 baseball games.”

                He’s already made my list twice and isn’t even close to having his best seasons yet.

LF-Wilson Redus, St. Louis Stars, 20 Years Old

258 AB, .372, 12 HR, 62 RBI, .372/.453/.624, 186 OPS+

WAR-3.6

WAR Position Players-3.6 (5th)

Offensive WAR-3.6 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 22 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-72

1st Time All-Star-Wilson Robert Redus was born on January 29, 1905 in Tullahassee, Oklahoma. The five-foot-five, 160 pound righty outfielder started his Major League career in 1924 with the Indianapolis ABCs, the Cleveland Browns, and eventually the Stars. He became a regular this year and he’ll have a few good seasons. All three St. Louis outfielders made my list this year. In the League Championship Series, Redus hit .200 (four-for-20) with a triple. St. Louis fell to the Kansas City Monarchs, four games to three.

                Baseball Reference says, “Oklahoman outfielder Wilson “Frog” Redus played for 17 years in the Negro Leagues. He was often among his league’s leaders in key offensive departments.

                “Redus broke in as a teenager during 1924 with the Indianapolis ABCs (.074) and Cleveland Browns. In 1925, Frog became a starting outfielder for the St. Louis Stars, joining Cool Papa Bell and Branch Russell; the trio would stay together for 7 years. He hit .381, 4th in the Negro National League behind Mule SuttlesEdgar Wesley and Dewey Creacy. He hit only .217 in a postseason series against the Kansas City Monarchs.”

                I’m sure Baseball Reference is still compiling information for the Negro Leagues, but many times it’ll mention nicknames in its Bullpen write-ups, but not mention them on the player page. I’m not sure why Redus has the nickname “Frog.” Maybe that info is out there somewhere and I’ll have a chance to find it later. If any of my readers know, I’d be glad to hear it.

LF-Earl Gurley, Memphis Red Sox/Chicago American Giants/Indianapolis ABCs, 26 Years Old

174 AB, .333, 4 HR, 26 RBI, .333/.408/.511, 146 OPS+

65 1/3 IP, 1-4, 5.10 ERA, 19 K, 104 ERA+, 1.485 WHIP

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 76 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Red Sox Team Stats

American Giants Team Stats

Indianapolis ABCs

17-53, 8th in NNL

Manager Todd Allen

OPS+-74, 6th in league

ERA+-68, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Earl Gurley, 1.4

1st Time All-Star-Earl C. Gurley was born on August 6, 1898 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The five-foot-11, 183 pound lefty outfielder, pitcher, and first baseman started with the St. Louis Stars in 1922-23 before moving to the Memphis Red Sox in ’24. This season, he played for the three teams listed above and made my list as the Indianapolis ABCs best player. He wouldn’t play in the Majors in 1926 and then again play for three teams in 1927 – the Eastern Colored League Harrisburg Giants and the Negro National League’s Birmingham Black Barons and Chicago American Giants. In 1928, he went back to Memphis, then moved again in 1929, back to Birmingham. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1930 or ’31 and finished his MLB career with the Negro Southern League Montgomery Grey Sox.

                When the ABCs started in 1920, they had the great Oscar Charleston and finished fourth in the NNL.  While Charleston remained with them, which he did through 1923 (except for 1922 when he played for the St. Louis Giants), they were competitive. Without Oscar, they declined in 1924 and then had this miserable season in 1925.

                Back to Gurley. Many teams tried to do what the Monarchs did with Bullet Rogan and have players that pitched and played in the field. Gurley mainly played leftfield in his career, but he also pitched in 52 games. The problem for him, and everyone else, is he was no Rogan, either as a pitcher or hitter.

                Gurley died at the age of 70 on November 6, 1986 in Buffalo, New York.

CF-Turkey Stearnes, Detroit Stars, 24 Years Old

1923 1924

367 AB, .371, 19 HR, 126 RBI, .371/.439/.668, 193 OPS+

WAR-5.4

Wins Above Replacement-5.4 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-5.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-5.3 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2000)
Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

WAR Position Players-5.4

Offensive WAR-5.3

Games Played-94

Hits-136

Total Bases-245

Triples-14 (3rd Time)

Home Runs-19 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-126

Runs Created-108

Adj. Batting Runs-48

Adj. Batting Wins-4.5

Extra Base Hits-57

Times On Base-181

Def. Games as CF-94

3rd Time All-Star-What we have here is another incredible season from Turkey Stearnes. If Bullet Rogan wasn’t so dominant, Stearnes might have won a few of my Most Valuable Players. I’m calling this season his best ever, but it’s impossible to tell because he had so many great years. Unfortunately his team, the Stars, couldn’t win either half of the season and weren’t able to make the League Championship Series.  He will make a few postseasons in his career, but that’s down the road.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “In 1925 his OPS exceeded 1.000 and would stay above that plateau for the remainder of his time with the Stars. In league play over each of the next five years (1926-30), Turkey would hit over .350 (with one exception) with an OPS north of 1.000, and average 18 homers.

                “Most ballplayers want to win — white or black — so why was Stearnes satisfied to stay with the Stars rather than seek greener pastures? As noted earlier, players liked Stars owner Blount as well as his successor, Detroit entrepreneur Roesink, who bought the Stars in 1925 and owned them until their 1930 midseason collapse due to the Depression. According to Bak, ‘Although Roesink would later inspire the wrath of many Black Bottom fans, players generally considered the haberdasher a first-class owner. They were well paid and continued to travel by train, even as some NNL teams made the switch to more cost-effective touring cars and buses.’”

                You’ll have many more seasons to read about this outstanding player.

CF-Cool Papa Bell, St. Louis Stars, 22 Years Old

380 AB, .347, 10 HR, 58 RBI, .347/.395/.545, 150 OPS+

WAR-3.7

WAR Position Players-3.7 (4th)

Offensive WAR-3.6 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1974)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Plate Appearances-418

Runs Scored-94

Doubles-33

Stolen Bases-30

1st Time All-Star-James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell was born on May 17, 1903 in Starkville, Mississippi. The six-foot, 155 pound switch-hitting, lefty throwing centerfielder and pitcher started his Major League career with the Stars in 1922, mainly as a pitcher. He switched to centerfield in 1924 and his Hall of Fame career is off and running. He’s going to make my Hall but it’s not as sure of thing as I thought it would be. It helps Bell that he’s going to have a long career.

                In the League Championship Series against the Monarchs, Bell hit .276 (eight-for-29) with a double and two stolen bases. St. Louis lost to Kansas City in seven games.

                Dave Wilkie of SABR writes, “Bell’s first Negro League appearance most likely took place on May 9, 1922, against the Indianapolis ABCs as a lanky knuckleball pitcher. In regard to his pitching, Bell said, ‘I used to throw the knuckle ball. If I got two strikes on you, I could throw my knuckle ball and it would just do this dart-down. I bet you I could strike anybody out with that knuckle ball. My brother couldn’t catch me. But you know who could catch me with that knuckle ball? My sister.’

                “It was around this time that Bell received his legendary moniker. Big Bill Gatewood, manager of the Stars in 1922, who had twirled the Negro Leagues’ first no-hitter during the previous season, is most often credited with bestowing the fabled ‘Cool Papa’ nickname upon Bell. Supposedly, Bell fanned Oscar Charleston during a tight spot in an early-season game and Gatewood commented about how cool under pressure he was. Papa was added later to make it sound better. Gatewood’s influence on Cool Papa’s career didn’t stop there. He also had the foresight to move Bell to the outfield to get his bat in the lineup more often, and persuaded him to bat left-handed to take advantage of his speed heading to first. Bell switch-hit for the remainder of his career.”

RF-Branch Russell, St. Louis Stars, 29 Years Old

1924

278 AB, .306, 8 HR, 63 RBI, .306/.413/.518, 149 OPS+

WAR-2.8

WAR Position Players-2.8 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.7 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as RF-70

2nd Time All-Star-Russell spent his first few seasons bouncing all over the field but mostly playing in the infield. Once he moved to rightfield in 1924, he started lighting the league up. He’s now made my All-Star list as a rightfielder for the second consecutive year. In the League Championship Series the Stars played against the Monarchs, Russell hit .286 (six-for-21) with three RBI and four walks. Kansas City won the Series, 4-3.

                Ellen Knight of Winchester.us writes, “To judge by his later life, Russell also found time during his school years for sports. Since the mid-19th century, baseball had been a popular American and Winchester [, Virginia] pastime. In Russell’s boyhood, there was a new baseball field at Manchester Field, but it is more likely that he would have played in his own neighborhood on the open lot on Cross Street behind the Washington School. The town later purchased this lot, prepared it as a playfield in the 1910s, and dedicated it in 1925 as Leonard Field. By that time Russell had embarked on a career as a professional baseball player.

                “On Sept. 27, 1914, Russell enlisted in the army at Ft. Slocum, N.Y. In 1917, the year that the country entered World War I, he was promoted to corporal. He continued in the service through the war years and, after the war ended, re-enlisted in March 1919. He served in Headquarters Co., 25th Infantry, one of the all-black units of the United States Army known as the Buffalo Soldiers.”

RF-Clarence Smith, Detroit Stars, Age Unknown

1922

381 AB, .344, 5 HR, 82 RBI, .344/.373/.501, 133 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR Position Players-2.6 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.6 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

At Bats-381

Singles-91

2nd Time All-Star-When Smith last made this list, he was a leftfielder for the Stars in 1922. He then moved to rightfield in 1923 and now he’s back on the All-Star team this season. He’s the first rightfielder to make this list for the Stars in their short history. This was his best season ever. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1926. In 1927, he played for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Eastern Colored League. He again didn’t play in the Majors in 1928 before coming back to the Negro National League and playing two seasons with the Birmingham Black Barons. In 1931, Smith played for the Cleveland Cubs and Chicago Columbia Giants. He wasn’t in the Majors in 1932 and then finished his career with the Indianapolis ABCs/Detroit Stars of the Negro National League II in 1933.

                Wikipedia says, “The 1925 Detroit Stars baseball team competed in the Negro National League during the 1925 baseball season. The team compiled a 56–44 record (.560) in games against National League opponents. The Stars played their home games at Mack Park located on the east side of Detroit, about four miles from downtown, at the southeast corner of Fairview Ave. and Mack Ave. The team was owned by John A. Roesink and managed on the field by catcher-manager Bruce Petway.

“Other key position players for the 1919 Stars included:

“Right fielder Clarence Smith – Smith compiled a .344 batting average and .501 slugging percentage with 10 triples, 84 runs scored, 82 RBIs in 92 games.”

The trouble with players like Smith is they were overshadowed by the power-hitting duo of Turkey Stearnes and Edgar Wesley, not to mention the speed of Cool Papa Bell.

RF-Esteban Montalvo, Cuban Stars West, 29 Years Old

166 AB, .319, 11 HR, 60 RBI, .319/.402/.620, 171 OPS+

59 IP, 3-3, 5.34 ERA, 23 K, 99 ERA+, 1.322 WHIP

WAR-2.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 81 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

20-30, 5th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-87, 4th in league

ERA+-83, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Esteban Montalvo, 2.2

1st Time All-Star-Esteban Montalvo was born in 1896 in Matanzas, Cuba. The six-foot, 190 pound lefty hitting, righty tossing rightfielder, pitcher, and first baseman started with Cuban Stars West in 1923 and would play for them through this season. He wouldn’t play in the Majors in 1926 and then in 1927, he’d move to the Eastern Colored League and play for the New York Lincoln Giants. In 1928, his last year in the Majors, he’d be back in the Negro National League and be back with Cuba.

                Montalvo is the first Cuban Stars West player to be an All-Star at rightfield.

                Here’s everything Wikipedia has to say about Montalvo, “Esteban Montalvo (1896 – 1930), nicknamed ‘Mayarí’, was a Cuban outfielder in the Negro leagues and Cuban League in the 1920s.

                “A native of Matanzas, Cuba, Montalvo made his Negro leagues debut in 1923 with the Cuban Stars (West). He played four seasons with the club, and also played for the Lincoln Giants in 1927. Montalvo also played for AlmendaresHabana, and the Leopardos de Santa Clara of the Cuban League. He died in 1930 at age 33 or 34.”

                Nowadays, you could find more information on a minor league benchwarmer than all the info you could dig up on some of these Negro League players. I’m sure Baseball Reference will find more stats and continue to add to its miraculous site, but some of this data are lost forever or was never even recorded. Hopefully, some of what I’m writing will help in the research or, at the very least, point you to those places that have compiled a good portion of it.

1924 Eastern Colored League All-Star Team

P-Nip Winters, HIL, 2nd MVP

P-Dave Brown, NLG

P-Red Ryan, HIL

P-Rats Henderson, AC

P-Willis Flournoy, BRG

P-Bob McClure, BBS

P-Oscar Levis, CSE

P-Charlie Henry, HBG

P-Darltie Cooper, HBG

P-Phil Cockrell, HIL

C-Louis Santop, HIL

C-Mack Eggleston, WP

1B-Jud Wilson, BBS

1B-Ben Taylor, WP

2B-John Henry Lloyd, AC

2B-George Scales, NLG

3B-Judy Johnson, HIL

SS-Dick Lundy, AC

SS-Martin Dihigo, CSE

SS-Biz Mackey, HIL

SS-John Beckwith, BBS

SS-Gerald Williams, NLG

LF-Clint Thomas, HIL

CF-Oscar Charleston, HBG

RF-Charlie Mason, AC/BBS

P-Nip Winters, Hilldale Club, 25 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1923

208 IP, 20-5, 2.77 ERA, 114 K, 152 ERA+, 1.077 WHIP

87 AB, .287, 4 HR, 12 RBI, .287/.303/.494, 123 OPS+

WAR-7.5

Wins Above Replacement-7.5 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-6.6 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Hilldale Club

47-26, 1st in ECL, Lost WS to Kansas City Monarchs, 4-5-1

Manager Frank Warfield

OPS+-114, 1st in league

ERA+-122, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Nip Winters, 7.5

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-7.5 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-6.6 (2nd Time)

Wins-20 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-7.313 (2nd Time)

Games Pitched-29

Saves-2 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-208

Strikeouts-114

Games Started-24

Complete Games-20

Shutouts-2

Bases On Balls-55

Def. Games as P-30

2nd Time All-Star-For the second consecutive season, Winters was the dominant player in the Eastern Colored League and led Hilldale Club to its second straight title. It was Winters’ best season ever, but my guess is he’s not done winning Most Valuable Players from me. In the World Series that Hilldale Club lost to the Kansas City Monarchs, 4-5-1, Winters was the team’s best weapon, going 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA in 38 2/3 innings. That’s right, Winters started four of the 10 games and won three of Hilldale’s victories. Incredible!

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper entitled Forgotten Heroes: Jesse “Nip” Winters, saying, “Jesse “Nip” Winters was once again the ace of the pitching staff and in 1924 he had the best season of his career. Winters went 23-7 (.767) against Eastern Colored League opponents and top level teams during the 1924 season. He led the Eastern Colored League in games pitched (35), complete games (24), innings pitched (260), wins (23) and strikeouts (147). In 30 starts he pitched 24 complete games and had three shutouts. Negro League researcher John Holway credits Jesse Winters with a won-loss record of 27-4 (.871) for the 1924 season.

                “Nip started the season strong with a one hitter against the Washington Potomacs on May 10th. The highlight of the 1924 season for Winters was a no-hitter he threw against Oscar Charleston’s Harrisburg Giants on September 3rd. He struck out seven and walked four in the game. The final 9 score of the game was 2-0 in Hilldale’s favor. This was the first no-hitter in Eastern Colored League history.”

P-Dave Brown, New York Lincoln Giants, 27 Years Old

1920 1921 1922 1923

179 2/3 IP, 13-8, 2.00 ERA, 107 K, 210 ERA+, 1.041 WHIP

71 AB, .296, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .296/.342/.296, 82 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.9 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Lincoln Giants

35-28-1, 3rd in ECL

Manager Judy Gans

OPS+-104, 2nd in league

ERA+-107, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 6.4

Led in:

1924 ECL Pitching Title (2nd Time)

Earned Run Average-2.00 (2nd Time)

Walks & Hits per IP-1.041 (3rd Time)

Adjusted ERA+-210 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-39 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.8 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-Brown is one of four players who have made my All-Star list in the five seasons I’ve written about, joining Dobie Moore, Hurley McNair, and Oscar Charleston. That’s not bad company. This was his best season ever and the best pitching season in the short history of the Lincoln Giants. These are certainly five impressive seasons, but it’s going to be the last time he’ll be on this list as 1925 is going to be his last season.

                On NLBE Museum, James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, wrote, ” He began his career in the black major leagues in 1918, after a brush with the law, and ended it abruptly, in like manner, when he again ran afoul of the law in 1925. After killing a man in a barroom fight that year, apparently in an argument involving cocaine, he dropped out of sight to avoid arrest on a murder charge. Oliver Marcelle and Frank Wickware were with him when the fight started. The next day at the ballfield they were picked up, but Brown was not there. While the FBI was searching for him, it is reported that he traveled throughout the Midwest, playing for semi-pro teams under the alias ‘Lefty Wilson.’

                “Sometimes he toured with Gilkerson’s Union Giants, as he did in 1926, and in 1927 he was with a white team in Bertha, Minnesota. He was also reported to have pitched with teams in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1929 and Little Falls, Minnesota, in 1930. Unverified reports also persist that he died in Denver, Colorado, under mysterious circumstances.”

P-Red Ryan, Hilldale Club, 26 Years Old

1923

190 IP, 13-7, 3.22 ERA, 83 K, 131 ERA+, 1.168 WHIP

71 AB, .155, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .155/.178/.169, -1 OPS+

WAR-4.8

Wins Above Replacement-4.8 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.2 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Shutouts-2

Hits Allowed-194

2nd Time All-Star-For the second consecutive year, Ryan paired with Nip Winters to give Hilldale Club two great pitchers to rely on every few days. The difference between the two is that Winters had a great World Series against the Monarchs, while Ryan struggled. Red started two games and allowed seven runs, all earned, in six-and-a-third innings pitched. Spoiler alert, he’ll do a little better next season when Hilldale will take the crown. This year, it lost to Kansas City of the Negro National League, 5-4-1.

                On NLBE Museum, James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, wrote, “A veteran pitcher for Hilldale‘s Eastern Colored League pennant winners of 1923-1925, Ryan maintained his composure on the mound and did not get rattled when an error was made behind him. Consequently, fielders played their best for him. The little right-hander was a speedball artist who threw hard for his size, but utilized a knuckleball and a forkball to earn a regular-season record of 20-11 in 1923. In postseason play he started 2 games in the 1924 World Series and relieved in a game the following year as Hilldale defeated the Kansas City Monarchs for the championship of black baseball.

                “Ryan, who earned the nickname “Red” because of his light complexion and dark red hair, began his baseball career in 1915 with the Pittsburgh Stars of Buffalo and played with the Lincoln Stars, Bacharach Giants and Harrisburg before joining Hilldale in 1922.”

                He has the same nickname as Morgan Freeman’s character in The Shawshank Redemption. In Stephen King’s original story, the character Red was Irish not black.

P-Rats Henderson, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 27 Years Old

1923

69 2/3 IP, 5-2, 2.58 ERA, 50 K, 163 ERA+, 1.206 WHIP

31 AB, .258, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .258/.281/.258, 53 OPS+

WAR-2.8

Wins Above Replacement-2.8 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-It’s quite a feat to finish fourth in WAR for Pitchers while pitching only 10 games all season, but that’s what Henderson did. His season wasn’t as good as Hubert Lockhart’s season of 1923 for Atlantic City, but it wasn’t bad at all. Who knows what Rats could have done if he had put a full season together. He’s got some better seasons ahead, though he’s not going to pitch long enough to make either of my Hall of Fames or Cooperstown.

                The Center for Negro League Baseball Research’s Dr. Layton Revel writes in Forgotten Heroes: Arthur “Rats” Henderson, “Tragedy struck Rats Henderson when he hurt his pitching arm on May 24, 1924. This severely limited his effectiveness and the number of games in which he could pitch during the 1924 season. Arm problems would haunt him his entire career. After taking time off to rest his arm, Rats was ready to return to play baseball. Almost immediately after returning to the Bacharach Giants, Rats for some unknown reason jumped the team and signed with Chappie Johnson’s Stars. Chappie Johnson’s team was a lower level squad that played independent ball. Henderson playing for the Chappie Johnson All Stars raises the question as to why would Arthur Henderson leave a well-established team like Atlantic City to play for a rag tag group lower level team like Chappie Johnson’s Stars. It is definitely a mystery. One possible reason was that he may have had a salary dispute with Bacharach Giants management.”

P-Willis Flournoy, Brooklyn Royal Giants, 28 Years Old

1923

80 1/3 IP, 3-5, 2.69 ERA, 41 K, 157 ERA+, 1.108 WHIP

30 AB, .267, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .267/.313/.333, 83 OPS+

WAR-2.6

Wins Above Replacement-2.6 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.5 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Brooklyn Royal Giants

15-25-1, 6th in ECL

Manager Eddie Douglass

OPS+-90, 6th in league

ERA+-100, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Willis Flournoy, 2.6

2nd Time All-Star-It’s become obvious in our modern era that a pitcher’s win-loss record is a unreliable way to rate a hurler. Take Willis Flournoy. Even though he pitched only 80 1/3 innings and even though his record was 3-5, it was a very good season, his best ever, and the best pitching season for the Royal Giants in their short two-year history. Flournoy has more of these lists to make, but he’ll never be better than 1924.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes, “Maybe the most important find related to the Negro Leagues among the U.S. passport applications concerns ‘Pud’ Flournoy, a southpaw who pitched for Hilldale, the Brooklyn Royal Giants, and other teams in the 1920s, and was supposed to have struck out Babe Ruth three consecutive times.  We have, for the first time I think, learned that his full name was Willis Jefferson Flournoy; he was born on August 9, 1894 (WWI draft card) or 1895 (passport application) in Monticello, Georgia.  He served as a corporal in the Army in World War I.  If the passport application is correct, he was six foot five (his draft card says ‘tall’).  He died November 22, 1964, and is buried in Beverly National Cemetery, New Jersey.  He currently appears in Riley and other sources as ‘Jesse Willis Flournoy;’ ‘Jesse’ could be derived from his middle name.  (His name appears in several databases as ‘Willie’ instead of ‘Willis.’)”

                There are a lot of legends floating around the Negro Leagues, so I wonder if he really struck out the Bambino three straight times.

P-Bob McClure, Baltimore Black Sox, 33 Years Old

114 2/3 IP, 9-2, 2.59 ERA, 57 K, 163 ERA+, 1.195 WHIP

47 AB, .170, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .170/.188/.170, 2 OPS+

WAR-2.5

Wins Above Replacement-2.5 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Baltimore Black Sox

38-23, 2nd in ECL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-103, 3rd in league

ERA+-110, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bob McClure, 2.5

1st Time All-Star-Robert “Bob” McClure was born on March 24, 1891 in Egypt, Texas. The six-foot-one, 185 pound righty pitcher started his Major League career with the Indianapolis ABCs from 1920-22. During the ’22 season, he was picked up by the Cleveland Tate Stars. He was already 31 at this point and his 5.84 ERA in 1922 didn’t bode well for his future. McClure didn’t play in the Majors in 1923 and then got another chance with Baltimore where he proved he wasn’t done yet. This was the best pitching season for Baltimore yet.

                Baseball Reference says, “McClure played for a team from Beaumont, TX from 1917-1919. In 1920, he joined the Indianapolis ABCs and was 7-7 with a 3.27 RA, third-best in the Negro National League. Bob went 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA in 1921. In 1922, ‘Big Boy’ was 0-1 with a 8.56 ERA for the ABCs.

                “In 1923, McClure pitched for the Cleveland Tate Stars and went 1-5 but with a 2.64 ERA; he was hindered by poor offensive support. Among qualifiers, only Huck Rile had a lower ERA that season. McClure was 2-1 with a save in the 1923-1924 California Winter League.

                “Bob had a huge year for the 1924 Baltimore Black Sox, going 15-4 and tying for third in the Eastern Colored League in wins. He faced the Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game on October 15 and got a no-decision in a 8-7 win by Baltimore.

                “Pitching for Royal Poincina in the Florida Hotel League in 1924-1925, he came one out away from throwing a no-hitter.”

P-Oscar Levis, Cuban Stars East, 25 Years Old

1923

94 2/3 IP, 6-8, 3.33 ERA, 83 K, 127 ERA+, 1.299 WHIP

57 AB, .281, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .281/.328/.368, 97 OPS+

WAR-2.4

Wins Above Replacement-2.4 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.0 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars East

15-33-1, 8th in ECL

Manager Pelayo Chacon

OPS+-72, 8th in league

ERA+-92, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Levis, 2.4

Led in:

Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.891

Wild Pitches-6

2nd Time All-Star-It wasn’t a great year for Cuban Stars East, but for the second consecutive year, Levis shined. He was a fastball pitcher and wild, but also the best player on CSE. Having a 6-8 record isn’t bad for pitching on a team that lost over twice as many games as it won. Levis isn’t done making these lists, though he doesn’t have much of a Major League career left. Cuban Stars East is the only team for which he’d play.

                Baseball Reference says, “He fell to 4-4 with two saves and a 4.14 ERA (91 ERA+) for Habana in 1923-1924. He tied for first in the CWL in saves. In the Gran Premio season that followed, he was 1-3 but with a 2.03 ERA (150 ERA+) and a league-best 3.33 K:BB (.15 ahead of Jesse Petty). He led with 40 strikeouts (5 ahead of Petty), was second to [Dolf] Luque in ERA and tied Luque for third in WAR, behind Oscar Charleston and Esteban Montalvo. He took part in one of the most famous pitching duels in Cuban annals, working 12 2/3 IP in a 18-inning, 4-4 tie with Fabré. He allowed five hits and no runs.

“Oscar was 6-8 with a 3.33 ERA (161 ERA+) for the Cuban Stars during 1924 and also batted .281/.328/.368 (118 OPS+). He was 7th in the ECL in ERA+ (between Winters and Doc Sykes), tied for second in losses (one behind Darltie Cooper), tied Ryan for third with 83 strikeouts, was 9th in ERA (between Sykes and Lockhart) and 6th in Wins Above Replacement (4.5, between Flournoy and Martin Dihigo). Back in Cuba on October 11, he threw a no-hitter against his old Almendares team before the season began. When the regular season got underway, he went 9-7 for Habana, leading the league with 12 complete games and tying Bullet Rogan for the most wins.”

P-Charlie Henry, Harrisburg Giants, 24 Years Old

83 1/3 IP, 2-6, 3.78 ERA, 33 K, 112 ERA+, 1.248 WHIP

34 AB, .118, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .118/.118/.118, -33 OPS+

WAR-1.7

WAR for Pitchers-2.0 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 2,999 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Charles Samuel “Charlie” Henry was born on March 24, 1900 in Knoxville, Tennessee. The pitcher started his career this year and it was his best year ever. After this season, he’d play for Harrisburg one more year and then play for Hilldale Club for a year. He then didn’t play in 1927 and ’28 and then finished his career in the Negro National League with the Detroit Stars. Because Oscar Charleston was on this team, he wasn’t Harrisburg’s best player, but he was the Giants’ best pitcher in their first year of existence.

                The Harrisburg Giants were an independent team in 1922 and ’23. Then, according to Wikipedia, “The Harrisburg Giants were a U.S. professional Negro league baseball team based in HarrisburgPennsylvania. They joined the Eastern Colored League (ECL) for the 1924 season with Hall of Fame center fielder Oscar Charleston as playing manager. The Giants became known primarily for their hitting; along with Charleston, outfielder/first baseman Heavy Johnson, winner of the batting triple crown for the 1923 Kansas City Monarchs, was signed away from the rival Negro National League. Speedy outfielder Fats Jenkins, a well-known professional basketball player and member of the New York Rens, also played for Harrisburg throughout its tenure in the ECL.”

                There isn’t a lot of information on Henry or even Harrisburg. That’s not just a Negro League occurrence. There are plenty of players in the National and American Leagues who had one significant season in their careers. Henry died at the age of 72 on May 25, 1972 in Louisville, Tennessee.

P-Darltie Cooper, Harrisburg Giants, 21 Years Old

122 IP, 9-9, 3.91 ERA, 44 K, 108 ERA+, 1.230 WHIP

61 AB, .230, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .230/.230/.361, 65 OPS+

WAR-1.7

WAR for Pitchers-1.6 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Losses-9

1st Time All-Star-Darlton D. “Darltie” Cooper was born on August 2, 1902 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The five-foot-10, 185 pound righty pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman started with the Indianapolis ABCs of the Negro National League in 1923 and had a great rookie season, going 14-4. He came to the Eastern Colored League this season and had another good year, pairing up with Charlie Henry to give Harrisburg a good one-two punch in its first year.

                The Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia says, “Darltie Cooper, born August 2nd, 1902 in Arkansas was a Negro league baseball player from about 1921-1943. He was the brother of Negro leaguer Anthony Cooper and the nephew of Rufus Battle.

                “Cooper was the son of Tony Cooper and Louisa (nee Battle) Cooper and grew up in Arkadelphia, AR.  His first known engagement in professional baseball came in 1921 and 1922 with the Nashville Elite Giants in the Negro Southern League.  A right-handed pitcher, he threw two no-hitters for Nashville in 1921. In 1923, he joined the Indianapolis A.B.C.’s, beginning a long tenure of playing underneath the management of Oscar Charleston. The following year, Cooper wrote to Charleston in effort to secure a position on his new team, the Harrisburg Giants. Cooper was signed, and played the 1924-1925 seasons with Harrisburg. He also followed Charleston to the Almendares club in the 1924-1925 Cuban Winter League, going 3-2.”

                I had never heard of Arkadelphia before doing this write-up. Wikipedia says of it, “The site was settled in about 1809 by John Hemphill, operator of a nearby salt works, Arkansas’s first industry. It was known as Blakelytown until 1839, when the settlement adopted the name Arkadelphia. The town was named ‘Arkadelphia,’ a combination of Ark- from the state’s name Arkansas and adelphia from the Greek meaning ‘brother/place’.”

P-Phil Cockrell, Hilldale Club, 29 Years Old

110 IP, 10-1, 4.17 ERA, 47 K, 101 ERA+, 1.173 WHIP

47 AB, .234, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .234/.265/.277, 53 OPS+

WAR-1.7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.909

1st Time All-Star-Philip “Phil” Cockrell was born on June 29, 1895 in Augusta, Georgia. The five-foot-nine, 157 pound righty pitcher and outfielder started with Hilldale in 1923 and then had a good year this year to make my list. He made the list on a fluke because I put Martin Dihigo as a shortstop instead of a pitcher so Cockrell slipped in as the tenth hurler. Whatever, he made my All-Star team and also pitched in the first Negro World Series, going 0-1 against the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League with a 2.79 ERA. According to Wikipedia, “Cockrell was the first pitcher to pitch in the first Colored World Series. Game One of the Colored World Series occurred on October 3, 1924 at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” Kansas City beat Hilldale, 5-4-1, to take the Negro Championship.             

                On NLBE Museum, James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, wrote, “A star spitballer for the Hilldale club during their pennant-winning years of 1923-1925, the right-hander had an excellent fastball and good control to complement his spitter. He registered a 24-8 record in 1923 against all competition and posted league ledgers of 10-1 and 14-2 the latter two years. In each of these seasons Hilldale played the Kansas City Monarchs in a World Series played between the Eastern Colored League and the Negro National League, and Cockrell started two games in each Series. In the 1924 Series he started the opening game but lost to Bullet Rogan for his only Series decision that year.”

C-Louis Santop, Hilldale Club, 35 Years Old

178 AB, .354, 5 HR, 29 RBI, .354/.385/.517, 153 OPS+

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 119 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as C-45

1st Time All-Star-Louis “Top” Santop was born on January 17, 1889 in Fort Worth, Texas. The six-foot-two, 200 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher obviously had an outstanding career even before joining the Eastern Colored League as a backstop for Hilldale in 1923. It was because of those previous years he was inducted into Cooperstown in 2006. In the World Series for Hilldale this year, Top went eight-for-24 (.333), driving in two runs. The Negro National League Monarchs beat the ECL Hilldale Club, 5-4-1.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “If there is one player who stands out from the early days of the Negro League era—1900 to 1925—it is Louis Santop. He was talented, with the then-rare ability to hit the long ball in what was known as the dead-ball era. He was personable and fun to be with despite his stern demeanor. And he was accomplished, anchoring many a team lineup and playing in some of the most memorable early Negro League games.

                “Louis Santop also found time to create a home and, at the age of 38 in 1927 he married Minnie B. Robinson. They would have no children. Monte Irvin later reflected, ‘After he retired as a player, Santop went into broadcasting and ended his days tending bar in Philadelphia.  Santop’s radio sojourn was on WELK, a local station that carried African-American programming. He was also a Mason, Republican Committeeman, and a clerk in the recorder of deeds office at Philadelphia City Hall.

                “Confined since November 7th, in the Navy hospital in Philadelphia, Louis Santop Loftin better known [simply as] Santop, catcher for the Lincoln Giants…Philadelphia Giants [and Hilldale], died in an oxygen tent from an ailment similar to that which was fatal to Lou Gehrig.”

C-Mack Eggleston, Washington Potomacs, 27 Years Old

182 AB, .297, 0 HR, 28 RBI, .297/.363/.363, 106 OPS+

WAR-0.9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 47 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Macajah Marchand “Mack” Eggleston was born on September 16, 1896 in Roanoke, Virginia. The six-foot, 175 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing catcher, outfielder, and third baseman probably played on more Negro Major League teams than just about anyone. He started with the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League in 1920, then moved to the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921 and then played for the Indianapolis ABCS in 1922. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1923 and then joined the Potomacs this season. He’ll be back on this list.

                According to Wikipedia, the Potomacs didn’t last long. It says, “The Washington Potomacs were a Negro league baseball team in the Eastern Colored League, based in Washington, D.C., in 1924. They also operated as an independent team in 1923. In 1925 the Potomacs moved to Wilmington, Delaware where they played as the Wilmington Potomacs for the 1925 season. In mid-July, George Robinson, owner of the Potomacs, announced that his team was folding and was unable to complete the season. The league contracted to seven teams and the Potomacs players were dispersed to other teams.”

                That was typical in the Negro Leagues. The players were exciting and just as talented as their National and American League counterparts but many of these teams didn’t make a lot of money at the gate, so teams came and went in this cornucopia of leagues. It’s why people like Eggleston bounced around from league-to-league and team-to-team. That and it’s always hard to find a good catcher.

1B-Jud Wilson, Baltimore Black Sox, 28 Years Old

1923

195 AB, .385, 4 HR, 53 RBI, .385/.431/.503, 163 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.0 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require seven more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After an incredible rookie year in 1923, Wilson came back this year and continued to be the Eastern Colored League’s best first baseman. Without park ratings, it’s hard to know whether or not Baltimore’s home park was a hitter’s or pitcher’s park and how much it helped him or hindered him. Still, when you look at his stats, you’re blown away, and he hasn’t even had his best season yet. There’s a good chance Wilson is going to make not only my Hall of Fame, but also my One-A-Year Hall of Fame (ONEHOF), for the best of the best.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has an article from James A. Riley, who wrote The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, who says of Wilson: “Wilson hated the bench almost as much as he hated umpires, and often refused to leave the lineup, even continuing to play with injur­ies that should have kept him out of action. In June 1924 he was playing first base for the Baltimore Black Sox and was hobbled by a bad ankle, but he insisted on playing. He crowded the plate when batting and was frequently hit by pitches.”

                John B. Holway of BaseballGuru.com writes, “At long last, Jud Wilson, the black Ty Cobb, will get the plaque he has deserved for so long. He batted over .400 four tickets, and his lifetime .370 leads his nearest competitors, Josh Gibson and John Beckwith, by 20 points. His nickname, Boojum, comes from they sound of his line drives banging against the fences. Jud should have been elected among the first four or five men 30 years ago.”

1B-Ben Taylor, Washington Potomacs, 35 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

201 AB, .308, 3 HR, 39 RBI, .308/.374/.403, 120 OPS+

WAR-1.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Washington Potomacs

21-38, 7th in ECL

Manager Ben Taylor

OPS+-80, 7th in league

ERA+-78, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Ben Taylor, 1.1

4th Time All-Star-I’m surprised Taylor is back on my list because I thought he was done, but he made it as the Potomacs best player. After making my list three straight years from 1920-22, he played just two games for Baltimore in the Eastern Colored League in 1923, before moving 38 miles to Washington DC and taking over as manager for the newly form Potomacs. They didn’t have a good year, but Taylor proved his 35-year-old body could still play ball.

                Taylor’s Baseball Hall of Fame page says, “According to the Chicago Defender in 1935, Taylor was described as ‘a man who has inspired, trained and led baseball teams for many years,’ and as having ‘one of the keenest minds in all of baseball and knows the game from all angles.’

                “Upon his passing on Jan. 24, 1953, the Defender said simply: ‘Ben was recognized as one of the great first baseman in Negro baseball. His name is bracketed with that of other top first sackers of that period. He was an excellent fielder and a cracking good hitter from the left side.’

                “As biographer Todd Bolton has noted, Ben Taylor’s life can be summed up from 10 words on his gravestone: ‘A Graceful Player, A Superb Teacher, and A True Gentleman.’

                “Taylor was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.”

                Tim Hagerty of SABR writes, “In 1923, Taylor founded the Washington Potomacs, an independent club that played at American League Park, the home ballpark of the American League’s Washington Senators. With the Potomacs scheduled to play against the Richmond Giants that season, Richmond’s Times Dispatch familiarized its readers with Taylor and his club by saying, ‘In Ben Taylor’s Washington Potomacs the fans will see a baseball club of big league ability,’ and ‘In Ben Taylor the fans will see the race’s premier first baseman. He is said to be the equal of George Sisler of big-league fame.’”

2B-John Henry Lloyd, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 40 Years Old

1921 1923

216 AB, .366, 1 HR, 47 RBI, .366/.415/.463, 148 OPS+

WAR-2.3

WAR Position Players-2.3 (4th)

Offensive WAR-2.2 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.2 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

35-32-1, 4th in ECL

Manager John Henry Lloyd

OPS+-90, 5th in league

ERA+-102, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Rats Henderson, 2.8

3rd Time All-Star-At this point in his career, Lloyd has played three Major League seasons for three different Major League teams in two different leagues. This year, he moved from shortstop to second base and would be there most of the rest of his playing days. In moving from Hilldale Club to Atlantic City, he lost his chance at  playing in the Negro Leagues’ first World Series, but did have his best Major League season ever. Not bad for a 40-year-old.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “Lloyd moved on to play winter ball in Cuba and then came back the next season (1924) in Atlantic City for Bacharach. Once again he was manager, but with Dick Lundy a fixture at shortstop, Lloyd moved to second base. Along with Chance Cummings at first and Ambrose Reid at third, the Bacharach Giants had a stellar infield, but a mediocre year, finishing in fifth place in the league. Lloyd’s hitting was still sharp and records indicate he batted .357. Most impressive was his 11 straight hits accomplished from June 29th to July 4th.”

                Lloyd’s move to second after 20 years of playing shortstop is incredible for many reasons. One, he made the move himself because he recognized the talent of another player. Two, he didn’t miss a beat despite being four decades old and learning a new position. Three, he had his best Major League season ever at second base. He’s not done yet, either, as he’s still going to make a few more of my All-Star lists.

2B-George Scales, New York Lincoln Giants, 23 Years Old

1923

185 AB, .341, 4 HR, 32 RBI, .341/.422/.476, 153 OPS+

WAR-2.2

WAR Position Players-2.2 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. 29 percent chance)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After making the Negro National League All-Star list last season for the St. Louis Stars, Scales moved back to the Eastern Colored League, which is where he’ll be for a little while. He didn’t have the same great power-laden season he did for the Stars, but 1924 was still quite a season, especially considering he moved from third base to second base. He’d spend his whole 20-year career bouncing around the infield positions.

                Stephen V. Rice of SABR writes, “A right-handed slugger and sure-handed infielder, George Scales starred in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s and 1930s. He achieved a .323 career batting average, according to Seamheads.com, and he ranks ninth in career slugging percentage among Negro Leaguers with at least 3,000 plate appearances. The eight players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame: Josh GibsonTurkey StearnesMule SuttlesOscar CharlestonJud WilsonWillie WellsMartín Dihigo, and Cristóbal Torriente. Scales also distinguished himself as a manager and coach during his 40 years in professional baseball.

“On June 1, 1924, the Lincoln Giants swept a doubleheader from the Cuban Stars; playing both games at second base, Scales handled 18 chances without error, and he went 6-for-9 at the plate. In a doubleheader against the Jamaica (New York) Cardinals on May 30, 1925, he clouted four home runs — two in each game — yet the Lincoln Giants lost both contests.”

                Those eight players listed above are pretty good. Scales falls just out of Hall of Fame consideration, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t great.

3B-Judy Johnson, Hilldale Club, 23 Years Old

256 AB, .336, 4 HR, 47 RBI, .336/.384/.504, 150 OPS+

WAR-2.7

Wins Above Replacement-2.7 (7th)

WAR Position Players-2.7 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-2.7 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-0.2 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1975)

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-68 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 3B-60 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-William Julius “Judy” Johnson was born on December 26, 1899 in Snow Hill, Maryland. The five-foot-11, 150 pound righty third baseman and shortstop started his Major League career with Hilldale in 1923, leading the Eastern Colored League in games played, but not necessarily hitting that well. That would change this year as he was on his way to Cooperstown. If I’m judging just by his Major League stats, he looks a tad overrated.

                In the World Series versus the Kansas City Monarchs, Johnson hit .341 (15-for-44) with five doubles, a triple, and a dinger. Despite his heroics, Hilldale lost to KC, 5-4-1.

                Wikipedia says, “[H]e began playing sandlot ball and joined his father’s local amateur team the Rosedale Blues which competed against black and white teams. In 1917, he stopped attending Howard High School to work on shipyards in New Jersey and play weekend games on baseball teams that were drawn from the community, including the Rosalies and the Chester Stars. The following year he joined the semi-professional ball club the Bacharach Giants for a $5 wage per game.

                “The Hilldale club had another successful season in 1924, clinching their second pennant. The Daisies had high expectations when they met the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro National League (NNL) in the 1924 Colored World Series, the first official World Series between the respective champions of the NNL and ECL. Johnson led both teams with a .364 BA and hit a clutch Inside-the-park home run in Game Five of the best-of-nine series, but the Daisies lost, five games to four (with one tied game).”

SS-Dick Lundy, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 25 Years Old

1923

242 AB, .326, 8 HR, 52 RBI, .326/.385/.492, 147 OPS+

WAR-2.7

Wins Above Replacement-2.7 (6th)

WAR Position Players-2.7 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-2.7 (2nd)

Defensive WAR-0.4 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-0.4

Def. Games as SS-63 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-As manager of the Bacharach Giants in 1923, Lundy guided the team to a fourth place finish. This year, he gave up the managerial duties to John Henry Lloyd, but stayed on Atlantic City as its shortstop. His hitting improved from 1923 and his fielding was the best in the league as Lundy sparkled as the Eastern Colored League’s answer to the great Dobie Moore. He’s got a few more great years left, though his career is just a tad short for him to make the Hall of Fame.

                The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum quotes James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, who writes, “The best shortstop during the 1920s, Lundy bridged the time gap between John Henry Lloyd and Willie Wells. Lundy is generally categorized with them as the three greatest shortstops in black baseball history. A superb fielder with a wide range and an exceptionally strong arm that allowed him to play a deep shortstop, the graceful Lundy polished his skills with quiet professionalism. A great showman who thrived on pressure and performed his most amazing feats with ease in front of large crowds, the big, husky shortstop’s sterling play made him one of the greatest gate attractions of his day. A switch-hitter who hit for average and with power, he was a smart base runner who posed a threat on the bases and led the Cuban winter league stolen bases in 1924.”

                Riley doesn’t mention Moore as one of the best shortstops of the Twenties, most likely because of his short career.

SS-Martin Dihigo, Cuban Stars East, 19 Years Old

180 AB, .261, 2 HR, 27 RBI, .261/.304/.378, 92 OPS+

49 IP, 3-3, 2.39 ERA, 24 K, 177 ERA+, 1.102 WHIP

WAR-2.1

WAR for Pitchers-1.7 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Youngest Player-19 Years Old

1st Time All-Star-Martin Magdaleno Dihigo (pronounced mar-TEEN duh-HEE-go) was born on May 25, 1905 in Cidra, Cuba. The six-foot-two, 195 pound righty shortstop, outfielder, and first baseman started his career as an 18-year-old for the Cuban Stars East in 1923, playing mainly first base and also occasionally taking the mound. This year, Dihigo made this list due to his pitching, but I put him as shortstop because he played more games there than any other position. Throughout his career, Dihigo would play at every position including one game as a catcher.

                The Hall of Miller and Eric says, “There are, however, three players whose careers typify the ability of a Negro Leagues player to make his mark all over the diamond. One is Lazaro Salazar, the centerfielder-pitcher-manager triple threat. Another is Hall of Fame Bullet Rogan, a devastating pitcher and All-Star-level outfielder. But no player in baseball history can claim the diversity of abilities of our fourth honoree, Martín Dihigo.

                “It’s no wonder he picked up the nickname ‘el Maestro.’ He could lead a team at any position. Well, except catcher. He didn’t really do much there. But he began as a shortstop, played every infield and outfield position well, hit like an All-Star, could run, and pitched like an All-Star.

                “Combine equal parts:

  • Tony Phillips’ versatility and defensive abilities
  • Jesse Barfield’s arm
  • Eddie Murray’s production
  • Ted Lyons’ pitching.

“That’s the amazing picture we can paint for you. If you’re incredulous, well, I don’t blame you. But keep in mind that we have no frame of reference.”

SS-Biz Mackey, Hilldale Club, 26 Years Old

1921 1922 1923

273 AB, .330, 4 HR, 42 RBI, .330/.362/.465, 133 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (6th)

Offensive WAR-2.1 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. 38 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-68

At Bats-273

Hits-90 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Remember that time that one catcher was moved from backstop to shortstop? Oh, when did that happen…oh, right, never! Nowadays, there are some big shortstops, people like Cal Ripken. In Mackey’s day, however, shortstops were small men for the most part, not refurbished catchers who stood at six-foot-one, 235 pounds. The catcher who took Mackey’s place was Louis Santop, who also made this list.

                In the World Series against the Monarchs, Mackey hit .244 (10-for-41) with a triple. Hilldale ended up losing to Kansas City, 5-4-1. In some of my research, it said Mackey played third base during the series, but I can’t find that information on Baseball Reference. Mackey will do better in 1925.

                Chris Rainey of SABR writes, “Because the regular season closed early, a postseason series was staged between an all-Cuban team and the ‘All Yankees’ team made up of Negro League players. The All Yankees posted a 5-2-1 record. Mackey faced Cuban pitchers Jose Mendez and Martin Dihigo in the series and reportedly batted .333. Interestingly, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Landis attended one of the games.

                “Unlike many of his contemporaries who played winter ball in the Caribbean and Mexico, this was Mackey’s sole trip to the islands. He chose to spend his winters playing in the California Winter League, which featured a mix of black and white teams. Mackey played 18 seasons on the West Coast and eventually made his permanent home in California. He is credited with a .366 batting average and 28 home runs in those seasons.”

SS-John Beckwith, Baltimore Black Sox, 24 Years Old

1920 1922

124 AB, .371, 7 HR, 31 RBI, .371/.431/.605, 190 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.1 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.2 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-After making my All-Star list in 1922 as a third baseman, Beckwith moved to first base in 1923, but wasn’t quite good enough to be picked by me. This year, he left the Negro National League and came to Charm City of the Eastern Colored League and played for the Black Sox. Beckwith only played 33 games, but did so well in them that he’s back on my list again. He’s not done receiving these honors, but it won’t do it enough times to make any Hall of Fames.

                John Holway of SABR writes, “In 1924 Beckwith listened to the call of the new Eastern league and jumped to the Baltimore Black Sox, where he teamed with Jud Wilson to form a frightening murders’ row. Wilson hit .402; Beck topped him with .452, though he played only 24 league games, about one half a full schedule. Beck’s 40 homers (league and non-league) tied him with Charleston for best in the East. That fall Beckwith and Wilson joined forces again to play the Philadelphia A’s. Beck slammed a homer and single in the opener against Eddie Rommel, though the A’s won 4-2. In the nightcap he slugged a homer, double and single against Bob Hasty to give the Black Sox the victory 8-7.”

                I want to remind you that the numbers in Baseball Reference used for my stats are only for league games or exhibition games against Major League teams and so the numbers are all over the place. I have Beckwith as hitting seven homers while in the article above, he hit 40.

SS-Gerard Williams, New York Lincoln Giants, Age Unknown

251 AB, .311, 2 HR, 41 RBI, .311/.371/.406, 120 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (9th)

Offensive WAR-2.0 (9th)

Defensive WAR-0.4 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 93 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

1st Time All-Star-Gerard Williams was born sometime, died sometime, was some height and some weight. Baseball Reference does know he hit and threw right-handed and that’s about it. He started his Major League career in 1922 with the Negro National League Pittsburgh Keystones and in the same year, moved to the Cleveland Tate Stars. In 1923, Williams went to the Indianpolis ABCs. This season, his best ever, he moved to the Eastern Colored League and played fine shortstop for the Lincoln Giants. This would be his last season. He’s one of five shortstops on this list.

                Because there’s so little about Williams, I’m going to post a bit from loyal reader, V, on the Lincoln Giants. He writes, “According to the Seamheads website, the Lincoln Giants were still doing well in the 1914-17 period, but fell off some due to the loss of many of their stars. By this point Smokey Joe Williams was doubling as ace pitcher and manager. It was the height of his Hall of Fame career. But the team ran up against a formidable foe off the diamond. Nat Strong (see my post ‘The Schedule Man’ of 20 August 2015) controlled scheduling for black baseball in New York at the time and the Lincolns wanted to play more games than Strong was willing to schedule. They attempted to schedule some games without going through Strong, and were thrown out of the existing league structure in New York. Barnstorming followed.

                “With the founding Foster’s Negro National League, the eastern teams found it to their advantage to form their own league, the Eastern Colored League, in 1923. The Lincolns were a significant member of the league. They never won a league championship, finishing as high as third in 1924. By 1928 the ECL was on life support. A changing economy, weak teams, chaos at the top of the league (again another story for another time), and the dominance of Foster’s NNL, caused it to collapse.”

LF-Clint Thomas, Hilldale Club, 27 Years Old

1922

266 AB, .289, 8 HR, 49 RBI, .289/.335/.489, 130 OPS+

WAR-1.7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Led in:

Games Played-68

Def. Games as LF-68

2nd Time All-Star-Thomas last made my list for the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League and then in 1923, he moved to Hilldale, helping them to first place. Hilldale won again this season and Thomas had the best season of any of the ECL’s leftfielders. In the World Series against the Monarchs of the NNL, Thomas hit .211 (eight-for-38) with a double and a stolen base. Kansas City went on to win the Series, 5-4-1.

                Gary Joseph Cieradkowski writes, “WITH HILLDALE, Thomas became known as ‘The Hawk’ for his fielding skills, gliding all over the outfield making plays with a talent so graceful that old-timers could clearly remember one Hawk play or another through the fog of decades gone by. Ted Page, a Negro League star of the mid 1920s and ‘30s recalled that Thomas ‘attacked the ball the way a dog attacked raw meat.’ Hall of Famer Monte Irvin grew up in Paterson, New Jersey watching the best black and white teams of the 1930s and, starting in 1937, played in both the Negro and Major Leagues. His opinion should be taken very seriously when out of all the black players he witnessed, it was Clint Thomas who Irvin called ‘the black Joe DiMaggio.’ To draw a more contemporary comparison, the Hall of Famer said, ‘Clint was a Pete Rose type of player, he always went all out.’”

                It’s pretty incredible to be compared to two players like Joltin’ Joe and Charlie Hustle.

Oscar Charleston former Negro league star with bat.

CF-Oscar Charleston, Harrisburg Giants, 27 Years Old

1920 1921 1922 1923

205 AB, .405, 15 HR, 63 RBI, .405/.476/.780, 251 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (4th)

WAR Position Players-4.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-4.3 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Harrisburg Giants

30-31, 5th in ECL

Manager Oscar Charleston

OPS+-101, 4th in league

ERA+-96, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 4.4

Led in:

1924 ECL Batting Title (2nd Time)

1924 ECL Triple Crown (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-4.4 (4th Time)

Offensive WAR-4.3 (4th Time)

Batting Average-.405 (2nd Time)

On-Base %-.476 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.780 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.257 (2nd Time)

Runs Scored-63 (4th Time)

Total Bases-160 (3rd Time)

Doubles-22

Home Runs-15 (3rd Time)

Runs Batted In-63 (3rd Time)

Adjusted OPS+-251 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-76 (4th Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-41 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.0 (3rd Time)

Extra Base Hits-42 (4th Time)

Times On Base-111 (3rd Time)

Offensive Win %-.915 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-17.1 (3rd Time)

AB per HR-13.7 (2nd Time)

5th Time All-Star-After spending his first four years dominating the Negro National League, Charleston figured it was time to dominate a whole new league in 1924, so he moved to the Eastern Colored League and played for the Harrisburg Giants. Four of the ECL teams have the nickname of Giants along with one in the NNL. Charleston did double duty for Harrisburg, playing centerfield and managing. I still haven’t given him a Most Valuable Player, but he’s no doubt the best player I’ve covered over these five years.

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “After the Indianapolis team disbanded, rather than heading to Chicago Charleston played for and managed the Harrisburg Giants, where he remained from 1924 to 1927. Charleston, who seemed to be preoccupied with the press coverage he received, clipped an article for his scrapbook that described him as a big loss for Foster’s league. In 1924 Charleston had another strong year at bat; though his team endured a .500 campaign, he reportedly hit 36 home runs by August 24. Charleston even had a stretch in early August where he hit seven home runs in three games. That October, the Harrisburg Giants played a postseason series against the crosstown (and white) Harrisburg Senators. There, in the middle of a competitive game, Charleston erupted when he attempted to punch an umpire after a bad call. The umpire evaded the punch, punched Charleston, and then ejected him from the game.”

                I’m sure Charleston isn’t the first or last player to collect his own press clippings.

RF-Charlie Mason, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants/Baltimore Black Sox, 29 Years Old

1923

211 AB, .332, 10 HR, 51 RBI, .332/.373/.540, 156 OPS+

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 52 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Bacharach Giants Team Stats

Black Sox Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-When I did Mason’s write-up for the 1923 season, he was a leftfielder for the Bacharach Giants and I thought his All-Star days were over. As you can see, they’re not. I have him listed as a player for Atlantic City and Baltimore, but he only played one game for Baltimore, going two-for-four with a walk. The rest of the stats above are from his days with Atlantic City. Also, he switched from left to rightfield this year.

                Since there isn’t a lot on Mason, I’m going to conclude this year with this great bit of information from Gary Ashwill of Agate Type: “Here are some park data for the Eastern Colored League, 1924.  It’s only one season, so isn’t close to the final word about these parks, but every little bit helps.  The numbers are: park factor for runs (or simple home/road ratio; that is, runs scored in home games divided by runs scored in road games, multiplied by 100), adjusted park factor (same thing, adjusted for proportion of home to road games); then in parentheses the number of home and road games.  Harrisburg and Atlantic City have not been completely researched yet (games come from the Pittsburgh Courier).

                “Bacharach Giants, Bacharach Park (a.k.a. Inlet Park, Atlantic City): 107, 104 (26, 20)

Baltimore Black Sox, Maryland Park: 81, 87 (37, 18)

Brooklyn Royal Giants, Dexter Park: 136, 102 (2, 32)

Harrisburg Giants, Island Park: 92, 97 (15, 22)

Hilldale Club, Hilldale Park (Darby PA): 82, 88 (40, 19)

Lincoln Giants, Catholic Protectory Oval (Bronx): 129, 121 (41, 16)

Washington/Wilmington Potomacs: 113, 106 (26, 27)—OVERALL
                Griffith Stadium (Washington DC):  128 (14 games)
                Wilmington DE: 95 (12 games)”

What shocks me is Harrisburg was a big pitchers’ park and Oscar Charleston still won the Triple Crown.

1924 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Sam Streeter, BBB, 1st MVP

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM

P-Juan Padron, CAG

P-Carl Glass, MRS

P-Robert Poindexter, BBB

P-Eddie Miller, CAG

P-Square Moore, MRS

P-Andy Cooper, DS

P-Bill McCall, BBB/KCM

P-Dizzy Dismukes, ABC/BBB

C-Mitchell Murray, SLS

C-Otto Ray, CBN

1B-Bill Pierce, DS

2B-Anderson Pryor, DS

3B-Newt Joseph, KCM

3B-Dave Malarcher, CAG

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-Willie Wells, SLS

LF-Cristobal Torriente, CAG

LF-Heavy Johnson, KCM

CF-Jelly Gardner, CAG

CF-Turkey Stearns, DS

CF-Valentin Dreke, CSW

RF-Hurley McNair, KCM

RF-Branch Russell, SLS

P-Sam Streeter, Birmingham Black Barons, 23 Years Old, 1st MVP

200 1/3 IP, 14-6, 3.05 ERA, 128 K, 141 ERA+, 2.53 FIP, 1.128 WHIP

78 AB, .256, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .256/.266/321, 60 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-5.6 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-5.8

WAR for Pitchers-5.6

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.168

Innings Pitched-200 1/3

Strikeouts-128

Games Started-23

Complete Games-20

Hits Allowed-200

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-4.923

Batters Faced-821

Putouts as P-12

Errors Committed as P-7

1st Time All-Star-Samuel “Sam” Streeter was born on September 17, 1900 in New Market, Alabama. The five-foot-seven, 170 pound righty hitting, lefty throwing pitcher and outfielder started with the Chicago American Giants in 1921. Streeter didn’t play in the Majors in 1922, then in ’23, went to the Eastern Colored League and pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants. This season, he came back to the Negro National League and pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons in their initial season. This was Streeter’s best season ever and I gave him his first MVP, the first player besides Bullet Rogan to win the NNL Most Valuable Player since 1920.

                Alan Cohen of SABR writes, “He was a heck of a player. As Streeter himself recalled in 1971, ‘I think I pitched two or three no-hitters. I don’t remember. They didn’t keep records in those days. We just wanted to play. If they said, “Sam, you pitch today,” I pitched. Never worried if I had enough rest.’

                “Sam Streeter was born in New Market, Alabama, about 120 miles north of Birmingham, on September 17, 1900, to Horace G. and Lula (McGuffey) Streeter. He had limited schooling and, per 1940 census data, received formal education only through the fourth grade. What his parents did to earn a living and more information in regard to his upbringing remain elusive.”

                For whatever reason, Cohen doesn’t write much about Streeter’s incredible 1924 season except to mention he pitched for Birmingham. It was an incredible season. How often does a pitcher who leads the league in Ks also lead the league in fewest walks per nine innings?

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 30 Years Old

1921 1922 1923

175 IP, 16-5, 3.14 ERA, 101 K, 137 ERA+, 2.80 FIP, 1.211 WHIP

149 AB, .396, 5 HR, 33 RBI, .396/.444/.617, 189 OPS+

WAR-4.8

Wins Above Replacement-4.8 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-2.6 (8th)

WAR Position Players-2.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-2.3 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require one more All-Star season. Sure thing)

Kansas City Monarchs

57-22, 1st in NNL, Won WS over Hilldale Club, 5-4-1

Manager Jose Mendez

OPS+-121, 1st in league

ERA+-126, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 4.8

Led in:

Wins-16 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-12 (3rd Time)

Assists as P-71

Range Factor/Game as P-3.61

4th Time All-Star-It was an off year for the Negro Leagues’ best player, Rogan. He only finished second in Wins Above Replacement, as compared to the last three seasons, when he’s finished first and dominated the league. Yet he’s still the Monarch’s best player and he still was a lethal combination of pitching and hitting. Led by Bullet, Kansas City won the Negro National League pennant and played in the Negro League’s first World Series against the Hilldale Club of the Eastern Colored League. The two squads played 10 games and KC won the Series, 5-4-1.

                David Adler of mlb.com writes, “In 1924, Bullet Joe led the Monarchs to the inaugural Negro League World Series championship. With Kansas City facing the Hilldale Club of the Eastern Colored League, Rogan had two complete-game victories on the mound with a 2.57 ERA. He batted in the middle of the order and hit .325. He played the outfield when he wasn’t pitching. The Monarchs won the series, five games to four.

                “Rogan’s listed stats for that season? An 18-6 record with 21 complete games as a pitcher … a .392 batting average, .603 slugging percentage and 1.046 OPS as a hitter.”

                It puzzles me that before I started doing this project, I hadn’t heard of Rogan. He might be the best Negro League player of all time. I’ve heard of Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and others, but not this man who continued to put incredible seasons together and helped his team win the first Negro World Series.

P-Juan Padron, Chicago American Giants, 31 Years Old

1922 1923

141 IP, 9-7, 2.17 ERA, 72 K, 199 ERA+, 2.46 FIP, 1.092 WHIP

56 AB, .179, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .179/.207/.286, 34 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (4th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

52-27, 2nd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-95, 5th in league

ERA+-123, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Juan Padron, 4.1

Led in:

Shutouts-3 (2nd Time)

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

Adj. Pitching Runs-31

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.0

3rd Time All-Star-Padron made my All-Star team for the third consecutive season by having his best season ever. It didn’t help Chicago win the pennant, but you can’t blame Padron. He was Chicago’s best player as he finished second in Negro National League ERA. Padron never was much of strikeout pitcher, but he did have great control, finishing second in walks per nine innings. Due to the team’s pitching, Chicago finished behind Kansas City for the second straight year.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type spends a lot of time researching Juan Padron. Mainly because he’s always being confused with Luis Padron. If you look at my write-up for Padron in 1923, the picture I have for Juan Padron is probably not Juan Padron, but Luis. The picture I have here is from Ashwill’s page and is most likely Juan.

                Ashwill writes, “The caption [of the picture above] reads: “Juan Padrón, the marvelous Cuban pitcher just returned from Mexico, who very probably will lend his valuable services to one of the clubs forming the National Professional League [the newly reorganized Cuban League].

“Figueredo has Luis Padrón as a pitcher/outfielder for Almendares in the 1918/19 Cuban League, which is interesting since Almendares was Juan’s team in 1915/16.  Neither Padrón appeared in the special preseason series played in the fall of 1918 (Copa El Mundo and a couple of others); ditto for the few box scores I’ve so far collected for the 1918/19 regular season.”

                I mention it a lot, but I appreciate all of the work done by Ashwill and others in researching the Negro Leagues.

P-Carl Glass, Memphis Red Sox, 26 Years Old

117 1/3 IP, 3-6, 2.61 ERA, 84 K, 165 ERA+, 2.65 FIP, 1.099 WHIP

125 AB, .216, 0 HR, 9 RBI, .216/.274/.280, 52 OPS+

WAR-3.4

Wins Above Replacement-3.4 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.7 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Memphis Red Sox

24-36-3, 6th in NNL

Manager Carl Glass

OPS+-63, 9th in league

ERA+-138, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Carl Glass, 3.4

1st Time All-Star-Carl Lee Glass was born on February 26, 1898 in Lexington, Kentucky. The five-foot-10, 180 pound lefty pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman started his Major League career this season and also started his managerial career. He was a better pitcher than he was a manager with the main problem being that his best player was himself. In its first year, Memphis had outstanding pitching, but very poor hitting. (Either that, or Memphis was a pitcher’s park. It’s hard to tell.)

                Gary Ashwill (of course) of Agate Type states, “I wanted to wrap up this series of posts with a quick summary of what I found in the 1920 census while looking for the various Army ballplayers discussed here over the past few days.  Of course, Bullet Rogan was at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, when the census was taken in January 1920.  But I found these names of Negro League interest still in Arizona, at Camp Stephen D. Little, Nogales, where the 25th Infantry was stationed in 1920:

                “Pvt. Carl Glass, 23, from Kentucky, a cavalry private.  His birthdate and place match those of the Negro Leaguer Carl Glass, a lefthanded pitcher from 1923 to 1936; in 1928 he was a pretty good pitcher/manager (13-10) for the mediocre Memphis Red Sox (36-51).  This Glass was in the cavalry; is he the same Glass that appears with the 25th Infantry team in St. Louis?”

                My heart breaks that these players could be part of fighting for their country, but in that same country, they couldn’t play alongside the white players.

P-Robert Poindexter, Birmingham Black Barons, 26 Years Old

165 1/3 IP, 7-12, 3.38 ERA, 121 K, 128 ERA+, 2.85 FIP, 1.319 WHIP

69 AB, .319, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .319/.329/.478, 119 OPS+

WAR-3.4

Wins Above Replacement-3.4 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Losses-12

Hit By Pitch-10

1st Time All-Star-Robert Poindexter was born on September 25, 1879 in Virginia (city unknown). The five-foot-11, 176 pound righty pitcher started his career this season with his best season ever in Birmingham’s first year. He unfortunately didn’t have much luck as evidenced by his 7-12 record despite a good year of pitching. Most likely, this will be his last year making my All-Star team and he’ll end his career with a losing record (36-50).

                Poindexter is another one of those Negro League players who doesn’t have much information about him. Here’s the full Wikipedia post: “Robert Poindexter (September 25, 1897 – June 8, 1930), nicknamed ‘Roy’, was an American Negro league pitcher in the 1920s.        

                “Poindexter made his Negro leagues debut in 1924 with the Birmingham Black Barons. He went on to play for the Chicago American Giants during their 1926 Colored World Series championship season. In 1927 and 1928, Poindexter was back with Birmingham, and tossed a no-hitter for the Black Barons against his former Chicago team in 1928. He died in Washington, DC in 1930 at age 32.”

                That’s helpful information, for sure, but I do have questions. My main question is how did Poindexter die at the age of 32?  So many of these Negro League players died young, didn’t they.

                Wikipedia also has a bit on Birmingham, stating, “Drawing largely from a successful American Cast Iron Pipe Company Industrial League team, the Black Barons were organized in 1920 for the inaugural season of Rube Foster‘s Negro Southern League, which operated mainly as a minor league. They played in that league for three years before making the leap to the larger Negro National League, which operated as a major league.”

P-Eddie Miller, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

114 IP, 10-2, 2.92 ERA, 42 K, 148 ERA+, 3.63 FIP, 1.281 WHIP

43 AB, .163, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .163/.234/.186, 16 OPS+

WAR-2.9

Wins Above Replacement-2.9 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.0 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 41 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

1st Time All-Star-Edward Elonzo “Eddie” Miller was born on March 5, 1901 in Calvert, Texas. The five-foot-11, 185 pound unknown hitting, righty throwing pitcher, shortstop, and first baseman had this impressive year to start off his Major League career. It would end up being Miller’s best year ever as he’d never reach the peaks of his rookie year. Part of his problem over the years was a lack of control as shown by his walking more people than he whiffed this season.

                Chicago always seemed to have its share of good pitching and a lack of good hitting which tells us that Schorling Park, the Giants’ home stadium, probably was a pitchers’ park. Well, I did a smattering of research and discovered Schorling, or Schorling’s, Park was the old South Side Park used by the Chicago White Sox from 1901-10 and in the American League, it was indeed a pitcher’s paradise.

                Wikipedia says, “The American Giants played their games there through the 1940 season. Then on Christmas Day of 1940, Schorling’s Park was destroyed by fire. The American Giants would play their remaining 10 seasons at Comiskey Park. Today, the Chicago Housing Authority‘s Wentworth Gardens housing project occupies the site.

                “The South Side Park/Schorling’s Park/Wentworth Gardens site is located across Pershing Road from a junkyard site which was named a Superfund site in the late 1990s.”

                Miller would wind up his career with a 29-28 record and a 115 ERA+. He died sometime, somewhere, but that information is not to be found. His Major League career ended in 1930.

P-Square Moore, Memphis Red Sox, 23 Years Old

121 IP, 5-7, 2.53 ERA, 61 K, 171 ERA+, 3.24 FIP, 1.298 WHIP

43 AB, .116, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .116/.208/.116, -10 OPS+

WAR-2.8

WAR for Pitchers-3.1 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 83 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Ralph Thomas “Square” Moore was born on July 6, 1900 in Little Rock. The five-foot-eight, 190 pound righty pitcher started this year with a good year — indeed his best ever — for the newly formed Memphis Red Sox. Square is definitely one of the most unusual nicknames I’ve heard over the many years I’ve done this page. Interestingly, there was another pitcher with a unique nickname on the Red Sox, Sensation Clark.

                The Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia says, “Squire Moore, also known as Square Moore, born July 6th, 1899 in Little Rock, AR, was a Negro baseball player from about 1922-1933.

                “Moore was the son of Square Moore Sr. and Dora (nee Thornton) Moore. He grew up in Little Rock, AR.

                “Moore was a heavyset pitcher who’s [sic] early professional career was played with teams based in the southern U.S., including the New Orleans Caulfield Ads and Nashville Elite Giants in the 1922 Negro Southern Legue. From 1923-1925, he was a mainstay with the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro National League. He also appeared with the Birmingham Black Barons late in the 1923 and 1925 seasons, as well as with the Hot Springs Giants in the 1925 preseason. Pitching in Cuba during the 1924-1925 winter season, Moore went 2-3 in 8 games for Santa Clara.

                “Moore lived most of his later life in Buffalo, NY. He died in Buffalo on June 27th, 1960.”

                So Square is a form of the nickname “Squire” and apparently Moore got this nickname from his dad, who had the same moniker. That makes sense.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 26 Years Old

1922 1923

151 IP, 12-7, 3.70 ERA, 81 K, 117 ERA+, 3.09 FIP, 1.179 WHIP

62 AB, .177, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .177/.215/.194, 12 OPS+

WAR-2.4

WAR for Pitchers-2.7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 56 percent chance)

Detroit Stars

35-28-1, 3rd in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-107, 3rd in league

ERA+-83, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Pierce, 2.9

Led in:

Games Pitched-31

Games Finished-16

Def. Games as P-31

3rd Time All-Star-Detroit would be part of the Negro National League from 1920-through-1931 and never finish higher than third in the league, which makes sense considering they were battling the twin juggernauts of the Chicago American Giants and Kansas City Monarchs. Over those twelve seasons, their best player, according to career WAR, was Turkey Stearns. Their second best player was this big lefty pitcher from Waco.

                Waco’s Magazine has an article from Robert F. Darden with a lot of information on Cooper. Here’s some of it: “The Detroit Stars were not that successful, but they were competitive, due in part to Cooper’s pitching prowess. Before leaving the team, he would own every Stars pitching record. Bak features a photograph of the 1920 Detroit Stars in his book. Cooper sits smiling genially at the end of the middle row, with probably the broadest shoulders of anyone on the team. He should be smiling, the big Texan was a hero in Detroit. As Negro League historian Dick Clark said of Cooper, ‘In my estimation, the greatest black pitcher ever to pitch for Detroit — that’s for the Stars or Tigers.’

                “Additionally, Cooper was invited to play in the prestigious and integrated Cuban Winter League, which boasted some of the best black, white and Latin players in the world. An extremely rare baseball card of Cooper has been found. Sponsored by the Nacionales brand of cigarettes, the card is dated 1924 and Cooper looks passively at the camera wearing the uniform of the Habana team of Havana.”

P-Bill McCall, Birmingham Black Barons/Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

167 IP, 9-11, 3.83 ERA, 100 K, 113 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.269 WHIP

65 AB, .215, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .215/.301/.231, 47 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR for Pitchers-2.0 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Barons Team Stats

Monarchs Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as P-7

1st Time All-Star-William Lee “Bill” McCall was born on March 14, 1898 in Columbus, Georgia. The five-foot-11, 171 pound lefty pitcher started his Major League career with the Pittsburgh Keystones and Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922. It wasn’t a great start as his ERA was over 5 and he didn’t get picked up in 1923. This year, McCall started his season with the newly-formed Barons before moving to Kansas City and actually getting to pitch in the first Negro Leagues World Series. He didn’t even get one out but, hey, at least he made it.

                He pitched in Game 2 against the Hilldale Club and according to Wikiwand, “Bill McCall could not get through the first inning, facing only three men and recording no outs before Bill ‘Plunk’ Drake came in to relieve. Drake did not fare much better, lasting only 1⅔ innings himself. Hilldale led 9-0 by the end of the third.” Kansas City ended up winning the Series, 5-4-1.

                Wikiwand says of this Series, “It was the first World Series between the respective champions of the NNL and ECL. It was the second year of existence for the ECL, but no agreement could be reached in 1923 for a postseason series, owing primarily to unresolved disputes between the leagues. Five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame participated in the series: Biz MackeyJudy Johnson, and Louis Santop played for Hilldale, while Bullet Rogan and José Méndez played for the Monarchs. In addition, Monarchs owner J. L. Wilkinson was also inducted into the Hall.”

P-Dizzy Dismukes, Indianapolis ABCs/Birmingham Black Barons, 34 Years Old

70 2/3 IP, 3-7, 3.82 ERA, 20 K, 114 ERA+, 3.45 FIP, 1.330 WHIP

25 AB, .160, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .160/.160/.320, 29 OPS+

WAR-1.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 115 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

5-21-2, 7th in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes

OPS+-67, 8th in league

ERA+-71, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Dizzy Dismukes, 0.7

Birmingham Black Barons

37-44-4, 5th in NNL

Managers Sam Crawford (0-2-1), Charles Wesley (18-11-2), Dizzy Dismukes (14-25-1), Joe Hewitt (5-6)

OPS+-80, 7th in league

ERA+-121, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Sam Streeter, 5.8

1st Time All-Star-William “Dizzy” Dismukes was born on March 13, 1890 in Birmingham, Alabama. The six-foot, 180 pound righty pitcher, first baseman, and outfielder started his career with the ABCs in 1920 and ’21 and was quite a workhorse in the former year. He moved to the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922 before coming back to Indy in ’23. He started with Indy this season as a pitcher and manager and was its best player, according to WAR, which is why Diz is on this list. He finished his season as player-manager for the Black Barons.

                Wikipedia says, “Dismukes was a right-handed submariner, who is considered by many historians to be one of the best pitchers in the Negro leagues.

                “While a player, he periodically wrote about baseball for such black newspapers as the Pittsburgh Courier, beginning in the 1920s.

                “During his managing years, Dismukes became known for his wonderful memory during his playing and managing, and became known as a strategist. He is credited with teaching Webster McDonald and Carl Mays the tricks of submarine-style pitching.

                “He spent a number of years with the Kansas City Monarchs, in such roles as traveling secretary and business manager. Later in his career, after major league baseball was integrated, he was a scout for the Chicago Cubs and then the New York Yankees.

                “He died in 1961, at age 71, at the home of his sister in Campbell, Ohio; the cause of death was hardening of the arteries.”

                This is probably going to be his only All-Star team as the best of his career started before the Negro National League became a Major League.

C-Mitchell Murray, St. Louis Stars, 28 Years Old

1923

150 AB, .333, 6 HR, 35 RBI, .333/.405/.507, 148 OPS+

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Stars

43-41, 4th in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-100, 4th in league

ERA+-90, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Willie Wells, 2.2

2nd Time All-Star-Murray made the Negro National League All-Star team for the second straight year. He was no Biz Mackey, but he held his own with the bat. He’s still got some better seasons ahead. As for his team, Candy Jim Taylor guided it to a fourth place finish, its highest finish since the team was the Giants in 1921. The Stars would continue to get better, though they couldn’t get through those two powerhouses, the American Giants and the Monarchs.

                J.T. Buchheit of Redbird Rants wrote this in 2020 about the Stars: “St. Louis has a new Major League team, and it hasn’t existed in 89 years. On Wednesday, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Negro Leagues were being elevated to Major League status, meaning the stats of players in the Negro Leagues will now count as MLB statistics.

                “While the St. Louis Cardinals have received the overwhelming share of local baseball coverage since their inception in 1884, the St. Louis Stars Negro League team was a force in its heyday, and now is a perfect time to reflect on the team’s history and the players who shaped it.

                “The predecessor to the Stars were the St. Louis Giants, a team that played from 1906 to 1921. The Giants weren’t the most dominant team, but for one year, they had one of the best players of all time in outfielder Oscar Charleston.”

                Writing about the Negro Leagues is a regular cottage industry now that they have been designated as Major Leagues.

C-Otto Ray, Cleveland Browns, 31 Years Old

86 AB, .360, 2 HR, 22 RBI, .360/.433/.628, 188 OPS+

WAR-1.0

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 99 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cleveland Browns

15-32, 8th in NNL

Managers Sol White (11-20) and Otto Ray (5-13)

OPS+-92, 6th in league

ERA+-71, 9th in league

WAR Leader-Otto Ray, 1.0

1st Time All-Star-Otto C. Ray was born on May 19, 1893 in Lexinton, Missouri. The righty throwing catcher, outfielder, and first baseman started with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1920. During the 1921 season, he moved to the Chicago Giants. In 1922-23, he played for the St. Louis Stars, before coming to the Browns this year in its only year of existence. I had heard the football Cleveland Browns were named after their Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown and that is obviously not true because the Browns nickname has been around for a while.

                Here’s more on this one Browns season from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: “The CLEVELAND BROWNS were the city’s second professional Negro League Baseball team that played in Rube Foster’s Negro National League. Formed in 1924 from the remnants of the CLEVELAND TATE STARS, the team was managed by black baseball legend and Hall of Famer Sol White. Allen H. Dorsey served as president for the league-financed Browns. The team played its games in Tate Field, rechristened Hooper Field prior to the 1924 season.

                “There was a great deal of promotion and excitement when the ‘greatest ball-team in America,’ the Kansas City Monarchs, were scheduled to come to town in July. The Cleveland Gazette anticipated the largest crowd in the history of Hooper Field for the game. The Browns only won one of the four games against the Monarchs, but the Gazette was pleased with turnout for the series, as fans nearly filled Hooper Field to capacity. The Browns finished in last place in 1924 with a 15-34 record.”     

1B-Bill Pierce, Detroit Stars, 34 Years Old

243 AB, .337, 9 HR, 52 RBI, .337/.410/.588, 171 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR Position Players-2.9 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.6 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 93 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Triples-12

Home Runs-9

Assists as 1B-52

Fielding % as 1B-.989

1st Time All-Star-William Henry “Bill” Pierce was born on April 30, 1890 in Hanover, Indiana. (Side note-Same hometown of Cheers character Woody Boyd. I always thought it was a made-up location!) The five-foot-11, 200 pound righty first baseman, catcher, and rightfielder started his Major League career as a catcher for the Eastern Colored League New York Lincoln Giants, before coming to the Detroit Stars this season for his second and last MLB season. It was Pierce’s best season ever as he replaced Edgar Wesley at first after Wesley moved to the Harrisburg Giants of the ECL. He was also Detroit’s best player, according to WAR.

                Wikipedia says, “William Herbert Pierce (born April 30, 1890 and died August 1962) was a Negro leagues catcherfirst baseman and manager for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

                “Nicknamed ‘Bonehead’ and ‘Big Bill Pierce’, he played for the Philadelphia Giants at the age of 20. During the winter, he often played baseball in Cuba and Florida. Pierce would play most of his seasons for the Lincoln Giants.

                “Pierce managed the Baltimore Black Sox in 1922. His last known season as a player was 1924, for the Detroit Stars at the age of 34.

                “At the age of 62, Pierce received votes listing him on the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro leagues’ best players ever.

                “He died at the age of 72.”

                One has to wonder why Pierce retired after having such a good year.

2B-Anderson Pryor, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

200 AB, .295, 4 HR, 35 RBI, .295/.365/.405, 110 OPS+

WAR-1.3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 93 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Anderson Lee Pryor was born on July 14, 1900 in Houston. The five-foot-four, 146 pound righty second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman started his Major League career with the Milwaukee Bears in 1923, before moving to Detroit that same season. He’s the first Detroit second baseman since Frank Warfield in 1922. He has one better season left which we’ll cover next year. Despite his young age, Pryor doesn’t have many years left.

                One of the differences between rating Negro League players and those from the American and National Leagues is that these ratings don’t use park adjustments, so position players playing in hitters’ parks are going to be overrated and pitchers will be underrated. Mack Park, Detroit’s home field, was apparently a hitters’ park, according to Wikipedia, which says:

                “Mack Park’s single-decked structure, constructed of timber and tin sheeting, was built to seat 6,000 occupants; however, varying reports suggest as many as 10,000 could fit in the stadium’s wooden bleachers. The park is said to have had cozy confines, having a short right field porch and power alley. This may have artificially inflated power hitting numbers of left-handed hitters, despite the high fence in right field.

                “In 1915, the new Federal League sought to locate a franchise in Detroit and contacted Roesink about operating a franchise out of Mack Park; he stalwartly declined the offer. Three years later he accepted an offer from Chicago sports promoter Rube Foster to establish a Negro National League franchise in Detroit and use Mack Park as its home field.”

3B-Newt Joseph, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

267 AB, .375, 4 HR, 68 RBI, .375/.428/.543, 165 OPS+

WAR-3.8

Wins Above Replacement-3.8 (6th)

WAR Position Players-3.8 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.2 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-0.8 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 22 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Putouts as 3B-87

1st Time All-Star-Walter Lee “Newt” Joseph was born on October 27, 1896 in Montgomery, Alabama. The five-foot-seven, 165 pound righty third baseman and second baseman started with the Monarchs in 1922 and would play his whole nine-year career with them. This was his best season ever and Joseph is the first Monarch third baseman to make my list since Bartolo Portuondo in 1920. In the World Series against the Eastern Colored League’s Hilldale Club, he hit .132 (five-for-38) with a double and a homer as Kansas City won, 5-4-1.

                Bradford Lee of Royals Review wrote of Kansas City’s 1924 World Series, “Game Two was all Hilldale as pitcher Jess ‘Nip’ Winters held the high scoring Monarchs to four harmless singles in a 11-0 Daisy romp. Game Three was scheduled for Sunday, October 5. Due to Pennsylvania’s blue laws, which prohibited professional baseball games on Sunday, the game was shifted to the Maryland Baseball Park, home park of the Baltimore Black Sox. Kansas City jumped to an early 4-1 lead but were unable to close out Hilldale. The Monarchs had a one run lead going into the bottom of the ninth and again going into the bottom of the twelfth but were unable to hold on. Newt Joseph hit the first home run of the series for Kansas City. The game was called on account of darkness after 13 innings of play with the score knotted at 6.”  

                Along with having the Negro League World Series’ first home run, Joseph also stole home in game seven. He died at the age of 56 on January 18, 1953 in Kansas City, Missouri.

3B-Dave Malarcher, Chicago American Giants, 29 Years Old

1923

286 AB, .280, 0 HR, 37 RBI, .280/.362/.325, 89 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Runs Scored-69

Stolen Bases-22

Def. Games as 3B-77 (3rd Time)

Assists as 3B-160 (4th Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-16 (3rd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Malarcher made my list for the second consecutive season, mainly due to his glove not his bat. It should be noted Chicago played in a pitchers’ park, as mentioned in Eddie Miller’s blurb, so players on the American Giants always seem to be worse hitters than they really were. When Malarcher did get on base, he was dangerous, as evidenced by his league-leading 22 steals, which would have been 44 in a full 154 game season.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research write in Forgotten Heroes: David “Gentlemen (sic) Dave” Malarcher, “Dave Malarcher was back as the starting third baseman for the Chicago American Giants for the 1924 season. Rube Foster went with a veteran line-up for the 1924 season. Floyd “Jelly” Taylor who become a starter in 1920 was the newest member of the starting line-up. The top hitters for Chicago during the season were John Hines (.398), Cristobal Torriente (.348), Walter Davis (.329), Jelly Gardner (.319) and Dave Malarcher (.283). Malarcher also led the team in runs scored with 65 and had 45 runs batted in.

                “Rube Foster as he had always done emphasized speed and stealing bases to manufacture runs. Everybody on the team could and did run. According to research by John Holway Dave Malarcher led the Negro National League in stolen bases with 20 steals. Other American Giants players who put up good stolen base numbers in 1924 were Bobby Williams (13), Jelly Gardner (12), Cristobal Torriente (11), Bingo De Moss (11) and Joe Hewitt (10).”

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old

1920 1921 1922 1923

299 AB, .355, 5 HR, 62 RBI, .355/.415/.545, 161 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (3rd)

WAR Position Players-4.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-3.7 (2nd)

Defensive WAR-1.1 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

WAR Position Players-4.4

At Bats-299 (2nd Time)

Hits-106

Total Bases-163

Assists-244 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as SS-75 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-161 (3rd Time)

Assists as SS-244 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-33 (3rd time)

5th Time All-Star-It was another incredible year for Dobie Moore as he was once again the league’s top shortstop. In my very humble opinion, this was his best season ever as he helped lead Kansas City to its second consecutive Negro National League pennant and its first Negro League World Series title. In the World Series, Moore hit .300 (12-for-40) with two stolen bases. Surprisingly, he didn’t have any extra base hits in the 10 game series which the Monarchs won over Hilldale Club, 5-4-1.

                John B. Holway of SABR writes, “Back home in 1924 Moore erupted with a sensational year at bat. Figures compiled by SABR’s Negro Leagues committee show Moore hitting .471. He hit eight home runs in 56 games, to tie for the league lead with teammate Newt Joseph. Dobie’s army pals, Rogan and Johnson, hit .462 and .423, and the Monarchs won their second pennant in a row. This gave them the right to meet the Philadelphia Hilldales, champions of the new Eastern Colored League, in the first modern black world championship series. It was one of the most exciting series ever played, going a marathon ten games, including a tie. And Moore was in the middle of all the key action.

                “’I never will forget that series against Kansas City,’ says Hilldale third baseman Judy Johnson. ‘I was getting ready to steal, and Moore just blocked me. When I went to make my slide, he had his backside right in me. I couldn’t get into the base. He blocked me off and just put his foot in my stomach. And that was the end of me. He just outsmarted me.’”

SS-Willie Wells, St. Louis Stars, 19 Years Old

170 AB, .300, 1 HR, 37 RBI, .300/.353/.435, 115 OPS+

WAR-2.2

WAR Position Players-2.2 (10th)

Defensive WAR-1.3 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1997)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-1.3

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.67

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.58

Fielding % as SS-.934

1st Time All-Star-Willie James “The Devil” Wells was born on August 10, 1904 in Shawnee, OK. The five-foot-nine, 170 pound righty shortstop and third baseman had this amazing rookie year and is off and running to a Hall of Fame career. He had the kind of career Dobie Moore could have had if he hadn’t been shot. He has an incredible bat and a dazzling glove and will play a long 21 year career. As I look at his stats, I’m ashamed I hadn’t heard of him until now.

                Though his nickname is listed as “The Devil,” according to Wikipedia, it wasn’t bestowed on him until later in his career when his Mexican fans called him El Diablo.

                Paula Mejia of Texas Monthly writes, “As a teenager, Wells began playing baseball with the semipro Austin Black Senators, often competing against other Negro League teams around the state. He also joined the San Antonio Black Aces and Houston Buffaloes for brief stints. At eighteen Wells was offered a contract to play baseball for the St. Louis Stars, and he accepted. After a successful 1924 season, he returned to Austin and started his freshman year at Samuel Huston College. But much to the chagrin of his mother, who wanted him to attend college instead of playing baseball, he lasted only a few months: Wells took a train to California when his former team asked if he wanted to play that winter season. He went on to play professionally for the next thirty years, joining teams on the East Coast as well as in Cuba, Canada, and Mexico.”

LF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 30 Years Old

1920 1921 1923

255 AB, .365, 8 HR, 81 RBI, .365/.467/.612, 194 OPS+

WAR-4.0

Wins Above Replacement-4.0 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.0 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-3.8 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Offensive WAR-3.8

On-Base %-.467 (3rd Time)

Slugging %-.612 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.079 (2nd Time)

Doubles-27 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-81

Adjusted OPS+-194 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-72

Adj. Batting Runs-36 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-3.5 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-41

Offensive Win %-.851 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-9.6

4th Time All-Star-What an amazing player Torriente is! For the second time in his career, he led the Negro National League in on-base percentage AND slugging percentage. He’s going to start to decline after this season and never be this kind of player again, but he’s not done making All-Star lists. It should also be noted Cristobal played his home games in a pitchers’ paradise, so his hitting stats could have been higher.

                Baseball Reference says, “Torriente hit .380 in the 1923-24 winter ball season, second to Alejandro Oms and ahead of four future Hall-of-Famers. With Chicago, Holway lists him tied for third in the NNL in homers (9), fourth in doubles (22), second in steals (15, trailing Dave Malarcher) and with a .333 average. Recent data says he hit .351/~.449/.581. He finished fourth in Cuba in average that wihnter (.344), his worst in five years. Returning to Chicago, his struggles continued – .241 in Holway’s book, .264/~.377/.438 in the most recent statistics, indicating that his primary value lay in his walks (54 in 89 games).”

                For the purposes of this site, it hurt Torriente that he wasn’t a Major League player until 1920. He would play for a few more years and, as I mentioned, he’s still going to make my list at least one more time, but he’s not going to compile enough stats to make my Hall of Fame, so he’ll just have to settle for making Cooperstown. That poor guy!

LF-Heavy Johnson, Kansas City Monarchs, 29 Years Old

1922 1923

265 AB, .366, 5 HR, 55 RBI, .366/.427/.543, 164 OPS+

WAR-2.3

WAR Position Players-2.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as LF-1.000

3rd Time All-Star-How good is your team when this man is your fifth best player, according to WAR? He hit .366 with a 164 OPS+ and he helped the Monarchs make the first Negro World Series. Johnson and Hurley McNair switched positions, with Heavy moving to left and Hurley moving to right. They both still bounced around a bit, however. In the World Series, Johnson hit .296 (eight-for-27) with three doubles as the Monarchs went on to beat the Hilldale Club of the Eastern Colored League, 5-4-1.

                According to Wikipedia, “Johnson was credited with more than 60 home runs against all opposition in 1924, and batted .296 in the 1924 Colored World Series, which was won by the Monarchs.” Baseball Reference shows him as hitting five, so the other 55 must have been against unofficial opponents.

                Baseball Reference has different details about this season, saying, “While not as dominant in 1924, Johnson hit .374 (third in the NNL) with 16 doubles (fifth) and 11 triples (third). In the first Negro World Series, Johnson hit .296 and delivered the winning double in the finale. He also had a fine catch-and-throw double play from the wall to get Tank Carr at home during that Series.”

                Finally James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, as posted on NLBE Museum, writes, “Johnson was an unpolished fielder and not noted for performance afield. However, in the 1924 World Series he turned in a defensive gem when he snared Hilldale’s George Johnson’s long drive at the wall, robbing him of an extra-base hit, and then whirled and pegged the ball to the plate to double-up base runner George Can, who had tagged at third base and was trying to score.”

CF-Jelly Gardner, Chicago American Giants, 28 Years Old

286 AB, .325, 0 HR, 29 RBI, .325/.432/.388, 125 OPS+

WAR-3.6

Wins Above Replacement-3.6 (7th)

WAR Position Players-3.6 (4th)

Offensive WAR-2.2 (8th)

Defensive WAR-1.2 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Bases on Balls-54

Singles-79

Times On Base-147

Putouts as CF-182

Assists as CF-13

Errors Committed as CF-6

Assists as OF-14

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.76

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.71

1st Time All-Star-Floyd “Jelly” Gardner was born on September 27, 1895 in Russellville, AR. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started by playing two games with the Dayton Marcos in 1920 and then moved to the Chicago American Giants that same year. He’d be in the Windy City for a good stretch and this year had his best season ever. He took over for Cristobal Torriente in centerfield as Torriente moved to leftfield.

                James A. Riley, author of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, as posed on NLBE Museum, writes, “Tough, scrappy, and very argumentative, he was quick to express himself verbally or with his fists. Gardner was a heavy drinker and liked the nightlife, and some players described him as ‘evil and jealous,’ while others cited him as being ‘good with his dukes.’ Once in a free-for-all with the Kansas City Monarchs, he kicked Frank Duncan in the mouth with his spikes, after Duncan had already been knocked unconscious by a policeman trying to quell the fighting. His disposition made him hard to get along with in the clubhouse. Foster was able to handle players of Gardner’s temperament better than Malarcher, and trouble began to develop. In 1924 the right fielder had held out through the early spring of 1924, and in 1927 he jumped to the New York Lincoln Giants for part of the season. The next year he played part of the season with the Homestead Grays, who signed him after he quit the Chicago American Giants. Each year he returned to Chicago for part of the season, returning in 1929 for two more years with the American Giants until Foster died. His batting averages for the prior seasons were .289, .303, and .233.”

                Jelly died on March 28, 1977 in Chicago.

CF-Turkey Stearnes, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

1923

248 AB, .339, 9 HR, 44 RBI, .339/.386/.581, 162 OPS+

WAR-2.4

WAR Position Players-2.4 (6th)

Offensive WAR-2.4 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2000)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Triples-12 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-9

2nd Time All-Star-I’m going to be writing many a blurb on the great Turkey Stearnes, who was one of the Negro National League’s best players. He might never have been the best player in any one season, but he had amazing longevity and was the top power hitter in the league. The lefty played in Mack Field, which had a tall screen on its rightfield fence, but it didn’t stop Stearnes from lifting balls over and out. This will be the first of seven times he’ll lead his league in homers.

                Thomas Kern of SABR has tons of information on Stearnes, most of it from Turkey himself. Stearnes said his nickname came because he had a potbelly as a child. Here’s more on Stearnes for Kern: “Stearnes’ own words in an invaluable interview with John Holway are the most appropriate to tell the story of his teenage years.

                “’I wasn’t able to continue high school. I was around 15 or 16 years old when my father died and I had to go to work to help. We had quite a big family. At that time we had five kids in the family. … But you know how it is, you don’t make much money. … My mother was working, cooking for $7 a week. I just did any job that popped up, taking care of hogs and cows and everything like that. I worked at a grocery store, driving a wagon, delivering groceries. I also worked at the Baptist Publishing Board, a janitor mostly, running errands.’”

CF-Valentin Dreke, Cuban Stars West, 26 Years Old

1922

190 AB, .389, 2 HR, 38 RBI, .389/.448/.484, 155 OPS+

WAR-1.7

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

18-35, 8th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-109, 2nd in league

ERA+-73, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Velentin Dreke, 1.7

Led in:

1924 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.389

2nd Time All-Star-After making my All-Star list in 1922, Dreke missed that accolade in 1923 despite hitting .345. (What was I thinking?!) He’s back this season, leading the Negro National League in hitting, though it was of little help to the Cuban Stars West, who were 18-35 in their official games. Dreke was their best player and arguably had his best season ever. Baseball Reference lists this team as being second in OPS+, but Valentin is the only one to make my list, most likely due to CSW’s short season.

                Steven R. Greenes writes in the book Negro Leagues and the Hall of Fame: The Case for Inducting 24 Overlooked Ballplayers, “Dreke was a major star in Cuban Winter Ball over the same period, accumulating a .334 lifetime batting average and leading that league in stolen bases in 1923-24. Dreke retired from baseball in 1928, when he was only 30 years old. William F. McNeil included Dreke as a member of his All-Time Cuban Winter League Team but only as an honorable mention on his All-Time Negro League Team. Dreke’s play in the United States fails to meet the 10-year minimum requirement for American Hall of Fame admission, as reflected in his credible but hardly remarkable career WAR of 12.3 and WAR per 162 games of 3.2. Only one of 20 Major Leaguers with his closest Similarity Scores is a Hall of Famer: marginal selection Lloyd Waner. Perhaps this, combined with his lack of power, is the reason he has received virtually no Hall of Fame support from veterans or historians. Valentin Dreke was elected to the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1945.”

RF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 35 Years Old

1920 1921 1922 1923

274 AB, .339, 5 HR, 59 RBI, .339/.410/.467, 140 OPS+

5 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 K, 1.94 FIP, 0.400 WHIP

WAR-2.6

WAR Position Players-2.3 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.1 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as RF-.986

5th Time All-Star-McNair wasn’t a big man. Baseball Reference lists his official stats as five-foot-six, 150 pounds. But he sure could hit! He’s one of four players, along with Dobie Moore, Dave Brown, and Oscar Charleston, to make my list all five years of the Negro Major League’s existence. Most likely, he’s not going to make another one of my lists, but for this half-decade, there weren’t too many better players than McNair.    

                Regarding this season, McNair switched places with Heavy Johnson, moving to rightfield while the Heavy one moved to left. In the Negro League’s first World Series, McNair hit just .143 (five-for-35) with two walks and six strikeouts. It didn’t matter as Kansas City beat Hilldale Club of the Eastern Colored League, 5-4-1.

                Baseball Reference says, “In 1924, McNair hit .346. In the first Negro World Series, he only went 5 for 35, but he saved game three defensively when he threw out Judy Johnson at home in the 12th inning. That winter, Hurley hit .407/?/.525 for the Los Angeles White Sox in the California Winter League, finishing second to Moore in batting average.

                “After retiring as a player, McNair worked as an umpire in the Negro American League. He was once chased around the field by players wielding bats, who backed away after he pulled a knife on them.

                “McNair helped teach Willie Wells how to hit the curveball. He was known as a moody, self-centered person who did things his way. He once also supposedly homered when he grabbed a fungo bat, rushing to the batter’s box as he had been getting a drink of water when his turn came.”

                McNair died at the age of 60 on December 2, 1948 in Kansas City, Missouri.

RF-Branch Russell, St. Louis Stars, 28 Years Old

272 AB, .305, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .305/.376/.485, 135 OPS+

WAR-2.2

Offensive WAR-2.1 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Branch Lee Russell was born on October 9, 1895 in South Boston, Virginia. The five-foot-10, 165 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing rightfielder, second baseman, and third baseman started his Major League career by playing two games with the Monarchs in 1922 before moving to the Stars, where he’ll be playing for a long time. He’s the first St. Louis rightfielder to make my list since Charlie Blackwell in 1921 when the Stars were the Giants.

                Baseball Reference says, “Branch Russell was a good contact hitter in his 11 years in the Negro Leagues. Prior to his Negro League career, he was a private in the Twenty-Fifth Infantry, serving 8 years (one source lists him as reaching the rank of corporal). He served along the Mexican border during World War I. In the army athletic championships that helped form the 1920 US Olympic team, Russell competed in the running hop, step, and jump, finishing second. On June 28, the 25th infantry team played the St. Louis Giants, with Russell batting second and playing third base (moving to shortstop later in the game). Branch went 2 for 3 in a 4-1 victory by the Army unit’s team. He remained in the service for a while longer, then made his professional baseball debut at age 26 with two games for the 1922 Kansas City Monarchs, going 0 for 5.

                “The next year, he joined the St. Louis Stars, where he spent the bulk of his career. Branch batted .283/.341/.416 his first year in St. Louis, outhitting fellow rookie Cool Papa Bell and leading the team in triples (9, tied for sixth in the Negro National League) and runs (64). He bounced around the field, playing 25 games at third base, 22 at shortstop, 17 in right field and 14 in left field while hitting third, first or seventh.”

1923 Eastern Colored League All-Star Team

P-Nip Winters, HIL, 1st MVP

P-Red Ryan, HIL

P-Hubert Lockhart, AC

P-Rats Henderson, AC

P-Oscar Levis, CSE

P-Dave Brown, NLG

P-Lewis Hampton, AC/HIL

P-Willis Flournoy, HIL/BRG

P-John Harper, AC

P-Bill Holland, NLG

C-Biz Mackey, HIL

C-Julio Rojo, BBS

1B-Jud Wilson, BBS

1B-Robert Hudspeth, NLG

2B-Orville Singer, NLG

2B-Frank Warfield, HIL

3B-Oliver Marcell, NLG

SS-John Henry Lloyd, HIL

SS-Dick Lundy, AC

SS-Cool Turner, BRG

LF-Charlie Mason, AC

CF-George Johnson, HIL

CF-Alejandro Oms, CSE

CF-Rags Roberts, BBS

RF-Blainey Hall, BBS

P-Nip Winters, Hilldale Club, 24 Years Old, 1st MVP

118 IP, 10-3, 2.36 ERA, 95 K, 168 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 1.119 WHIP

51 AB, .235, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .235/.250/.333, 63 OPS+

WAR-3.6

Wins Above Replacement-3.6 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-3.4 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1923 ECL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-3.6

WAR for Pitchers-3.4

Earned Run Average-2.36

Wins-10

Hits per 9 IP-7.246

Strikeouts per 9 IP-7.246

Saves-3

Adjusted ERA+-168

Adj. Pitching Runs-21

Adj. Pitching Wins-2.0

1st Time All-Star-James Henry “Nip” Winters was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington DC. The six-foot-two, 180 pound lefty pitcher and first baseman started his Major League career this season in this new league, the Eastern Colored League, with this new team, the Hilldale Club. With pitching like Winters and his teammate, Red Ryan, leading the way, Hilldale won the first ECL title. By 1924, the winner of this league will play the winner of the Negro National League in a World Series.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper entitled Forgotten Heroes: Jesse “Nip” Winters, saying “Through the leadership of Ed Bolden and Nat Strong, the Eastern Colored League was formed in 1923 before the start of the regular baseball season. Bolden owned the Hilldale team and Hilldale Park. Ed Bolden also served as President of the Eastern Colored League. Nat Strong was a promoter and team owner. As a sports promoter, he controlled black baseball bookings in the East. In addition he owned the Brooklyn Royal Giants and Cuban Stars. Nat Strong and his partner Max Rosner also owned Dexter Park which was the home of the Brooklyn Bushwicks.

                “Jesse ‘Nip’ Winters quickly became the ace of the Hilldale pitching staff and he was considered the best pitcher in the “league.” In 1923 he led the Eastern Colored League in games pitched (26), complete games (15), wins (16), winning percentage (.842) and strikeouts (99). In addition Jesse Winters compiled a 2.45 earned run average (ERA) during the season in Eastern Colored play.”

                Wait, is his name James Henry or Jesse?

P-Red Ryan, Hilldale Club, 25 Years Old

112 2/3 IP, 9-5, 2.48 ERA, 54 K, 161 ERA+, 2.97 FIP, 1.101 WHIP

39 AB, .205, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .205/.225/.256, 35 OPS+

WAR-3.2

Wins Above Replacement-3.2 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as P-7

1st Time All-Star-Merven John “Red” Ryan was born on July 11, 1897 in Brooklyn. The five-foot-11, 170 pound righty pitcher started his Major League career this season and had his best season ever. He paired up with Nip Winters to give the Hilldale Club a great one-two pitching punch and guided HIlldale to the first Eastern Colored League title. Ryan is going to have a short, but effective Negro League career as one of the ECL’s first stars.

                The Baseball Hall of Fame has an article by Cassidy Lent on this team. Lent writes, “The history of the Negro Leagues is a long and slightly complicated one. However, this story is about the 1923 Eastern Colored League Champions, the Hilldale club of Darby, PA.

                “The Hilldale club was formed as a boys’ team in 1910 by Ed Bolden. The club turned professional in 1916 and was a charter member of the Eastern Colored League.

                “The Eastern Colored League was formed by Bolden in 1923, as a rival league to the Negro National League formed and run by Rube Foster. The 1923 ECL teams included the Hilldale club, as well as the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Cuban Stars, and New York Lincoln Giants.

                “The 1923 team featured Hall of Famers Pop Lloyd, who served as captain, Judy Johnson, Biz Mackey, and Louis Santop and went 32-17 in games played within the league. In overall competition, they went 137-43-6. The team ended up winning 17 games straight in the month of June, had 18 shutouts, and scored almost 7 runs per game. After the season was over, the Hilldale club went barnstorming and beat two barnstorming teams that were compiled from Philadelphia Athletic players, going 6-0.”

P-Hubert Lockhart, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 24 Years Old

101 IP, 7-2, 2.50 ERA, 48 K, 160 ERA+, 3.37 FIP, 1.099 WHIP

41 AB, .171, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .171/.190/.195, 9 OPS+

WAR-3.0

Wins Above Replacement-3.0 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-3.1 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 62 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.778

Walks & Hits per IP-1.099

Shutouts-2

1st Time All-Star-George Hubert Lockhart was born on January 25, 1899 in Flowery Branch, Georgia. The lefty pitcher started this season with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants and it was his best season ever. He’d continue to pitch with the Giants through 1928 and then finish his career with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro National League. This was his best season ever and it’s probably the last time he’s making my list.

                There isn’t much to be found on Lockhart, so here’s a little bit of history of the Giants from Good Seats Still Available with Jim Overmyer: “The curious story of baseball’s Atlantic City (NJ) Bacharach Giants originates from a unique intersection of racism, tourism, and politics.

                “In 1915, an independent semi-pro ‘Atlantic City Colored League’ was formed to provide an entertainment outlet for the city’s 11,000+ black residents – with the hope being they would attend the games and stay off the boardwalk, a then-booming summer haven for white tourists.  

                “In 1923, Atlantic City broke from the NNL to help start the rival Eastern Colored League (ECL), where they achieved their greatest success – including winning two league pennants in 1926 and 1927 – though losing both times in subsequent Negro League World Series play to the NNL’s Chicago American Giants.”

                I suggest reading the whole thing.

                Lockhart would end up with a 26-22 career record with a 4.08 ERA (108 ERA+). He’d pitch in two World Series, going 0-3 with a 2.76 ERA. Lockhart lived until the age of 69, dying on May 23, 1968 in Montgomery, Alabama.

P-Rats Henderson,  Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 26 Years Old

152 2/3 IP, 10-10, 3.54 ERA, 100 K, 112 ERA+, 2.94 FIP, 1.114 WHIP

51 AB, .157, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .157/.232/.157, 11 OPS+

WAR-2.4

Wins Above Replacement-2.4 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.4 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins-10

Games Pitched-22

Innings Pitched-152 2/3

Strikeouts-100

Games Started-17

Complete Games-14

Hits-134

Losses-10

Earned Runs-60

Batters Faced-632

Def. Games as P-22

1st Time All-Star-Arthur Chauncey “Rats” Henderson was born 57 years before my sister, Isabel, on August 29, 1896 in Henrico County, Virginia. The five-foot-seven, 180 pound righty pitcher started his Major League career this season as a workhorse in the league. He’s going to make quite a few lists in his short, eight-year career. There weren’t a lot of games played in this first season of the Eastern Colored League, but Rats started about a third of the games.

                Thank God for the Center for Negro League Baseball Research and all the work they do in getting the history of these players. In writing about Henderson, Dr. Layton Revel states, “Growing up in Richmond, Arthur was one of twelve children. He reportedly got his nickname ‘Rats’ when fellow employees at the glass plant where he worked put a rat in his lunchbox and the rat jumped out when Arthur opened it.

“Arthur Henderson started the 1923 season on the roster of the Richmond Giants before he was recruited by the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants. This has been validated by an article that appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch on April 16, 1923. The newspaper listed the rosters of the Richmond Giants and Washington Potomacs for an upcoming game between the two teams at Mayo Island Park in Richmond. Arthur was listed as a member of Richmond’s roster.

                “Arthur ‘Rats’ Henderson (15-13), John Harper (11-11) and George Hubert Lockhart (8-5) carried the majority of the pitching load for Atlantic City. Nate “Speed Ball” Johnson (6-5), Lewis Hampton (3-3), Roy Roberts (2-4), Harold Treadwell (1-1), Eddie Huff (1-0), Cliff Carter (0-1), Chaney White (1-0), Ambrose Reid (0-0), Bunny Downs (0-0) and George Robinson (0-0) also pitched for the team during the season.”

P-Oscar Levis, Cuban Stars East, 24 Years Old

70 2/3 IP, 6-3, 2.80 ERA, 52 K, 142 ERA+, 2.61 FIP, 1.160 WHIP

32 AB, .250, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .250/.294/.344, 79 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Wins Above Replacement-2.1 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-1.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars East

22-16, 2nd in ECL

Manager Pelayo Chacon

OPS+-84, 5th in league

ERA+-104, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Levis, 2.1

Led in:

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.61

1st Time All-Star-Oscar Joseph Levis was born on August 7, 1898 in Oracabessa, Jamaica. The five-foot-seven, 175 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher, outfielder, and first baseman started his Major League career this season and would play for seven years. He’ll make more lists but in my judgement, this is his best season ever. The Cuban Stars East finished in second, below the powerful Hilldale Club, and were led by the arm of Levis.

                Baseball Reference says, “Oscar Levis was one of the best Jamaican players ever. He was noted for his spitball and ‘fake spitter’. His skin color and spitball both kept him out of the major leagues.

                “He was listed for decades as being born in Panama. Negro League researcher Gary Ashwill found in 2018, though, that Levis was really Jamaican, not Panamanian. Ashwill traces him from birth in Jamaica to living in Panama to moving to the US at age 18. He worked for the Submarine Boat Corporation at the Newark Bay Shipyard in World War I. He later was a chauffeur and attended college in New York.

                “Levis debuted with the Cuban Stars in 1921, going 2-1 with a 7.18 ERA (63 ERA+) in four starts.  He was 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA (116 ERA+) in 1922. He was 6th in ERA among top black eastern teams, between Nick Logan and Harold Treadwell.

                “Levis was excellent for the Cuban Stars when the Eastern Colored League was formed in 1923. He went 6-3 with a save and a 2.80 ERA (166 ERA+). He walked only 16 in 70 2/3 IP. He helped his cause with a 93 OPS+, hitting .250/.294/.344. He ranked among the ECL leaders in wins (tied for 7th with Scrip Lee and Lewis Hampton), ERA (4th, between Hubert Lockhart and Willis Flournoy), ERA+ (3rd, after Lockhart and Nip Winters) and Wins Above Replacement (tied with Lockhart for 3rd behind Winters and Red Ryan).”

P-Dave Brown, New York Lincoln Giants, 26 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

74 IP, 5-6, 3.28 ERA, 47 K, 121 ERA+, 3.05 FIP, 1.473 WHIP

27 AB, .407, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .407/.467/.556, 187 OPS+

WAR-2.0

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

New York Lincoln Giants

17-23, 5th in ECL

Manager Joe Williams

OPS+-105, 2nd in league

ERA+-111, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 2.0

4th Time All-Star-Brown is the first player of whom I’m writing in this list that started in the Negro National League before coming over to the Eastern Colored League. He made my All-Star team three times for the Chicago American Giants in the NNL and now made it his first year here in the ECL. The reason he’s on my list is he was the Giants’ best player, but otherwise he probably wouldn’t be here. In his new league, Brown learned to hit, something he couldn’t do in the NNL.

                Wikipedia says, “For the 1923 season, Brown left Rube Foster’s American Giants for the brand new Eastern Colored League. Foster voiced his displeasure, pointing out that Brown had been paroled to him and that he had promised Brown’s mother to take care of him. He pointed out that the public would vilify him if he revoked. Brown posted a losing record in his first season with the New York Lincoln Giants but he and Charleston returned to Cuba the following winter and helped Santa Clara compile one of the best records in Cuban baseball history.”

                To give a preview of some of his doings in the future, I post this tidbit from James A. Riley, the writer of The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, who himself is being quoted on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum webpage: “There was always a mystery about Brown, even dating back to when he was pitching with the Dallas Black Giants in 1917-1918. During the intervening winter he was involved in a highway robbery before he was first picked up by Rube Foster the following spring. Stories persisted that he was a fugitive from justice even then, and Foster put up a $20,000 bond to get Brown a parole from the highway robbery conviction.”

P-Lewis Hampton, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants/Hilldale Club, 22 Years Old

1922

93 1/3 IP, 6-5, 3.47 ERA, 33 K, 115 ERA+, 3.88 FIP, 1.350 WHIP

42 AB, .310, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .310/.326/.548, 142 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Wins Above Replacement-2.0 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-1.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 22 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Atlantic City Team Stats

Hilldale Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs Allowed-7

Fielding % as P-.938

2nd Time All-Star-Hampton, like Dave Brown, left the Negro National League for the Eastern Colored League and had a good season, most likely his last on my All-Star teams. He played on the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants then moved to the pennant-winning Hilldale Club before the season ended. It was with Hilldale he had his most success, going 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA while going only 1-3 with a 4.55 ERA for Atlantic City.

                After this season, Hampton would pitch with the ECL Washington Potomacs in 1924 before moving back to the Detroit Stars of the NNL midway through 1925. It was with the Stars he’d finish his career in 1927. Altogether, Hampton went 50-43 with a 3.96 ERA in a seven-year career.

                I mentioned in Hampton’s 1922 write-up there wasn’t much  about him on the internet and that continues to be the case, so I just want to put a little about Hilldale from Wikipedia which says, “The 1923 Hilldale Club baseball team represented the Hilldale Club in the Eastern Colored League (ECL) during the 1923 baseball season. The team compiled a 40–21–1 (.653) record and won the ECL pennant. John Henry Lloyd was Hilldale’s player-manager. The team played its home games at Hilldale Park in Darby, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb.    

                “The team included four players who were late inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: manager/shortstop John Henry Lloyd, third baseman Judy Johnson, catcher Biz Mackey, and catcher Louis Santop.”

                There is no date of death listed on Hampton’s Baseball Reference page.

P-Willis Flournoy, Hilldale Club/Brooklyn Royal Giants, 27 Years Old

54 IP, 3-2, 2.83 ERA, 20 K, 142 ERA+, 3.24 FIP, 1.222 WHIP

21 AB, .381, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .381/.381/.429, 127 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Wins Above Replacement-2.0 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-1.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 24 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Hilldale Team Stats

Brooklyn Royal Giants

16-16-1, 3rd in ECL

Manager Eddie Douglass

OPS+-93, 4th in league

ERA+-92, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Willis Flournoy, 2.1

Led in:

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

1st Time All-Star-Willis Jefferson Flournoy was born on August 9, 1895 in Monticello, Georgia. The six-foot, 221 pound lefty pitcher started his seven-year career this season by pitching one game for Hilldale, allowing five runs (four earned) in five innings before going to the Brooklyn Royal Giants and starring as their best player. The Royal Giants are one of three teams in the Eastern Colored League with the Giants’ nickname, joining the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants and the New York Lincoln Giants.

                Wikipedia says of the Brooklyn Royal Giants, “The Brooklyn Royal Giants were a professional Negro league baseball team based in BrooklynNew York. Formed in 1905 by John Wilson Connor (1875–1926), owner of the Brooklyn Royal Cafe, the team initially played against white semi-pro teams. They were one of the prominent independent teams prior to World War I before organized league play began.

                “In 1907, the Brooklyn Royal Giants joined the National Association of Colored Baseball Clubs of the United States and Cuba. The league lasted three seasons and included the teams Philadelphia GiantsCuban X-GiantsCuban Stars of Havana, and the Cuban Giants of New York.

                “During the 1920s, under the ownership of Nat Strong, a white New York City booking agent, the team fell into somewhat of a decline, and did very poorly while in the Eastern Colored League. The Giants played their home games while part of the Eastern Colored League at Dexter Park in Queens.”

                It should be noted just because these teams are only now being considered Major League squads by Major League Baseball, that doesn’t erase their long histories before this.

P-John Harper, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Age Unknown

101 2/3 IP, 7-6, 3.36 ERA, 44 K, 118 ERA+, 3.88 FIP, 1.180 WHIP

46 AB, .130, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .130/.200/.130, -6 OPS+

WAR-1.5

WAR for Pitchers-1.7  (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 272 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Bases on Balls-38

Hit By Pitch-7

1st Time All-Star-There isn’t much recorded by Baseball Reference about John Harper. This was his best season ever and after this he’d end up playing two more years in the Eastern Colored League. There’s no mention of his date of birth, date of death, height, weight, side of the plate from which he batted, or arm with which he threw. It can be surmised Harper was wild as he led the ECL in walks and hit by pitches.

                Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Eastern Colored League: “The ECL was founded in 1923 when the Philadelphia-area Hilldale Club and the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, both associate members of the midwest-based Negro National League (NNL), broke with the NNL and allied with the white promoter Nat Strong to form an east coast league. The charter members were: Hilldale, the Bacharach Giants, the Brooklyn Royal Giants, the Cuban Stars (East), the Lincoln Giants of New York, and the Baltimore Black Sox. In 1924 the Harrisburg Giants and Washington Potomacs joined, bringing the circuit to eight clubs. The ECL raided the NNL for players, including Hall of Famers Oscar CharlestonBiz Mackey, and John Henry Lloyd, starting a war that lasted for two years.”

                In baseball’s history, anytime a new league enters the scene, it rarely starts peacefully. The American Association raided the National League for players in the 1800s, the Players League needed players and took them from the NL and AA. The American League went after stars like Cy Young and Nap Lajoie from the NL and actually ended up succeeding.

P-Bill Holland, New York Lincoln Giants, 22 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

72 IP, 0-7, 3.13 ERA, 48 K, 128 ERA+, 3.09 FIP, 1.250 WHIP

22 AB, .136, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .136/.174/.136, -12 OPS+

WAR-1.4

WAR for Pitchers-1.6 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

4th Time All-Star-During his first three years in the Negro National League, Holland made my All-Star team every time, with double-digit win totals every year. It’s no wonder the Eastern Colored League, a new challenger to the NNL, would want this man. Maybe the ECL saw this man as its newest star since he was young and had a bit of a reputation for nastiness. It certainly looked like the Giants, by picking up Dave Brown and this man, had scored a major coup.

                Yet, despite Brown and Holland’s success in the NNL, they didn’t do as well for their new team. Brown went 5-6 and Holland went a shocking 0-7. This doesn’t take away from their talent as both of them still made my All-Star team, but it certainly wasn’t what was expected of the duo.

                Holland is going to end up having a long career, but it is probably going to be another 13 years before he makes another one of my lists. He’d pitch in the ECL until 1927 and then he wouldn’t pitch in the Majors for nine years, except for one year, 1929, in the American Negro League.

                Of course, it is just the best educated guess of Baseball Reference that Holland was 0-7. Other sources, like the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum give him some victories. James Riley writes, “In New York his fortunes turned and he had only a 2-5 league ledger in his first season with the Lincolns, but that winter (1923-1924), pitching with the great Santa Clara ballclub, he led the Cuban League in wins with 10.”

Raleigh mackey posed fielding as Hilldale Giant

C-Biz Mackey, Hilldale Club, 25 Years Old

1921 1922

182 AB, .423, 5 HR, 44 RBI, .423/.456/.588, 192 OPS+

WAR-2.9

Wins Above Replacement-2.9 (4th)

WAR Position Players-2.9 (1st)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (1st)

Defensive WAR-0.2 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. 44 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led in:

1923 ECL Batting Title

WAR Position Players-2.9

Offensive WAR-2.8

Batting Average-.423

On-Base %-.456

Slugging %-.588

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.044

Hits-77

Adjusted OPS+-192

Runs Created-48

Adj. Batting Runs-22

Adj. Batting Wins-2.1

Offensive Win %-.851

Putouts as C-160

Assists as C-34

Errors Committed as C-5

Double Plays Turned as C-2

Passed Balls-1

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-6.32

Range Factor/Game as C-5.54

Fielding % as C-.975

3rd Time All-Star-While there might be arguments as to the best pitcher in the newly formed Eastern Colored League, there was no doubt who the best hitter was, the great catcher Biz Mackey, picked up from the Negro National League. This was Mackey’s best season ever and he was quite the acquisition for the pennant-winning Hilldale Club. I know Biz only played in 51 games, but that .423 average is still impressive.

                Chris Rainey of SABR writes, “In 1923 Ed Bolden, owner of the Hilldale Daisies (also called Giants and Darbys), led the formation of the Eastern Colored League (ECOL). A talent war ensued between the ECOL and the NNL that resulted in Mackey being signed by Hilldale. There he joined future Hall of Famers Judy JohnsonPop Lloyd, and Louis Santop. Mackey was now 25 years old and had reached his full stature of 6 feet tall and probably 210 pounds.

                “The ECOL season opener was staged before 17,000 fans in Hilldale’s new park. Mackey caught and batted fifth in the lineup behind Lloyd. The game was called because of rain in the sixth with Hilldale up 4-2 over the Bacharach Giants. Mackey split the catching duties that season with Santop and spelled the 39-year-old Lloyd at shortstop. He is credited with leading the team in batting and RBIs. Hilldale posted a league-leading 32-17 record.”

                The short seasons of the Major League Negro leagues are going to hinder some of these greats from making my Hall of Fame, which is based only on numbers. Mackey’s one of those who will be hurt because of that.

C-Julio Rojo, Baltimore Black Sox, 29 Years Old

149 AB, .342, 0 HR, 33 RBI, .342/.388/.450, 135 OPS+

3 1/3 IP, 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 0 K, 41 ERA+, 3.94 FIP, 2.100 WHIP

WAR-1.2

WAR Position Players-1.4 (9th)

Offensive WAR-1.4 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 142 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Domingo Julio Rojo was born on May 22, 1894 in Sagua la Grande, Cuba. The five-foot-eight switch-hitting, righty throwing catcher, third baseman, and first baseman started his Major League career here in the Eastern Colored League with his best season ever. If it weren’t for the fact Biz Mackey played in the same league, he would have been the league’s best backstop. He’s going to fall off next year once he hits the age of 30.

                Bernard McKenna wrote a book titled The Baltimore Black Sox: A Negro Leagues History, 1913-1936, in which he says about Rojo: “Ownership also upgraded the team’s roster. The Black Sox of the Eastern Colored League would be comprised of old and new faces. Jud Wilson would play first base. Joe Lewis would catch, but the team had also acquired Julio Rojo, a native of Cuba, to help behind the plate. Rojo was known for his expertise in handling pitchers and had better defensive skills than Lewis.”

                Usually, if I feel a player has made his last All-Star team, I will write some aspects of his later life and how and when he died. I’m not going to do that for Rojo yet, because there is the chance he’s going to make another one of my lists. However, he’ll never match this season again unless you count the 21 games he played for the New York Lincoln Giants in 1928. That’s the only year that has comparable hitting stats. The rest of the time, his bat is mediocre.

1B-Jud Wilson, Baltimore Black Sox, 27 Years Old

195 AB, .338, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .338/.408/.533, 163 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Wins Above Replacement-2.0 (8th)

WAR Position Players-2.0 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-2.0 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require eight more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Ernest Judson “Jud” or “Boojum” Wilson was born on February 28, 1896 in Remington, Virginia. The five-foot-eight, 190 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing first baseman, third baseman, and outfielder started his Hall of Fame career with this solid season. He’d have better ones, many of them, over his long career and he’s one of those rare Negro League players I’ve covered so far that’s going to make my Hall of Fame for sure.

                Wikipedia says, “Wilson debuted for the Baltimore Black Sox in 1922. Though Wilson was referred to as ‘Babe Ruth Wilson’ by the media, his teammates nicknamed him ‘Boojum’ after the noise his line drives made after striking the outfield fences. The team went on a 12-game winning streak after Wilson joined the club. He finished his first season with a .390 batting average and a team high in home runs. The Black Sox joined the Eastern Colored League in 1923. Wilson hit .373 that season, leading the league. However, the team finished in last place, prompting the hiring of Pete Hill as the team’s manager.”

                Let’s examine the nickname “Babe Ruth Wilson.” Because of the difference in games played and parks played, it’s difficult to do a head-to-head comparison with Ruth. However, this season, Wilson did finish fourth in AB per HR (27.9) and would finish fourth also in 1935. Those were his best home run seasons. Needless to say, that doesn’t come close to what Ruth did, but comparing people to the Bambino is always going to be a losing game.

1B-Robert Hudspeth, New York Lincoln Giants, 29 Years Old

128 AB, .367, 2 HR, 21 RBI, .367/.421/.539, 169 OPS+

WAR-1.4

WAR Position Players-1.4 (8th)

Offensive WAR-1.4 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 41 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Robert Hudspeth was born on April 6, 1894 in Luling, Texas. The six-foot-four, 200 pound lefty first baseman started his Major League career by playing 19 games for the Indianapolis ABCs in 1920. In 1921, his rookie year, he played one game for Indy and then finished his season with the Columbus Buckeyes and hit pretty well. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1922 and joined New York in the newly-formed Eastern Colored League.

                As with many of these ECL players, there isn’t a ton of information around. Wikipedia says, “Robert Hudspeth (April 6, 1894 – August 2, 1935), nicknamed ‘Highpockets’, was an American Negro league first baseman from 1920 to 1932.

“A native of Luling, Texas, Hudspeth made his Negro leagues debut in 1920 with the Indianapolis ABCs. He went on to play for several teams, including the Lincoln Giants and Brooklyn Royal Giants, and finished his career with the New York Black Yankees in 1932.”

That’s all the free internet encyclopedia has to say. He’s not done making my lists which means I’m going to have to go digging for even more info. Hudspeth is going to have a decent career here in the ECL, though he’s certainly not the player Jud Wilson is. One thing I like that Baseball Reference does is give a 162-game average for the players’ career. For Hudspeth, he’d average .312 with 15 homers and 105 RBI per 162 games. That’s good to see because it’s hard to gauge these ECL players with the small number of official games they played.

2B-Orville Singer, New York Lincoln Giants, 24 Years Old

95 AB, .400, 2 HR, 20 RBI, .400/.430/.537, 171 OPS+

WAR-1.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 57 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Orville Willis Singer was born on December 27, 1896 in Cambridge, Ohio. The five-foot-nine, 195 pound righty throwing outfielder and second baseman only played in 23 games this rookie season and made the most of it, batting .300. He’d play a total of seven seasons, bouncing around from team to team and from position to position. Wherever he played on the field, his bat shined, as he ended up with a career .334 average.

                Here’s some information from Wikipedia on the Lincoln Giants: “The Lincoln Giants can trace their origins back to the Nebraska Indians, of Lincoln, Nebraska, from the 1890s. According to Sol White’s History of Colored Base Ball, in 1890, the Lincoln Giants were founded as the first colored professional team in the west.  In the early 1910s, Jess McMahon, a white promoter, hired Sol White, former manager of the Philadelphia Giants, to put together a club. White signed eventual Hall of Famers John Henry Lloyd, the greatest shortstop in Negro league history, Cyclone Joe Williams, perhaps the greatest pitcher, and slugging catcher Louis Santop, together with pitcher Cannonball Dick Redding, center fielder Spotswood Poles, and catcher/first baseman Bill Pettus. Lloyd took over from White as manager midway through the 1911 season. With their powerful lineup, the Lincolns were the dominant team in African-American baseball in 1911, 1912 and 1913, winning the unofficial eastern championship each of those years. In 1913, with second baseman Grant Johnson joining the club, the Lincolns defeated Rube Foster‘s Chicago American Giants for the national black championship.”

                Singer died at the age of 86 on June 29, 1985 in Dorset, Ohio.       

2B-Frank Warfield, Hilldale Club, 24 Years Old

1921 1922

230 AB, .278, 1 HR, 20 RBI, .278/.362/352, 101 OPS+

WAR-1.2

Defensive WAR-0.2 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-61

Sacrifice Hits-17

Assists-154

Def. Games as 2B-61

Putouts as 2B-152

Assists as 2B-154

Errors Committed as 2B-15 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-35

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-5.20 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.02 (2nd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.953

3rd Time All-Star-Throughout baseball history, when leagues are trying to establish themselves, they raid established leagues for their best players. That’s what the pennant-winning Hilldale Club did, picking up Biz Mackey, John Henry Lloyd, and this man from the Negro National League. They ended up being good acquisitions for Hilldale as Warfield again showed defensive wizardry and good bat control. This would be the first of five consecutive seasons Warfield would lead the Eastern Colored League in sacrifices.

                The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page garners its information from The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, written by James A. Riley. He writes of Warfield, “An outstanding fielder in every aspect, he had wide range, good hands, and a good arm, with a unique underhand snap throw that helped him in turning double plays. At the plate he was a good contact hitter, skilled at the hit-and-run play, a master of the sacrifice bunt, and above the norm as a hitter, augmenting his average power by salvaging numerous leg hits to the infield.

“In 1923 the Eastern Colored League was organized, and the star second sacker was among the players traveling East to join it. After arriving with Hilldale, he played under John Henry Lloyd for a season, batting a solid .339 and stealing a team-high 67 bases. But he was among the dissident players who caused Lloyd to be fired as manager, even though he had just won an eastern championship. When Lloyd moved to Atlantic City with the Bacharachs, Warfield was elevated to the position of manager with the Hilldale club.”

3B-Oliver Marcell, New York Lincoln Giants, 28 Years Old

101 AB, .337, 1 HR, 14 RBI, .337/.432/.406, 137 OPS+

WAR-1.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 38 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Oliver Marcell was born on June 12, 1895 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The five-foot-10, 160 pound righty third baseman made my list in his rookie year as the Eastern Colored League’s best third baseman. Oh, he had a good season (just check out his slash numbers), but it helped him there weren’t many good players at his position this season. He’s going to make the list at least one more time and maybe more depending on his glove.

                Wikipedia agrees with my assessment of his defensive abilities, saying, “Although ‘Ghost’ was a top-class hitting infielder, his defensive skills took center stage by comparison. He was considered by most to be the greatest fielding third basemen in the league throughout the 1920s and possibly of all time. Baseball Hall of Famer Judy Johnson once admitted that Marcelle was a better defensive player than himself. During that time, he and shortstop Dick Lundy made up one of the best left-side infields ever.

                “Marcelle was known for a terrible temper, with umpires and opponents commonly drawn into arguments with him, and even teammates sometimes fighting him. Marcelle once hit Oscar Charleston in the head with a bat.”

                You might notice Wikipedia has a different spelling of Marcell’s name than Baseball Reference. They add an “e” to the end of his name. They also list a middle name for the third baseman, which BR doesn’t have. Wikipedia has his full name as Oliver Hazzard Marcellle. As I’ve noted many times, stats and personal information are not set in stone for the Negro Leagues.

SS-John Henry Lloyd, Hilldale Club, 39 Years Old

1921

150 AB, .367, 2 HR, 23 RBI, .367/.403/.507, 154 OPS+

WAR-1.8

WAR Position Players-1.8 (4th)

Offensive WAR-1.7 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.2 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: No (Would require 20 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Hilldale Club

37-21-1, 1st in ECL

Manager John Henry Lloyd

OPS+-111, 1st in league

ERA+-119, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Nip Winters, 3.6

Led in:

Putouts as SS-79 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-130 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as SS-11

Double Plays Turned as SS-25 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.84

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.23

Fielding % as SS-.950

2nd Time All-Star-Lloyd didn’t play in the Majors in 1922 and then moved to the Eastern Colored League this year, taking over as the shortstop and manager for the pennant-winning Hilldale Club. He’s already 39 years old by this point, but still has some good seasons ahead. However, those seasons won’t be for Hilldale as, despite winning the ECL title, he was let go and would move on to Atlantic City. Still, they can’t take away his winning the first pennant of the Major League ECL.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “In 1923 Ed Bolden formed the Eastern Colored League and as owner of the Hilldale Daisies, lured a number of players to the team including Lloyd as player-manager.  It was emblematic of this stage in Lloyd’s career that even though he could still hit, he was now valued more as a manager than a player. According to Bill Yancey, ‘I was just a kid and he was the great Lloyd I had heard so much about, and he’s the one who taught me to play shortstop.’

                “Despite leading Hilldale to the Eastern Colored League championship and batting .349, Lloyd was suspended by owner Bolden over a disagreement the two had about whether to raise Clint Thomas’s salary. The Pittsburgh Courier confirmed soon after that ‘the ten-day suspension to Manager John Henry Lloyd of Hilldale has been extended to include the balance of the season and forever, according to a statement made to the writer by the veteran star.’”

SS-Dick Lundy, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 24 Years Old

185 AB, .319, 3 HR, 34 RBI, .319/.364/.438, 125 OPS+

WAR-1.5

WAR Position Players-1.5 (6th)

Offensive WAR-1.5 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.3 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Atlantic City Bacharach Giants

23-25-1, 4th in ECL

Manager Dick Lundy

OPS+-75, 6th in league

ERA+-115, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Hubert Lockhart, 3.0

Led in:

Def. Games as SS-50

1st Time All-Star-Richard Benjamin “Dick” Lundy was born on July 10, 1898 in Jacksonville, FL. The five-foot-11, switch-hitting, righty throwing shortstop and second baseman started his Major League career as the shortstop and manager of the Bacharach Giants. He’d be with Atlantic City for six years and is going to have a decent career. Lundy could hit and field and will be making quite a few of my lists. However, both Cooperstown and I agree he doesn’t belong in the Hall.

                Stephen V. Rice of SABR writes, “Nicknamed ‘King Richard’ and ‘Sir Richard,’ Lundy was a graceful shortstop with extraordinary range and a rifle arm. He was an outstanding hitter, too, known for his ‘wicked line drives.  His career batting average from 1916 to 1937 is estimated by Seamheads.com to be .320. He was ‘one of the most spectacular athletes I’ve ever seen,’ said Negro League second baseman Bunny Downs in 1955. ‘Lundy could hit, throw, field, run and most important of all — think. On and off the field he was the type of fellow everybody took a liking to, always a gentleman.’

                “There was only one Bacharach Giants team in 1923, and Lundy was its playing manager. The club re-established its home base in Atlantic City, joined the newly formed Eastern Colored League (ECL), and finished in fourth place in the six-team league. In the offseason Lundy played for the Almendares team in the Cuban Winter League.”

                Lundy would not be the Bacharach Giants manager in 1924 or ’25, but would be back doing double duty in 1926.

SS-Cool Turner, Brooklyn Royal Giants, 21 Years Old

116 AB, .353, 0 HR, 21 RBI, .353/.375/.414, 122 OPS+

WAR-0.9

Defensive WAR-0.2 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 176 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Elbert Carter “Cool” Turner was born exactly a century before 9/11 on September 11, 1901 in Brooklyn, not far from where the planes took down the World Trade Center. The five-foot-10, 198 pound righty shortstop, third baseman, and second baseman started his Major League career this year with Brooklyn and he’d never hit this well again. He would have a better season later in his playing days, but this one wasn’t bad.

                Here’s some information from Wikipedia on the Giants’ home park: “Dexter Park was the home of the Brooklyn Bushwicks, an independent semi-pro team that played there from 1913 until 1951, when they folded. The park was purchased for them from the Ulmer Brewery in 1922. The Bushwicks played many teams in the Negro leagues as well as various All-Star teams. Dexter Park and the Bushwicks were owned by Max Rosner. The lighting system, which was first used on July 23, 1930, was among the first permanent lighting systems for night baseball in the U.S. and the first in New York City (Ebbets Field was not lighted for the Dodgers until 1938) and was designed and installed by Max Rosner’s son, Herman Rosner, who was an electrical engineer. Many former Major League ballplayers were featured on the Bushwicks, like the Cuccinello brothers. According to the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society sign at the site, the first night game at this venue was played in 1930. Josh Gibson once hit a home run over the 30-foot high wall behind the 418-foot deep left-center bleachers. The Brooklyn Farmers also played at Dexter Park, as did the Brooklyn Royal Giants, of the Negro leagues, in the 1920s and 1930s. Dexter Park set an attendance high for a National Challenge Cup (soccer) final in 1929, when 21,583 fans saw New York Hakoah defeat Madison Kennel of St. Louis. A record that stood for more than 80 years, until October 5, 2010, when 31,311 attended an Open Cup final at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington.”

LF-Charlie Mason, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 28 Years Old

200 AB, .345, 7 HR, 39 RBI, .345/.388/.505, 150 OPS+

WAR-1.7

WAR Position Players-1.7 (5th)

Offensive WAR-1.7 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 53 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-33

1st Time All-Star-Charles “Charlie” Mason was born on November 29, 1894 in Birmingham, Alabama. The six-foot-two, 200 pound outfielder and first baseman started his Major League career this season and it was his best season ever. After this year, Mason would bounce around the Eastern Colored League, American Negro League, and the East-West League. He’s end up with a .310 average and a slash line of .310/.376/.472 for an OPS+ of 125.

                There isn’t a lot of information on Mason so Dr. Layton Revel of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote Early Pioneers of the Negro Leagues: Nat Strong about the founder of the Eastern Colored League and it’s not entirely complementary to the white businessman. Revel writes, “Rube Foster who was the founder of the Negro National League was extremely disappointed when the Eastern Colored League was founded. When Foster looked at baseball in the East, he identified Nat Strong as the real power and driving force. Foster became even more threatened by Nat Strong when Nat sent his Brooklyn Royal Giants on a barnstorming tour through the Midwest in July and August of 1923. To make matters even worse for Foster was the fact that the Brooklyn played well. According to an article that appeared in the Chicago Defender on August 4th the Brooklyn Royal Giants had taken five straight games from local ball clubs in late July.”

                Mason would end his career with the Washington Pilots and Pollack’s Cuban Stars of the East-West League in 1932. Baseball Reference lists no date of death for him.

CF-George Johnson, Hilldale Club, 33 Years Old

213 AB, .352, 8 HR, 46 RBI, .352/.384/.549, 160 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Wins Above Replacement-2.1 (6th)

WAR Position Players-2.1 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-2.1 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Total Bases-117

Home Runs-8

Runs Batted In-46

Stolen Bases-13

Extra Base Hits-21

Power-Speed #-9.9

Assists as LF-4

Putouts as CF-60

Assists as CF-3

Errors Committed as CF-4

Assists as OF-7

Errors Committed as OF-5

Fielding % as CF-.940

1st Time All-Star-George Washington Johnson was born on April 20, 1890 in San Marcos, Texas. The six-foot-one, 180 pound righty centerfielder started his Major League career this year with the league-champion HIlldale Club and was a superstar. Unfortunately, he was also 33 years old and would never have a season like this again. He’d play six years in the Eastern Colored League for a variety of teams before hanging it up at the age of 38.

                A blog, The Negro Leagues Up Close, writes of Johnson: “It seems like George Washington Johnson was never a great ballplayer — maybe a solid, above-average outfielder with a decent bat and quality fielding skills — but in January 1925, he did something that truly caught my attention as I was researching this story on the 1925 Hilldale Club’s Colored World Series championship.

                “According to the Jan. 10, 1925, Philadelphia Tribune, Johnson issued a statement that, according to the paper, ‘strikes a new note in an already complicated situation and urges players of the Eastern [Colored] League to organize for the purpose of protecting themselves from exploitation at the hands of owners or managers.’

                “The article then quoted Johnson thusly:

                “’It is great to have a winning club. But to have it you must have a bunch of real fighters who can weather a whole season, fight for the lead and hold that lead against all other clubs in the circuit. Such a club Hilldale had last season.’”

                Johnson would die at the young age of 50 on August 6, 1940 in Philadelphia.

CF-Alejandro Oms, Cuban Stars East, 27 Years Old

128 AB, .367, 3 HR, 26 RBI, .367/.417/.523, 163 OPS+

WAR-1.4

WAR Position Players-1.4 (7th)

Offensive WAR-1.4 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 31 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Alejandro Oms was born on March 13, 1896 in Santa Clara, Cuba. The five-foot-six, 155 pound lefty centerfielder had a great rookie season and it was his best year ever. He’s not done making All-Star teams, he’ll make at least one more, but it could be more depending on circumstances. The Negro Leagues never seem to have problems producing good centerfielders and Oms joins the list of stars at that position.

                John Struth of SABR writes, “Alejandro Oms made a significant mark on baseball in his native Cuba, and in Venezuela and the United States. During his nearly 30-year career he was considered among the best Latino outfielders. Well regarded as a player, he was also respected as a man, earning the nickname ‘El Caballero’ or the gentleman, for his deportment on the playing field.

                “Pompez took the reins of the Cuban Stars for the 1922 season. Still unaffiliated, they barnstormed through the United States playing local clubs and against competition from the Negro leagues. According to reports, Oms hit 40 home runs against all competition. For that feat he began to be referenced as the ‘Cuban Babe Ruth’ in several Negro league and Cuban publications.

                “In 1923 the Cuban Stars entered the Eastern Colored League. Oms played in an outfield consisting of Pablo ‘Champion’ Mesa and Bernardo Baro. The Stars finished in second place, compiling a record of 23-17, losing out to the Hilldale club, Ed Bolden’s team. In the official league stats Oms batted .357 in 20 ‘league’ games.”

CF-Rags Roberts, Baltimore Black Sox, 27 Years Old

102 AB, .324, 0 HR, 14 RBI, .324/.425/.431, 141 OPS+

WAR-1.0

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 299 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Harry Hamlet “Rags” Roberts was born on November 12, 1895 in West Norfolk, Virginia. The five-foot-eight, 151 pound righty throwing outfielder, catcher, and second baseman played just this one year in the Major Leagues. It would take way too much research, but I wonder if anyone has made my list in the one season they played in the Majors. Rags played 17 games in centerfield, six games in rightfield, four games in leftfield, one game at second, and one game at catcher.

                Wikipedia says, “Harry Hamlet Roberts (November 12, 1895 – July 25, 1963), nicknamed ‘Rags’, was an American Negro league outfielder in the 1920s.

                “A native of West Norfolk, Virginia, Roberts made his Negro leagues debut in 1922 with the Harrisburg Giants and Baltimore Black Sox. He played for Baltimore again the following season, and finished his career in 1928 with the Homestead Grays. Roberts died in Beckley, West Virginia in 1963 at age 67.”

                So though 1923 was his only year in the Majors, Rags did play for non-Major League teams like the Harrisburg Giants in 1922, the Black Sox in 1922, and the Homestead Grays in 1928. It’s possible as more research is done in the future, other leagues will be designated as Major Leagues by Major League Baseball. I think it’s an important step that at least some of the Negro Leagues are now called Major Leagues and I get to read about all of these forgotten greats. I wonder if anyone knows why Harry was nicknamed “Rags.”

RF-Blainey Hall, Baltimore Black Sox, 34 Years Old

192 AB, .344, 2 HR, 28 RBI, .344/.376/.464, 135 OPS+

WAR-1.3

WAR Position Players-1.3 (10th)

Offensive WAR-1.2 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 199 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Baltimore Black Sox

19-33-1, 6th in ECL

Manager Louis Miller (7-5), Anthony Mahoney (10-24-1), and Blainey Hall (6-6)

OPS+-102, 3rd in league

ERA+-78, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Jud Wilson, 2.0

1st Time All-Star-James Blaine “Blainey” Hall was born on January 17, 1889 in Baltimore. The five-foot-seven, 175 pound righty rightfielder had his best season ever this year, though it should be mentioned he only played one other Major League year, in 1925 for the Black Sox. Hall was already 34 this year and wasn’t going to have much of a playing career left, but at least he proved his worth as the Eastern Colored League’s best rightfielder and a decent manager for the last place Black Sox.

                Wikipedia says, “James Blaine ‘Blainey’ Hall (born January 17, 1889 and died March 1975) was a Negro leagues outfielder and manager for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

“Hall managed the Baltimore Black Sox in 1923.

“He died in Baltimore, Maryland at the age of 86.”

So ends my write up of the first year of the Eastern Colored League. It would give the Negro National League competition over its six seasons of existence and give the Negro Major Leagues their first World Series. In all honesty, this isn’t the easiest league to write about because there isn’t a lot of easily accessible information on these players. It was the same writing about many of the players in the 1800s and writing about the NNL in its early years. It should be noted it’s not always easy to find info for the white Major Leagues, mainly because I’m trying to rush through all of these and don’t have time to research outside of a quick perusal of Google.

1923 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM

P-Ed Rile, CAG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

P-Juan Padron, CSW

P-Dicta Johnson, TT/MB/CAG

P-Jose Mendez, KCM

P-Charles Corbett, ABC

P-Andy Cooper, DS

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Joe Strong, MB/CAG

C-Mitchell Murray, TT/SLS

C-Frank Duncan, KCM

1B-Oscar Charleston, ABC

1B-Edgar Wesley, DS

2B-Bingo DeMoss, CAG

3B-George Scales, SLS

3B-Candy John Taylor, TT/SLS

3B-Dave Malarcher, CAG

3B-Henry Blackmon, ABC

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-Bill Riggins, DS

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

CF-Cristobal Torriente, CAG

CF-Turkey Stearnes, DS

RF-Heavy Johnson, KCM

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 29 Years Old, 3rd MVP

1921 1922

248 1/3 IP, 16-11, 2.94 ERA, 151 K, 150 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 1.164 WHIP

207 AB, .362, 7 HR, 44 RBI, .362/.416/.551, 150 OPS+

WAR-8.6

Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (1st)

WAR Position Players-2.6 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (3rd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (2nd Time)

Wins-16

Hits per 9 IP-7.683

Innings Pitched-248 1/3

Strikeouts-151

Games Started-24 (2nd Time)

Complete Games-20 (2nd Time)

Shutouts-4

Bases on Balls-77

Wild Pitches-9

Batters Faced-1,013

Fielding Independent Pitching-3.02 (2nd Time)

Adj. Pitching Runs-39 (3rd Time)

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.6 (2nd Time)

Putouts as P-19 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-During this era in baseball, there wasn’t a player like Charles “Bullet” Rogan to be found. As a matter of fact, there weren’t many like him in all of baseball history. Babe Ruth combined the skills of pitching and hitting for about five seasons and Shohei Ohtani is making a name for himself in 2021 and that’s just about it. Bullet Rogan pitched and hit his way to his third Negro National League Most Valuable Player, as determined by me, and he’s not nearly done yet.

                Wikipedia says, “On August 6, 1923, Rogan combined with teammate and manager José Méndez to pitch a no-hitter against the Milwaukee Bears, Méndez pitching the first five innings and Rogan the last four. That season he hit .364 with a league-leading 16 wins and 151 strikeouts to lead the Monarchs to their first pennant.”

                Baseball Reference says, “Satchel Paige said this about Rogan in the book Blackball Stars: ‘Joe Rogan was one of the world’s greatest pitchers. …He was a chunky little guy, but he could throw hard. He could throw hard as Smokey Joe Williams-yeah.’”

                It’s going to be four more seasons before Paige enters the Majors and probably another five before he makes my list for the first time, but he’s the player to which Rogan’s pitching most often gets compared. Even Paige agrees. However, Rogan’s career OPS+ is 152 and Paige’s is 25.

P-Ed Rile, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

184 2/3 IP, 15-7, 2.53 ERA, 69 K, 173 ERA+, 3.38 FIP, 1.164 WHIP

69 AB, .232, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .232/.274/.275, 43 OPS+

WAR-5.7

Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

39-24, 2nd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-83, 7th in league

ERA+-120, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Ed Rile, 5.7

Led in:

1923 NNL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.53

Adjusted ERA+-173

1st Time All-Star-Edward “Ed” Rile was born on June 30, 1900 in Columbus, Ohio. The six-foot-two, 210 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing first baseman and pitcher started in 1920 as a pitcher with the Indianapolis ABCs and then went to Columbus Buckeyes in 1921. That was an incredible year, because he pitched just five games, won them all, and, according to WAR, was the third best player on the Buckeyes. In just five games! No wonder when Columbus folded after the ’21 season, Rube Foster’s Giants snatched him up. He had the Giants’ best pitching season since Dave Brown in 1920.

                There is an outstanding article on SABR by Todd Peterson about the Black Ball Championships which went from 1866-to-1923. You’ll have to read the whole thing for context as I’m just putting the part that pertains to Rile.

                “Both owners desperately wanted to win the finale, which turned out to be ‘one of the greatest games played anywhere,’ replete with ‘brilliant fielding, eight fast double plays, and catches after long runs.’ Bacharach twirler Harold Treadwell fanned 12 and scattered eight hits while blanking the American Giants for 19 innings. But his teammates could do nothing with Chicago starter Ed ‘Huck’ Rile or Dave Brown, who came on in relief in the fifth. The jug-eared lefty allowed only six singles for the next 15 frames, and struck out 12 batters, including a bases-loaded punchout of George Shively in the top of the 18th inning. In the bottom of the 20th, Cristobal Torriente drew a walk off Treadwell, was sacrificed to second, and scored the game’s only run on a single by Dave Malarcher, beating weak-armed right fielder Ramiro Ramirez’s throw home by five feet.”

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 24 Years Old

1920 1921

213 2/3 IP, 15-9, 3.24 ERA, 119 K, 135 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.320 WHIP

91 AB, .242, 1 HR, 11 RBI, .242/.274/.319, 54 OPS+

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Hits Allowed-229 (2nd Time)

Assists as P-90

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1920 and ’21, Curry missed out in 1922, but it was still a good year, just not good enough. He’s back this year with his best year so far. Kansas City and the Chicago American Giants sure had a way of hoarding the best pitching in the Negro National League which is why they combined between them to win eight straight titles. This year was the Monarch’s first as they finally knocked the American Giants out of first.

                Baseball Reference says, “The tall curveball artist was 15-9 with 3 saves and a 3.24 RA in 1923. He also hit .242. He tied Andy Cooper and Huck Rile for second in the NNL in wins, one behind Rogan. His 119 strikeouts were second to Rogan, as were his 18 complete games. He tied Rogan and Bill Force for second in saves, behind Cooper. John Holway rates him as the best pitcher in the NNL that year.

                “In the winter of 1923-1924, Currie wnet to Cuba, where he was 8-2 for the legendary Santa Clara Leopards, considered arguably the best winter league team ever. Currie remained for the second season in Cuba that winter, going 2-3 for Santa Clara.”

                This will be Curry’s last year with the Monarchs as a new Major League formed this year called the Eastern Colored League.  Curry, along with many players, would make the jump to the new league. I’ll have more on that once I do the All-Star team for that league.

P-Juan Padron, Cuban Stars West, 30 Years Old

1922

137 2/3 IP, 7-8, 3.40 ERA, 80 K, 129 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.300 WHIP

60 AB, .350, 3 HR, 13 RBI, .350/.381/.517, 132 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-2.6 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

24-33, 9th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-87, 6th in league

ERA+-103, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Juan Padron, 3.3

Led in:

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.286

2nd Time All-Star-Padron moved from the Chicago American Giants to Cuban Stars West this year and had a good season. It was his worst pitching season between 1922 and 1925, but I have him rated higher because for the only time in his career, he shined with the bat. It was the only time Padron hit over .233 and he belted .350. He hit three of his five total homers this year and it’s the only year his OPS+ was over 100. It’s the best Cuban Stars West pitching year since Jose LeBlanc in 1921.

                By the way, that picture above is most likely not Padron, but Isidro Fabre. According to Gary Ashwill of Agate Type, “Back in 2011 Brian Campf sent me this marvelous photograph of Juan Padrón with the New York Cuban Stars, ca. 1920: (above picture)

                “After I posted it, a couple of readers noted that the same image had been identified as Isidro Fabré.  At the time this is what I wrote to one of them:

                “’It’s an interesting case, since Fabré & Padrón played for the same team (NY Cuban Stars) at the same time.  But I think it’s pretty easy, when you look at it, to tell them apart.  Attached are juxtapositions of the Padrón photo with both the Fabré you sent and another image of Fabré which is probably a little better for these purposes, as it’s more head on.  The entire structure of the lower face is different, with Fabré having more of a square chin and a narrower face; their noses are quite different; their eyebrows are different; Fabré’s lips are fuller; Fabré’s right ear, while similar to Padrón at the top, is shorter.

“’I’ve also attached an image showing the Padrón photo juxtaposed with a photo of the older Padrón, probably in the 1950s, which I obtained from his family.  You can see other images of Padrón from the 1970s here.’”

Wikipedia posts that picture as Padron. Click on the link above for more on this from Ashwill.

P-Dicta Johnson, Toledo Tigers/Milwaukee Bears/Chicago American Giants, 36 Years Old

175 1/3 IP, 9-6, 4.11 ERA, 57 K, 107 ERA+, 3.80 FIP, 1.363 WHIP

63 AB, .175, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .175/.257/.190, 18 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 41 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Toledo Tigers

10-17, 8th in NNL

Manager Dicta Johnson (3-10) and Candy Jim Taylor (7-7)

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-74, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Candy Jim Taylor, 1.7

Bears Team Stats

American Giants Teams Stats

1st Time All-Star-Louis “Dicta” Johnson was born on June 29, 1887 in Elizabethtown, Illinois. The five-foot-seven, 134 pound righty pitcher and outfielder started his Major League career with the Indianapolis ABCs from 1920-through-1922. In 1922, he went from Indianapolis to the Pittsburgh Keystones to finish the season. This season, his last, you can see he played for three different teams and had his best season ever.

                Wikipedia says, “Louis “Dicta” Johnson (born June 29, 1887) was an American spitball pitcher[2] in Negro league baseball and during the pre-Negro league years. He played from 1908 until 1923, mostly for the Indianapolis ABCs[1] and the Chicago American Giants.

                “In 1910 and 1911, Johnson followed many of his fellow Chicago players to the St. Paul Colored Gophers team, which became the Twin Cities Gophers in 1911. There he would play with Candy Jim TaylorWilliam BingaMule ArmstrongSherman BartonJohnny Davis and future College Football Hall of Fame legend Bobby Marshall.

                “In 1913, Johnson pitched a no-hitter for the Chicago American Giants.

                “Johnson pitched for the 183rd Infantry Team in 1918.

                “In 1922 he managed the Pittsburgh Keystones, and in 1923 he managed the Toledo Tigers, acting as a player-coach for the Tigers.”

                With all of the information on Johnson, I couldn’t find the day he died. I’m assuming he died or he’d be 134 at the time of this writing. I also don’t know what the nickname “Dicta” means. If any of my readers can fill in those details, it’d be appreciated.

P-Jose Mendez, Kansas City Monarchs, 38 Years Old

138 2/3 IP, 12-4, 3.18 ERA, 60 K, 138 ERA+, 3.30 FIP, 1.212 WHIP

88 AB, .239, 1 HR, 15 RBI, .239/.280/.409, 77 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 42 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

54-32, 1st in NNL

Managers Sam Crawford (26-17) and Jose Mendez (35-20)

OPS+-116, 1st in league

ERA+-131, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 8.6

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.947

1st Time All-Star-Jose Colmenar Mendez was born on January 2, 1885 in Cardenas, Cuba. The five-foot-10, 152 pound righty pitcher, shortstop, and third baseman had a prosperous career long before the Negro National League started which is why he’s in the Hall of Fame. He started with the Monarchs in 1920 and ‘21 as a shortstop, moved to third in 1922, but then had his best Major League season ever at pitcher this year. He also took over as manager midway through the season and helped guide the Monarchs to their first NNL crown.

                Peter C. Bjarkman of SABR has much to say about Mendez and I suggest you click on the link and read the whole thing. I’m just going to focus on his death, of which Bjarkman writes, “The details of Méndez’s death also are at best quite sketchy. Little is known about his final months and illness, only that he was reported deceased less than 22 months after hurling his final Cuban League victory (on January 26, 1927) and barely two years after his final triumph on the hill for the Kansas City Monarchs (June 13, 1926, over the Cleveland Elite). There is even some dispute over the actual date of his death, which is reported in a pair of sources as October 31, 1928 (Nieto and Wikipedia), and in yet another as November 6 (Figueredo, Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball). González Echevarría (The Pride of Havana), who provides one of the fuller portraits of the pitcher’s youth, has surprisingly nothing to say about his demise and at one point even inaccurately gives 1930 as the death date. It is nonetheless clear that Méndez died in obscurity and apparent poverty and that he was most likely the victim of TB – James Riley claims bronchopneumonia without citing any sources.”

P-Charles Corbett, Indianapolis ABCs, 33 Years Old

190 IP, 12-10, 3.69 ERA, 66 K, 119 ERA+, 4.17 FIP, 1.363 WHIP

121 AB, .198, 0 HR, 18 RBI, .198/.242/.289, 38 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR for Pitchers-3.3 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 46 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

44-32, 3rd in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes

OPS+-89, 5th in league

ERA+-105, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 4.5

1st Time All-Star-Charles Corbett was born on March 8, 1890 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. The righty pitcher and outfielder started with the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922 and didn’t have a very good season. He came back this year with the ABCs, having his best year ever. Starting in 1924, he’d move to the Eastern Colored League and pitch well if not good enough to make my list. It should be noted it looked like the Negro National League had another Bullet Rogan in 1922 when Corbett hit .412 with two homers and 15 runs batted in. He’d never hit that way again over a full season.

                There isn’t much on Corbett on the internet, so here’s some information on the ABCs from Wikipedia: “In 1920, after a year-long absence from baseball, Taylor reorganized the ABCs and entered them in the new Negro National League (NNL), finishing in fourth place with a 39–35 record. The following season Oscar Charleston left for the St. Louis Giants, and the ABCs sagged to 35–38 and fifth place, despite a great season from Ben Taylor.

                “During the off season in 1922, C. I. Taylor died and his widow Olivia continued as the club’s owner, and Ben Taylor became the playing manager. He reacquired Charleston, who led a rejuvenated ABCs squad to a 46–33 record and second-place finish. The young catcher Biz Mackey enjoyed a breakout season in 1922, and with Taylor, Charleston, and third baseman Henry Blackman keyed a prolific offense.”

                There is no recorded date of death for Corbett, nor can I find a picture.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 25 Years Old

1922

183 1/3 IP, 15-7, 3.49 ERA, 68 K, 126 ERA+, 3.95 FIP, 1.156 WHIP

64 AB, .109, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .109/.136/.156, -24 OPS+

WAR-2.4

WAR for Pitchers-3.0 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 60 percent chance)

Detroit Stars

39-27, 3rd in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-101, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Riggins, 3.9

Led in:

Walks & Hits per IP-1.156

Saves-6

2nd Time All-Star-Cooper made my list for the second consecutive season and is going to be a regular on my All-Star teams. He had great control and would be one of the Stars’ best pitchers for many a year. Because of the lack of official games, all of the Negro National League players had lower WARs than they deserved, but in determining my Hall of Fame, which is based solely on numbers, it will hurt some of these great Negro League players.              

                Wikipedia says, “Cooper pitched for the Detroit Stars from 1920 to 1927. The Stars played in Mack Park, which was noted for its short fences. Despite the hitter-friendly dimensions of the park, Cooper excelled as a pitcher in Detroit. The short fences often allowed Detroit’s powerful hitters to provide good run support for Cooper. In The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, James characterized Cooper as the best Negro league pitcher of 1923.”

                Does Bill James ever sleep? You’d think just keeping up with the National and American Leagues would be enough for the prolific writer, but he also takes time to detail the Negro Leagues. Sure, I’m doing it now, but I’m not actually doing, what do they call it?, oh, research, I’m just piggybacking off the great writers on the net, scribes like Gary Ashwill and the wonderful writers of SABR. What I hope is happening for my readers and me is that we’re learning to appreciate many of these forgotten players.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 26 Years Old

1920 1921

94 IP, 9-1, 2.97 ERA, 23 K, 148 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 1.351 WHIP

28 AB, .071, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .071/.071/.071, -63 OPS+

WAR-2.2

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.900

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.096

3rd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1920 and 1921, Williams didn’t pitch in the Negro National League in 1922. According to Baseball Reference, he spent 1922 with the New York Lincoln Giants and Atlantic City, which were not considered Major League teams. He came back to the American Giants in 1923 and again showed why he was one of the early Negro National League greats. However, this is probably the last time he’ll make my list.

                BR says, “In 1923, he was back in Chicago and had his fourth big season in four years for them. He was 9-1 with a 2.97 ERA, finishing third in the NNL in ERA behind Ed Rile and Rogan. The Morris Brown alumnus was 12-4 with a 3.68 ERA and 99 strikeouts for Chicago and the Detroit Stars in 1924. He was 5th in the NNL in wins (behind Rogan, Andy CooperSam Streeter and Juan Padron), second in ERA (to Padron) and 4th in whiffs (trailing Streeter, Bob Poindexter and Rogan). He was 0-1 for Chicago in 1925 to end his career.

                “Williams threw a curveball, drop, spitballfastball and floater and was noted for his pick-off move.

                “From 1916-1923, he was 53-22 with a 2.44 ERA, walking 177 in 668 2/3 IP. His WHIP was 1.09 and his ERA+ 143. For this period, he was 5th in the Negro Leagues in wins (behind Redding, Dick Whitworth, Jeffries and Rogan), 1st in winning percentage (for hurlers with 100+ games), tied for third with 10 shutouts (with Brown and Jeffries), fourth in ERA for pitchers with 50+ games (trailing Cyclone Joe WilliamsJosé Leblanc and Redding), third in ERA+ for those with 100+ appearances (behind Rogan and Redding) and second in WHIP (behind Brown).”

                Williams died on January 19, 1937 at the age of 40 in Bremen, Illinois.

P-Joe Strong, Milwaukee Bears/Chicago American Giants, 20 Years Old

187 2/3 IP, 7-15, 4.27 ERA, 68 K, 103 ERA+, 4.03 FIP, 1.535 WHIP

81 AB, .235, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .235/.271/.358, 63 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Milwaukee Bears

11-42, 11th in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-69, 8th in league

ERA+-87, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Joe Strong, 1.2

American Giants Team Stats

Led in:

Losses-15

1st Time All-Star-Joseph Talton “Joe” Strong was born on August 4, 1902 in Jackson, Kentucky. The five-foot-11, 176 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing pitcher and outfielder started as a pitcher for the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922. However, the Stars lasted just that one year and so Strong went to the Negro National League’s newest team, the Milwaukee Bears. Milwaukee would last just this one season and before 1923 was over, Strong moved onto the American Giants.

                Of the Bears, Wikipedia says, “The team was one of two (the Toledo Tigers being the other) created to fill one of the vacancies created in the NNL after the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones had been dropped after the previous season. It drew much of its personnel from the disbanded Keystones and from the New Orleans Crescent Stars, an independent southern team. Hall of Fame outfielder Pete Hill, 40, was asked by Rube Foster to manage the team, and remaining roster spots were filled from tryouts held in Chicago in April, and by castoffs from other teams.

                “With limited financing and an inexperienced ownership, the team quickly fell out of the running in the league. Primarily due to poor home attendance at Athletic Park (later known as Borchert Field), the club played most of its games on the road, and finished in last place with a 12-41 record in league play, disbanding after the season.

                “Outfielders Pete Duncan (.321), Percy Wilson (.314), and Sandy Thompson (.310) were among the better hitters. Fulton Strong led the pitching staff with only four victories, against 14 defeats. Hill hit .296 in a part-time role as the Bears’ player-manager.”

                I’m assuming Fulton Strong is this man since he’s the only Strong on the roster.

C-Mitchell Murray, Toledo Tigers/St. Louis Stars, 27 Years Old

185 AB, .346, 6 HR, 40 RBI, .346/.407/.535, 144 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Offensive WAR-1.9 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Tigers Team Stats

Stars Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as C-11

1st Time All-Star-Mitchell Murray was born on January 28, 1896 in Wyoming, Ohio. The five-foot-nine, 170 pound righty catcher started his Major League career with the Indianapolis ABCs and Dayton Marcos in 1920. He didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1921 and then in 1922, caught for the Cleveland Tate Stars. This season, with the Tate Stars defunct, Murray started his season for the Toledo Tigers before finally ending up on the Stars.

                Wikipedia has information on this one season for the Tigers, saying, “The team was one of two (the Milwaukee Bears being the other) created to fill one of the vacancies created in the NNL after the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones had been dropped after the previous season. Its personnel consisted at first of a few veterans and semi-pro players, though it was improved in late May when it merged with the short-lived independent team, the Cleveland Nationals.

                “Operated initially by the NNL, it was taken over by Cleveland businessman Phil Fears after the two teams merged. While its play improved dramatically following the merger, it was under-financed and suffered from poor attendance, and ceased operations in July with a league record of 11-17. After the team disbanded, many of its better players transferred to the St. Louis Stars and Milwaukee Bears for the remainder of the season, in an effort to shore up both franchises. The NNL then invited the Cleveland Tate Stars to rejoin as associate members to play out the Tigers’ remaining schedule.”

C-Frank Duncan, Kansas City Monarchs, 22 Years Old

346 AB, .257, 0 HR, 39 RBI, .257/.332/.332, 74 OPS+

WAR-1.0

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Outs Made-281

Def. Games as C-83 (3rd Time)

Putouts as C-426 (3rd Time)

Assists as C-132 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as C-25

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-6.91

Range Factor/Game as C-6.72 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-Frank Lee Duncan was born on Valentine’s Day, 1901 in Kansas City, Missouri. The six-foot, 175 pound righty catcher, first baseman, and outfielder started his Negro National League career with the Chicago Giants in 1920. In 1921, he caught for the Giants again before going to the Monarchs during the season. With the departure of Biz Mackey to the Eastern Colored League, there was a vacuum for good backstops and Duncan filled it due to to his good glove.

                Wikipedia says, “Duncan broke in with the 1920 Chicago Giants, forcing John Beckwith to move from catcher to shortstop. He hit just .161. In 1921, Duncan moved to the Monarchs and batted .250/.295/.277 (BA/OBP/SLG) for the combined season. In 1922, Duncan improved to .235/.317/.313 at the plate and was credited with 22 sacrifice hits to lead the Negro National League in that category. He led the NNL’s catchers in fielding percentage (.984) and assists (91).

                “In 1923, he batted .257/.332/.332 and fielded .960 while batting second for the pennant-winning Monarchs. That winter, he played for one of the most famous Cuban Winter League teams ever, the 1923–1924 Santa Clara Leopardos. He batted .336 and slugged .401 for the club, which won the pennant with a 36–11 record.”

                Duncan is going to have a long career, playing from 1920-to-1945, and he’s never going to be much of a hitter. However, he made up for it with his glove as he’ll be in the top 10 in Defensive WAR seven times in his career.

1B-Oscar Charleston, Indianapolis ABCs, 26 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

308 AB, .364, 11 HR, 94 RBI, .364/.453/.591, 170 OPS+

29 1/3  IP, 1-2, 4.60 ERA, 7 K, 96 ERA+, 4.43 FIP, 1.500 WHIP

WAR-4.5

Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.3 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-4.0 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Stolen Bases-25

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.67

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.42 (2nd Time)

4th Time All-Star-Charleston continued to dominate the Negro National League, though this season was his worst thus far. It was the first time he didn’t lead the NNL in WAR Position Players or Offensive WAR, thanks to Heavy Johnson and Dobie Moore, fantastic players themselves. It was also the first year Charleston made my list at a position other than centerfield as he played more games at first base than any other position.

                SABR says, “In December 1922, Olivia Taylor traded Charleston to Rube Foster’s American Giants. Taylor was facing financial difficulties, and Biz Mackey and Ben Taylor also left the team. But Charleston returned to the ABCs prior to the season: Foster realized it was better for the league if Charleston played for the ABCs, and he worked out a deal with Taylor whereby Taylor would receive a subsidy for 1923 and let Charleston go to the American Giants in 1924. Charleston spent the 1923 season with the ABCs and was the leader of a depleted team that struggled to a fourth-place finish. In fact, the team needed Charleston to pitch on multiple occasions.”

                There’s no doubt the Chicago American Giants would have won their fourth straight crown if they had kept Charleston. However, I admire the selflessness of Rube Foster, the Chicago manager, who realized the dominance of his squad over the league wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the league. By letting Oscar go to Indianapolis, he practically handed the league crown to the Monarchs. Of course, it’s easier to be selfless when you’ve already won three straight NNL titles.

1B-Edgar Wesley, Detroit Stars, 32 Years Old

1922

265 AB, .291, 16 HR, 56 RBI, .291/.369/.532, 132 OPS+

WAR-2.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-12.47

Range Factor/Game as 1B-12.25 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-It’s too bad Wesley was already older once the Negro National League started, because there’s no doubt he could have been one of the all-time greats. He has made two of these lists and has yet to have his best season yet. He did hit for a lot of power, belting 16 homers, a total good enough for fourth. You might remember he was the NNL’s first home run leader in 1920 when he hit 16. Part of the problem for Wesley is the Stars didn’t play as many games as some of the other league teams.

                Richard Bak wrote an article for Vintage Detroit titled Stearnes and Wesley: The Bash Brothers of Mack Park. Of the 1923 season, he penned, “In 1923, their first summer together, Turkey had 17 homers and 85 RBIs (both third in the league) and batted .362. Wesley had an off year, though his 16 round-trippers placed him fourth in that category. However, Wesley made up for it in a postseason exhibition series between the Stars and St. Louis Browns at Mack Park. In the first game of a three-game set, he poled a pair of homers, including a walk-off shot in the ninth, to climax a thrilling comeback win. He continued to hit and field well as the black pros beat the white big leaguers twice, causing Judge Landis to ban any further exhibitions between intact major-league and Negro League teams. Henceforth, the embarrassed commissioner decreed, only ‘all-star’ teams could play each other, thus diluting the embarrassment of a major-league club losing to its supposed inferiors.”

2B-Bingo DeMoss, Chicago American Giants, 33 Years Old

1920

278 AB, .255, 1 HR, 31 RBI, .255/.337/.309, 69 OPS+

WAR-1.8

Defensive WAR-1.8 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Sacrifice Hits-25

Putouts as 2B-185 (3rd Time)

Assists as 2B-287 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 2B-29 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.32 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as 2B-6.21 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 2B-.971 (4th Time)

2nd Time All-Star-DeMoss last made my list in 1920 and then Frank Warfield was the representative at second base for the next two seasons after that. Warfield was off to the newly formed Eastern Colored League this year, so DeMoss is back, making it because of his glove not bat. On a team that relied on its pitching as much as the American Giants did, it was important to have good leather backing up those arms.

                Baseball Reference says, “Bingo DeMoss was considered one of the best second basemen of the pre-Negro Leagues period. Playing in pitcher-friendly ballparks in a low-offense era, his raw offensive numbers were never good. He was valued for his defensive talent, his base-running ability, his bunting and hit-and-run skills, and his leadership qualities.

                “At age 31, he hit .241. Offensive statistics were improving just as in the white leagues, but Chicago remained a pitcher’s paradise and the veteran was a decent 3rd on the champion team in hitting, well behind Cristobal Torriente (.346) and Jimmie Lyons (.295).

                “In 1922, the second baseman batted .256, fourth on the top team. DeMoss hit .252/.309/.332 in 1923, fielding a pretty slick .971.”

                DeMoss is well-regarded by both those who played with him and modern researchers. His defense was so good that even though he’s not adding much with his bat by this time in his career, he’s still made two of these lists. It’s possible he’s going to make another one, but since his hitting is so weak, it’s tough to tell.

3B-George Scales, St. Louis Stars, 22 Years Old

164 AB, .390, 11 HR, 45 RBI, .390/.505/.738, 220 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR Position Players-3.3 (8th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star teams. 35 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-George Louis Scales was born on August 16, 1900 in Talladega, Alabama. The five-foot-11, 195 pound righty third baseman, second baseman, and first baseman started with the St. Louis Giants in 1921. When the Giants became the Stars in 1922, Scales remained on the team. During those two seasons, he had a total of 150 at bats and was hitting below .200. So before 1923, he was off to the New York Lincoln Giants of the newly formed Eastern Colored League and played nine games for them, hitting .412. He came back to the Stars and he started lighting up the Negro National League. You can see his slash stats above.

                Stephen V. Rice of SABR writes, “At 5-feet-11 and 195 pounds, Scales was big for the era. He had a stocky build and was nicknamed Tubby. He emerged as a power hitter in 1923, with a career-high .747 slugging percentage. On June 17 he homered in the 11th inning to give the St. Louis Stars a 9-7 victory over the Cuban Stars. And against the Milwaukee Bears on August 11, he contributed a single, triple, and home run as the St. Louis Stars earned another 9-7 triumph. A week later he joined the New York Lincoln Giants.

                “It was strength versus strength on September 3, 1923. Scales, regarded as a great curveball hitter, faced pitcher Arthur ‘Rats’ Henderson of the Bacharach Giants, who had ‘one of the best curve balls in history.’ Scales went 3-for-4 with a home run as the Lincoln Giants prevailed.”

3B-Candy Jim Taylor, Toledo Tigers/St. Louis Stars, 39 Years Old

215 AB, .372, 20 HR, 76 RBI, .372/.438/.712, 195 OPS+

4 IP, 0-1, 11.25 ERA, 1 K, 46 ERA+, 7.29 FIP, 3.000 WHIP

WAR-3.2

WAR Position Players-3.2 (9th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 53 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Tigers Team Stats

St. Louis Stars

29-43, 10th in NNL

Manager Joe Hewitt (17-23) and Candy Jim Taylor (15-25-1)

OPS+-114, 2nd in league

ERA+-79, 7th in league

WAR Leader-George Scales, 3.3

Led in:

Home Runs-20

AB per HR-10.8

Fielding % as 3B-.956

1st Time All-Star-James Allen “Candy Jim” Taylor was born on February 1, 1884 in Anderson, South Carolina. The five-foot-five, 165 pound righty third baseman, pitcher, and second baseman started his Negro National League career with the Dayton Marcos in 1920. He didn’t play in the Majors in 1921 and then ended up on the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1922. At this point in his career, he was already 38 and didn’t hit too well in the Majors. However, that changed this year as he played for Toledo and then for St. Louis, which he also managed.

                Bill Johnson of SABR writes, “His teams won more games than any team in the annals of organized black baseball. ‘Candy Jim’ Taylor’s professional baseball career began in 1904, well before Rube Foster’s first Negro National League was formed, and his managerial tenure ended abruptly, just before the 1948 baseball season began, due to Taylor’s sudden death. In between, Taylor played with, managed, or played against virtually every notable player in segregated baseball, and his teams twice won the Negro League World Series, and three other times captured the Negro National League pennant. His three brothers all played at the highest possible levels of the game, and his youngest sibling, Ben, was a lifetime .300 hitter who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. ‘Candy Jim’ neither married nor fathered any children, and had few casual interests outside the game. His was, in the purest sense, a baseball life.

                “Taylor signed on to manage the Baltimore Elite Giants for the 1948 campaign, his 44th in professional baseball, but entered People’s Hospital with an unspecified illness in Chicago during spring training. He died on April 3, 1948, at the age of 64, and was buried in Alsip, Illinois, at the Burr Oak Cemetery.”

3B-Dave Malarcher, Chicago American Giants, 28 Years Old

270 AB, .304, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .304/.386/.411, 108 OPS+

WAR-2.1

Defensive WAR-0.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 3B-73 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 3B-107 (3rd Time)

Assists as 3B-117 (3rd Time)

Errors Committed as 3B-20 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-David Julius “Dave” Malarcher was born on October 18, 1894 in White Hall, LA. The five-foot-seven, 150 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing third and second baseman started with the American Giants in 1920 and would be their third baseman for their three straight pennants. He never would be a great hitter, but he had quite the glove and with Chicago relying so much on its pitching staff, that was important.

                In his book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley writes, “When Malarcher joined the American Giants in 1920, the inaugural year of the Negro National League, he was called the best third baseman in black baseball and began his career with the American Giants by hitting .344. The first three years, the American Giants won the league championship, with Malarcher’s win-fling spirit making him a key cog in Foster’s machine, usually batting in one of the top two spots in the lineup. During the middle season of the three consecutive pennants, Malarcher suffered physical setbacks and missed considerable playing time. He was ordered not to play in 1922 because of torn ligaments around his heart, but was undeterred. He injured his leg in May but, determined to play, was back in lineup in July. Despite the handicaps, he managed a batting average of .235 for the 1921 season.”

                Again this is a situation where the stats are all over the place. Riley says Malarcher hit .344 in 1920, but Baseball Reference says he hit .259. This season, 1923, is the first one BR records Malarcher as hitting over .300.

3B-Henry Blackmon, Indianapolis ABCs, 31 Years Old

250 AB, .296, 7 HR, 43 RBI, .296/.343/.448, 105 OPS+

WAR-2.0

Defensive WAR-1.1 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 59 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as 3B-11 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.66

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.47

1st Time All-Star-Henry Blackmon was born on September 16, 1891 in Hillsboro, TX. The six-foot-two, 185 pound righty third baseman started his Major League career with the ABCs in 1920 and then didn’t play in 1921. He came back in 1922 and, like Dave Malarcher, was more of a fielder than a hitter. After this season, he’d go to the Baltimore Black Sox of the Eastern Colored League but then come back for one game with the ABCs to finish his playing days in the Majors as he had an early death.

                On the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page, James A. Riley writes in his book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, “The youngest of five children, he honed his baseball skills on the ball diamonds of Texas, and in July 1917 he was the third baseman with the Texas All-Stars. Three years later, while playing with a team called the San Antonio Black Aces, he left the Lone Star State to join C.I. Taylor‘s Indianapolis ABCs in 1920. While with the ABCs he earned a reputation as one of the cleanest fielders and had one of the best and snappiest arms in baseball, rarely making a bad throw. He was a fair hitter, with averages of .224 and .264 in 1922-1923, and a fair base runner. He was good-natured, likable, and popular with the fans, and earned the nickname ‘the Galloping Ghost.’

                “Blackman played a game against Hilldale on July 26, performing in usual fashion, and two weeks later he was dead. His death took place in the office of Dr. Montague on Madison Avenue in Baltimore. He had gone there because of a throat ailment that later developed into complications that caused his death, listed as a liver ailment. Over a thousand fans followed his bier as his remains were taken to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station to be sent to Texas for interment.”

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

378 AB, .365, 8 HR, 79 RBI, .365/.407/.534, 144 OPS+

WAR-5.5

Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-2.1 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

At Bats-378

Singles-99

Assists-394

Def. Games as SS-94

Putouts as SS-225 (2nd Time)

Assists as SS-394 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as SS-54 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.74 (4th Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-6.59 (4th Time)

Fielding % as SS-.951

4th Time All-Star-What a pleasure it is to write about Walter “Dobie” Moore, the best shortstop in the Negro National League at the beginning of its history. It’s too bad a tragedy shortened his career, but there’s time for that later. One thing I can’t find in my admittedly short amount of research is how he got the nickname “Dobie.” Since it’s used so commonly, I’m guessing he got the nickname early in his life, but I can’t find anything about it.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz write in Forgotten Heroes: Walter “Dobie” Moore, “In 1923, Dobie Moore picked up where he had left off the season before. The 1923 season would also be the start of the Monarchs dominance of the Negro National League. Over the next four seasons the Monarchs won Negro National League championships. The Monarchs were led offensively by the hitting of Oscar “Heavy” Johnson (.367 with 20 homeruns), Dobie Moore (.366) and Bullet Rogan (.355). Rube Currie (23-11), Bullet Rogan (20-19), Jose Mendez (15-6) and Big Bill Drake (15-9) all turned in outstanding pitching performances for the season. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 57-33 (.633) record to win their first Negro National League championship.”            

                Now there are two Negro Major Leagues, there would have to be a World Series and that will come in 1924. Moore is going to be part of that, but I’m getting ahead of myself. With players like Rogan and Moore, Kansas City is going to be good for quite a while.

SS-Bill Riggins, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

265 AB, .302, 6 HR, 43 RBI, .302/.379/.426, 110 OPS+

WAR-3.9

Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (7th)

WAR Position Players-3.9 (6th)

Defensive WAR-2.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-2.5

1st Time All-Star-Arvell “Bill” Riggins was born on February 7, 1900 in Colp, Illinois. The five-foot-eight, 160 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing shortstop and third baseman started his Negro National League career with the Chicago American Giants for three games in 1920 before going to the Stars. This was his best season ever, mainly due to his glove, as he led the NNL in Defensive WAR. He’ll make more of these lists.

                Baseball Reference states, “Bill Riggins was a top shortstop in the Negro Leagues during the 1920s who battled problems with alcohol. He is attributed with a .309 career average in the Negro Leagues and .321 in the California Winter League.

                “Riggins became a regular with the Detroit Stars in 1920, hitting .292 as the third baseman. In 1921, he batted .269/.307/.352 and fielded .884 at shortstop. The next year, the 22-year-old’s batting line was .256/.316/.330 while his .949 fielding percentage at short led the Negro National League. He was 1 for 10 against the 1922 Detroit Tigers in an exhibition. In 1922-1923, he hit .236 and slugged .294 in the California Winter League.

                “Riggins batted second and played short for Detroit in 1923. He hit .302/.369/.426 and fielded .923. he again struggled in a brief look against major leaguers, going 1 for 13 against the 1923 St. Louis Browns. In the 1923-24, he hit .326 and slugged .349 in the California Winter League.”

                Arvell Riggins couldn’t hit as well as Dobie Moore, but he could certainly keep up with him fielding.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 34 Years Old

1920 1921 1922

376 AB, .327, 8 HR, 65 RBI, .325/.410/.481, 132 OPS+

1 IP, 0-0, 18.00 ERA, 1 K, 33 ERA+, 13.04 FIP, 5.000 WHIP

WAR-3.4

Wins Above Replacement-3.4 (10th)

WAR Position Players-3.5 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-98

Plate Appearances-439

Bases on Balls-49 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-155

4th Time All-Star-After having his best season ever in 1922, McNair declined a bit in 1923, but not enough to keep him off my list. He now has been an All-Star four times, along with Oscar Charleston, Dobie Moore, Dave Brown, and Bill Holland. The latter two are now in the Eastern Colored League. A funny thing’s going to happen to the now 34-year-old McNair in 1924 – he’s going to move from left to rightfield.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNair, saying, “Hurley McNair returned to the Kansas City Monarchs for the 1923 Negro League season. The 1923 season would also be the start of the Monarchs dominance of the Negro National League. Over the next four seasons the Monarchs won Negro National League championships.

                “The 1923 Monarchs were led offensively by the hitting of Oscar “Heavy” Johnson (.406 with 20 homeruns, 120 RBIs and a .722 slugging percentage), Dobie Moore (.366 with 81 RBIs), Bullet Rogan (.364), John Donaldson (.351), Hurley McNair (.332), Wade Johnston (.332), George Sweatt (.310) and Newt Allen (.304).

                “The Kansas City Monarchs played their home games at Association Park and Muelbach Stadium. Kansas City finished the regular season with a 57-33 (.633) record to win their first Negro National League championship.

                “The Kansas City Monarchs had finally dethroned their arch rival Chicago American Giants to win their first Negro National League crown.”

                Despite his age, McNair isn’t done making All-Star teams.

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 29 Years Old

1920 1921

261 AB, .387, 4 HR, 63 RBI, .387/.481/.556, 169 OPS+

21 IP, 2-1, 3.43 ERA, 9 K, 130 ERA+, 3.66 FIP, 1.381 WHIP

WAR-4.5

Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.1 (4th)

Offensive WAR-3.5 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.4 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led In:

On-Base %-.481 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as CF-72

Putouts as CF-147

Assists as CF-13

Double Plays Turned as CF-4

3rd Time All-Star-After winning the Negro National League Most Valuable Player in 1920 (according to me) and then making my list again in 1921, Torriente missed some games in 1922 and didn’t make the All-Star team. Well, he came back strong this season, leading the league in on-base percentage and once again having an OPS over 1.000. Even though he’s not going to make my Hall of Fame, I have no issues with him being in Cooperstown.

                Peter C. Bjarkman of SABR writes, “Torriente’s Cuban League legacy is certainly impressive, even if sometimes distressingly thin. He boasts a legacy certainly the equal of the one attached to Méndez, even if he didn’t enjoy quite the same hometown icon status earned by the ‘Black Diamond’ with those politically charged early-century triumphs over big leaguers representing occupying American forces. His record as a hitter is largely unparalleled in his own era. He owned the third highest overall batting mark in league history (.352 in a dozen campaigns), trailing only Americans Jud Wilson (.372 but only six seasons) and Oscar Charleston (.360 across a full decade). Other records include an unsurpassed five times as leader in triples, four times as the home-run leader (although his high was four in 1923 due to the immense league parks), and twice as batting champion. And there were accounts of Torriente’s remarkable defense as a rocket-armed center fielder that supplement holes left by missing or spotty statistical records. One can question (and perhaps should question) the level of competition in an era that witnessed no major leaguers on Cuban soil for regular league games outside the exhibitions of the staged early-winter American Season. But that argument can be raised whenever one compares different leagues or eras. Any player must be judged by where he stood against the competition at hand, and Torriente seemed to rank well ahead of most of the field he faced.”

CF-Turkey Stearnes, Detroit Stars, 22 Years Old

279 AB, .362, 17 HR, 85 RBI, .362/.401/.710, 184 OPS+

7 IP, 0-1, 15.43 ERA, 2 K, 30 ERA+, 10.18 FIP, 2.429 WHIP

WAR-3.7

Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)

WAR Position Players-4.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2000)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Triples-14

1st Time All-Star-Norman Thomas “Turkey” Stearnes was born on May 8, 1901 in Nashville. The five-foot-11, 175 pound lefty centerfielder had quite a rookie year and is off to an outstanding career. Many Negro League players are hindered from making my Hall of Fame due to the short seasons, but because Stearnes is going to play so well for so long, he’s easily going to go in. He already made it into Cooperstown in 2000.

                Thomas Kern of SABR writes, “Stearnes’ rookie year in 1923 was one for the ages. Detroit Stars historian Richard Bak recorded Stearnes as in the lineup on April 29 (Opening Day against Indianapolis) and barely a month later — May 31 — he hit for the cycle in a 7-6 win against Toledo. The season was a magical one for Stearnes: three triples in a game, multiple-homer games, and a first look at his towering shots that were necessary, according to Bak, to clear ‘Mack Park’s tall right field fence, which was topped with a wire screen, requiring better than average lift to clear it. “You got to hit a tall fly ball,” is the way Stearnes once described it. The statistical line for Turkey in 1923 — 18 home runs, 89 RBIs, .366 batting average, .403 OBP, and a .723 slugging percentage (purportedly the highest ever for a Detroit Star) — represented an incredible coming-out party. However, despite Stearnes’ heroics and the power-hitting first baseman Edgar Wesley, the Stars finished only a distant third behind the Kansas City Monarchs, who went on to play Hilldale that autumn in the first Colored World Series.”

RF-Heavy Johnson, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old

1922

374 AB, .406, 20 HR, 120 RBI, .406/.471/.722, 207 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-5.8 (1st)

Offensive WAR-6.1 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1923 NNL Batting Title (2nd Time)

1923 NNL Triple Crown

WAR Position Players-5.8

Offensive WAR-6.1

Batting Average-.406 (2nd Time)

Slugging %-.722 (2nd Time)

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.193 (2nd Time)

Games Played-98

Runs Scored-91

Hits-152

Total Bases-270

Doubles-32

Home Runs-20

Runs Batted In-120

Adjusted OPS+-207 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-125

Adj. Batting Runs-59

Adj. Batting Wins-5.4

Extra Base Hits-65

Times on Base-198

Offensive Win %-.874

Hit By Pitch-8

Power-Speed #-18.4

Assists as RF-10

Assists as OF-14

2nd Time All-Star-If it wasn’t for his incredible teammate, Bullet Rogan, who both pitched and played in the field, Heavy would have easily won my Most Valuable Player. Look at those stats above! It was quite the season and that’s in 98 games, about a third of a regular National or American League year. That means he would have hit about 30 homers and driven in about 180 runs had he played 154 games. This was easily his best season ever.

                Baseball Reference says, “In 1923, Oscar had a career year. Hitting fifth or third, he hit .406/.462/.722 and won a Triple Crown as Kansas City won their first pennant to mark the beginning of the Negro League dynasty. Johnson led the NNL in average, slugging, hits (152), RBI (120, 26 more than Oscar Charleston, the runner-up), doubles (32), total bases (270, 68 more than Moore) and runs (91). He tied Candy Jim Taylor for the home run lead (20). He was second in OBP (trailing Cristobal Torriente) and triples (13, one behind Turkey Stearnes), tied for fifth in walks (38) and was fifth in steals (17), showing that he could run despite his bulk.

                “Johnson spent part of that winter with what was arguably the greatest Cuban Winter League team ever, the 1923-24 Santa Clara club. He hit .345 and slugged .509 playing part-time at first base, leaving for the U.S. before the season ended.”

                It’s amazing a man with his girth – he was five-foot-seven and 200 pounds – could run with such speed, as proved by his 13 triples and 17 steals.

1922 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Bullet Rogan, KCM, 2nd MVP

P-Lewis Hampton, ABC

P-Jim Jeffries, ABC

P-Bill Force, DS

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Juan Padron, CAG

P-Bill Holland, DS

P-Slim Branham, CTS

P-Deacon Meyers, SLS

P-Andy Cooper, DS

C-Biz Mackey, ABC

C-Dan Kennard, SLS

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-Edgar Wesley, DS

2B-Frank Warfield, DS

3B-John Beckwith, CAG

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

LF-Clarence Smith, DS

CF-Oscar Charleston, ABC

CF-Charlie Blackwell, SLS

CF-Clint Thomas, DS

CF-Valentin Dreke, CSW

RF-Heavy Johnson, KCM

RF-Oscar Owens, PK

P-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old, 2nd MVP

1921

193 2/3 IP, 14-8, 2.83 ERA, 118 K, 159 ERA+, 2.91 FIP, 1.084 WHIP

241 AB, .369, 15 HR, 55 RBI, .369/.453/.600, 199 OPS+

WAR-9.0

Wins Above Replacement-9.0 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-4.6 (1st)

WAR Position Players-4.5 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.3 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Kansas City Monarchs

47-31-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Sam Crawford

OPS+-120, 1st in league

ERA+-126, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 9.0

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-9.0 (2nd Time)

WAR for Pitchers-4.6

Saves-2

Games Started-21

Complete Games-20

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.91

Adj. Pitching Runs-32 (2nd Time)

AB per HR-16.1

Putouts as P-13

2nd Time All-Star-I’m not really following baseball at the time of this writing, but I can’t help but hear about the impressive 2021 season of Shohei Otahni, who is pitching and hitting his way to a possible MVP. Well, some 100 years before that, there was another two-way player who tore up his league and it was this chunky fireplug, Bullet Rogan, who I gave my MVP for the second consecutive season. No Monarch pitcher had ever done this well before.

                Wikipedia says, “’Charleston was everything—but Rogan was more’, said William ‘Big C’ Johnson, one of Rogan’s Army teammates. ‘Rogan could do everything, everywhere.’ ‘He was the onliest pitcher I ever saw, I ever heard of in my life, was pitching and hitting in the cleanup place’, said Satchel Paige. According to Rogan’s longtime catcher Frank Duncan, ‘If you had to choose between Rogan and Paige, you’d pick Rogan, because he could hit. The pitching, you’d as soon have Satchel as Rogan, understand? But Rogan’s hitting was so terrific. Get my point?’ Casey Stengel called Rogan ‘one of the best—if not the best—pitcher that ever lived.’

                “By his third season with the Monarchs, 1922, he hit .390, and his 13 home runs were good for second in the league.”

                Did the Monarchs win the Negro National League crown? It’s tough to say due to the way games played were counted at this time. Kansas City and Indianapolis apparently were co-winners of the NNL crown, but the Chicago American Giants had the highest winning percentage. Baseball Reference gives it to the Giants.

P-Lewis Hampton, Indianapolis ABCs, 21 Years Old

159 IP, 12-6, 2.49 ERA, 46 K, 181 ERA+, 3.42 FIP, 1.107 WHIP

133 AB, .361, 7 HR, 35 RBI, .361/.401/.624, 175 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 23 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1922 NNL Pitching Title

Earned Run Average-2.49

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.113

Adjusted ERA+-181

Adj. Pitching Wins-3.0

1st Time All-Star-Lewis Hampton was born in 1901, but Baseball Reference doesn’t know where or on what date. It also doesn’t list the day he died. What we do know is he had a terrific 1922 season as, just like Bullet Rogan, he produced from the mound and from the plate. His hitting gave him the edge over his teammate, Jim Jeffries, who pitched so well for the ABCs in 1921. Hampton is going to make this list at least one more time, but this season was the pinnacle of his career.

                There isn’t honestly a lot about Hampton in my admittedly very quick research. So here’s some information from Wikipedia on the Indianapolis ABCs. “The Indianapolis ABCs were a Negro league baseball team that played both as an independent club and as a charter member of the first Negro National League (NNL). They claimed the western championship of black baseball in 1915 and 1916, and finished second in the 1922 NNL. Among their best players were Baseball Hall of Fame members Oscar CharlestonBiz Mackey, and Ben Taylor.

                “During the off season in 1922, C. I. Taylor died and his widow Olivia continued as the club’s owner, and Ben Taylor became the playing manager. He reacquired Charleston, who led a rejuvenated ABCs squad to a 46–33 record and second-place finish. The young catcher Biz Mackey enjoyed a breakout season in 1922, and with Taylor, Charleston, and third baseman Henry Blackman keyed a prolific offense.” It’s funny, Hampton’s great season isn’t mentioned.

P-Jim Jeffries, Indianapolis ABCs, 29 Years Old

1921

208 2/3 IP, 21-12, 3.54 ERA, 88 K, 128 ERA+, 3.67 FIP, 1.256 WHIP

92 AB, .185, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .185/.235/.196, 18 OPS+

WAR-4.3

Wins Above Replacement-4.3 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 32 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins-21

Games Played-38 (2nd Time)

Saves-2 (3rd Time)

Innings Pitched-208 2/3 (2nd Time)

Games Started-21 (2nd Time)

Losses-12

Wild Pitches-7

Batters Faced-891

Def. Games as P-38 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Jeffries had his second consecutive good workhorse season, but all of those innings pitched seemed to affect him as he’d peter out after this 1922 season. He’ll pitch four more seasons and 18 more games, but he’ll never garner another win. In those latter seasons, he’d go 0-9 with a 6.08 ERA. No one would have predicted that from these last two dominant seasons for the ABCs, but the end of a career can come quickly.

                Gordon Gattle of SABR writes about a game by Jeffries on May 9, 1921. He says, “The Monday afternoon matchup featured Columbus’ Britt against Indianapolis left-hander Jeffries. Jeffries was eager for a starting assignment, and Britt wanted continued success against the ABCs.

                “Jeffries limited Columbus to three hits and one walk, and ‘looked about as good as anybody the [ABCs] have in the boxwhile Ewing issued 10 walks and was hit hard when the ball crossed the strike zone.”

                I’ll conclude with this from Gary Ashwill of Agate Type: “1) There’s been a lot of talk (in the comments here and elsewhere) about Jim Jeffries, the A.B.C.s southpaw who won 21 games against Negro league opposition in 1921.  I’ve already talked about his birthplace (Louisville, Kentucky) over at Seamheads.  As part of the new update to the DB, I’ve also been able to establish his time and place of death.  He passed away in Pulaski, Tennessee, on November 28, 1938, his death record still listing his profession as ‘Baseball Player.’” Jeffries didn’t have a great career, but for two years, was almost unstoppable.

P-Bill Force, Detroit Stars, 26 Years Old

176 1/3, 11-6, 3.83 ERA, 120 K, 118 ERA+, 3.99 FIP, 1.134 WHIP

73 AB, .274, 3 HR, 12 RBI, .274/.369/.493, 132 OPS+

WAR-4.2

Wins Above Replacement-4.2 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Stars

42-31-1, 4th in NNL

Manager Bruce Petway

OPS+-101, 4th in league

ERA+-118, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bill Force, 4.2

Led in:

Hits per 9 IP-7.656

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.125

Strikeouts-120

Home Runs Allowed-16

Hit By Pitch-10

1st Time All-Star-William “Bill” Force was born on July 17, 1895 in Walker County, Georgia. The five-foot-nine, 165 righty pitcher and rightfielder started with Detroit in 1921 and did pretty well before having his best season ever in 1922. He was also Detroit’s best player per Wins Above Replacement. This was also the best season as a pitcher by anyone on the Stars in their short history. However, he’d never get close to a season like this again.

                There’s not much I could find on Force, but I’ll put this blurb from Wikipedia that says, “William ‘Buddie’ Force (July 17, 1895 – April 2, 1969) was an American left-handed pitcher in baseball‘s Negro leagues. He played for the Detroit Stars (1921–1923), Baltimore Black Sox (1924–1929), and Brooklyn Royal Giants (1930) and compiled a career record of 60–52 with a 4.21 earned run average and 506 strikeouts in 1,044-1/3 innings pitched. He pitched a no-hitter against St. Louis on June 27, 1922. Force was born in Walker County, Georgia, in 1895. He died in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1969 at age 73.”

                As for Detroit, it started in third place in 1920 when it was skippered by Pete Hill. He also managed the Stars in 1921 when they dropped to fifth place. This year, Bruce Petway, the Stars’ 36-year-old catcher, took over the team and they rose to fourth. It certainly had no lack of stars, no pun intended (or maybe it was), as seven Detroit players are going to make my list including three pitchers.

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 25 Years Old

1920 1921

155 IP, 13-3, 2.90 ERA, 103 K, 156 ERA+, 3.25 FIP, 1.232 WHIP

52 AB, .058, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .058/.197/.077, -24 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.4 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

37-24-1, 3rd in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-79, 7th in league

ERA+-133, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 4.1

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.813 (2nd Time)

Hit By Pitch-10 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-For the third consecutive year, Brown was Chicago’s best pitcher. One thing this man didn’t add to the mix was hitting which made him different from most of the other star pitchers on this list. That’s why he was 10th in Wins Above Replacement but third in WAR for Pitchers. Brown isn’t going to have a long career, but these three initial dominant seasons helped guide Chicago to three straight Negro National League titles.

                Wikipedia says, “He had a good curveball and excellent control. He was also a good fielder and had outstanding speed, but was a weak hitter. Brown played with the Dallas Black Giants in 1917 and 1918. He was regarded as a ‘timid nice guy’ who did not cause trouble, but during his time with the Dallas Black Giants he was involved in a highway robbery. Although Brown was reported to have become a fugitive, Rube Foster agreed to pay $20,000 for Brown’s parole and he became a member of Foster’s Chicago American Giants.

                “Brown became the ace of the American Giants as they dominated negro league baseball in the early 1920s. From 1920 through 1922, he posted a 29-8 record in league games. His 11–3 record led them to a pennant win in 1921 including three victories in a playoff with the Bacharach Giants. His 8–3 record contributed to another pennant in 1922. In the winter following the 1922 season, Brown joined Oscar Charleston for the first season of the Cuban League‘s Santa Clara Leopardos.”

P-Juan Padron, Chicago American Giants, 29 Years Old

171 IP, 10-9, 2.74 ERA, 82 K, 165 ERA+, 3.27 FIP, 1.094 WHIP

62 AB, .161, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .161/.212/.390, 6 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR for Pitchers-4.2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-Juan Padron was born on October 20, 1892 in Key West, Florida. The six-foot, 185 pound lefty pitcher started his Major League career this season and just added to the already star-packed American Giants. Padron is going to have a short five-season career and I thought that would be because of some tragedy. That’snot the case with Padron as he is going to live to 89 years old.

                Eric of The Hall of Miller and Eric writes of Padron, “The tall righty (6’0″, 185) complemented a good fastball with good breaking stuff and a dominant changeup. There’s always been a little mystery around him. Twenty years ago James Riley shown him born in ‘Cuba’ with no death date and with no death date but a note that said he’d been reported dead at age 39. Now the Negro Leagues Database reports Padrón’s birth as 1892 in Key West, with a death in 1981 in Grand Rapids at age 89. Big differences.

                “In fact, Riley also indicates that Padrón debuted in 1909 and pitched in Cuba during the winters of 1909 to 1919. He also says that Padrón could hit. It appears that neither of those three things are true. As the amazing Gary Ashwill points out, Riley somehow conflated the record of Juan Padrón and portions of the record of Luis Padrón.

                “No difference of opinion exists in one key place: Juan Padrón was an outstanding pitcher. He’s one of the best pitchers I hadn’t heard of before starting this project. Unfortunately, his W-L record doesn’t reflect that excellence because he played with some iffy teams.”

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars, 21 Years Old

1920 1921

191 1/3 IP, 13-12, 3.01 ERA, 115 K, 150 ERA+, 3.19 FIP, 1.077 WHIP

64 AB, .125, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .125/.176/.125, -17 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Walks & Hits per IP-1.077

Bases on Balls per 9 IP-1.646

Games Started-21

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.286

Losses-12

3rd Time All-Star-Having now made three of my lists at the age of 21, it sure looks like Holland is going to be one of the all-time greats. Well, he would be good, but just never be able to break the threshold to that next level. Still, I don’t think Detroit was complaining about him here in the early Twenties. Holland’s fiery nature allowed him to keep winning and he was the Stars’ best pitcher for these three seasons. He wouldn’t be back with them in 1923.

                The NLBPA has different stats than Baseball Reference. It says, “The 5’8″ 175-lb Holland joined his first pro team, the Detroit Stars, in 1920. In 1922 he led the league with 16 wins. Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell ranked Holland with Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams, and Bullet Joe Rogan as the best pitchers in the Negro Leagues. Though he relied mainly on the fastball, he also expertly mixed in a curve, a drop, a changeup, and an occasional emery ball.”

                Wikipedia says, “Bill Holland, a right-hander from Indianapolis, pitched 23 seasons in the Negro leagues. For the Stars in 1922, he appeared in 29 games (21 as a starter) and compiled a 13-12 record with a 3.01 ERA and 115 strikeouts. Holland’s 3.01 ERA ranked fifth best in the Negro National League during the 1922 season.

                “The Stars played their home games at Mack Park located on the east side of Detroit, about four miles from downtown, at the southeast corner of Fairview Ave. and Mack Ave. The team was owned by Tenny Blount and led on the field by catcher-manager Bruce Petway.”

P-Slim Branham, Cleveland Tate Stars, 22 Years Old

169 2/3 IP, 8-10, 4.19 ERA, 91 K, 108 ERA+, 3.63 FIP, 1.420 WHIP

62 AB, .210, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .210/.234/.274, 38 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 136 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cleveland Tate Stars

15-26-1, 7th in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-85, 6th in league

ERA+-90, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Slim Branham, 3.3

Led in:

Assists as P-71

Errors Committed as P-5

1st Time All-Star-Finis Ernest “Slim” Branham was born on April 7, 1900 in Castalian Springs, Tennessee. The six-foot-two, 198 pound righty pitcher started with the Dayton Marcoses in 1920 and in 44 innings had a sterling 1.84 ERA. Yet when the Marcoses folded after that season, no Negro National League team picked up Slim for the 1921 campaign. This year, the Cleveland Tate Stars, a team that would last just this one season, gave him a shot and he proved himself valuable.

                Before I started writing about the Negro Leagues two seconds ago, I had never heard of Gary Ashwill, the famed historian. I should just save time and put the link to Agate Type and let you peruse all that he’s written about all of these players. I do suggest you read the rather lengthy article he has about Slim Branham and the search for his real name. Here’s just a bit:

                “2) Finest Ernest Branham signed his name ‘Finest’ on his draft card; yet it appears as ‘Finis’ in Social Security records.  His nephew, who would appear to have been named after him, appears in all the records as ‘Finis.’  He only passed away two years ago; it’s too bad no one got the chance to ask him about it.  But then, there may be other relatives around who know something about their family’s baseball connection.  (At least we probably know how ‘Finis’ was pronounced, though.)”

                Baseball Reference has Slim Branham as pitching for six seasons for various teams and dying at the age of January  19, 1957 in Cleveland. Ashwill’s research is a reminder that no Negro League stats, whether it’s performance on the field or even names and dates, are written in stone.

P-Deacon Meyers, St. Louis Stars, 22 Years Old

154 2/3 IP, 12-5, 3.67 ERA, 88 K, 123 ERA+, 3.53 FIP, 1.293 WHIP

54 AB, .222, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .222/.323/.278, 64 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Stars

26-36, 5th in NNL

Manager Bill Gatewood

OPS+-104, 3rd in league

ERA+-78, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Charlie Blackwell, 3.5

1st Time All-Star-George Allen “Deacon” Meyers was born on October 9, 1899 in Columbia, Tennessee. The five-foot-11, 160 pound righty pitcher and first baseman started with St. Louis in 1921 and didn’t do too well in his 42 2/3 innings. This year he shined in what is easily his best season ever. It would be the only year his ERA was under four and he would garner almost half of his career 25 wins here in 1922 due to his 12-5 record.

                There’s not a lot on Meyers in my very quick research, so here’s a bit on the St. Louis Stars from Wikipedia: “The Stars inherited almost the entire roster of the 1921 Giants (who had finished in second place), with the exception of Hall of Fame center fielder Oscar Charleston. Without Charleston, the Stars dropped to fourth place in 1922, though with a creditable 35–26 record. In 1923, they slipped badly, finishing with 28 wins and 44 losses, good for only sixth place. Midway through the year, they acquired several players from the Toledo Tigers when that team folded, including new manager Candy Jim Taylor. A 37-year-old third baseman, Taylor tied for the 1923 league lead with 20 home runs (19 hit while with St. Louis).

                “More importantly, over the next few years, Taylor put together one of the most impressive assemblages of talent in Negro league history, including Cool Papa Bell, whom Taylor converted from a left-handed pitcher into a brilliant defensive center fielder and leadoff man; Mule Suttles, first baseman and all-time Negro league home run king; Willie Wells, considered by many historians to be John Henry Lloyd‘s only serious rival as greatest shortstop in Negro league history; and Ted Trent, pitcher and wielder of one of the most effective curveballs in the league.”

                Meyers died on July 15, 1978 in Dayton, Ohio at the age of 78.

P-Andy Cooper, Detroit Stars, 24 Years Old

165 1/3 IP, 12-5, 3.70 ERA, 82 K, 122 ERA+, 3.96 FIP, 1.185 WHIP

61 AB, .148, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .148/.175/.213, 5 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-3.3 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. 64 percent chance)

Team Stats

Led In:

Games Started-21

Shutouts-4

1st Time All-Star-Andrew Lewis “Andy” or “Lefty” Cooper was born on April 24, 1898 in Waco, Texas. The six-foot-two, 220 pound righty hitting, lefty pitching hurler started with the Stars in 1920, but really put it together this season on his way to a Hall of Fame career. He most likely won’t make my Hall of Fame which is based only on the recorded numbers, but perusing his stats, I think he’s a great choice for Cooperstown.

                Cooper’s Hall of Fame page says, “According to a scouting report prepared by famed Negro Leagues player and manager Buck O’Neil, Cooper had a live arm with a total command of all of his pitches, which included a running fastball, tight curveball and biting screwball.

                “’Andy never possessed the fine assortment of curves held in the supple arms of other pitchers. However, he did have what so many pitchers lack – sterling control,’ wrote Russ J. Cowans in 1941 in The Chicago Defender, one of the top African-American newspapers of the day. ‘Cooper could almost put the ball any place he wanted it to go.’

                “’In addition, Cooper had a keen knowledge of batters. He knew the weakness of every batter in the league and would pitch to that weakness when he was on the mound.’”

                I’ll have more on this later, but as good as Cooper’s stats are, there was a seven-year stretch he didn’t pitch in the Majors from 1930-to-1937. If those years were included, he would almost certainly have made my Hall of Fame.

C-Biz Mackey, Indianapolis ABCs, 24 Years Old

1921

328 AB, .369, 8 HR, 83 RBI, .369/.423/.595, 174 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (6th)

WAR Position Players-4.4 (5th)

Offensive WAR-4.1 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Biz is one of my favorite nicknames in baseball. It was given to him because he gave batters “the business” from his catcher position. Of course, when you can hit like this man, they have to find a place for you when you’re resting from catching and Mackey played every position this season. Did he give people “the business” at his 18 games at short, too? Who knows!

                Here’s some information from Mackey’s Hall of Fame page. It says, “Though somewhat overshadowed by such legendary names as Josh Gibson and Roy Campanella, when the Negro League’s top catchers are discussed, Biz Mackey is among those considered the greatest of his era.

                “’Actually, as much as I admired Campanella as a catcher, all-around, and Gibson as a hitter,’ said Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell, ‘I believe Biz Mackey was the best catcher I ever saw.’

                “In fact, a 1954 Pittsburgh Courier poll saw Mackey edge Gibson as the greatest Negro league catcher.”

                I’m not going to pick 1922 as Mackey’s best season ever, but it was his highest ever in WAR in his long career. It’s because he played in 90 games in which stats were recorded, the second most in his career. For the rest of his career, he’s only going to be over 70 games one more time.

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Stars, 38 Years Old

1920 1921

155 AB, .329, 4 HR, 31 RBI, .329/.385/.574, 157 OPS+

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 67 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

3rd Time All-Star-Though the Stars are in St. Louis like the Giants of previous seasons and Baseball Reference counts them as the same team, it’s technically a new squad. Charles A. Mills was the owner of this team since 1906 but after the 1921 season, he gave them up and most of the roster went from the Giants to the Stars, including Kennard. Some of this is recorded in Kennard’s 1921 write-up. The aged catcher has now made my list three straight times despite being 38.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type has a bit to say about Kennard, writing, “The second player to hit three home runs in a blackball game is truly overlooked: another catcher, a guy named Dan Kennard.  He basically has no reputation at all among Negro league historians.  He spent most of what were presumably his best years playing ball in the deep South, and didn’t make his way into big-time professional black baseball until he was 29.  The Seamheads DB has only 255 games for him, in which he hit .301/.368/.453—but, when adjusted, that actually adds up to an OPS+ of 142.  Also consider that nearly 2/3 of those games are from age 36 or later.

                “Kennard became the second player, after Santop, to hit three home runs in a blackball game, a feat he accomplished on May 4, 1913, in the uniform of the French Lick Plutos, at Northwestern Park in Indianapolis.”

                It would be interesting to know what kind of Major League career Kennard would have had if he wasn’t already 36 when the Negro National League started.

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 33 Years Old

1920 1921

365 AB, .373, 2 HR, 70 RBI, .373/.420/.515, 153 OPS+

2 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 K, 3.15 FIP, 0.500 WHIP

WAR-3.9

WAR Position Players-3.7 (7th)

Offensive WAR-3.2 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

50-34-1, 1st in NNL

Manager Ben Taylor

OPS+-106, 2nd in league

ERA+-112, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 6.4

Led in:

Doubles-34 (2nd Time)

Singles-94 (2nd Time)

Putouts-939 (3rd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-90 (3rd Time)

Putouts as 1B-938 (3rd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-53 (3rd Time)

Fielding % as 1B-.987 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Ben Taylor took over the managing reins from C.I. Taylor before the 1922 season and guided Indianapolis to the league crown…maybe. In the standings, Kansas City and Indy are tied for first:

1Kansas City Monarchs47312.6036.04.81.3
2Indianapolis ABCs50341.5956.14.71.4
3Chicago American Giants37241.6071.53.05.24.60.6
4Detroit Stars42311.5752.56.05.84.81.0
5St. Louis Stars26360.41913.048.06.16.9-0.8
6Pittsburgh Keystones14242.36813.048.05.57.1-1.7
7Cleveland Tate Stars15261.36613.551.04.65.9-1.3
8Cuban Stars West18430.29520.5100.04.87.1-2.3

                But Baseball Reference says the Chicago American Giants won the pennant, most likely because it had the highest winning percentage. That’s a good situation to have because if you’re a baseball fan from KC, Indianapolis, or Chi-town, you can claim your city as a winner.

                Wikipedia wraps up Taylor’s life, saying, “After retiring, Taylor was an active businessman, operating a poolroom and acquiring the rights to print and sell game programs at Baltimore Elite Giants games. In a 1949 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin article, Oscar Charleston selected Ben Taylor as his first baseman on his all-time All-Star team. In 1952, as the Negro league’s decline was in rapid motion, the Pittsburgh Courier polled its readers to name the greatest players of the Negro leagues. They eventually named 5 teams plus honorable mentions. Among those honored, Taylor was awarded 2nd team, first base.

                “He died at age 64 in Baltimore, Maryland.”        

1B-Edgar Wesley, Detroit Stars, 31 Years Old

307 AB, .349, 9 HR, 68 RBI, .349/.412/.541, 157 OPS+

WAR-3.4

WAR Position Players-3.4 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Edgar Wooded Wesley was born 75 years before my brother, Rob, on May 2, 1891 in Waco, Texas. The five-foot-11, 215 pound lefty first baseman is the answer to a trivia question as the Negro National League’s first home run leader. He belted 11 of them in 1920 for the Stars, three ahead of his teammate, Jimmie Lyons. In 1921, he hit nine, finishing sixth in the league, and then this year, hit nine again, but it was good enough for fourth in the NNL.

                Lee Panas of Detroit Tiger Tales has this to say about Wesley, “Edgar Wesley was a big left-handed slugger and strong defensive first baseman and was considered the best all around player at his position in the early years of the Negro National League.  He was also known to be an aggressive base runner.  Indianapolis catcher Larry Brown recalled Wesley barreling into home plate so hard that he cut his chest protector: ‘My mask went one direction, my glove went the other and the ball went up to the stands’ (Richard Bak, Turkey Stearnes and the Detroit Stars).”

                Panas also mentions something I didn’t realize before and that’s that it was Major League Baseball who made the decision to recognize seven different Negro Leagues as major leagues. He says, “Historians have long considered baseball played in these leagues as comparable in quality to the White major leagues.  It is about time that they these leagues get their due recognition.” So Detroit Tiger Tales did what I’m doing and went back to retroactively write up all of these great players.

2B-Frank Warfield, Detroit Stars, 23 Years Old

1921

324 AB, .318, 0 HR, 32 RBI, .318/.369/.380, 103 OPS+

WAR-2.2

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as 2B-23

2nd Time All-Star-There weren’t a lot of great second basemen in the Negro National League at this time and I certainly wouldn’t give Warfield the title of “great,” but he is the best the NNL has to offer and so, for the second consecutive year, he made my list. At best, he’s an average hitter, but his fielding continued to be his strength and he constantly makes the top 10 in Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR. I have no idea how many more times that glove will put Warfield on this list.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Reference wrote Forgotten Heroes: Frank Warfield which says, “During his career as a player he was primarily known for his defensive skills and base running abilities. Frank Warfield started his career as an outfielder and shortstop but transitioned to second base during the 1917 season. Defensively, he was considered the best second baseman in the East during the 1920’s. The double play combinations he formed with John Henry ‘Pop’ Lloyd and Dick Lundy are considered two of the best in Negro League baseball history. He was an exceptional fielder with outstanding range, good hands and he had a strong accurate throwing arm. He also possessed a unique underhand snap throw that enhanced his ability to turn the double play. Warfield’s versatility also enabled him to play third base at different times in his career. Baseball researcher Bill James in his book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract called Frank Warfield ‘a complete defensive wizard.’”

3B-John Beckwith, Chicago American Giants, 22 Years Old

1920

226 AB, .358, 7 HR, 52 RBI, .358/.415/.588, 170 OPS+

WAR-3.7

WAR Position Players-3.7 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.9 (9th)

Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Errors Committed as 3B-18

Range Factor/9 Inn as 3B-3.43

Range Factor/Game as 3B-3.34

2nd Time All-Star-I need to avoid being confused by two teams that existed in the 1920 and ’21 seasons. They were both from Chicago and one was named the American Giants and the other was just called the Giants. Beckwith was the third baseman for the Giants in 1920 and 1921 and then that team went defunct. So with no team, he didn’t leave town. Instead, he just ended up on the Chicago American Giants this season and made my list for the second time in three years. Like that squad needed any more talent!

                Wikipedia mentions his power, saying, “Standing 6-foot-3, and weighing upwards of 220 pounds, John Beckwith was one of the mightiest sluggers to ever take the field. Over a 16-year career (1918-34), the big righty, swinging his signature 38-inch bat, routinely batted over .400 against official Negro league competition.

                “A dead-pull hitter, Beckwith had one of the quickest bats around. In fact, opposing defenses sometimes employed an over-shift on the infield—a rare occurrence versus a righty. In 1921, the 19-year-old became the first basher to hit a ball over the laundry roof behind Crosley Field. Years later, he hit a 460-foot blast in Griffith Stadium; the ball would’ve gone farther had it not been stopped by a 40-foot high sign.”

                Because the NNL seasons are shorter and the stats incomplete, it’s hard to appreciate the power of Beckwith by just looking at numbers. Of course, to me it’s strange he had this reputation for power and yet never led any league in homers and only once led a league in AB per HR.

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

1920 1921

329 AB, .386, 7 HR, 63 RBI, .386/.414/.541, 158 OPS+

WAR-5.0

Wins Above Replacement-5.0 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.0 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-3.7 (6th)

Defensive WAR-1.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons, Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-1.5 (2nd Time)

Putouts as SS-187

Assists as SS-255

Double Plays Turned as SS-29

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.85 (3rd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.74 (3rd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-If it wasn’t for being on the same team as the Negro National League’s best player, Bullet Rogan, Moore might have garnered more fame. Not that he didn’t have some already as the NNL’s best shortstop for the third consecutive season. He’s not done making lists yet and is only going to be held back from making my Hall of Fame by a shortened career. We’ll save that for a write-up down the road.

                John B. Holway of SABR writes, “Like Roberto Clemente and Yogi Berra, Moore was a notorious bad-ball hitter. ‘There were no bad pitches for him,’ says Monarch second baseman Newt ‘Colt’ Allen. All the Monarchs learned to hit bad balls, Allen says, because when they barnstormed the prairie towns, the hometown umpires would call practically everything a strike. Moore used a long bat, and he’d swing overhand, bat down on the high pitches, Allen says. ‘I’d let them go, but he’d knock them two blocks. And a ball below his knees and outside was just right for him. The only way to get him out was to throw the ball right down the middle. Don’t pitch outside or inside.’

                “In the field, Moore could go deep in the hole, knock the ball down, and still get his man. What of Moore and Allen as a double play combination?

                “’Wonderful,’ says Duncan. ‘Couldn’t ask for anything better. When you see Newt Allen and Moore, you could take Charlie Gehringer, Frankie Frisch, and any of that bunch. Brother, you’re talking about a combination!’”

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 33 Years Old

1920 1921

318 AB, .374, 8 HR, 69 RBI, .374/.466/.553, 176 OPS+

18 IP, 1-0, 4.50 ERA, 9 K, 102 ERA+, 3.87 FIP, 1.278 WHIP

WAR-4.9

Wins Above Replacement-4.9 (5th)

WAR Position Players-4.7 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.9 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

On-Base %-.466

Bases on Balls-50

Def. Games as LF-78 (3rd Time)

Putouts as LF-118 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as LF-12

Double Plays Turned as LF-2

Errors Committed as OF-13

3rd Time All-Star-McNair is one of seven players to have made my list all three seasons of the Negro National League’s existence (thus far) and he had his best season ever in 1922. All three of his slash stats – batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage – were career highs. You can see those numbers above. It’s very rare, though not impossible, that a player has his best years when he’s 33, but McNair had been a good player for a long time, even if not in the so-called Major Leagues.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper called Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNairand said, “The 1922 Kansas City Monarchs starting line-up featured an extremely productive group of hitters. Six Kansas City starters batted over .345 for the season. The Monarchs were led by the hitting of Bullet Rogan (.395 w/14 homeruns), Oscar ‘Heavy’ Johnson (.390 w/ 13 homeruns), Walter ‘Dobie Moore’ (.381 w/ 69 RBIs), Hurley McNair (.374 w/ 69 RBIs), Bartolo Portuondo (.349), Branch Russell (.345) and John Donaldson (.297).

                “Hurley McNair also led the Negro National League in on base percentage for the 1922 Negro National League season with a .511 OBP.

                “Negro League researcher, John Holway credits Hurley McNair with a .420 batting average when both ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ games are added together.”

                I’ll keep mentioning there are no official stats at this time and the numbers vary all over the place. Sometimes the stats contain non-league games and sometimes they don’t.

LF-Clarence Smith, Detroit Stars, Age unknown

310 AB, .345, 6 HR, 73 RBI, .345/.389/.529, 147 OPS+

WAR-3.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Clarence Smith was born sometime, somewhere, but those items are not known and recorded by Baseball Reference. The five-foot-10, 185 pound righty outfielder and first baseman started his Negro National League career with the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921 and had an average season. After that team went defunct after its one season of existence, Smith came to the Stars and started hitting pretty well.

                Most of the time that information is hard to find for Negro League players, it’s because they had a short career, coming and going quickly, but Smith was around quite a while, playing 10 years for the Stars and others. It doesn’t look like Gary Ashwill of Seamheads even has that information. You can even see above there’s not a good picture of Smith.

                That is the nature of the Negro Leagues, though. They were a Major League treated as a minor league that didn’t have the organization of the National and American Leagues. The players were just as good, if not better, but the infrastructure wasn’t as, well, structured. This isn’t a rip on the Negro Leagues. In a perfect world the Negro Leagues shouldn’t have existed because there shouldn’t have been segregation. The ones missing out are the players whose careers can’t be as thoroughly examined as those in the white Major Leagues. However, what we can see are some remarkable players praised by blacks and whites alike. It would have been interesting to see how these players lined up against the likes of Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby.

CF-Oscar CharlestonIndianapolis ABCs, 25 Years Old

1920 1921

401 AB, .374, 19 HR, 102 RBI, .374/.433/.668, 195 OPS+

WAR-6.4

Wins Above Replacement-6.4 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-6.4 (1st)

Offensive WAR-5.7 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: Yes (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

WAR Position Players-6.4 (3rd Time)

Offensive WAR-5.7 (3rd Time)

Games Played-101

At Bats-401

Runs Scored-105 (3rd Time)

Hits-150 (2nd Time)

Total Bases-268 (2nd Time)

Triples-18 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-19 (2nd Time)

Runs Batted In-102 (2nd Time)

Runs Created-116 (3rd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-51 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Wins-4.8 (2nd Time)

Extra Base Hits-62 (3rd Time)

Times On Base-192 (2nd Time)

Power-Speed #-20.0 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as CF-91 (2nd Time)

Putouts as CF-215 (2nd Time)

Putouts as OF-215 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Every time I write about Charleston, I’m just amazed how good this player was. After playing for the ABCs in 1920, he played for the St. Louis Giants in 1921, but when that team was sold and became the St. Louis Stars, Charleston came back to the ABCs. He had his usual great season. Surprisingly, despite being arguably the best player in the Negro National League these first three seasons of its existence, I have yet to award him an MVP.

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “In 1922, thanks to St. Louis’s financial difficulties, Charleston once again returned to the ABCs. C.I. Taylor had died between the 1921 and the 1922 seasons, and ownership of the ABCs transferred to his wife, Olivia. (Charleston later spoke very positively of Taylor, crediting him with teaching him how to manage a team.) In 1922 the ABCs were led by three outstanding hitters — Biz Mackey, Ben Taylor, and Charleston. In the league’s opening doubleheader, Charleston went 6-for-8 with a home run and a double. That set the tone for his season: Of the 98 games for which box scores exist, Charleston failed to get a hit in only 16. Bill James has rated Charleston as the best player in the Negro Leagues for the 1921 and 1922 seasons.

                “After the 1922 season, Charleston married for the second time. The bride was a 27-year-old schoolteacher named Jane Howard. It was also Jane’s second marriage; her first husband had died in 1918. She often traveled with Charleston to Cuba during the winter, and several photos of them in Cuba appear in Charleston’s scrapbook. In fact, Charleston and Jane traveled to Cuba for their honeymoon, where Charleston played in the 1922-23 Cuban winter league. He and Jane had a rocky marriage, it seems, in part because Jane did not like baseball.”

CF-Charlie Blackwell, St. Louis Stars, 27 Years Old

1921

238 AB, .361, 5 HR, 55 RBI, .361/.451/.550, 171 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR Position Players-3.5 (9th)

Offensive WAR-2.9 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-When the St. Louis Giants were sold and became the Stars, the team was able to keep most of its previous roster, including Blackwell. He was St. Louie’s best player, though he slumped from the year before. Of course, when a player hits .405 with an OPS+ of 222 as Blackwell did in 1921, there’s not much room for improvement and a year hitting .361 with an OPS+ of 171 is definitely not to be scoffed at.

                Baseball Reference says, “Blackwell hit .361/.451/.550 with 52 runs, 55 RBI, 38 walks and 14 steals in 64 games for the St. Louis Stars in 1922, with a 186 OPS+. He tied for fifth in the NNL in triples (8, even with Clarence Smith), tied for 10th with RBI (with Rogan), tied for 7th in steals (with Lemuel Hawkins), was 4th in walks, placed 9th in average (between Mackey and [[John Beckwith]), was third in OBP (behind McNair and Rogan) and ranked 6th in OPS+. In the winter of 1922-1923, he was the fourth outfielder for Habana, behind Torriente, Jack Calvo and Marcelino Guerra. He hit .321 and slugged .423.

                Dr. Layton Revel of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research writes in Forgotten Heroes: Charlie Blackwell, “Charles Henry Blackwell passed away on April 22, 1935 in the Hines Government Hospital in Chicago. Blackwell had been residing in Proviso Township, Cook County, IL. before his illness struck him three months prior to his death. Charles was only 40 years old.”

                I can’t find what kind of illness he had.

CF-Clint Thomas, Detroit Stars, 25 Years Old

312 AB, .321, 7 HR, 67 RBI, .321/.367/.513, 137 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Clinton Cyrus “Clint” Thomas was born on November 25, 1896 in Greenup, Kentucky. The five-foot-nine, 186 pound righty outfielder and second baseman started with the Columbus Buckeyes in 1921, leading the Negro National League in triples with 18 and showing significant speed. Once Columbus folded, Thomas came to Detroit and continued to show some of those skills that will put him on a few of my lists.

                Gary Joseph Cieradkowski writes, “Fortunately for Thomas, the newly formed Negro National League put a franchise in Columbus called the Buckeyes. His teammate from the Royal Giants, John Henry Lloyd, was the new team’s manager, and Thomas played the 1921 season hitting just shy of .300. Still, all the pieces weren’t right for Thomas. Because of his speed he was always shifted between second and third base, but never felt comfortable at either position and had trouble turning the double play. Then the Buckeye’s folded and Thomas was cut loose.

                “His contract was acquired by the Detroit Stars for 1922. He was still floundering at second base when fate stepped in. Regular center fielder Jessie Barber got injured, and when the right fielder was switched to center, Thomas took his place. It was a stroke of genius. In his first game as an outfielder, the fleet footed Kentuckian snatched up anything that came near him, including balls meant for the center fielder. The next game he was switched to center and a Negro League legend was born. More comfortable in his new position, Thomas loosened up and finished 1922 as the Star’s best hitter. The following year Hilldale, an eastern powerhouse club located just outside Philadelphia, poached Thomas away.”

CF-Valentin Dreke, Cuban Stars West, 24 Years Old

230 AB, .296, 1 HR, 26 RBI, .296/.372/.383, 105 OPS+

WAR-1.5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

18-43, 8th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-69, 8th in league

ERA+-74, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Valentin Dreke, 1.5

Led in:

Hit By Pitch-7

Errors Committed as CF-9

Double Plays Turned as CF-5

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-3.01

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.81

1st Time All-Star-Valentin Dreke was born on June 21, 1898 in Union de Reyes, Cuba. The five-foot-eight, 160 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing outfielder started his Major League career with the Cuban Stars West in 1920. In 1921, the team was called the Cincinnati Cuban Stars before going back to being the Cuban Stars West this season. Whatever they were called, they were pretty bad this year, but at least fans got to watch Dreke flagging down flies in center.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes about the 1922/23 Cuban League, “Of the three remaining teams, Almendares could boast of outfielders  Bernardo Baró (.403/.452/.544) and Valentín Dreke (.324), manager-shortstop Joseíto Rodríguez (.316), and minor league southpaw Eddie LePard (7-5, 2.17), but Habana would probably have been considered the favorite.  Los Leones featured both the best everyday player in Cuban baseball at the time, Cristóbal Torriente (.344/.435/.515) and the best Cuban pitcher (and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, period), Dolf Luque.  In 1923, Luque would go 27-8 with a 1.93 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds.  In the 1922/23 Cuban League, he went 11-7, 1.53.”

                Dreke would play for the Cuban Stats West through 1927 and lead the Negro National League in batting in 1924, hitting .389. However, like so many of these Cuban stars, he died young, at the age of 31 on September 25, 1929. His tragic death did not come from violence, however, but from tuberculosis. Dreke was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

RF-Heavy Johnson, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

239 AB, .406, 11 HR, 64 RBI, .406/.450/.715, 212 OPS+

WAR-4.2

Wins Above Replacement-4.2 (8th)

WAR Position Players-4.2 (6th)

Offensive WAR-3.8 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1922 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.406

Slugging %-.715

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.165

Adjusted OPS+-212

Offensive Win %-.873

1st Time All-Star-Oscar “Heavy” Johnson was born on April 20, 1895 in Atchison, Kansas. The five-foot-seven, 200 pound righty outfielder and catcher played three games with the St. Louis Giants in 1920 and then didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1921. However, he was quite the pickup for the Monarchs this season as arguably the league’s best hitter. This year won’t be the only one in which hits over .400.

                Baseball Reference says, “Heavy Johnson was a big player who put up some big numbers in a relatively short career in the Negro Leagues, hitting .350 overall and winning a Triple Crown. He was in the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Wreckers, and all-black military unit (“buffalo soldiers”), from at least 1915 through 1922, spending many of his prime years in the military. He was honorably discharged in March of 1919 but reenlisted the next January. He was the catcher for the unit’s famed baseball outfit which produced other Negro League stars such as Dobie Moore. He was stationed in Hawaii from 1915-1919.

                “According to research by Gary Ashwill, an April 20, 1895 birthday appears to be correct for Johnson. The family then apparently moved to Youngstown, OH. In 1913, Johnson apparently added three years to his age to enlist in the Army and kept this false birthdate the rest of his life. Additionally, Ashwill gives an October 9, 1960 deathdate as a possibility.

                “Johnson joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1922, hitting .389/.438/.644 overall and .405 in Negro National League competition, winning a batting title as a rookie. He began the transition that year from catcher to right field.”     

RF-Oscar Owens, Pittsburgh Keystones, 28 Years Old

111 AB, .405, 5 HR, 28 RBI, .405/.463/.685, 208 OPS+

WAR-1.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 230 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Pittsburgh Keystones

14-24-2, 5th in NNL

Manager Dizzy Dismukes (12-23-2) and Dicta Johnson (2-6-1)

OPS+-101, 5th in league

ERA+-75, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Owens, 1.4

Led in:

Errors Committed as RF-6

1st Time All-Star-William Oscar Owens was born on September 7 1893 in Reidsville, North Carolina. The five-foot-six, 155 pound righty outfielder and pitcher played just two years in the Majors – this season and in 1929 with the Homestead Grays of the American Negro League. This was the only season for the Pittsburgh Keystones and the .400 hitting Owens was the best reason to go watch them. He couldn’t field worth anything, but he sure could hit.

                I’ll print the whole write-up from Wikipedia, which admittedly isn’t much. It says, “William Oscar Owens (September 7, 1893 – April 30, 1960), nicknamed ‘Cannon Ball’, was an American Negro league pitcher between 1921 and 1931.

                “A native of Reidsville, North Carolina, Owens made his Negro leagues debut with the Homestead Grays in 1921. He played 10 seasons with the Grays, and also played for the Pittsburgh Keystones in 1922. Owens died in Washington, D.C. in 1960 at age 66.”

                For the 1923 season, I’m going to be doing write-ups for two Negro Leagues, the Negro National League and the newly formed Eastern Colored League. That means instead of writing about 25 forgotten greats, I’ll now get to write about 50 of them.

                I also don’t mean to take credit for the incredible amount of research done by people like Gary Ashwill of Seamheads and Baseball Reference. I’m just a complier, at best, who’s trying to give a taste of baseball history through the years. I’ve been glad to take this excursion into the Negro Leagues. It adds to my appreciation for the game.

1921 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Jose Leblanc, CS

P-Jim Jeffries, ABC

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Bill Drake, SLG

P-Roy Roberts, COB

P-Bill Holland, DS/CAG

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Lucas Boada, CS

P-John Taylor, COG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

C-Biz Mackey, ABC

C-Dan Kennard, SLG

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-George Carr, KCM

2B-Frank Warfield, DS

3B-Mike Herrera, CS

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-John Henry Lloyd, COB

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

CF-Oscar Charleston, SLG

CF-Cristobel Torriente, CAG

CF-Bernardo Baro, CS

RF-Bullet Rogan, KCM, 1st MVP

RF-Charlie Blackwell, SLG

RF-Crush Holloway, ABC

P-Jose Leblanc, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 27 Years Old

1920

238 2/3 IP, 15-12, 2.53 ERA, 117 K, 152 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.115 WHIP

133 AB, .263, 0 HR, 18 RBI, .263/.319/.331, 84 OPS+

WAR-7.0

Wins Above Replacement-7.0 (2nd)

WAR for Pitchers-6.2 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cincinnati Cuban Stars

29-40-1, 7th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-83, 7th in league

ERA+-111, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Jose Leblanc, 7.0

Led in:

WAR for Pitchers-6.2

2nd Time All-Star-There were many tragedies in the old Negro Leagues and many short lives that went with them and Leblanc is one of those. The 27-year-old pitcher had a great year in 1921 and, if there had been such a thing, would have probably won the Cy Young Award. He was a workhorse pitcher for a poor team, but still ended up with a winning record.

                Speaking of that team, it went from being called the Cuban Stars West to the Cincinnati Cuban Stars this year.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type wraps us Leblanc’s life that ended tragically young. He writes, “On January 30, 1922, in the eighth inning of one of the games, a controversy erupted over a close play at home. Players from both teams argued with the umpires and with each other.  It went on and on. The crowd grew restless, and the argument more heated. JoséLeblanc, a pitcher for Cuba playing right field in this game, squared off against Antonio Susini, Central’s shortstop. They exchanged harsh words. Suddenly Susini lost it. With the bat he held in his hands, he struck a brutal blow to Leblanc’s head and knocked him senseless to the ground.

                “Leblanc had suffered a serious fracture in his left frontal parietal region. That night doctors operated on him, extracting several pieces of bone from his brain with tweezers. He never regained consciousness, and died the following afternoon.”

                Ashwill goes on to say Susini was charged with murder and served anywhere from 10-to-15 years in prison.

P-Jim Jeffries, Indianapolis ABCs, 28 Years Old

261 IP, 15-13, 3.03 ERA, 107 K, 127 ERA+, 3.83 FIP, 1.234 WHIP

163 AB, .252, 0 HR, 14 RBI, .252/.322/.288, 73 OPS+

WAR-6.2

Wins Above Replacement-6.2 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-5.4 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 33 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

37-37-2, 4th in NNL

Manager C.I. Taylor

OPS+-100, 3rd in league

ERA+-98, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Jim Jeffries, 6.2

Led in:

Games Played-42

Saves-3 (2nd Time)

Innings Pitched-261

Games Started-28

Shutouts-5

Hits Allowed-240

Batters Faced-1,090

Def. Games as P-42

1st Time All-Star-James Courtney “Jim” Jeffries was born on May 18, 1893 in Louisville. The lefty pitcher and outfielder started his Major League career with the ABCs in 1920 though, like many of these players, he had a career in the Negro Leagues before the Negro National League started. In 1920 for the ABCs, Jeffries led the NNL in saves while compiling a 7-8 record with a 3.77 ERA. Starting this year, he’d become the ABCs go-to pitcher for a couple of seasons.

                Thomas E. Merrick of SABR has an article about a duel between the two pitchers mentioned thus far – Jose Leblanc and Jim Jeffries. Here’s just a bit of it, but I suggest you read the whole thing:

                “Opposing Jeffries for this exhibition game was José Leblanc. The 27-year-old right-hander was one of the premier pitchers in the league. His 1920 performance included an 11-9 record, a 1.99 ERA — fourth best in the NNL — and 103 strikeouts, a figure topped by only one other NNL hurler. He had good control, walking only 41 batters in 167 innings.

                “The fans who came to Washington Park for this exhibition game were treated to a pitchers’ duel, with Leblanc and the Cuban Stars coming out on top, 2-0. Leblanc pitched all nine innings, striking out five, while giving up six hits and a walk. He stranded eight baserunners. Indianapolis ‘had a couple of chances to put across some runs, but Leblanc always tightened in the pinches.’

                “Jeffries also pitched a complete game. He allowed only five hits, but three were bunched in the ninth inning to produce the Cubans’ second run. Baro and Marcelino Guerra singled, and Baro scored when Matias Rios beat out a squeeze bunt. Cincinnati’s first run came in the second inning on an outfield error and an infield out. There were no extra-base hits in the game, and the only batter on either team to get two hits was Baro.”

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

180 1/3 IP, 17-2, 2.50 ERA, 126 K, 154 ERA+, 2.77 FIP, 1.004 WHIP

69 AB, .174, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .174/.197/.203, 13 OPS+

WAR-5.3

Wins Above Replacement-5.3 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.5 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

44-22-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-80, 8th in league

ERA+-115, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dave Brown, 5.3

Led in:

Wins-17

Win-Loss %-.895

Walks & Hits per IP-1.004 (2nd Time)

Hits per 9 IP-6.787 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts per 9 IP-6.288

Shutouts-5

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.77

2nd Time All-Star-I don’t want to disregard Brown, the star pitcher for the Negro National League’s star team, but I’d like to focus a bit on the manager of this squad, Rube Foster. The American Giants had won their second consecutive crown in this young league and it was guided by their 41-year-old manager.

                Here’s what Wikipedia says: “In 1920, Foster, Taylor, and the owners of six other midwestern clubs met in the spring to form a professional baseball circuit for African-American teams. Foster, as president, controlled league operations, while remaining owner and manager of the American Giants. He was periodically accused of favoring his own team, especially in matters of scheduling (the Giants in the early years tended to have a disproportionate number of home games) and personnel: Foster seemed able to acquire whatever talent he needed from other clubs, such as Jimmie Lyons, the Detroit Stars’ best player in 1920, who was transferred to the American Giants for 1921, or Foster’s own younger brother, Bill, who joined the American Giants unwillingly when Rube forced the Memphis Red Sox to give him up in 1926. His critics believed he had organized the league primarily for purposes of booking games for the American Giants. With a stable schedule and reasonably solvent opponents, Foster was able to improve receipts at the gate. It is also true that when opposing clubs lost money, he was known to help them meet payroll, sometimes out of his own pocket.”

                Also, a little bit from Wikipedia on Brown: “His 11–3 record led them to a pennant win in 1921 including three victories in a playoff with the Bacharach Giants.”

P-Bill Drake, St. Louis Giants, 26 Years Old

223 1/3 IP, 17-11, 3.02 ERA, 136 K, 127 ERA+, 3.09 FIP, 1.227 WHIP

92 AB, .174, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .174/.232/.217, 27 OPS+

WAR-5.1

Wins Above Replacement-5.1 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.1 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Giants

43-31-1, 3rd in NNL

Manager Dick Wallace

OPS+-114, 1st in league

ERA+-90, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Charlie Blackwell, 5.9

Led in:

Wins-17

Assists as P-107 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-9 (2nd Time)

1st Time All-Star-William P. “Bill” Drake was born on June 8, 1895 in Sedalia, Missouri. The six-foot, 205 pound righty pitcher started his Major League career with the St. Louis Giants in 1920, leading the Negro National League in losses (14), games started (25), complete games (22), innings pitched (217 1/3), hits allowed (238), and batters faced (947). This year, Drake still pitched a lot of innings, but had more success.

                Baseball Reference says, “Bill Drake was a Negro League pitcher for a decade and a half. He is 15th all-time in the Negro Leagues in wins according to John Holway‘s statistics. Holway credits him with a 99-61 record, which is not reflect below (sic) as more recent research into 1921-1923 has reduced his record a bit. He was 0-6 in the postseason and against white major leaguers. He was known for his tendency to use the beanball to ward off hitters, giving him the nickname ‘Plunk.’

                “In 1920, Big Bill went 9-13. His 56 strikeouts ranked fifth in the Negro National League‘s first year.

“Drake was 16-9 with one save and a 3.87 RA in a fine 1921 season. He gave up only one home run in 195 1/3 IP and completed 19 of 22 starts. He tied Bullet Rogan for the NNL lead in wins and was second to Rogan in strikeouts (123-117). He hit .188/.253/.238. In an exhibition series against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA.”

I’ve mentioned before even when BR is doing the write-up, its stats don’t match what it has on the player’s page. The article says Drake went 16-9, while the stats above say he went 17-11. It all has to do with what gets counted.

P-Roy Roberts, Columbus Buckeyes, 27 Years Old

245 1/3 IP, 11-16, 3.45 ERA, 126 K, 111 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 1.255 WHIP

98 AB, .204, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .204/.243/.255, 41 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Complete Games-23

Bases on Balls-99

Losses-16

Earned Runs-94

Hit By Pitch-22

Putouts as P-20

1st Time All-Star-Leroy “Roy” Roberts was born on June 21, 1894 in Florida. The righty pitcher didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920 and this year entered the scene as, if I’m to judge by the stats, a hard-throwing, frequently wild pitcher. He would have a long Negro League career, but never be able to live up to his 1921 season. It was only in 1927 with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Eastern Colored League that he pitched over 10 games again, but his ERA that season was 5.19.

                There’s not much on Roberts out there, but Wikipedia says, “Leroy (“Roy,” “Everready”) Roberts (June 21, 1894 – January 1, 1964) was a pitcher in baseball’s Negro leagues from 1916 to 1934. He played for several teams, but was mostly associated with the Bacharach Giants. In 1921 he spent a season as the ace pitcher of the Columbus Buckeyes, leading the Negro National League in innings pitched and several other categories while compiling a 7-15 record. His primary pitch was the fastball.”

                As usually happens with new ventures, there are adjustments to make and that was certainly the case with the NNL. There were a couple of team changes. The Cuban Stars West became the Cincinnati Cuban Stars and the Dayton Marcos squad was sold to two Columbus businessmen and renamed the Columbus Buckeyes. This would be the only season for the Buckeyes, who struggled on the field and at the ticket booth, while the Marcoses would come back in 1926 in the NNL.

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars/Chicago American Giants, 20 Years Old

1920

218 IP, 15-14, 3.39 ERA, 140 K, 114 ERA+, 3.24 FIP, 1.193 WHIP

87 AB, .105, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .105/.181/.105, -18 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR for Pitchers-4.1 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Detroit Stars

30-33-1, 5th in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-92, 4th in league

ERA+-98, 5th in league

WAR Leader-Bill Holland, 3.0

Chicago American Giants Team Stats

Led in:

Strikeouts-140

2nd Time All-Star-This is the second consecutive list for the fiery Holland and he’s got quite a few more coming. He made my All-Star team as a pitcher for Detroit last season and this year, pitched most of the year with the Stars before moving to the star-packed, pennant-winning Chicago American Giants. By the beginning of the 1922 Negro National League season, Holland would be back on Detroit. Devil, as he was known, is just at the beginning of a career that will carry him to many teams in four different Negro Major Leagues.

                Donna L. Hapler of SABR writes that one of Holland’s teammates pitched the NNL’s first no-hitter. She says, “On June 6, 1921, Bill Gatewood of the Detroit Stars pitched the Negro National League’s first no-hitter, defeating the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 4-0.

                “Gatewood was a veteran pitcher, known for his spitball as well as for his versatility, and in 1921, he was part of a pitching rotation that included Bill Holland (real name Elvis William Holland), Andy Cooper, and William Force. And Gatewood was not just a reliable presence on the mound; he also got his share of good at-bats. In fact, in his no-hit game, he had a home run. The Chicago Defender’s Frank “Fay” Young noted that Gatewood was even used as a pinch-hitter sometimes, and also referred to him as ‘one of the mainstays of the Detroit Stars … and partly responsible for their position at the top.’”

                Gatewood made my list last year, but at 39-years-old, fell off a bit this season.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

159 2/3 IP, 14-8, 2.82 ERA, 77 K, 136 ERA+, 3.39 FIP, 1.127 WHIP

57 AB, .088, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .088/.103/.088, -46 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Rube Foster’s Giants had quite a pitching staff as, for the second consecutive year, they have three pitchers on this list. It’s part of the explanation of why the Chicago American Giants dominated the Negro National League at the beginning of its existence. Williams’ sophomore year wasn’t as good as his rookie year, but he was still one of the NNL’s best pitchers. Even though he’s only 24, he’s probably got just one more list left.

                One of the things we don’t see recorded by Baseball Reference is the names of the ballparks in which these Negro League teams played or any kind of park factors. I’m not sure why that is but my guess is because there was a lot of bouncing around and barnstorming going on in those days. However, Foster’s Giants did have a home ballpark. Wikipedia has the details, saying, “The third South Side Park, the best known and longest lived venue by that name, was on the north side of 39th Street (now called Pershing Road).

                “Meanwhile, South Side Park became the home of the newly formed Negro league baseball team called the Chicago American Giants in 1911. It was renamed Schorling’s Park for team owner Rube Foster‘s white business partner, John C. Schorling, a south side saloon keeper who leased the grounds and happened to be Comiskey’s son-in-law.

                “The American Giants played their games there through the 1940 season. Then on Christmas Day of 1940, Schorling’s Park was destroyed by fire. The American Giants would play their remaining 10 seasons at Comiskey Park. Today, the Chicago Housing Authority‘s Wentworth Gardens housing project occupies the site.”

                Can you believe Foster had a white business partner?

P-Lucas Boada, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 28 Years Old

141 1/3 IP, 7-8, 3.18 ERA, 50 K, 121 ERA+, 3.33 FIP, 1.189 WHIP

79 AB, .241, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .241/.286/.291, 63 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 62 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.97

Range Factor/Game as P-3.71

1st Time All-Star-Lucas Boada was born in 1893 in Matanzas, Cuba. The five-foot-10 righty pitcher, outfielder, and third baseman didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, so this was his Major League debut year. He’d pitch four seasons for the Cuban Stars, but never have a better year than this one. His ERA was 3.18 this season, but it would be over five during the next three years. He was one of the better hitting pitchers in the NNL, so the Stars played him one game at first, three games at second, and five games at right.

                Dr. Layton Revel wrote a book in 2017 for the Center for Negro League Baseball Research called Early Pioneers of the Negro Leagues and writes on the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, saying, “Before the start of the 1921 season the Cuban Stars (West) moved to Cincinnati (OH) and called Northside Park and Redland Field as their home ball parks. The team was referred to as both the Cincinnati Cubans and the Cincinnati Cuban Stars in 1921. As he had been for years, Agustin ‘Tinti’ Molina returned to the United States as the field manager for the Cuban Stars. Tinti Molina is sometimes referred to as the owner of the team but Abel Linares was always the owner of the team. Most often Linares was more of the ‘money man’ behind the scenes.

                “The Cuban Stars starting line-up was fairly productive during the 1921 Negro National League season and compiled a .254 team batting average. Bernardo Baro (.343), Valentin Dreke (.296), Bienvendio ‘Hooks’ Jimenez (.292) and Marcelino Guerra (.260) paced the team in hitting. Julio Le Blanc (14-8), Lucas Boada (7-5) and Jose ‘Cheche’ Suarez (6-11) comprised the starting rotation for the Cuban Stars. Claudio Manela also pitched for the Stars during the season.”

                I have no date for Boada’s death.

P-John Taylor, Chicago Giants, Unknown age

155 IP, 6-14, 2.90 ERA, 71 K, 132 ERA+, 3.18 FIP, 1.206 WHIP

53 AB, .113, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .113/.175/.170, -2 OPS+

WAR-2.5

WAR for Pitchers-2.7 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 99 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Giants

10-35-2, 8th in NNL

Manager Joe Green

OPS+-83, 6th in league

ERA+-85, 8th in league

WAR Leader-John Taylor, 2.5

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.336

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-3.087

1st Time All-Star-John Taylor was born at sometime, somewhere, but Baseball Reference doesn’t know when or where. He was a righty throwing pitcher who had a short four-year career spread over six years in two leagues. In an era full of wild throwers, Taylor had good control as seen by his league-leading 1.336 walks per nine innings. He walked just 23 batters. Taylor will be the only representative for a poor Chicago Giants squad.

                It’s up to Gary Ashwill on Agate Type to fill in some details. However, according to Ashwill, it seems Baseball Reference has made a mistake. He writes, “There were no fewer than three Negro league pitchers of (some) consequence named John Taylor—Steel Arm Johnny TaylorJohn “Red” Taylor, and Schoolboy Johnny Taylor.  Probably the least known of these three, Red Taylor pitched for the Chicago Giants and New York Lincoln Giants in the 1920s. (The baseball-reference.com Negro leagues site has wrongly attributed his pitching for the Chicago Giants in 1920 and 1921 to Steel Arm Taylor.)

                “Taylor was a right-handed pitcher who used an emery ball, which, as Ben Taylor remarked sardonically in 1925, ‘has been declared illegal in all leagues except the Eastern [Colored] League’ (Baltimore Afro-American, January 17, 1925, p. A7).  According to the Chicago Defender (April 24, 1920), Taylor had ‘created quite a stir down East, where he was a member of the same club from which Tom Williams was secured; he is an overseas hero, is of fine physique, has a world of smoke on his offerings and knows the game.’”

                That’s part of the problem with doing these lists is there’s still a huge lack of information out there.

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 22 Years Old

1920

193 IP, 14-11, 3.17 ERA, 102 K, 121 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 1.088 WHIP

94 AB, .191, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .191/.224/.298, 47 OPS+

WAR-2.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

54-41, 2nd in NNL

Manager Sam Crawford

OPS+-104, 2nd in league

ERA+-113, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Bullet Rogan, 8.1

2nd Time All-Star-Curry made his second consecutive All-Star team and made it by a fluke. One of the best pitchers in the league, Bullet Rogan, hasn’t been mentioned yet because I put him as a rightfielder. If I would have placed him on the list as a pitcher, his teammate, Curry, wouldn’t have made it. Not that Rube didn’t have a good season. He was one of the best pitchers on the 2nd best team in the league, tossing a lot of Ks, while still maintaining good control.

                There is a lot of dispute between those who spell this pitcher’s name Curry and those who spell it Currie. Gary Ashwill of Agate Type, the great Negro League historian, has a whole article on it. Here’s part of it:

                “Reuben “Rube” Curry was a top-notch right-handed pitcher for several winning ballclubs in the 1920s Negro and Cuban leagues, including the Kansas City Monarchs, Hilldale Club, Santa Clara Leopards, and Chicago American Giants. In the addendum to Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia (p. 933), his name is given as George Reuben Currie, born July 17, 1898, in Kansas City, Missouri, and died September 1968, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This information, as it turns out, is entirely incorrect.

                “Well, when I started systematically compiling a database I decided that, wherever possible, I would try as much as possible to bypass secondary sources and go straight to the original evidence—that is, what people were called (or called themselves) at the time, when they were in their heyday, when the Negro leagues still existed. In the matter of spelling, I try to go with how the player in question actually spelled his name. If he changed the way he spelled it during his life, I go with how he spelled it while he was an active player.

                “In the case of Curry, we have first his World War I draft card (above), dating from 1918 (the year before he went pro with Gilkerson’s Union Giants), which he himself signed ‘Reuben Curry.’”

                Click on the link to see the whole article and the actual signature.

C-Biz Mackey, Indianapolis ABCs, 23 Years Old

.330, 8 HR, 70 RBI, .330/.377/.499, 146 OPS+

11 IP, 0-2, 5.73 ERA, 8 K, 69 ERA+, 5.68 FIP, 1.455 WHIP

WAR-2.8

WAR Position Players-3.1 (10th)

Offensive WAR-3.4 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. 55 percent chance)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-James Raleigh “Biz” Mackey was born on July 27, 1897 in Caldwell County, TX. The six-foot-one 235 pound catcher, shortstop, and first baseman started his Hall of Fame Major League career off in 1920 for the ABCs and had a good season, hitting .312 with a 126 OPS+, but fell short of making my list. Well, his hitting is going to go nuts for the next few seasons and there’s no doubt why he’s in Cooperstown.

                Chris Rainey of SABR writes, “Mackey’s work at bat and behind the plate earned him a contract for 1921. He wintered in Texas and played ball there before returning to Indiana for spring training in early April. Indianapolis opened the season with two wins over the Cuban Stars, but quickly fell off the pace after that. Mackey was even forced to take the mound and took three losses during the campaign. At the plate he hit .304, tied for the team lead in triples, and punched three home runs.

                “The nickname ‘Biz’ first started to appear in 1923. Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Courier were using it by the end of the season. Mackey was a friendly, loquacious fellow with a competitive streak. He was known for giving the batter an earful when at the plate, hoping to break their concentration and focus. This ‘giving them the business’ earned him the nickname of ‘Biz.’ It should be noted that he was not the first ‘Biz’ Mackey to make the sports pages. A featherweight boxer who twice had world-championship matches against Abe Attell — yes that Attell of Black Sox infamy — had appeared in headlines for two decades as the catcher grew up.”

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Giants, 37 Years Old

1920

169 AB, .325, 2 HR, 38 RBI, .325/.370/.467, 135 OPS+

WAR-1.4

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 68 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Kennard becomes the first catcher to make two All-Star teams on my list as his steady hitting and defense made him one of the best at his position. He split catching duties with another 37-year-old man named Sam Bennett. Bennett’s hitting wasn’t near what Kennard’s was so the Giants lost a lot when Dan wasn’t in the lineup. Of course, now that were both 37, neither of them were going to have long Major League careers.

                Wikipedia has a history of the Giants, saying, “The St. Louis Stars, originally the St. Louis Giants, were a Negro league baseball team that competed independently from as early as 1906 to 1919, and then joined the Negro National League (NNL) for the duration of their existence. After the 1921 season, the Giants were sold by African-American promoter Charlie Mills to Dick Kent and Dr. Sam Sheppard, who built a new park and renamed the club the Stars. As the Stars, they eventually built one of the great dynasties in Negro league history, winning three pennants in four years from 1928 to 1931.

                “In 1906, Charles A. Mills, an African-American bank messenger and baseball fan who wanted to upgrade the team, approached Conrad Kuebler, a white man who owned a ballpark, and convinced him to invest in the team. He then persuaded the Leland Giants to visit St. Louis to play against his team. Mills discovered that the Leland Giants’ star third baseman, Dick Wallace wanted a change of scenery, and persuaded him to join the St. Louis Giants as the team’s playing manager.”

Head & shoulders portrait of newly inducted Hall of Famer, Ben Taylor, 1st baseman of the Negro Leagues. Photo taken from team portrait of the 1915 Indianapolis ABC’s.

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 32 Years Old

1920

408 AB, .392, 3 HR, 89 RBI, .392/.448/.520, 172 OPS+

10 1/3 IP, 1-0, 0.87 ERA, 5 K, 457 ERA+, 3.04 FIP, 1.161 WHIP

WAR-6.0

Wins Above Replacement-6.0 (4th)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-4.7 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-106

At Bats-408

Plate Appearances-460

Hits-160

Total Bases-212

Doubles-25

Singles-123

Times On Base-201

Putouts-1,153 (2nd Time)

Def. Games as 1B-106 (2nd Time)

Putouts as 1B-1,153 (2nd Time)

Assists as 1B-61 (2nd Time)

Double Plays Turned as 1B-56 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/9 Inn as 1B-11.95

Fielding % as 1B-.987

2nd Time All-Star-Old Reliable is back and had his best Major League season. Of course, Taylor’s problem was his Major League career started when he was 31, so my stats don’t account for the many seasons he played before his 1920 year with the ABCs. The Negro League Committee certainly knew all of that though and they put him in Cooperstown in 2006. Should I take any of this into account for my Hall of Fame? Well, I probably should, but I won’t because I’ve still got over 150 of these seasons to do and I’ve got to get going! (Even that little aside put me behind!)

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes the following on the ABCs: “The Indianapolis ABCs often played games against major black teams (especially the Cuban Stars) in various small or medium-sized Indiana towns.  In 1921, the ABCs played:

“1) the American Giants in Gary, Indiana, on July 9
2) the Monarchs in Anderson, Indiana, on July 16
3) the Cuban Stars in Kokomo, Indiana, on August 25
4) the Cuban Stars in Frankfort, Indiana, on August 26
5) the Detroit Stars in Muncie, Indiana, on August 27
6) the Columbus Buckeyes in Lebanon, Indiana, on September 2

“Also: there are several games played in Indianapolis for which I have found no box scores, most notably the famous 18-to-18 game.  I have checked the Indianapolis StarIndianapolis NewsIndiana Daily Times, and Indianapolis World.  All or some of the city’s black papers–the Freeman, Recorder, and Ledger–may have been publishing that year, but I have been unable to obtain them.”

What Ashwill does is research and what I do is garbage compared to that. I’m just compiling all of this research into what is hopefully a handy guide.

1B-George Carr, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

1920

390 AB, .323, 14 HR, 73 RBI, .323/.389/.518, 155 OPS+

WAR-3.5

WAR Position Players-3.5 (8th)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-Carr made my list for the second consecutive year, as one of the top power hitters in this league with 14 homers, one behind Negro National League leader, Oscar Charleston, who had 15. It should be noted at this time in baseball history, Babe Ruth had just started making the long ball part of the game’s strategy and even in the Negro Leagues at this time there weren’t a lot of high dinger numbers.

                My wife and I took a quick trip to Kansas City to have dinner with her nieces and, had we been there longer and not during the Covid era, I would have liked to seen the Negro Leagues Museum. I remember a few years ago reading a lot of Joe Posnanski, the sports writer from KC, and he spoke a lot about that museum and the man most responsible for it, Buck O’Neil.

                Posnanski loved O’Neil and after reading Joe’s writing, so did I. He displayed such a positive attitude in all aspects of his life. He wasn’t voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame and here’s how he responded, according to Wikipedia:

                “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.”

2B-Frank Warfield, Detroit Stars, 22 Years Old

318 AB, .264, 2 HR, 34 RBI, .264/.346/.362, 100 OPS+

WAR-2.4

Defensive WAR-1.2 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 28 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Range Factor/9 Inn as 2B-6.02

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.90

1st Time All-Star-Frank Warfield was born on April 28, 1899 in Pembroke, Kentucky. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound righty second and third baseman started his Major League career with the Stars in 1920, playing 64 games and hitting .281 before moving to the champion Chicago American Giants, with which he played four games, hitting .182. This year, he started again on Detroit and would be with it a couple of seasons. Warfield is never going to be a great hitter, but his glove might put him on a few more lists.

                The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum quotes the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, who writes, “A native of Indianapolis, he began his career in 1914 with the St. Louis Giants, but appeared briefly as a reserve left fielder with C.I. Taylor‘s Indianapolis ABCs in 1915. He spent most of the next season back with the St. Louis Giants as a shortstop, usually hitting third in the batting order. After only a year in St. Louis, C.I. Taylor engineered his return to the ABCs, where the middle infielder played for two seasons, one each at second base and shortstop.

                “Although hobbled by a sprained ankle during the latter year, he hit .240 and .324 in 1917-1918 while batting in the lower half of the lineup with the ABCs. In 1919 he joined Tenny Blount’s Detroit Stars as part of an aggregation that was probably the greatest team in Detroit’s history. Beginning in 1920, with the first year of the Negro National League, Warfield batted leadoff for the Stars, hitting .271, .269, and .342 for the 1920-1922 seasons.”

3B-Mike Herrera, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 23 Years Old

317 AB, .246, 1 HR, 16 RBI, .246/.311/.309, 75 OPS+

1/3 IP, 0-1, 108.00 ERA, 1 K, 8 ERA+, -2.86 FIP, 15.000 WHIP

WAR-1.4

Defensive WAR-1.6 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 96 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Ramon “Mike” Herrera was born on December 19, 1897 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-six, 147 pound righty third and second baseman started his Major League career in 1920 with the then-named Cuban Stars West and didn’t get off to a great start. This season, his glove put him on my list due to a lack of good players at the hot corner. Last year’s entry, the Kansas City Monarch’s Bartolo Portuondo, hit better than Herrera, but didn’t have his mitt.

                Bill Nowlin of SABR writes, “Were the Boston Red Sox the last major-league team to sign a black player? Or were they one of the first? Did the Red Sox actually have a black ballplayer long before Pumpsie Green and 22 years before Jackie Robinson debuted with the Dodgers? Havana’s Ramon ‘Mike’ Herrera totaled 276 at-bats in 1925 and 1926 while serving as a second baseman for the Red Sox (an even .275 batting average). He also played for Negro League teams both before and after his stretch with Boston, one of just 11 players who played in both the Negro Leagues and major leagues before World War II.

                “Photographs of Mike Herrera seem to show that he could easily ‘pass’ for white, and for those who want to measure such things, he may have been more white than black. So did he have to ‘pass for black’ when he was in the Negro Leagues? Not really, Bolton explained. There were a number of light-skinned players in the Negro Leagues and even more ‘white’ Cubans. These players were used to playing together in Latin America. It was only in the United States that they were segregated.”

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 25 Years Old

1920

244 AB, .324, 8 HR, 56 RBI, .324/.355/.566, 158 OPS+

WAR-4.0

WAR Position Players-4.0 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (10th)

Defensive WAR-1.6 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Defensive WAR-1.6

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-6.00 (2nd Time)

Range Factor/Game as SS-5.78 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-Moore, the slick-fielding, great hitting man from Atlanta, continued to be the best shortstop in the Negro National League. I don’t know how much stock to put in Baseball Reference’s Defensive WAR, but he led the NNL in that stat telling us what many people have already concluded, that he could field with the best of them. In 1920, Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, one of the best shortstops in the Majors, was killed by a pitch from Carl Mays. If things had been different, Cleveland could have picked up this man, whom Casey Stengel rated highly indeed. (Read Moore’s 1920 blurb for more info.)

                Wikipedia says, “Born in Georgia, Moore served in the United States Army and played for the 25th Infantry Wreckers from 1916 to 1920, along with Bullet Rogan and other future Negro leaguers. He went directly to the Monarchs in mid-season 1920, where he was the league’s top shortstop until his career ended. 5’11” and 230 pounds, he fielded his position with Gold Glove ability and hit for a .359 lifetime batting average with better than average power and speed.”

                Meanwhile, John B. Holway of SABR mentions, “Dobie wasn’t popular with all the Monarchs. ‘Some fellows on the team didn’t care too much for him,’ says utility-man Carroll ‘Dink’ Mothell. ‘He was outspoken. If you were doing something he didn’t like, he’d tell you about it. If you resented it, he didn’t stop at that, he’d keep on telling you your faults. The way he talked to you, a person might resent it.’”

SS-John Henry Lloyd, Columbus Buckeyes, 37 Years Old

362 AB, .348, 0 HR, 54 RBI, .348/.392/.448, 136 OPS+

WAR-3.8

WAR Position Players-3.8 (6th)

Offensive WAR-3.7 (6th)

Defensive WAR-0.6 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1977)

Ron’s: No (Would require 21 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Columbus Buckeyes

30-38-1, 6th in NNL

Manager John Henry Lloyd

OPS+-89,  5th in league

ERA+-95, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Roy Roberts, 4.1

Led in:

Def. Games as SS-90

Putouts as SS-256

Assists as SS-252

Double Plays Turned as SS-32

Fielding % as SS-.955

1st Time All-Star-John Henry “Pop” Lloyd was born on April 25, 1884 in Palatka, Florida. The five-foot-11, 180 pound lefty hitting, righty throwing second baseman, shortstop, and first baseman didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, but started this year as the manager and shortstop of the Columbus Buckeyes, the only year of their existence as a Major League team. He was already 37 by the time he came into the Major Leagues, but his reputation allowed him to be inducted into Cooperstown in 1977.

                Wikipedia says, “John Henry ‘Pop’ Lloyd (April 25, 1884 – March 19, 1964),nicknamed ‘El Cuchara’, was an American baseball shortstop and manager in the Negro leagues. He is generally considered the greatest shortstop in Negro league history, and Babe Ruth reportedly believed Lloyd to be the greatest baseball player ever.

                “Known for his gentlemanly conduct, Lloyd was probably the most sought-after African-American player of his generation. “Wherever the money was, that’s where I was,” he once said. His career record bears this out, showing him constantly moving from team to team.

                “In 1921, he was hired to organize a new team in Foster’s young Negro National League. Lloyd’s Columbus Buckeyes were not a notable success, however, on the field or in the box office, finishing seventh in a field of eight, and folded upon season’s end. The following year, Lloyd was back in the east managing the Bacharach Giants, who had moved to New York City.”

                My loyal reader, V, mentioned I need to come up with a different method for my Hall of Fame for the Negro Leagues since so many players, like Lloyd, already had their best years behind them by the time the NNL started. When you look at a player like this man, I can see his point.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 32 Years Old

1920

392 AB, .344, 10 HR, 78 RBI, .344/.388/.533, 158 OPS+

19 IP, 1-1, 3.32 ERA, 9 K, 118 ERA+, 3.14 FIP, 1.105 WHIP

WAR-3.6

WAR Position Players-3.6 (7th)

Offensive WAR-3.6 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-89 (2nd Time)

2nd Time All-Star-McNair made my list for the second consecutive year and has a few more of these lists to go. He was 32 years old already, but he’s still got some good seasons left, including his best ever. McNair is one of five Monarchs to make my list and it’s a surprise to me they didn’t win the league. They just couldn’t match the pitching of Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants, but the Monarchs sure could hit.

                Dr. Layton Revel and Luiz Munoz of the Center for Negro League Baseball Research wrote a paper called Forgotten Heroes: Hurley McNair and say about their subject: “McNair put up excellent numbers at the plate and was the team’s leading hitter for the 1921 Negro National League season.

                “Rube Currie (13-8) and Bullet Rogan (12-8) led Kansas City’s pitching staff in ‘league’ play in 1921. Rogan has been credited with a record of 20-11 (.645) when games against ‘league’ and ‘non-league’ opponents were added together. Also pitching for the Monarchs in 1921 were Zack ‘Hooks’ Foremen (6-4), Sam Crawford (6-6) and Cliff Bell (3-2).

                “After the regular 1921 season was over, the Kansas City Monarchs lost an eight game series to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association. The Blues won five of the eight games. Kansas City also played a post season exhibition game against the Major League All Stars who were led by Carl Mays and Wall Schang. The Monarchs lost the game to the ‘Big Leaguers’ by a score of 3 to 5.”

CF-Oscar Charleston, St. Louis Giants, 24 Years Old

1920

284 AB, .433, 15 HR, 91 RBI, .433/.512/.736, 250 OPS+

11 IP, 0-0, 5.73 ERA, 8 K, 69 ERA+, 2.50 FIP, 1.727 WHIP

WAR-5.9

WAR Position Players-6.1 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (2nd Time)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require five more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1921 NNL Batting Title

1921 NNL Triple Crown

WAR Position Players-6.1 (2nd Time)

Offensive WAR-6.4 (2nd Time)

Batting Average-.433

On-Base %-.512

Slugging %-.736

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.248

Runs Scored-104 (2nd Time)

Home Runs-15

Runs Batted In-91

Adjusted OPS+-250

Runs Created-105 (2nd Time)

Adj. Batting Runs-57

Adj. Batting Wins-5.7

Extra Base Hits-44 (2nd Time)

Offensive Win %-.926

Power-Speed #-20.4

AB per HR-18.9

2nd Time All-Star-Wow, look at this season from Charleston. He could’ve easily won my Most Valuable Player but I’m giving it to someone who had a very Shohei Otahni like season. Still, that doesn’t take away from what Charleston did.

                As incredible as Charleston’s season was, it was still not as good as Babe Ruth’s in a lot of key stats including on-base plus slugging. Ruth’s was 1.359 and Charleston’s was 1.248. This was despite Charleston hitting .433.

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “Now in demand, Charleston was sold to the St. Louis Giants for the 1921 season. He took pride in his purchase price, clipping a newspaper article that stated he was worth more than Rogers Hornsby or Babe Ruth. He had another strong campaign during which he led the Negro National League in home runs, hitting 15 in 339 plate appearances. In fact, there were three occasions during the season on which Charleston hit two home runs in one game. Because of his surge in power, newspapers started to call him the colored Babe Ruth; this is the major-league player to whom Charleston was most frequently compared during the 1920s. Charleston also stole 32 bases and hit .433. After the 1921 season, Charleston spent the winter in Los Angeles and played in the California Winter League. He hit .405 as the Colored All-Stars went 25-15-1 and posted a winning record in games against teams that included both major- and minor-league players. By the end of the California Winter League season, the Los Angeles press proclaimed Charleston to be the second greatest living player, behind only Babe Ruth.”

Head & shoulders posed portrait of newly inducted Hall of Famer, Cristobal Torriente, centerfielder for the Chicago American Giants of the Negro Leagues. Photo taken from 1920 Chicago American Giants 165.79 PD

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 27 Years Old

1920

290 AB, .352, 12 HR, 74 RBI, .352/.430/.593, 187 OPS+

37 1/3 IP, 3-1, 2.89 ERA, 21 K, 134 ERA+, 2.49 FIP, 1.179 WHIP

WAR-4.9

Wins Above Replacement-4.9 (2nd Time)

WAR Position Players-4.6 (4th)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as CF-.975

2nd Time All-Star-Last year’s Negro National League Most Valuable Player had another great year and was again a big part of the Chicago American Giants winning the pennant. He’ll never have another season as good as his 1920 year, but during the first half of the 1920s, there weren’t going to be too many players better than this Cuban centerfielder. He didn’t lead in any offensive stats this season, but that’s because that other Hall of Fame player from his position dominated them all. See Oscar Charleston above.

                 SABR has a couple articles on Torriente for the 1921 season, one about him scoring the winning run in the American Giants’ 13th consecutive win on June 20 and one about an exhibition game against an all-time great Joe McGinnity, who was 48 at the time. You can find them both online, but I’m going to put just a bit from the McGinnity article, written by Stephen V. Rice.

                “The Staley team [for whom McGinnity toiled] faced a formidable nonleague opponent, the Chicago American Giants, in a three-game series at Staley Field on July 14-16, 1921. Managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster, the American Giants were the defending champions of the Negro National League. Foster’s team featured Cristóbal Torriente, a Cuban slugger called ‘the black Babe Ruth.’

                “Dave Brown pitched a complete game and struck out 11. The American Giants collected 21 hits, setting a record for the most hits by a visiting team at Staley Field. DeMoss had four hits, Torriente had three, and the seven other American Giants had two hits apiece.”

CF-Bernardo Baro, Cincinnati Cuban Stars, 25 Years Old

1920

300 AB, .343, 7 HR, 64 RBI, .343/.392/.520, 156 OPS+

WAR-3.3

WAR Position Players-3.3 (9th)

Offensive WAR-3.1 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 62 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Double Plays Turned as CF-2

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.29

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.22

2nd Time All-Star-Life expectancy for Cuban players certainly wasn’t long during this era. Baro’s teammate, Jose Leblanc, would die before the 1922 season and Baro would die by the age of 34 and I’ll have more on that in a bit. This was Baro’s best season ever and there’s not much chance he’ll make my list again, despite the fact he’s only 25 at this time. Of course, ages in the Negro National League and especially those of the Cuban players are always hard to determine.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “Playing in his homeland during the winter seasons, primarily with Almendares, he had a lifetime Cuban League batting average of .313 for an intermittent eleven-year career that scanned the period of 1915-1929. His best year came in 1922-1923, when he led the league with a .401 average. Other sterling seasons showed averages of .364 and .352 (1918-1920), two consecutive seasons of .309 (1925-1927), and .311 (1928-1929). Playing with Almendares in a 1920 series against the New York Giants, he hit .405, with I home run and 6 doubles in 37 at-bats for a slugging average of .649. In honor of his great career, he was elected to the Cuban Hall of Fame in 1945.

                “In 1929, while playing in the Negro Leagues, Baro suffered a ‘mental collapse’ and had to be restrained with a straitjacket. The next year, he closed out his Negro Leagues career with a lifetime batting average of .302, after appearing with the Kansas City Monarchs for a portion of the season. After leaving the Monarchs he returned to Cuba, and a short time later, in June 1930, he died suddenly in his homeland.”

RF-Bullet Rogan, Kansas City Monarchs, 27 Years Old

259 AB, .305, 6 HR, 47 RBI, .305/.384/.483, 144 OPS+

204 IP, 16-8, 1.72 ERA, 124 K, 223 ERA+, 3.34 FIP, 1.172 WHIP

WAR-8.1

Wins Above Replacement-8.1 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-5.3 (4th)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1921 NNL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-8.1

Earned Run Average-1.72

Wild Pitches-5

Adjusted ERA+-223

Adj. Pitching Runs-40

Adj. Pitching Wins-4.1

1st Time All-Star-Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan was born on July 28, 1893 In Oklahoma City. The five-foot-seven, 160 pound righty outfielder, pitcher, and second baseman started with the Monarchs in 1920 and had a decent season, but as they say, you ain’t seen nothing’ yet. He had a great season as a pitcher and also played regularly in rightfield, hitting over .300 with a 144 OPS+. With these two skills combined, I had no choice but to give Rogan the Negro National League Most Valuable Player.

                Bill Thompson of Banished to the Pen writes, “Come 1921, Rogan had already established himself as one of the most important faces in all of baseball. He didn’t look the part of an all-world baseball player, but he certainly played the part. The short, stocky, and chunky two-way player’s 1921 season with the Monarchs is the sort that just makes you go, [Wow!]. In his 8.9 (2.4 on offense, and 5.3 pitching) sWAR season, he slashed .298/.373/.476 with 7 home runs, 19 stolen bases, and a .385 wOBA in 294 plate appearances. The right-handed hurler sported an ERA of 1.79, a WHIP of 1.18, and ERA+ of 217, while holding opponents to a .225 BAA in 220.2 innings. Let those numbers wash over you for a minute, because they are…impressive. Go ahead, take as much time as you want, they give me the sweats too.”

                There’s a good chance Rogan will be the first Negro League inductee into my Hall of Fame. It will be between him and Oscar Charleston.

RF-Charlie Blackwell, St. Louis Giants, 26 Years Old

294 AB, .405, 12 HR, 89 RBI, .405/.478/.670, 222 OPS+

WAR-5.9

Wins Above Replacement-5.9 (6th)

WAR Position Players-5.9 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-5.4 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Assists as RF-18

Double Plays Turned as RF-5

Assists as OF-20

Double Plays Turned as OF-5

1st Time All-Star-Charles H. “Charlie” Blackwell was born on December 12, 1894 in Brandenburg, Kentucky. The five-foot-seven, 150 pound lefty outfielder started with St. Louis is 1920, playing centerfield and having a good season, finishing sixth in Offensive WAR (2.6). It portended what was ahead this season when Blackwell just smacked the ol’ horsehide around as arguably the second best hitter in the league to Oscar Charleston.          

                Baseball Reference says, “The little outfielder batted .405/.478/.670 in 1921, with 88 runs, 20 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 79 games. He also had 20 outfield assists, mostly playing right field. He was among the NNL leaders in almost every category – second in runs (behind Charleston), tied for 7th in doubles (with Tank Carr and John Henry Lloyd), 7th in hits (119), tied for 4th in triples (with Biz Mackey and McNair), tied for third in homers (with Torriente, trailing only Charleston and Carr), second in RBI (two behind leader Charleston), 5th in steals, 2nd in average (to Charleston), 2nd in slugging (to Charleston), 2nd in OBP (to Charleston) and second in OPS+ (behind Charleston, of course).”

                Blackwell’s going to make another list or two, but never have another season like this one. Can you believe how much power a man 150 pounds had? As mentioned above, the little man was third in homers and he’d never hit this many again. His problem is he would decline quickly from this peak he reached in 1921.

RF-Crush Holloway, Indianapolis ABCs, 24 Years Old

381 AB, .323, 3 HR, 63 RBI, .323/.374/.415, 122 OPS+

WAR-2.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 65 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as RF-80

Putouts as RF-130

Range Factor/9 Inn as RF-1.87

Range Factor/Game as RF-1.75

Fielding % as RF-.959

1st Time All-Star-Crush Christopher Columbus Holloway was born on September 15, 1896 in Hillsboro, TX. The six-foot, 180 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing outfielder didn’t play in the Negro National League in 1920, but had a good beginning here in ’21. He’d never match this again and would end up with more of a reputation defensively than at the bat. He would have a long career, playing 15 years and retiring at the age of 42.

                Wikipedia says, “A blockbuster seven-player trade sent Holloway to the Indianapolis ABCs in 1921. Because the second base position was already locked down by Connie Day, Holloway was converted into an outfielder by manager C. I. Taylor, who also mentored him on base stealing.

                “Thanks to Taylor and his observations of Cobb, Holloway became an intimidating presence on the base paths. As base stealing aficionado Jake Stephens described him: ‘By God! You’d be committing hara-kiri to get in the way of Crush Holloway or Jimmie Lyons. They’d cut you to death. I mean, they’d sharpen their spikes before they went out on the ball field. Like Cobb’. To take advantage of his exceptional speed, the switch-hitting Holloway perfected the drag bunt to outrun the infield and get on base for those batting behind him. During his time spent with the ABCs between 1921 and 1923, he consistently retained a batting average (BA) around .300.”

                By the way, according to some sources on the internet, Holloway was named after a train crash called the Crash at Crush.

1920 Negro National League All-Star Team

P-Dave Brown, CAG

P-Jose Leblanc, CSW

P-Sam Crawford, KCM

P-Tom Williams, CAG

P-Rube Curry, KCM

P-Cheo Hernandez, CSW

P-Tom Johnson, CAG/DS

P-Bill Gatewood, DS

P-John Finner, SLG

P-Bill Holland, DS

C-George Dixon, CAG

C-Dan Kennard, SLG

1B-Ben Taylor, ABC

1B-George Carr, KCM

2B-Bingo DeMoss, CAG

3B-Bartolo Portuondo, KCM

SS-Dobie Moore, KCM

SS-Morten Clark, ABC

SS-John Beckwith, COG

LF-Hurley McNair, KCM

LF-Koke Alexander, DM

CF-Oscar Charleston, ABC

CF-Cristobal Torriente, CAG, 1st MVP

CF-Bernardo Baro, CSW

CF-Jimmie Lyons, DS

P-Dave Brown, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

148 2/3 IP, 13-3, 1.82 ERA, 101 K, 195 ERA+, 2.67 FIP, 0.908 WHIP

53 AB, .132, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .132/.233/.132, 9 OPS+

WAR-4.4

Wins Above Replacement-4.4 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (1st)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago American Giants

43-17-2, 1st in NNL

Manager Rube Foster

OPS+-96, 3rd in league

ERA+-153, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Cristobal Torriente, 4.8

Led in:

1920 NNL Pitching Title

WAR for Pitchers-4.5

Earned Run Average-1.82

Walks & Hits per IP-0.908

Hits per 9 IP-5.085

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

Hit By Pitch-10

Adjusted ERA+-195

Adj. Pitching Runs-28

Adj. Pitching Wins-2.9

1st Time All-Star-Dave K. Brown was born on June 9, 1897 in Marquez, Texas. The five-foot-11, 165 pound lefty pitcher was one of the first pitching superstars of the Negro Leagues.

                Before I go any further, here’s a note from Baseball Reference, to show you the stats with which I’m working: “Negro League player stats include league games, interleague games (against major Negro League competition), and games against select top-level independent Black Baseball teams. Player stats do not include the extensive amount of exhibitions and barnstorming games Negro League teams often played. Negro League data is not complete. Research is still ongoing and we’ll continue to publish updates as more information becomes available.”

                James A. Riley wrote a book called The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues and is quoted on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum page. He writes, “Mixing outstanding speed, a good curve, a hard drop, and excellent control in a relatively short but sterling career, the smart left-hander was the ace of Rube Foster‘s dominating Chicago American Giants clubs of the early 1920s. His clutch pitching in 1920-1922 (10-2, 11-3, and 8-3 in league contests for a composite .784 winning percentage) was a primary factor in the club winning the first three Negro National League championships.”

                Thank the Lord that people more diligent than me have gone back and researched all of this Negro League history.  I know very little about the Negro Leagues and in this first list, the only name I recognize is Oscar Charleston.

P-Jose Leblanc, Cuban Stars West, 26 Years Old

167 IP, 11-9, 1.99 ERA, 103 K, 177 ERA+, 2.57 FIP, 1.072 WHIP

77 AB, .182, 0 HR, 8 RBI, .182/.259/.247, 51 OPS+

WAR-4.1

Wins Above Replacement-4.1 (5th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Cuban Stars West

35-34, 5th in NNL

Manager Unknown

OPS+-88, 5th in league

ERA+-114, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Jose Leblanc, 4.1

Led in:

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.512

1st Time All-Star-Jose Leblanc was born in 1894 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The righty pitcher, rightfielder, and first baseman would have a very short career and, unfortunately, a very short life. While he was around, however, he was dominant. It’s interesting to write about Cuba in the 1920s, some three decades before Fidel Castro took over and Cuban players became rarer in the Major Leagues. Yet here in the Negro Leagues is a whole team of Cubans.

                Gary Ashwill of the Reconstructing Negro League & Latin American Baseball History page writes, “There are two interesting points about Leblanc. First, his greatest successes as a ballplayer were really in the United States. His Cuban League record over three seasons as pitcher amounted to a meager 4-7. But in the U.S., he would go 32-24 against top black competition for a team that went 89-93 overall. For two of those years, 1919 and 1920, the Cubans were exclusively a road club; Leblanc’s 17-12 in those seasons was his road record. By 1921, Leblanc was one of the top pitchers in the Negro National League.

                “The other thing about Leblanc is that we know very little about him. We know his primary pitch was a spitball, and we know that he probably threw right-handed. Other than that….virtually nothing. I haven’t been able to find a team photo of the western Cuban Stars in 1919-1921, and I am reasonably certain I’ve never seen a photo of Leblanc. We don’t even really know what his name was. He appears as ‘Julio LeBlanc’ in reference books, but I’ve so far seen him called only ‘José Leblanc’ (with a small “b”) in Cuban sources (which is the usage I’ve adopted in the Seamheads DB).”

P-Sam Crawford, Kansas City Monarchs, 28 Years Old

188 IP, 14-8. 2.78 ERA, 106 K, 127 ERA+, 2.93 FIP, 1.144 WHIP

70 AB, .186, 1 HR, 9 RBI, .186/.230/.257, 45 OPS+

WAR-4.0

Wins Above Replacement-4.0 (6th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 81 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Kansas City Monarchs

44-33-2, 2nd in NNL

Manager Jose Mendez

OPS+-109, 1st in league

ERA+-106, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Sam Crawford, 4.0

Led in:

Strikeouts-106

Fielding % as P-.980

1st Time All-Star-Samuel “Sam” Crawford was born on April 15, 1892 in Dallas. The six-foot-one, 200 pound righty pitcher, outfielder, and second baseman was the first star pitcher for the vaunted Kansas City Monarchs. He was the first pitcher in the Negro National League, now officially a Major League here in 1920, to lead the league in strikeouts. This would be his only good season as he would fade quickly after this.

                It should be noted just because Baseball Reference starts its recording of the NNL in 1920, it doesn’t mean there weren’t any Negro Leagues going on before this. Seamheads has pitching stats for Crawford going all the way back to 1910 when he was 18 years old for a team known as the New York Black Sox. He then pitched for many teams for many leagues all the way until 1920.

                If you google Sam Crawford in this time period, you run into the problem of finding much more information on the American League outfielder Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford. Crawford was a long-time teammate of Ty Cobb and made 12 of my lists, entering my ONEHOF (One-A-Year Hall of Fame) in 1912. There’s very little on the NNL’s Sam Crawford.

                Even on the Baseball Reference page for this Crawford, there’s a lack of dates, including the day he died. I have a feeling this is going to be a familiar occurrence writing about the Negro Leagues. Yet I’m grateful for all of the work put in by historians to give us as much info as we have.

P-Tom Williams, Chicago American Giants, 23 Years Old

157 IP, 12-4, 1.83 ERA, 65 K, 193 ERA+, 2.90 FIP, 1.045 WHIP

51 AB, .176, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .176/.222/.176, 19 OPS+

WAR-3.9

Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (7th)

WAR for Pitchers-4.0 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Saves-3

Assists as P-78

Range Factor/9 Inn as P-4.82

1st Time All-Star-Thomas “Tom” Williams was born on September 28, 1896 in Charleston, SC. The pitcher had his best season ever in the Negro National League’s inaugural Major League season. Rube Foster’s Chicago squad is going to have three pitchers on my list and three position players and that’s what’s going to help them be the first champions of this league. Williams was mainly a starter, but did pitch in relief six times, garnering three saves.

                Baseball Reference says, “Williams debuted in 1916 with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) in 8 2/3 IP. He moved to the Chicago American Giants in 1917 and starred at 13-2, 1.28. He only allowed 29 walks and 78 hits in 126 2/3 innings. He finished second in the midwest among top black teams in wins (behind Dick Redding), tied for third in complete games (12), tied for second with 3 shutouts (behind Redding), led in WHIP and second in ERA (trailing Redding). He split 1918 between the Brooklyn Royal Giants (0-3, 3.40) and Hilldale (1-0, 1.56 in 3 G). He was 4-4 with a 3.20 ERA for Hilldale in 1919 and tossed 7 innings (3 R, 0 ER) for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants.

“Williams returned to Chicago in 1920 and duplicated his 1917 stardom. He was 12-4 with 3 saves, 1.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He tied Jim Jeffries and Bill Holland for the save lead in the inaugural season of the Negro National League. He also tied for second with 2 shutouts (one back of Dizzy Dismukes), tied for 6th in wins, was 5th in WHIP and again finished second in ERA (this time behind Dave Brown).”

P-Rube Curry, Kansas City Monarchs, 21 Years Old

205 1/3 IP, 10-11. 2.81 ERA, 101 K, 126 ERA+, 2.56 FIP, 1.135 WHIP

78 AB, .141, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .141/.183/.141, -3 OPS+

WAR-3.5

Wins Above Replacement-3.5 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-3.9 (5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Home Runs per 9 IP-0.000

1st Time All-Star-Reuben “Rube” Curry was born on October 10, 1898 in Kansas City, Missouri. The six-foot-one, 195 pound righty pitcher and outfielder had a pretty good year, but is going to have even better ones to come. I would have guessed Rube was a nickname, not his actual name. Is it the same with the American Giants’ manager and Hall of Famer, Rube Foster? No. His name is Andrew Bishop Foster and Rube is indeed a nickname.

                Baseball Reference says, “Rube Currie was a top Negro League pitcher of the early 1920s who appeared in all four Eastern Colored LeagueNegro National League editions of the Negro World Series. He was noted for his curveball and his control. His name was spelled Curry by contemporary sources but historians invariably refer to him as Currie.

                “Currie grew up playing alongside Newt Allen and Frank Duncan. He began his career with the 1919 Chicago Unions, a minor team. In 1920, he was 12-13 for the Kansas City Monarchs but his 122 strikeouts tied Sam Crawford for second in the Negro National League behind Bullet Joe Rogan. On September 27, he threw a 15-inning 1-1 tie against Dicta Johnson.”

                You’re going to notice what people write and what Baseball Reference records are going to be different at times. That makes sense when the people writing aren’t BR, but BR wrote the above and still has different numbers from what its own stats! But that’s the way of the Negro Leagues, there aren’t any clear-cut statistics to go by.

P-Cheo Hernandez, Cuban Stars West, 26 Years Old

187 IP, 12-10, 3.08 ERA, 71 K, 115 ERA+, 3.28 FIP, 1.342 WHIP

97 AB, .237, 3 HR, 16 RBI, .237/.275/.381, 95 OPS+

WAR-3.3

Wins Above Replacement-3.3 (10th)

WAR for Pitchers-2.8 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 90 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Jose “Cheo” Hernandez was born in 1894 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-eight righty pitcher and rightfielder played only this one season in the Majors. Baseball Reference doesn’t have a lot of info. It doesn’t have a birthdate, a death date, a weight, or does it even list if he was a left or right-handed hitter. He did play rightfield six times this season along with pitching in 26 games. He was a decent hitter, especially compared to many of the pitchers I’ve already recorded.

                Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria wrote a book called The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseballand says this about Hernandez, in a section about a series of games against John McGraw’s New York Giants: “(On October 18), Cheo Hernandez take the pound against (Pol) Perritt. The score was 7-4, but a sour note was introduced when the fans and the press detected that the (National League New York) Giant players were performing with some indifference. Diario de la Marina suggested that the Americans were not taking care of themselves well (i.e., that they were drinking too much), and not playing with the same dedication and intensity that led them to nearly defeat Brooklyn for the National League pennant: ‘It is well known to all that players in American clubs who visit us, do so with the purpose of taking a trip and enjoying certain freedoms that are forbidden back home, and that for that reason it is not possible for them to conduct themselves with the same earnestness as when they are competing for their league championship.’”

P-Tom Johnson, Chicago American Giants/Detroit Stars, 31 Years Old

148 2/3 IP, 13-2, 2.42 ERA, 69 K, 146 ERA+, 2.89 FIP, 1.083 WHIP

56 AB, .125, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .125/.222/.125, 4 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-3.2 (6th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 157 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Chicago Team Stats

Detroit Stars

37-27, 3rd in NNL

Manager Pete Hill

OPS+-107, 2nd in league

ERA+-105, 4th in league

WAR Leader-Jimmie Lyons, 4.3

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.867

1st Time All-Star-Thomas Jefferson “Tom” Johnson was born on April 22, 1889 in Bryan, Texas. The six-foot, 180 pound righty pitcher started with the Giants this year and went 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He then went to Detroit to end his season. After this year, he would pitch just one more Major League season and then die an early death at the age of 37. That has been the case with quite a few of the players I’ve already written about.

                Baseball Reference says, “In 1915, Tom was 2-1 for the Indianapolis ABCs and 3-5 for Chicago. He spent most of his remaining career with the American Giants. He went 4-0 in 1916 and 5-0 in 1917. On September 2, 1916, he pitched five innings of no-hit ball against the Cuban StarsDick Whitworth relieved him and added two more hitless innings before darkness ended the combination no-hitter at seven innings. Johnson missed 1918 and part of 1919 while serving in the US Army. With the 365th Infantry, he was sent to France and reached the rank of Lieutenant.

                “When the War ended, Johnson came back to Chicago, going 2-3 in 1919, 7-0 in 1920 and 7-7 in 1921. Johnson moved to the Pittsburgh Keystones the next year but spent much of the season in the hospital. He pitched for the semi-pro Chicago Giants in 1923. After his pitching career ended, Johnson was a Negro National League umpire before dying of tuberculosis.”

                Again I note the disparity between the BR stats which states Johnson went 11-0 for the Giants and the write-up that says he went 7-0.

P-Bill Gatewood, Detroit Stars, 38 Years Old

159 IP, 15-5, 2.72 ERA, 90 K, 130 ERA+, 3.12 FIP, 1.138 WHIP

61 AB, .279, 0 HR, 12 RBI, .279/.380/.393, 131 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR for Pitchers-2.4 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 56 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins-15

Home Runs Allowed-6

1st Time All-Star-William Miller “Bill” Gatewood was born on August 22, 1881 in San Antonio. The six-foot, 195 pound righty pitcher was part of a great Stars pitching staff in this inaugural Negro National League season. He’ll be the answer to the trivia question of the first NNL leader in wins. He would pitch for five more seasons, but never have this success again. Of course, at this point, Gatewood was already 38 years old.

                Bill Johnson of SABR has much to say about Gatewood and I suggest you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit: “On June 6, 1921, Gatewood added yet another achievement to his baseball resume, throwing the first no-hitter in Negro National League history. Facing only 29 batters, Gatewood shut down the Cincinnati Cuban Stars, a team that included future Cuban Baseball Hall of Famer Valentín Dreke, on only two walks. Gatewood also struck out ten, and added a home run of his own to cement the 4-0 victory. Historian Larry Lester, in his biography of Rube Foster, added a bit of detail:

                “’In a 1921 game, as a member of the Detroit Stars with Bruce Petway catching, the Cuban Stars protested to the umpire that the ball was doing “funny things.” The umpire examined the ball and found a nick and tossed it out of play. A short time later more complaints were registered and …The Cubans demanded that Gatewood be searched. The pat down revealed a half-dozen bottle caps in (the pitcher’s) pocket. Busted and now angry, Gatewood started off batters with knock-down pitches and eventually struck out 10 and walked two batters en route to a no-hitter.’

                “Bill Gatewood died of ‘cancer of stomach’ after a month-long battle at the Ellis Fischel Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, on December 8, 1962. He was 81.”

P-John Finner, St. Louis Giants, 34 Years Old

166 IP, 7-8, 2.98 ERA, 65 K, 119 ERA+, 2.87 FIP, 1.175 WHIP

75 AB, .147, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .147/.210/.173, 14 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR for Pitchers-2.9 (8th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 333 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Giants

32-40, 6th in NNL

Manager Dick Wallace

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-102, 5th in league

WAR Leader-John Finner, 2.6

Led in:

Bases On Balls per 9 IP-1.627

Range Factor/Game as P-3.74

1st Time All-Star-Johnny Charley “John” Finner was born on August 7, 1885. The six-foot-two, righty pitcher and rightfielder was St. Louis’ best player in this first Negro National League season. He had a losing record, but had good control. He’d never have a season better than this one. You might notice above there’s not a lot of details on Finner. There’s no birthplace listed and there’s also no date or place of death.        

                Since there’s not a lot of information on Finner, let’s talk about this league for a minute. The details come from a book, Blackball in the Hoosier Heartland: Unearthing the Negro Leagues Baseball History of Richmond, Indiana by Alex Painter. He writes, “Foster’s vision came to fruition officially on February 13, 1920 with the founding of the Negro National League (NNL) at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri.

                “The inaugural season would feature eight teams, including Foster’s Chicago American Giants, as well as the Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, St. Louis Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, and the Chicago Giants.

                “The stars were aplenty in the new league, and each team had their luminaries.

                “Though Foster’s Chicago American Giants won the league championship in 1920 with the best record within league play, all of the teams continued barnstorm (sic) to help supplement their team coffers and defray expenses. It was also equally important for brand awareness. Though teams would play roughly-150-200 games per year, ‘only a third…counted in the league standings. To survive, a team had to travel.’”

P-Bill Holland, Detroit Stars, 19 Years Old

169 IP, 11-6, 2.77 ERA, 96 K, 128 ERA+, 3.03 FIP, 1.136 WHIP

61 AB, .066, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .066/.109/.066, -48 OPS+

WAR-2.5

WAR for Pitchers-3.1 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 17 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Saves-3

Home Runs Allowed-6

1st Time All-Star-Elvis William “Bill” Holland was born on February 28, 1901 in Alexandria, Indiana. The five-foot-nine, 180 pound switch-hitting, righty pitching hurler and outfielder would have a decent career and is going to make a lot of my lists. He never had those outstanding seasons that would lead him to the Hall of Fame, but he’ll be pitching effectively into his late ‘30s. As a young man, he couldn’t hit, but that would improve in his later years.

                Wikipedia says, “Holland debuted in Richmond, Indiana as a teenager in 1918 with the Richmond Giants, a team that had also featured Negro league legends Oscar Charleston and Connie Day during the season. Holland started games on consecutive days, pitching twenty innings in less than twenty-four hours. He only allowed five earned runs while striking out twenty-four hitters. After the Negro National League was founded, Holland got his start working for the Indianapolis ABCs baseball club, before being sold to the Detroit Stars in 1920. It was with the Stars that he pitched with other Negro league greats like Andy CooperBill Gatewood, Tom Johnson and Gunboat Thompson. After three seasons with Detroit, he moved to the East Coast and spent the rest of his career working for the Lincoln GiantsBrooklyn Royal Giants, and the New York Black Yankees.

                “Holland eventually acquired the nickname ‘Devil’ because of a legendary competitive streak. Negro league second baseman Dick Seay once called Holland the toughest pitcher he ever faced, while also reflecting on his fiery disposition, ‘(If) you hit him, and the next time you came up there, you had to duck. And you knew it. He’d look at you mad, (and) let you know he’s going to throw at you: “Get ready to duck now.”’”

C-George Dixon, Chicago American Giants, 24 Years Old

136 AB, .324, 0 HR, 34 RBI, .324/.391/.463, 154 OPS+

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 300 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as C-7.66

1st Time All-Star-George Dixon was born on January 4, 1896 in Greenwood, South Carolina. The lefty hitting, righty throwing catcher was the best backstop in the this first Negro National League season. He’d never come close to hitting as well as he did this year, but he’d play another 10 seasons in this league and the Negro National League II. It’s possible he’ll make more All-Star teams, but, just as in the National and American Leagues, it’s tough to tell for catchers.

                Wikipedia says, “George ‘Tubby’ Dixon (January 4, 1896 – August 4, 1940) was a Negro leagues catcher for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

“When he started catching for the Chicago American Giants during spring training in Palm Beach, Florida, newspaper reports called him ‘the best young player that has been tried out with the Giants in years.’

“In 1917, 21 year-old Dixon registered for the WWI Draft. He lists his current occupation as professional ball player, working for Rube Foster. He lists his current address as 3664 Wabash Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. And he lists himself as single but supporting his mother. 

“Dixon appears to have played his last few seasons in Cleveland. He died in Cleveland in 1940.” He was 44.

                Since this league was Chicago American Giants’ manager Rube Foster’s brainchild, you can bet he would stock his team with many of the best players. There will be six players from this pennant-winning team on my list.

C-Dan Kennard, St. Louis Giants, 36 Years Old

131 AB, .290, 2 HR, 19 RBI, .290/.380/.427, 141 OPS+

WAR-1.5

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 69 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Daniel “Dan” Kennard was born on September 3, 1883 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The five-foot-six, 164 pound righty catcher was already 36 by the time this new Major League started. He’ll only play for a few more seasons, most of it for St. Louis. He was a pretty good hitter for a catcher, with decent slugging and the ability to draw walks and get on base. It’s amazing how normal his name is on a team with others like Tullie McAdoo and Lunie Danage.

                Wikipedia says, “Daniel Kennard (born September 3, 1883 and died May 21, 1947) was a Negro leagues catcher for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons.

“On July 28 of 1915, 31 year-old Kennard moved from the West Baden Sprudels to become the catcher for the Indianapolis ABCs. He started his first game for the A.B.C.s by pitching.

“Kennard died at the age of 63 in St. Louis, Missouri and is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Hillsdale, MO.”

What Wikipedia doesn’t say in its text is how many teams Kennard played for. Here’s the list. He played for the French Lick Plutos, West Baden Sprudels, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis ABCs, Chicago Black Sox, St. Louis Giants, St. Louis Stars, back to the St. Louis Giants, and finished with the Detroit Stars. He played for most of those teams before the Negro National League started. I want to know what a Sprudel is! (Never mind, I looked it up on Wikipedia, which says, “Their name derived from a bottled water produced at the Hotel. The Hotel bordered on a local salt lick and mineral spring and the minerals from the spring made the water act as an effective and marketable natural laxative. The product was labeled as ‘Sprudel Water’ (from German ‘Sprudelwasser’ meaning ‘sparkling water’). Their frequent rivals, the French Lick Plutos, came from a hotel on the same spring that had also bottled the water and sold it as ‘Pluto Water’.”)

1B-Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABCs, 31 Years Old

343 AB, .321, 4 HR, 64 RBI, .321/.379/.443, 145 OPS+

23 1/3 IP, 1-1, 2.70 ERA, 7 K, 133 ERA+, 3.27 FIP, 1.029 WHIP

WAR-3.8

Wins Above Replacement-3.8 (8th)

WAR Position Players-3.1 (4th)

Offensive WAR-2.7(5th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Indianapolis ABCs

44-38-4, 4th in NNL

Manager C.I. Taylor

OPS+-94, 4th in league

ERA+-95, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Oscar Charleston, 5.2

Led in:

Runs Batted In-64

Putouts-878

Def. Games as 1B-90

Putouts as 1B-875

Assists as 1B-51

Errors Committed as 1B-20

Double Plays Turned as 1B-34

1st Time All-Star-Benjamin Harrison “Ben” or “Old Reliable” Taylor was born on July 1, 1888 in Anderson, South Carolina. The five-foot-11, 175 pound lefty first baseman is the first Negro League player I’m writing about that has made the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He had a great career even before the Negro National League became a Major League this season. By this time, he was already 31 years old and Taylor would start fading.

                Old Reliable’s Hall of Fame pages says, “Belonging to one of the most famous families in African-American baseball history, Ben Taylor had a career that spanned almost four decades, serving as most a premier first baseman and as a successful manager.

                “Playing along with his brothers C.I, Steel Arm John, and Candy Jim, Ben Taylor starred for a number of teams in the pre-Negro Leagues era of 1908 to 1920, and then moved around the various leagues and teams during the golden era from 1921 to 1941.

                “Taylor was a lifetime .300 hitter who maintained a scientific approach to the game. He was noted for his ability to hit to all fields, his execution of the hit-and-run – and became known as ‘Old Reliable’ for both his clutch-hitting and his outstanding defensive play at first base.

                “His was soft-spoken and well-respected – and his reputation as a teacher was noted by Hall of Famer Buck Leonard, who said: ‘I got most of my learning from Ben Taylor. He helped me when I first broke in with his team. He had been the best first baseman in Negro baseball up until that time, and he was the one who really taught me to play first base.’”

1B-George Carr, Kansas City Monarchs, 25 Years Old

308 AB, .315, 4 HR, 51 RBI, .315/.355/.435, 135 OPS+

WAR-2.6

WAR Position Players-2.6 (8th)

Offensive WAR-2.3 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Fielding % as 1B-.986

1st Time All-Star-George Henry Carr was born on September 2, 1894 in Atlanta. The five-foot-11, 200 pound switch-hitting, righty throwing first baseman, outfielder, and third baseman played at six different positions this season, all but pitcher, catcher, and shortstop. Usually, if it has a choice, a team doesn’t put its good fielders at first base, and Carr did field decently this season. For the next few seasons, his Defensive WAR would be under 0.0.

                Wikipedia says, “Prior to the Negro leagues, Carr played high school baseball and graduated from Pasadena High School in Pasadena, California. He played for the Los Angeles White Sox, and in the Winter Leagues in Florida in 1916, playing with and against pre-Negro league stars like John Donaldson, the ‘Taylor boys’ C. I. TaylorBen Taylor and Candy Jim Taylor. The next year, Carr played with and against some of those same players, plus José Méndez“Gentleman” Dave Malarcher, and Andy Cooper. He continued to play Winter Baseball with the Los Angeles White Sox and Captained the team in 1921.

                “In 1917, 23 year-old Carr registered for the WWI Draft. He listed his current occupation as a movie actor listing Martin Turner and Universal Studios as his employer. His current home address was 1249 East 25th Street in Los Angeles. He is listed as married and lists his wife and three children as dependents.”        

                Carr is going to make a few more of these lists. I’m voting my Hall of Fames in the same manner for the Negro Leagues as I am for the American and National Leagues. It will be interesting to see who gets in!

2B-Bingo DeMoss, Chicago American Giants, 30 Years Old

236 AB, .314, 0 HR, 36 RBI, .314/.409/.390, 138 OPS+

WAR-3.1

WAR Position Players-3.1 (5th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 36 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as 2B-66

Putouts as 2B-180

Assists as 2B-191

Errors Committed as 2B-17

Double Plays Turned as 2B-19

Range Factor/Game as 2B-5.62

Fielding % as 2B-.956

1st Time All-Star-Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss was born on September 5, 1889 in Topeka, Kansas. The five-foot-11, 180 pound righty second baseman and outfielder was known more for his fielding than his bat. As a matter of fact, this is his only Major League year in which his OPS+ was over 100 (138). He then would have an OPS+ of 88 in 1921 and after that it’d never be above 69 in a full year for the rest of his nine seasons. Of course, it should be noted in this first season of the Negro National League, he was already  30. He could apparently hit the ball better in his youth.

                Bill Johnson of SABR writes, “James Riley, in his encyclopedia, summarized DeMoss’ skill set as follows: ‘A scientific clutch hitter with superior bat control and exceptional eye-hand coordination, he was a good contact hitter and could place the ball where he wanted. A natural right-field hitter, he was a skilled hit-and-run artist and a superb bunter … Jocko Conlon, who before becoming an umpire played exhibitions against the Chicago American Giants, said that DeMoss could drop a bunt on a dime. While there is no definitive account of how DeMoss was anointed ‘Bingo’, the existing narrative is that it derived from his ability to ‘place a bunt anywhere he wanted on the field’. Kansas City Monarchs catcher Frank Duncan once observed that,’I’ve never seen a man bunt a ball like DeMoss. Looked like when you play pool and draw a ball back. How he did it, I don’t know, but he sure did it.’”

3B-Bartolo Portuondo, Kansas City Monarchs, 26 Years Old

327 AB, .306, 0 HR, 23 RBI, .306/.362/.373, 119 OPS+

WAR-3.0

WAR Position Players-3.0 (6th)

Offensive WAR-2.5 (8th)

Defensive WAR-0.8 (3rd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 230 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Stolen Bases-27

Def. Games as 3B-63

Assists as 3B-127

Errors Committed as 3B-16

1st Time All-Star-Bartolome “Bartolo” Portuondo was born on August 24, 1893 in La Habana, Cuba. The five-foot-seven righty third baseman, first baseman, and shortstop is a surprise to me because I thought all of the Cubans played on the Cuban Stars West. That’s the thing about this project on which I’ve embarked is that I’m going to be learning a lot about the Negro Leagues over the next few weeks.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes, “Courtesy of Larry Lester, here’s something to file under ‘Things I Should Have Known But Didn’t’: Omara Portuondo, one of Cuba’s most famous singers, is the daughter of Bartolo Portuondo, Cuban League and Negro league infielder in the 1910s and 1920s.  He captured stolen base crowns in the 1919/20 Cuban League (with Almendares) and the 1920 Negro National League (with the Kansas City Monarchs).

                “This is from Omara’s biography at World Music Central:

                “’Omara Portuondo was born in Cayo Hueso (Havana) in 1930. Omara’s mother came from a rich Spanish family and was expected to marry into another society family. Instead she ran off with the man she loved, a tall, handsome baseball player from the Cuban national team. Moreover he was black and in those days mixed race marriages were still frowned upon in Cuba. ‘My mother always hid the fact that she had married a black man. If they bumped into each other in the street they had to ignore each other. But at home they recreated what society denied them – a haven of peace and harmony. They loved each other very much,’ Omara recalls.”

                Portuondo died on August 24, 1981 at the age of 87.

SS-Dobie Moore, Kansas City Monarchs, 24 Years Old

190 AB, .332, 2 HR, 31 RBI, .332/.380/.458, 150 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (9th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Range Factor/9 Inn as SS-5.15

Range Factor/Game as SS-4.95

1st Time All-Star-Walter “Dobie” Moore was born on February 8, 1896 in Atlanta. The five-foot-10, 180 pound righty shortstop is one of three shortstops to make my list. However, that’s less than the four centerfielders who made it, some of whom were among the Negro National League’s best players.  For his entire Major League career, Moore would be a great hitter, especially considering his position. His career average in his short career would be .350.

                John B. Holway of SABR starts his article with this quote from Casey Stengel: “’Has anybody else told you about Dobie Moore? Well, I’ll tell you something about him. That Moore was one of the best shortstops that will ever live! That fella could stand up to the plate and hit right-handed, he could hit line drives out there just as far as you want to see.’

                “Casey Stengel should know what he was talking about. He discovered Dobie Moore, along with Bullet Joe Rogan, Oscar ‘Heavy’ Johnson, and several other black stars playing with the 25th Infantry team in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1919. If an untimely accident hadn’t abruptly ended Moore’s career seven years later, there are some who say he might have become the finest black shortstop of all time.

                “’I first saw Moore down below Albuquerque,’ Casey recalled more than half a century later. ‘We were down near the Mexican border, and the army brought these buglers and made all the soldiers line up and march across the ball field and pick up pebbles and rocks so we could play.’”

SS-Morten Clark, Indianapolis ABCs, 30 Years Old

376 AB, .287, 1 HR, 24 RBI, .287/.350/.354, 110 OPS+

WAR-2.1

WAR Position Players-2.1 (10th)

Offensive WAR-2.6 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 157 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Games Played-95

At Bats-376

Plate Appearances-429

Singles-90

Sacrifice Hits-17

Outs Made-285

Assists-247

Errors Committed-57

Def. Games as SS-92

Putouts as SS-198

Assists as SS-241

Errors Committed as SS-55

Double Plays Turned as SS-20

1st Time All-Star-Morten Avery Clark was born on December 19, 1889 in Bristol, TN. The five-foot-nine, 130 pound (!) lefty hitting, righty throwing shortstop, third baseman, and outfielder was already 30 in this inaugural Negro National League season and would be playing his last Major League game in 1923. Clark is an example of the confusion of the NNL stats which sometimes included exhibition games. That’s why he played more games than anyone else.

                Clark was part of some games played in Cuba against some National and American League all-stars, including Babe Ruth. Here’s a bit of the article, I suggest you read the whole thing.

                “We’re pleased to pass along this update from SABR member Gary Ashwill at Seamheads.com on August 11, 2014:

                “The Giants left Havana in mid-November, and their place was taken by the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants of the Negro leagues. The team’s trip was organized by its secretary, Edward B. Lamar, for many years a well-known promoter in black baseball circles and founder of the Cuban X-Giants. Lamar was actually the instigator of the first trips to Cuba by black American teams in the 20th century, sending his X-Giants to Havana severaltimes in the 1900s. For this trip the Bacharachs brought the core of their regular team, captain and ace pitcher Dick Redding, shortstop Dick Lundy, pitcher Red Ryan, and catcher Julio Rojo, and added superstar Oscar Charleston and infielder Morten“Specs” Clark from the Indianapolis ABCs, slugger Charlie Blackwell and infielder Joe Hewitt from the St. Louis Giants, and a trio of stars from the Hilldale Club, catcher Louis Santop, spitballer Phil Cockrell, and fancy-fielding first baseman Toussaint AllenOliver Marcell, the Bacharachs’ star third baseman, also applied for a passport, but for some reason did not make the trip.”

                Clark died on November 17, 1943 in Los Angeles at the age of 53.

SS-John Beckwith, Chicago Giants, 20 Years Old

137 AB, .285, 2 HR, 22 RBI, .285/.324/.394, 114 OPS+

8 IP, 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 5 K, 110 ERA+, 3.43 FIP, 1.375 WHIP

WAR-1.3

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star teams. Impossible)

Chicago Giants

5-31, 8th in NNL

Manager Joe Green

OPS+-78, 7th in league

ERA+-68, 8th in league

WAR Leader-John Beckwith, 1.3

1st Time All-Star-John Christopher Beckwith was born on January 10, 1900 in Louisville. The five-foot-11, 200 pound righty third baseman, shortstop, and first baseman made this list as the best player on hapless Chicago Giants, a team that played only 36 games this season. It’s not like Beckwith was bad. As a matter of fact, he’s going to be making quite a few of my lists over the next few seasons. He’d play in various leagues until 1935.

                John Holway of SABR writes, “Hank Aaron may be baseball’s new Babe Ruth – but will he ever hit them as far and as hard as another mighty slugger only now being resurrected from the mists of baseball’s past, a black Bunyon from Louisville by the name of John Beckwith?

                “Broad shouldered, round faced, moody, Beckwith was one of the first in that long line of black power hitters beginning with Louis Santop and Josh Gibson of the old Negro leagues and continuing down to Mays and Aaron of the modern major leagues. Some who saw him say Beckwith was the mightiest of them all.

                “There was one big difference between Beckwith and Aaron. Although both were quiet and introverted, Beck, unlike Hank, had a reputation for being rough, even in his era, the 1920’s, when black ballplayers had to be tough to survive.”

                Despite this reputation for power, the most homers Baseball Reference records him as hitting is 15 in 1925. Admittedly, that was in just 50 games and 183 at-bats.

LF-Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs, 31 Years Old

317 AB, .325, 4 HR, 47 RBI, .325/.376/.473, 153 OPS+

WAR-2.9

WAR Position Players-2.9 (7th)

Offensive WAR-2.8 (4th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Def. Games as LF-73

Putouts as LF-125

Assists as LF-11

Fielding % as LF-.978

1st Time All-Star-Allen Hurley McNair was born on October 28, 1888 in Marshall, TX. The five-foot-six, 150 pound lefty outfielder would be with the Monarchs for a good stretch of time despite being 31 this year. I’m glad I now get to cover the Negro Leagues but there will still be some disadvantages to the players. For one thing, there were many leagues playing before the Negro National League and many of the players I’m writing about had good careers before 1920. McNair is one of those.

                James A. Riley, who wrote The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, penned the following, which is recorded on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page: “Earlier in his life McNair played with the 25th Infantry Wreckers baseball team at Fort Huachuca. He was a little man with a big head, and hit with the power of a big man. At times he was moody and self-centered, insisting on doing things his way and not playing if something was not to his liking. He also played with winter-league teams, including the Los Angeles White Sox in 1920 and the Colored All-Stars in 1921. He was always available to help young players learn the game. A few years later in California, he taught Willie Wells to hit a curveball by tying his leg to home plate so he could not back away from the curve.”

                McNair started in 1911 and was a pitcher/outfielder in his early days. During the 1910s, he played mainly on teams in Chicago.

LF-Koke Alexander, Dayton Marcos, Unknown age

117 AB, .350, 1 HR, 23 RBI, .350/.429/.504, 178 OPS+

WAR-1.6

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 187 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Dayton Marcos

16-36, 7th in NNL

Manager Candy Jim Taylor

OPS+-75, 8th in league

ERA+-75, 7th in league

WAR Leader-Koke Alexander, 1.6

1st Time All-Star-Koke Alexander was born sometime and would eventually die, but very little is recorded about any of those events at Baseball Reference. Nor are we told his birthplace, height, weight, or the side of the plate from which he batted. That is not a surprise to me. It’s been eye-opening how many of the stats BR has been able to assemble. Koke is on my list as the Marcos sole representative. Wikipedia does put his birthdate as February 1, 1888 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which would make him 32 during this season. It also says he threw right-handed.

                Gary Ashwill of Agate Type writes, “Here’s an update on a player who has been something of a mystery“Koke” Alexander of the Dayton Marcos and other teams in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

                “First, I ran across a photo of him (above) playing for Dayton’s Colored Men’s Improvement Association team in 1922. He’s in the middle, with Samuel Dewitt, another player I’ve never seen an image of, on the left, and Will Owens on the right.

                “Born in 1888, he’s a little older than I would have expected, though it is certainly possible he was really younger than this—it’s very common to find earlier birthdates on World War I draft cards than in other records. I have tried to track him down in other records, including in his birth state of North Carolina, with no luck so far, so he remains a little mysterious. But this is I think the best lead I’ve come up with.”

CF-Oscar Charleston, Indianapolis ABCs, 23 Years Old

346 AB, .353, 5 HR, 59 RBI, .353/.418/.517, 179 OPS+

16 1/3 IP, 0-0, 3.31 ERA, 5 K, 109 ERA+, 3.29 FIP, 1.714 WHIP

WAR-5.2

Wins Above Replacement-5.2 (1st)

WAR Position Players-5.5 (1st)

Offensive WAR-4.5 (1st)

Defensive WAR-0.7 (7th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)

Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

Wins Above Replacement-5.2

WAR Position Players-5.5

Offensive WAR-4.5

Runs Scored-80

Hits-122

Total Bases-179

Triples-11

Runs Created-74

Extra Base Hits-36

Times On Base-161

Def. Games as CF-87

Putouts as CF-206

Assists as CF-17

Double Plays Turned as CF-3

Putouts as OF-209

Assists as OF-18

Range Factor/Game as CF-2.56

Fielding % as CF-.987

1st Time All-Star-Oscar McKinley Charleston was born on October 14, 1896 in Indianapolis. The five-foot-eight, 185 pound lefty centerfielder and first baseman is the first genuine Negro League superstar I’m covering. He could have easily won my MVP and was arguably the best player in this first Negro National League season. As you’ll see over the years, he’s a combination Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, a man who hits for average and power. (Before you say it, yes, I know Babe Ruth could also hit for average (.342).)

                Tim Odzer of SABR writes, “With the creation of the Negro National League in 1920, Charleston re-signed with the ABCs, a move Foster allowed in the interest of league-wide competitive balance. His 1920 season was another star turn as he stole 20 bases and posted an OPS that was 76 percent better than the league average. In the inaugural NNL doubleheader, Charleston went 1-for-4 in the first game and laced a two-run triple in the second game. The press also continued to make note of his defensive ability. In a game one week later, the ABCs were leading 4-2 in the top of the ninth with two men on and two men out when Jose LeBlanc hit a rocket to center field. Charleston, who had already made two good catches, saved the game with a dazzling catch made with his back to the plate. The fans jumped onto the field and showered Charleston with money.”

                You’ll want to read the whole SABR article and the descriptions of Charleston from some of the all-time greats.

CF-Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, 26 Years Old, 1st MVP

231 AB, .411, 2 HR, 58 RBI, .411/.479/.606, 223 OPS+

8 IP, 0-1, 3.38 ERA, 1 K, 110 ERA+, 3.68 FIP, 0.875 WHIP

WAR-4.8

Wins Above Replacement-4.8 (2nd)

WAR Position Players-4.8 (2nd)

Offensive WAR-4.2 (2nd)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)

Ron’s: No (Would require 11 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

1920 NNL Batting Title

Batting Average-.411

On-Base %-.479

Slugging %-.606

On-Base Plus Slugging-1.085

Doubles-21

Adjusted OPS+-223

Adj. Batting Runs-36

Adj. Batting Wins-3.8

Offensive Win %-.902

1st Time All-Star-Cristobal “Carlos” Torriente was born on November 16, 1893 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. The five-foot-10, 190 pound lefty outfielder and pitcher wins my first Negro National League Most Valuable Player. It was between Torriente and Oscar Charleston so I gave it to the man on the better team. I also gave it to the man who hit .411, and led in on-base percentage, slugging average, and on-base plus slugging, so I don’t feel too bad.

                Wikipedia says, “Torriente played in his homeland from 1913–1927 and holds the record for the highest career batting average in Cuban winter league history (.352). He earned two batting titles and hit as high as .402. In 1920, his team, Almendares, played a nine-game series against the New York Giants. The Giants added Babe Ruth for this tour of Cuba. Torriente outhit Ruth in most categories and Almendares beat the Giants, five games to four. Along with Martín Dihigo and José Méndez, Torriente is considered one of the greatest baseball players from Cuba. He was one of the first class of inductees of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

                “Torriente played on the great Chicago American Giants teams of 1918–1925, and was a member of the club when they were founding members of the Negro National League in 1920.”

                Since my Hall of Fame is statistics-based, Torriente won’t be making my Hall of Fame, though he did make it to Cooperstown. That’s because the real Hall of Fame takes into account his great years before this first Major League season of 1920.

CF-Jimmie Lyons, Detroit Stars, 30 Years Old

227 AB, .379, 8 HR, 46 RBI, .379/.445/.595, 209 OPS+

28 1/3 IP, 1-2, 3.49 ERA, 12 K, 102 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, 1.482 WHIP

WAR-4.3

Wins Above Replacement-4.3 (4th)

WAR Position Players-4.5 (3rd)

Offensive WAR-3.8 (3rd)

Defensive WAR-0.5 (10th)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 37 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

Led in:

Power-Speed #-11.6

Range Factor/9 Inn as CF-2.71

1st Time All-Star-James Henry “Jimmie” Lyons was born on October 10, 1889 in Indianapolis. The five-foot-six, 160 pound lefty outfielder was yet another of the great centerfielders this season in the Negro National League. The top three players in WAR Position Players all played this same position. After this season, Lyons is going to move to leftfield and fall off a bit. It makes sense since, in this first NNL season, he’s already 30.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “One of the fastest men ever to wear a baseball uniform, Jimmie Lyons fit precisely into Rube Foster‘s style of play. A good hitter and an expert drag bunter, he utilized his speed at the plate as well as in the field and on the bases. He took an exceptionally long lead and, with speed comparable to that of Cool Papa Bell, he was rarely picked off or thrown out at second on attempted steals.

                “Finding his niche with the Chicago American Giants during the early 1920s, when the Giants were dominating black baseball, his all-around ability contributed heavily to their successive pennants in the first three years of the old Negro National League’s existence. In 1920, the first year of the league, he hit .386 and stole a league-high 22 bases in 44 games.”

                Baseball Reference has Lyons as stealing 21 bases and finishing second behind Bartolo Portuondo, who had 27 thefts.

CF-Bernardo Baro, Cuban Stars West, 24 Years Old

241 AB, .336, 4 HR, 35 RBI, .336/.392/.456, 153 OPS+

4 2/3 IP, 0-0, 7.71 ERA, 3 K, 50 ERA+, 3.44 FIP, 1.714 WHIP

WAR-1.8

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 63 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-Bernardo Baro was born on February 27, 1896 in Cardenas, Cuba. The five-foot-six, lefty outfielder and first baseman would have a short career and has one better season than this one coming up. He’s the fourth centerfielder to make my list which makes this the most represented position, not counting pitchers. Baro is also the fifth Cuban player to make my list and, even to this day, that country has produced great ballplayers.

                Negro Leagues Baseball Museum eMuseum page quotes from the book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, saying “A brilliant outfielder, he could make all the plays but ‘showed off’ too much in the field. The small, light complected Cuban starred in centerfield with the Cuban Stars in the Eastern Colored League, and in 1923-1924 he formed, along with Pablo Mesa and Alejandro Oms, one of the greatest outfields in black baseball history. A left-handed batter, the veteran outfielder was a five-point player, a player who can run, field, throw, hit, and hit with power. (These are the five points that scouts look for in a player.) He was an excellent hitter who hit to all fields with extra-base power and was a good bunter. He was very fast and a great base runner, and had wide range in the field and a good arm.”

                As I wrap up this first year of the Negro National League, I’m pleased at how much I’ve learned from those who took the time to research all of these things including Baseball Reference, James A. Riley, and Gary Ashwill.

1944 American League All-Star Team

Note: You may know I get all my information from Baseball Reference, a site that does an incredible job and should be in the Hall of Fame. During the time I was writing this page, BR made the announcement Negro Leagues would now be counted as Major Leagues and now includes all of those stats. So starting after this page, I’m going to go back in time and start choosing Negro League All-Star teams until I’m caught up again. Thanks for your readership!

ONEHOF-Ted Lyons

P-Dizzy Trout, DET, 1st MVP

P-Hal Newhouser, DET

P-Tex Hughson, BOS

P-Nels Potter, SLB

P-Jack Kramer, SLB

P-Johnny Niggeling, WSH

P-Bob Muncrief, SLB

P-Bobo Newsom, PHA

P-Hank Borowy, NYY

P-Joe Berry, PHA

C-Hal Wagner, PHA/BOS

C-Frankie Hayes, PHA

1B-Nick Etten, NYY

2B-Snuffy Stirnweiss, NYY

2B-Bobby Doerr, BOS

3B-Ken Keltner, CLE

3B-Pinky Higgins, DET

SS-Lou Boudreau, CLE-Inducted into Ron’s HOF

SS-Vern Stephens, SLB

LF-Bob Johnson, BOSInducted into Ron’s HOF

LF-Dick Wakefield, DET

CF-Stan Spence, WSH

CF-Johnny Lindell, NYY

CF-Thurman Tucker, CHW

RF-Roy Cullenbine, CLE

1944 ONEHOF Inductee

Ted Lyons, P

1925 1926 1927 1930 1932 1935 1938 1939 1942

4161 IP, 260-230, 3.67 ERA, 1073 K, 118 ERA+, 4.01 FIP, 1.348 WHIP

1563 AB, .233, 5 HR, 149 RBI, .233/.270/.285, 45 OPS+

Career WAR-70.3

For the second consecutive year, a player from the Windy City has been inducted into the One-A-Year Hall of Fame. In 1943, it was Cubs’ catcher Gabby Hartnett and this season, it’s White Sox hurler Teddy Lyons. Lyons is the first pitcher inducted into the  ONEHOF since Carl Hubbell in 1940. Next year’s nominees are Bill Terry, Mickey Cochrane, Tommy Bridges, Hardy Richardson, Elmer Flick, Johnny Evers, Larry Doyle, Art Fletcher, Wally Schang, Joe Sewell, Kiki Cuyler, Earl Averill, Ernie Lombardi, Luke Appling, and Stan Hack.

                Lyons last made my list in 1942 at the age of 41 and then he went off to war. Warren Corbett of SABR writes, “Then he joined the Marine Corps. He was too old for the military draft, but he was single without dependents. While he made no patriotic speeches about his decision to enlist, he had seen fellow players who had families sign up to do their part for the war effort. ‘So, take him away, marines,’ the Chicago Tribune’s Irving Vaughn wrote, ‘but don’t lose the return address.’  Lyons was commissioned a second lieutenant and eventually was promoted to captain.

                “Contemporary accounts indicate that Lyons spent a fairly comfortable war serving as a physical fitness instructor while pitching for and managing Marine Air Corps baseball teams. Late in 1944 he joined service all-star teams made up mostly of major leaguers, including Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, that sailed to the Pacific to entertain the troops. After he faced DiMaggio in one of the games, he complained, ‘I left the country to get away from DiMaggio, and there he was.’”

P-Dizzy Trout, Detroit Tigers, 29 Years Old, 1st MVP

1942 1943

352 1/3 IP, 27-14, 2.12 ERA, 144 K, 167 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 1.127 WHIP

133 AB, .271, 5 HR, 24 RBI, .271/.317/.429, 108 OPS+

WAR-10.9

Wins Above Replacement-10.9 (1st)

WAR for Pitchers-9.3 (1st)

All-Star: Yes (Didn’t play)

MVP Rank: 2

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require four more All-Star seasons. 25 percent chance)

Detroit Tigers

88-66, 2nd in AL

Manager Steve O’Neill

Ballpark: Briggs Stadium (Hitter’s)

OPS+-92, 4th in league

ERA+-115, 1st in league

WAR Leader-Dizzy Trout, 10.9

Led in:

1944 AL Pitching Title

Wins Above Replacement-10.9

WAR for Pitchers-9.3

Earned Run Average-2.12

Innings Pitched-352 1/3

Games Started-40

Complete Games-33

Shutouts-7 (2nd Time)

Hits Allowed-314

Batters Faced-1,421

Adjusted ERA+-167

Adj. Pitching Runs-52

Adj. Pitching Wins-5.8

Base-Out Runs Saved-33.21

Win Probability Added-4.0

Sit. Wins Saved-3.5

Base-Out Wins Saved-3.6

Assists as P-94 (2nd Time)

Errors Committed as P-4 (2nd Time)

3rd Time All-Star-Trout easily had his greatest season this season and the best Detroit pitching year since Ed Killian in 1907. Much like Dizzy, some of Killian’s value came from his bat as he slashed .320/.346/.410 that season for an OPS+ of 138. This season, Trout, along with his phenomenal pitching, hit five homers and slashed .271/.317/.429 for an OPS+ of 108. I gave Killian the MVP in 1907 and I’m giving Trout the MVP this season. The writers picked Hal Newhouser, who also had a great season along with a flashier won-loss record. We’ll talk about him next.

                Richard Bak of Vintage Detroit Collection writes, “In almost any other season, a pitcher who wins 27 games and leads the majors in practically every major pitching category while taking his team to the cusp of a pennant would be considered a shoo-in to win the Most Valuable Player Award. But 1944 was no ordinary season for the Detroit Tigers, who had not one but two starting pitchers deserving of MVP honors. The man who did win the award, Hal Newhouser, rang up a 29-9 record, topping the majors in wins and strikeouts and placing second in ERA.

                “The man who finished just four votes behind Newhouser in MVP balloting, Paul “Dizzy” Trout, was just as dominating.The 29-year-old righty had a career year. He finished 27-14 and led all big-league pitchers in innings (352), ERA (2.12), starts (40), complete games (33), and shutouts (7). He also pitched relief and occasionally pinch-hit. (One of the game’s best-hitting pitchers, Trout batted .271 with five home runs and 24 RBIs that season.) There was no Cy Young Award given out in those days. But if there had, it would have been a coin flip between the two Tigers as to who would have won it.”

P-Hal Newhouser, Detroit Tigers, 23 Years Old

1942

312 1/3 IP, 29-9, 2.22 ERA, 187 K, 159 ERA+, 2.58 FIP, 1.172 WHIP

120 AB, .242, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .242/.278/.275, 55 OPS+

WAR-8.4

Wins Above Replacement-8.4 (3rd)

WAR for Pitchers-7.8 (2nd)

All-Star: Yes (1 2/3 IP, 3 R, 2 ER)

MVP Rank: 1

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1992)

Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)

Team Stats

Led in:

1944 AL TSN Pitcher of the Year

1944 AL MVP

Wins-29

Strikeouts per 9 IP-5.389 (2nd Time)

Strikeouts-187

Championship WPA-20.4

2nd Time All-Star-After Newhouser made my list in 1942, he slumped in 1943, going 8-17 and leading the American League in walks with 111. He came back this year and is off and running to a Hall of Fame career. I gave the MVP award to his teammate, Dizzy Trout, but Newhouser won it from the writers. But c’mon, which of those honors is more valuable! Besides, Newhouser is going to have a better season in 1945 and again be the writers’ choice. Will he be my choice? You’ll have to wait and see.

                Mark Stewart of SABR has much to say about Prince Hal’s 1944 season, so I suggest you read the whole thing. Here’s just a bit: “When Newhouser arrived at the wartime spring-training camp in Indiana, Richards told him that he was a thrower. ‘I’m going to make you a pitcher,’ he said. By this time Newhouser was a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball, curveball, and changeup. Richards taught him how to throw a slider. Back then the pitch was known somewhat derogatorily as a nickel curve, but in Newhouser’s hand it was a sharp-breaking pitch that looked enough like his fastball that batters couldn’t handle it.

                “After the season, the MVP vote was a toss-up between Newhouser and Trout. Dizzy had 27 victories to Newhouser’s 29, but had made 40 starts, logged 352⅓ innings and had an ERA of 2.12. Trout actually received more first-place votes than Newhouser, but Hal won the overall voting by four points to cop the trophy by a narrow margin. Newhouser had led the majors with 187 strikeouts, and had an ERA of 2.22. He twirled six shutouts to Trout’s seven, and also saved two wins for Detroit, thus he had a hand in a total of 31 victories.”

P-Tex Hughson, Boston Red Sox, 28 Years Old

1942 1943

203 1/3 IP, 18-5, 2.26 ERA, 112 K, 152 ERA+, 2.33 FIP, 1.048 WHIP

66 AB, .152, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .152/.243/.152, 15 OPS+

WAR-5.8

Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (8th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (3rd)

All-Star: Yes (L, 1 2/3 IP, 4 R)

MVP Rank: 12

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Boston Red Sox

77-77, 4th in AL

Manager Joe Cronin

Ballpark: Fenway Park (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-105, 1st in league

ERA+-90, 8th in league

WAR Leader-Bobby Doerr, 6.3

Led in:

Win-Loss %-.783

Walks & Hits per IP-1.048

Strikeouts/Base On Balls-2.732

Fielding Independent Pitching-2.33

3rd Time All-Star-Boston had the worst pitching in the American League with only one ace and that was this man, Tex Hughson. When he pitched and got the decision, the Red Sox were 18-5, but they were 59-72 when other pitchers started. Unfortunately, his country needed him more than his team and in the midst of a Cy Young-type season, he went off to war. His is the best Boston pitching season since, well, his own in 1943.

                Andrew Blume of SABR writes, “Hughson dominated again in 1944, compiling an 18-5, 2.26 (career-best ERA) record, his .783 winning percentage and 1.05 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) leading the league and keeping the Red Sox in contention for the AL flag. Selected to his third and final All-Star team, Hughson was the pitcher of record in the AL’s 7-1 loss at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. After retiring the side in order in the fourth in relief of starter Borowy, Tex allowed four runs, three of them earned, on five hits in the fifth.

                “On August 9, 1944, Hughson pitched his final game before leaving the team for military induction, defeating the White Sox with a 9-1 four-hitter at Fenway, the ninth game he had won that year by allowing only one run. After the game, the Red Sox stood in second place, 6 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Browns. With the loss of Hughson, coupled with the further loss within a few weeks of both Doerr and catcher Hal Wagner to the military, the Red Sox folded, losing 29 of their final 50 games, including 10 in a row in September, as the Browns won their first and only American League flag.”

P-Nels Potter, St. Louis Browns, 32 Years Old

1943

232 IP, 19-7, 2.83 ERA, 91 K, 129 ERA+, 3.01 FIP, 1.211 WHIP

82 AB, .159, 0 HR, 5 RBi, .159/.207/.171, 6 OPS+

WAR-5.6

Wins Above Replacement-5.6 (9th)

WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (4th)

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 9

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

St. Louis Browns

89-65, 1st in AL, Lost WS to STL, 4-2

Manager Luke Sewell

Ballpark: Sportman’s Park III (Hitter’s)

OPS+-88, 6th in league

ERA+-115, 2nd in league

WAR Leader-Nels Potter, 5.6

2nd Time All-Star-The St. Louis Browns started as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901 and then became the Browns the very next season, a year in which they finished second. Led by George Sisler, St. Louis also finished second in 1922. Those were the only two seasons it got that close to winning a pennant until the Browns finally won the American League pennant this season, led by their pitching, including Potter, who had the best St. Louis pitching season since Bob Muncrief in 1941. The World Series featured two teams from the Gateway City, but alas the Browns lost to the Cards, 4-2.

                Wikipedia says, “In 1944, Potter won 19 games, leading the Browns’ staff, as St. Louis prevailed over the Detroit Tigers by a single game in the pennant chase. Potter finished ninth in voting for the 1944 American League MVP balloting, with a 19–7 won–lost record, 16 complete games, three shutouts, and a 2.83 ERA. In the all-St. Louis 1944 World Series that followed, he started two games (the second and sixth contests) against the Cardinals. He allowed only one earned run in 923 innings pitched for an ERA of 0.93, but poor defense (he allowed four unearned runs) did him in, and he lost his only decision. The Cardinals won the world championship in six games.

                “On July 21, 1944, he became the first player to be ejected from a game and suspended for allegedly throwing a spitball. Umpire Cal Hubbard, who claimed that he had already warned Potter about his habit of wetting his fingers on the mound, ejected Potter in the fifth inning of a game against the New York Yankees. American League President Will Harridge later suspended Potter for 10 games.”

P-Jack Kramer, St. Louis Browns, 26 Years Old

257 IP, 17-13, 2.49 ERA, 124 K, 146 ERA+, 2.61 FIP, 1.198 WHIP

85 AB, .165, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .165,/.245/.259, 40 OPS+

WAR-5.3

WAR for Pitchers-5.2

All-Star: No

MVP Rank: 16

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

1st Time All-Star-John Henry “Jack” Kramer was born on January 5, 1918 in New Orleans. The six-foot-two, 190 pound righty pitcher started with the Browns in 1939 and then missed 1942 and most of 1943 due to military service. This year, he had his best season ever  and the only year he would pitch in the World Series. Kramer pitched in two games, starting one, going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, hurling 11 scoreless innings.

                Wikipedia says, “In 1944, Kramer led the Browns to their 8th straight Opening Day victory‚ beating Dizzy Trout and Detroit‚ 2–1, at Tiger Stadium. A week later, he extended the Browns season-opening winning streak to six games defeating the White Sox, 5–2, aiding his cause with a two-run home run. In his next start, he pitches the Browns to their American League record 9th straight win to start the season with a 3–1 victory over the Indians, which gave his team a solid 312 game lead in the AL standings. Kramer finished with a 17–13 record and a 2.49 ERA, including a brilliant one-hitter shutout over the White Sox in September that gave St. Louis a half-game lead in front of the Yankees. The Browns finished with an 89–65 record and faced the Cardinals in the historic All-St. Louis World Series. Kramer added a complete-game victory in Game Three, allowing just two unearned runs on seven hits and 10 strikeouts. This would be the last time the hapless Browns won a postseason game.

                “Kramer died in Metairie, Louisiana at age 77.”

P-Johnny Niggeling, Washington Senators, 40 Years Old

1942 1943

206 IP, 10-8, 2.32 ERA, 121 K, 141 ERA+, 3.02 FIP, 1.223 WHIP

69 AB, .130, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .130/.178/.159, -1 OPS+

WAR-4.8

WAR for Pitchers-5.0 (6th)

All-Star: No

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Washington Senators

64-90, 8th in AL

Manager Ossie Bluege

Ballpark: Griffith Stadium (Pitcher’s)

OPS+-91, 5th in league

ERA+-94, 6th in league

WAR Leader-Stan Spence, 6.0

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000 (4th Time)

3rd Time All-Star-There was a common saying about Washington in the day that said it was “first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” Yet it should be noted 1944 was the first time the Senators finished last since 1909. Maybe that saying was uttered in the Fifties because towards the end of that decade, they were awful.

                Niggeling, the 40-year-old wonder, did his best to keep his team out of the cellar, having the best Washington pitching season since Dutch Leonard in 1940. He was one of four knucklers on the team this year. Oh, that poor catcher!

                Unfortunately, Niggeling did not have a happy end, as Joan M. Thomas writes in SABR: “Johnny then resided in nearby Le Mars and worked at Don Curry’s barber shop there for about three years. After that, he barbered at the Grand Central Hotel in Le Mars, where he lived. Still distraught over his divorce, on September 16, 1963 he hanged himself in his hotel room. A hotel employee, noticing Johnny’s mail still in the hallway, discovered his body. Ruth had just moved to Marion, Iowa (more than 250 miles east of Le Mars) with their three youngest children, so that could conceivably have affected his mental state. Following funeral services in Remsen, Johnny was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in that town.”

                It’s a constant lesson for us to learn. Success doesn’t buy happiness. How many times have we seen famous celebrities end their own lives? Sad.

P-Bob Muncrief, St. Louis Browns, 28 Years Old

1941

219 1/3, 13-8, 3.08 ERA, 88 K, 118 ERA+, 3.11 FIP, 1.213 WHIP

78 AB, .231, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .231/.259/.256, 44 OPS+

WAR-4.5

WAR for Pitchers-4.2 (8th)

All-Star: Yes (1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 K)

MVP Rank: 34

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require 19 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)

Team Stats

2nd Time All-Star-After making my list in 1941, Muncrief had an off season in 1942 and then a pretty good season in 1943, just not good enough to make my All-Star team. That changed this year as he was part of a powerful Browns pitching staff that helped lead them to their first pennant ever. It was also the Browns’ last pennant ever, though the franchise would start winning more frequently when it became the Baltimore Orioles. But that’s still a ways down the road.

                Wrap it up for us, Wikipedia! “Then, in 1944, Muncrief was an integral part of the Browns’ only American League championship team. His 13 victories were tied for third on the pitching staff, he lost only eight, and his ERA was a solid 3.08 in 21913 innings pitched. He was selected to represent the American League in the 1944 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, played July 11 at Forbes FieldPittsburgh. Muncrief tossed 113 scoreless innings in relief and allowed only one hit, but the National League took the contest, 7–1. The Browns went on to win 89 games during the regular season, one better than the second-place Tigers, to earn their first World Series berth. Pitted against their National League rivals, the Cardinals, in the all-St. Louis 1944 World Series, Muncrief was relegated to a relief role in his two appearances, each time replacing starter Nels Potter. In Game 2, he relieved Potter in the seventh inning of a 2–2 tie and allowed only one run over the next 413 innings, but he was out-dueled by Cardinals’ relief pitcher Blix Donnelly and the Redbirds won 3–2, with Muncrief absorbing the loss. Then, in Game 6, he came in for Potter in the fourth inning. He quelled a Cardinal rally and threw two more shutout frames, but the NL champions had already forged an insurmountable 3–1 lead en route to the world championship.

                “He died in Duncanville, Texas, at the age of 80.”

P-Bobo Newsom, Philadelphia Athletics, 36 Years Old

1934 1938 1939 1940

265 IP, 13-15, 2.82 ERA, 142 K, 122 ERA+, 2.98 FIP, 1.226 WHIP

88 AB, .114, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .114/.114/.136, -28 OPS+

WAR-3.8

WAR for Pitchers-4.5 (7th)

All-Star: Yes (1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R)

ONEHOF: No

Cooperstown: No

Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. 50 percent chance)

Philadelphia Athletics

72-82, 5th in AL

Manager Connie Mack

Ballpark: Shibe Park (Neutral)

OPS+-85, 7th in league

ERA+-106, 3rd in league

WAR Leader-Bobo Newsom, 3.8

Led in:

Fielding % as P-1.000

5th Time All-Star-Oh, what a career Louis “Bobo” Newsom had! After making my list for Detroit in 1940, he was purchased by the Washington Senators from the Detroit Tigers for $40,000 before 1942. Then during the season, the Dodgers purchased him from Washington. During 1943, Newsom was traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the St. Louis Browns for Archie McKain and Fritz Ostermueller. Then a little over a month later, the Senators purchased him from the Browns. After the season, he was traded by the Washington Senators to the Philadelphia Athletics for Roger Wolff. That’s all from 1940-to-1944. Newsom must have hated to hear the phone ring.

                Back to this year, Newsom had the best A’s pitching season since, well, Jesse Flores in 1943.

                I wonder if part of the reason he got traded so often was his smart mouth. Look at this blurb from Wikipedia, “Newsom’s performance in 1941 was a disappointment, as he lost 20 games, winning only 12. When Tigers’ general manager Jack Zeller negotiated a contract with Newsom, he said, ‘You’ll have to take a salary cut, Newsom, since you lost 20 games last season.’ The plain-spoken Bobo, remembering what Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had done to release players on minor-league teams that were under major-league teams’ control, snapped, ‘[Y]ou lost ninety-one of Briggs‘ [the team owner] ball players last year, and I don’t see you taking no cut.’ Zeller was not amused and traded Newsom to the Washington Senators.

                Speaking before thinking is an affliction yours truly also battles.

P-Hank Borowy,