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Old February 17th, 2016, 07:53 PM   #31

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Originally Posted by richiethewanderer View Post
I was at the negro leagues baseball museum in kansas city 12 days ago. Have any of you been there? Its a little small but still very nice
Yes, I was there a couple years ago. I love that museum, and recommend it to anyone interested in baseball history (and also American jazz music). It is connected with the Jazz Museum, and for something like $14 I got tickets to both the Negro League and the Jazz Museum. Nice!

Some of the things in their displays were not exactly true, however. It is all a part of parsing through the Negro League history. Many of the notable Negro League historians who have given us so many great works and insight into that period will admit to the hardships in verifying some of the stories. All part of the experience.

What is not debatable, however, is that the biggest stars of the Negro Leagues would have dominated in the Major Leagues during their respective eras. Baltis has mentioned some of the best, and I am sure he will drop the other all-time great names here soon. This thread is awesome, and is like a "Who's Who" of James A. Riley's Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (an outstanding "starter kit" for getting into the Negro League's history).

Men like Oscar Charleston, Willie Wells, Smokey Joe Williams, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Cristobal Torriente, Luis Santop, Hilton Smth, Luke Easter, Monte Irvin, Cool Papa Bell, and Ray Dandrige should be just as well known baseball names of greatness as is Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Honus Wagner.

For those who love baseball, late 19th century/early 20th century American history, or even great stories will absolutely LOVE studying the Negro Baseball Leagues (as well as the many other leagues).

There is a growing wealth of knowledge out there on the narrative of these men and their times, as well as a group working on the statistics to show the greatness of these ballplayers. Check it out, everyone, it truly is a big piece of the American soul.
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Old February 17th, 2016, 08:09 PM   #32

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Moses Walker


[SIZE=3][FONT=Calibri]The American Association (today’s American League) wanted to expand their league to 12 teams from the existing 8. They lured four teams away from the Union League, one of which was the Toledo nine. Already on the team, Moses Walker remained with the team and played in 42 of the 110 game 1884 season. As a catcher, 42 games represented a full season. In those early days, catchers played without padded mitts and routine injuries included swollen hands and broken fingers. Later in the season, Welday Walker also joined the team and played in five games.
The American Association is not "today's" American League. The American League was born from the Western League.
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Old February 17th, 2016, 08:13 PM   #33

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Originally Posted by Zhang LaoYong View Post
Yes, I was there a couple years ago. I love that museum, and recommend it to anyone interested in baseball history (and also American jazz music). It is connected with the Jazz Museum, and for something like $14 I got tickets to both the Negro League and the Jazz Museum. Nice!

Some of the things in their displays were not exactly true, however. It is all a part of parsing through the Negro League history. Many of the notable Negro League historians who have given us so many great works and insight into that period will admit to the hardships in verifying some of the stories. All part of the experience.

What is not debatable, however, is that the biggest stars of the Negro Leagues would have dominated in the Major Leagues during their respective eras. Baltis has mentioned some of the best, and I am sure he will drop the other all-time great names here soon. This thread is awesome, and is like a "Who's Who" of James A. Riley's Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (an outstanding "starter kit" for getting into the Negro League's history).

Men like Oscar Charleston, Willie Wells, Smokey Joe Williams, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Turkey Stearnes, Cristobal Torriente, Luis Santop, Hilton Smth, Luke Easter, Monte Irvin, Cool Papa Bell, and Ray Dandrige should be just as well known baseball names of greatness as is Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and Honus Wagner.

For those who love baseball, late 19th century/early 20th century American history, or even great stories will absolutely LOVE studying the Negro Baseball Leagues (as well as the many other leagues).

There is a growing wealth of knowledge out there on the narrative of these men and their times, as well as a group working on the statistics to show the greatness of these ballplayers. Check it out, everyone, it truly is a big piece of the American soul.
You say that, "it is not debatable" that the black players would have dominated. Such bold statements are dangerous to be uttered or written and unprovable. There is no way for anyone to know if the Black players could have dominated either the National or American Leagues.
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Old February 18th, 2016, 04:24 AM   #34

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Josh Gibson


Josh Gibson

“There is a catcher that any big-league club would like to buy for $200,000. His name is Gibson . . . he can do everything. He hits the ball a mile. And he catches so easy he might as well be in a rocking chair. Throws like a rifle. Bill Dickey isn’t as good a catcher. Too bad this Gibson is a colored fellow.” [Walter Johnson]

Perhaps we should simply accept Johnson’s assessment and believe that Josh Gibson was a born catcher for a big league club. But, in truth, that probably isn’t quite correct. As an 18 year old rookie, Gibson “would catch batting practice and then catch the game, he was so anxious to learn. He wasn’t much of a catcher then, but he came along fast.” [Judy Johnson, mgr Homestead Grays]

Even with a need for experience behind the plate, Josh gained an early reputation. “I had never seen him play but we had heard so much about him. Every time you’d look in the paper you’d see where he hit a ball 400 feet, 500 feet. So the fans started wondering why the Homestead Grays didn’t pick him up.” As it happened, Josh was in the grandstand watching the Grays play on July 25, 1929. Smokey Joe Williams was pitching that night and threw a fastball when his catcher was expecting a curve. The result was a cut finger that left the Grays without a catcher. “I asked the Gray’s owner, Cum Posey, to get him to finish the game. So Cum asked Josh would he catch, and Josh said, ‘Yeah, oh yeah!’ We had to hold up the game until he went into the clubhouse and got a uniform. And that’s what started him out with the Homestead Grays.” [Judy Johnson]

Josh Gibson stood 6’ 1” and weighed about 215 lbs. He had a friendly disposition and broad shoulders sitting on top of a barrel chest. Big arms, slim waist, Josh was built like a natural athlete. He had been born in Georgia but his father moved the family to Pittsburgh when Josh was 12 years old. Josh considered the move “the greatest gift Dad gave me was to get me out of the South.” Josh dropped out of school after the 9th grade and became an electrician at a local brake factory. But, baseball called.

Anyway, about his catching skills, “I can remember when he couldn’t catch this building if you threw it at him. He was only behind the plate because of his hitting. And I watched him develop into a very good defensive catcher. He was never given enough credit for his ability as a catcher, but they couldn’t deny that he was a great hitter, but they could deny that he was a great catcher. But I know!” [Jimmie Crutchfield, teammate]

So, that is why a man such as Roy Campanella remarked in 1937 that Gibson was graceful and effortless with a strong accurate arm. “not only the greatest catcher but the greatest ballplayer I ever saw.”

In the mid-30s Josh played with the Crawfords for three years before returning to the Grays in 1937. He joined with Buck Leonard to form a hitting duo frequently compared to Ruth/Gehrig. And Gibson kept hitting those homeruns. The Grays won their first Negro National League championship and went on to 9 consecutive pennants. Josh was there for the first three but then he chased bigger salaries down south in the Mexican League. While away from the league, his team sued for breach of contract and won a 10,000 dollar judgement. Since that was more than he could pay, Josh rejoined the club and all was forgiven. He was at his peak for homerun power.

Unfortunately, Josh also enjoyed a good party. Nobody is quite certain what happened or whether it might be related to drinking. In truth Josh had never missed a game for drinking. But now, in 1943, he fell into a 10 day coma and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Doctors wanted to operate but Josh refused. “He figured that if they operated, he’d be like a vegetable.”

Gibson managed another 2 years in baseball. In 1945 he led in both power and batting average. However, in winter of 1946, Josh’s headaches increased in both frequency and severity. He tried to remain outwardly happy but was drinking way too much for his condition. He could no longer play. Finally, in January 1947, Josh took to the bed, ‘feeling sick’. A few hours later, he tried to talk but the words came out garbled. “He just got through laughing and then he raised up in the bed and went to talk, but you couldn’t understand what he was saying. Then he lay back down and died right off.” [Mrs. Mahaffey, fam friend]

Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier a year earlier. Twice in his career, there had been talk of Josh being taken by a big league club. Didn’t happen. On the other hand, his friend Ted Page said, “He was a big, overgrown kid who was glad for the chance he had. He loved his life.”
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File Type: jpg Josh Gibson - drawing.jpg (48.7 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Josh Gibson #4.jpg (11.4 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Josh Gibson & Satchel Paige.jpg (62.0 KB, 1 views)
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Old February 18th, 2016, 04:31 AM   #35

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Originally Posted by Wenge View Post
You say that, "it is not debatable" that the black players would have dominated. Such bold statements are dangerous to be uttered or written and unprovable. There is no way for anyone to know if the Black players could have dominated either the National or American Leagues.
I'm not sure how much 'danger' there is in puffing the players from the Negro Leagues but, their performance in games against white players indicates little more than a bit of parity among all stars from each league. But, not any level of dominance in either group.

ON the other hand, I have highlighted about 10 players in this thread and plan on one more (Buck Leonard coming soon). I think they comprise a team that can compete against any white team from Big League history.

Last edited by Baltis; February 18th, 2016 at 04:37 AM.
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Old February 18th, 2016, 05:45 AM   #36

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You say that, "it is not debatable" that the black players would have dominated. Such bold statements are dangerous to be uttered or written and unprovable. There is no way for anyone to know if the Black players could have dominated either the National or American Leagues.
It really isn't. Take a look at the head-to-head matches between black and white major league teams during segregation. The black stars won a majority of those games.

Take a look at how black stars crushed minor league and major league pitching in the early years of integration. There are many baseball fans that consider the Negro Leagues to be lesser quality, and closer to a minor league than the majors. However, when black players were signed and went to the white minor leagues, their batting stats soared. That would not have happened if the quality was less or equal to the minors.

Many dominated the game in the 1950s, as teams slowly started signing black players. Just look at the leaderboards for the NL (the AL was very slow to integrate in that decade), the MVP voting, WAR leaders, etc. Names like Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, and Roy Campanella are some that jump right out.

To think that the best black players from the first half of the 20th century would somehow be unable to perform at a level like the black stars have since integration is absurd. Seriously. But, don't take my word for it. Read the words praising black ballplayers spoken by such Hall of Fame talents like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, John McGraw, Dizzy Dean and Bob Feller, among countless others. They will tell you just how amazing those Negro League stars really were.
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Old February 19th, 2016, 06:59 AM   #37

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Buck Leonard


Buck Leonard remembers:

Perhaps the best part about Buck Leonard is the way he could go about telling the stories in his later years.

On Traveling during World War II - “During the war we couldn’t go but 700 miles a month on the bus, because of gasoline rationing. Now from Pittsburgh to Washington was 263 miles, back to Pittsburgh was 263. Well that was over 500 miles for just one trip. You could ride maybe 100 miles more, then you’re through. Had to put your bus up the rest of the month and take the train. One time the conductor told us, ‘We don’t have room on the train for you, and we’re not going to let you stand up.’ So we stayed in the baggage car. That’s right. And played that night. . . . The Grays would get $75 or $100 to play the game. For the whole team! But Sundays and weekends were the days you really expected to make money to pay off your players. Those were the games you played in Forbes Field, Griffith Stadium, Yankee Stadium and those parks. They were called ‘getting-out-of-the-hole’ days. . . .Sometimes we’d stay in hotels that had so many bedbugs you had to put a newspaper down between the mattress and the sheets. Other times we’d rent rooms in a YMCA, or we’d go to a hotel and rent three rooms. That way you got the use of the bath, by renting three rooms. All the ball players would change clothes in those three rooms, got to the ballpark and play a doubleheader.”


The Trouble with Barnstorming: “We had two cars, a Buick seven-passenger and a 1929 Ford with a rumble seat. We would put nine players in the Buick and put three in the front of the Ford and two in the rumble seat. Let’s see, that was about 14 fellows. We were staying at a hotel in New York called the Dumas Hotel, and our room rent was behind. Strong had quit booking us because our team was weak, and we couldn’t pay our rent, they sold both the cars out there one morning – just had an auction sale right in front of the hotel. These fellows got some papers out and the man came over there and read the papers and they sold the two cars. That was the end of the team right there. We didn’t have any way to travel, see?
Now what was we going to do? We had 14 men sitting there with no transportation. Ben Taylor said, ‘Well, this is it, boys, you better go back home. I don’t have any money to send you home. The manager has agreed to let you stay in the hotel until you can get some money from home.’ Well, we didn’t have any money, period. My brother and I hated to write back home to Momma to send us some money, so we decided we would try to play with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, one of the big-league Negro teams. In the meantime Charlie wanted to come on back home because he was going to junior college. So I got a way for him to come home and I stayed out there and played with the Brooklyn Royal Giants the rest of the 1933 season. . . . . We had a Pierce-Arrow car that we went riding around in, and we had a Cadillac. The Pierce-Arrow was a seven-passenger, had a copper body at the time.
Well I finished out the ’33 season with the Brooklyn Royals and I went back to play with them in 1934”.
Not long into the 1934 season, Buck met Smoky Joe Williams who recommended him to the Homestead Grays. They were playing out of Pittsburgh and buck was only getting $125 a month another $20 in meal money. He once observed, “Well, I don’t like it out here in this steel-mining town. I’m going to finish the season here and then I’m not coming back.” But Buck did stay on and played 17 years, earning a comparison as ‘the black Lou Gehrig’ playing in tandem with Josh Gibson’s comparison to the Babe.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Buck Leonard - artwork.jpg (22.4 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Buck Leonard - at First.jpg (16.9 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Buck Leonard - Cooperstown.jpg (28.1 KB, 1 views)
File Type: png Buck Leonard - Crossing the plate.png (194.7 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg Buck Leonard - Grays.jpg (22.2 KB, 1 views)
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