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
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+
Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (1st)
WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (1st)
WAR Position Players-2.6 (10th)
Offensive WAR-2.5 (9th)
Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1998)
Ron’s: No (Would require two more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)
Wins Above Replacement-8.6 (3rd Time)
WAR for Pitchers-6.0 (2nd Time)
Hits per 9 IP-7.683
Innings Pitched-248 1/3
Games Started-24 (2nd Time)
Complete Games-20 (2nd Time)
Bases on Balls-77
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.
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+
Wins Above Replacement-5.7 (3rd)
WAR for Pitchers-5.7 (2nd)
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
1923 NNL Pitching Title
Earned Run Average-2.53
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.”
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+
Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)
WAR for Pitchers-3.6 (3rd)
Ron’s: No (Would require 12 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
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 for Pitchers-2.6 (9th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 18 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
Cuban Stars West
24-33, 9th in NNL
OPS+-87, 6th in league
ERA+-103, 4th in league
WAR Leader-Juan Padron, 3.3
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.
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 for Pitchers-3.2 (5th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 41 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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
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 in Negro league baseball and during the pre-Negro league years. He played from 1908 until 1923, mostly for the Indianapolis ABCs 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 Taylor, William Binga, Mule Armstrong, Sherman Barton, Johnny Davis and future College Football Hall of Fame legend Bobby Marshall.
“Johnson pitched for the 183rd Infantry Team in 1918.
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.
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 for Pitchers-2.9 (7th)
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
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.”
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 for Pitchers-3.3 (4th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 46 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
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 for Pitchers-3.0 (6th)
Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)
Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. 60 percent chance)
39-27, 3rd in NNL
Manager Bruce Petway
OPS+-96, 3rd in league
ERA+-101, 5th in league
WAR Leader-Bill Riggins, 3.9
Walks & Hits per IP-1.156
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.
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 for Pitchers-2.7 (8th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 25 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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 Cooper, Sam 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.
“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 Williams, José 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.
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+
Ron’s: No (Would require 14 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
11-42, 11th in NNL
Manager Pete Hill
OPS+-69, 8th in league
ERA+-87, 6th in league
WAR Leader-Joe Strong, 1.2
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.
185 AB, .346, 6 HR, 40 RBI, .346/.407/.535, 144 OPS+
Offensive WAR-1.9 (10th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 26 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.”
346 AB, .257, 0 HR, 39 RBI, .257/.332/.332, 74 OPS+
Defensive WAR-0.9 (5th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 29 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
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
Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)
WAR Position Players-4.3 (3rd)
Offensive WAR-4.0 (2nd)
Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 1976)
Ron’s: No (Would require three more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)
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.
265 AB, .291, 16 HR, 56 RBI, .291/.369/.532, 132 OPS+
Ron’s: No (Would require 15 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.”
278 AB, .255, 1 HR, 31 RBI, .255/.337/.309, 69 OPS+
Defensive WAR-1.8 (3rd)
Ron’s: No (Would require 35 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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).
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.
164 AB, .390, 11 HR, 45 RBI, .390/.505/.738, 220 OPS+
WAR Position Players-3.3 (8th)
Offensive WAR-3.4 (5th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 13 more All-Star teams. 35 percent chance)
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.”
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 Position Players-3.2 (9th)
Offensive WAR-3.4 (7th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 53 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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
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.”
270 AB, .304, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .304/.386/.411, 108 OPS+
Defensive WAR-0.7 (7th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 27 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
250 AB, .296, 7 HR, 43 RBI, .296/.343/.448, 105 OPS+
Defensive WAR-1.1 (4th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 59 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.”
378 AB, .365, 8 HR, 79 RBI, .365/.407/.534, 144 OPS+
Wins Above Replacement-5.5 (4th)
WAR Position Players-5.5 (2nd)
Offensive WAR-3.9 (3rd)
Defensive WAR-2.1 (2nd)
Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
265 AB, .302, 6 HR, 43 RBI, .302/.379/.426, 110 OPS+
Wins Above Replacement-3.9 (7th)
WAR Position Players-3.9 (6th)
Defensive WAR-2.5 (1st)
Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
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
Wins Above Replacement-3.4 (10th)
WAR Position Players-3.5 (7th)
Offensive WAR-2.8 (8th)
Ron’s: No (Would require 10 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.
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
Wins Above Replacement-4.5 (5th)
WAR Position Players-4.1 (4th)
Offensive WAR-3.5 (4th)
Defensive WAR-0.4 (9th)
Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2006)
Ron’s: No (Would require nine more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
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.”
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
Wins Above Replacement-3.7 (8th)
WAR Position Players-4.1 (5th)
Offensive WAR-3.4 (6th)
Defensive WAR-0.5 (8th)
Cooperstown: Yes (Inducted in 2000)
Ron’s: No (Would require six more All-Star seasons. Sure thing)
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.”
374 AB, .406, 20 HR, 120 RBI, .406/.471/.722, 207 OPS+
Wins Above Replacement-5.8 (2nd)
WAR Position Players-5.8 (1st)
Offensive WAR-6.1 (1st)
Ron’s: No (Would require 16 more All-Star seasons. Impossible)
1923 NNL Batting Title (2nd Time)
1923 NNL Triple Crown
WAR Position Players-5.8
Batting Average-.406 (2nd Time)
Slugging %-.722 (2nd Time)
On-Base Plus Slugging-1.193 (2nd Time)
Runs Batted In-120
Adjusted OPS+-207 (2nd Time)
Adj. Batting Runs-59
Adj. Batting Wins-5.4
Extra Base Hits-65
Times on Base-198
Offensive Win %-.874
Hit By Pitch-8
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.