Leon Day (October 30, 1916 – March 13, 1995) was an American professional baseball pitcher who spent the majority of his career in the Negro leagues. Recognized as one of the most versatile athletes in the league during his prime, Day could play every position, with the exception of catcher, and often was the starting second baseman or center fielder when he was not on the mound. A right-handed pitcher with a trademark no wind-up delivery, Day excelled at striking batters out, especially with his high-speed fastball. At the same time, he was an above-average contact hitter, which, combined with his effectiveness as a baserunner and his tenacious fielding, helped cement Day as one of the most dynamic players of the era.
Debuting in the Negro leagues in 1934, Day played with the Baltimore Black Sox, Newark Eagles, and Baltimore Elite Giants during his career. In 1937, Day had the best season of his career as a member of the Eagles, finishing with a perfect record of 13–0 and a batting average over .300. Day also played Puerto Rican winter ball in the offseasons. He holds both the Negro and Puerto Rican league records for strikeouts in a game, and appeared in the most East–West All-Star Games.
Because of his soft-spoken demeanor, Day's accomplishments were not immediately recognized as opposed to other elite pitchers of the league like Satchel Paige. Nonetheless, Day is considered one of the best pitchers of the Negro leagues, equaling and sometimes surpassing the abilities of his rivals. In 1995, Day was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, just six days before his death at 78 years old.
|Born: October 30, 1916|
Alexandria, Virginia, United States
|Died: March 13, 1995 (aged 78)|
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Negro league baseball debut|
|1934, Baltimore Black Sox|
|1950, Baltimore Elite Giants|
|Earned run average||2.98|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Veterans Committee|
Day was born to glass factory worker Ellis Day and his wife Hattie Leet in Alexandria, Virginia, a city seven miles from Washington, D.C., on October 30, 1916. His family, which included five other siblings, moved the following year to Mount Winans, a predominantly black community in a poor area of Southwest Baltimore, in a residence situated on Pierpont Street that lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. At a young age, Day became enamored with baseball, often playing local sandlot games or taking the long walk from his neighborhood to Maryland Ball Park where he watched the Baltimore Black Sox.
Day participated in Mount Winans Athletic Club when he was 12 and 13 years old. Because his campus did not offer a baseball program, in 1933, at 17 years old, Day dropped out of Fredrick Douglass High School to join the semi-professional team the Silver Moons. With the club, he was predominantly a second baseman, "but if the pitcher got in trouble", recollected Day, "I'd say 'Give me the ball'".
Day was discovered by Herbert "Rap" Dixon, a former Negro leagues baseball player and manager of the Black Sox, who took notice of his exceptional fielding and pitching abilities. In early 1934, Day was signed to a professional baseball contract worth $60 per month, gaining valuable insight during the season from his teammate Lamon Yokeley. However, due to the financial instability of the organization, the Black Sox disbanded at the end of the year. Day, Dixon, Yokeley, and other high-profile teammates subsequently signed with the Brooklyn Eagles in 1935. There, Day was mentored on his pickoff move by pitcher Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe. The Eagles' general manager, Ben Taylor, sensed potential in the promising prospect and incorporated Day into the starting rotation. His first regular season on the mound, Day finished with a 9–2 record, highlighted by a one-hitter, and earned his first of seven East–West All-Star Game appearances.
In 1936, Day was recognized as the ace of the recently relocated Newark Eagles pitching staff, bringing "a lot of intangibles to his game—his tenacity in going after hitters, his speed and quickness in fielding the ball, and his dedication to the game", as Day's teammate of five years Max Manning recalled. His best season in the Negro leagues came in 1937, when Day was backed by the vaunted "million-dollar infield" consisting of Ray Dandridge, Willie Wells, Dick Seay, and Mule Suttles. Though just 5-foot-9 inches, Day delivered a 90–95 mph fastball. The pitch was deceptively fast because Day delivered with no windup, and threw the competition off-balance with his pinpoint accurate curveball. Day posted a perfect 13–0 season, coupled by a 3.02 earned run average (ERA), .320 batting average, and eight home runs. When he was not active on the mound, Day at one point or another played at every position, with the exception of catcher, and was a dangerous bat in the line-up, excelling to such an extent that Day drew comparisons to Babe Ruth's legendary batting talent. Some writers like Daniel Nathan and Thomas Kern even argue that Day should have been a full-time outfielder to have his bat in the line-up every game.
On July 31, 1942, Day set a Negro league record for strikeouts in a single game, striking out 18 batters from the Baltimore Elite Giants in a one-hit shoutout. The only hit manufactured against Day that outing was a bloop single to left field off the bat of "Pee Wee" Butts. In the 1942 East-West All-Star Game, with runners threatening in the seventh inning, Day entered in relief to strike out seven batters, the most recorded by a pitcher in an East-West All-Star appearance. Although the Newark Eagles failed to secure the Negro National League pennant that season, Day still participated in the Negro League World Series thanks to an odd transaction. After dropping the first three games, the Homestead Grays acquired Day on loan from the Eagles. He bested his rival Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs in a 4–1 Game Four victory. In response to the upset, the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most respected newspapers covering the Negro leagues, ranked Day ahead of Paige as the best pitcher in the league in 1942 and 1943. For his performance, Day was rewarded with $100 and a train ride back to Baltimore. The outcome of the game was thrown out on appeal by the Monarchs, however, for the Grays' use of unauthorized players. Without Day, the replay of the game was won by the Monarchs, sealing the series sweep.
On September 1, 1943, Day was drafted into military service. He was commissioned in the 818th Amphibian Battalion and landed on Utah Beach six days after Operation Overlord to drop supplies. Following VE-Day, he was stationed in France. Day and fellow Negro leaguer Willard Brown were recruited to the Overseas Invasion Service Expedition (OISE) All-Stars; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Sam Nahem was the player-manager of the team. The team easily overcame the competition to reach the ETO World Series to face the 71st Infantry Division team, composed predominantly of Major League Baseball players. By contrast, the OISE club consisted of a mismatched roster of various minor leaguers, Negro leaguers, and semi-professionals. Before a crowd of 50,000 at Stadion Nürnberg in Germany, Day pitched in Game Two for a 2–1 victory as the OISE All-Stars eventually won the championship in seven games.
Following his discharge from the military, Day returned to the Eagles in time for Opening Day on May 5, 1946. Despite not having pitched professionally for so long, he threw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Stars in a 2–0 victory, allowing just three base runners via a walk and two errors charged to his teammates. Hampered by a lingering arm injury, Day nonetheless led the league that season in wins, strikeouts, and complete games. That same year, in the Negro League World Series, he pitched in two games as the Eagles edged the Monarchs in seven games, winning the championship. He played his final season in the Negro leagues in 1949 with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Recordkeeping was poor during Day's career; partial statistics credit him with a 67–29 record, but league historians claim he won as many as 300 games.
During the 1935 offseason, Day traveled to Puerto Rico to participate in the country's winter ball league. Beginning with his first trip in 1935, he played six seasons of winter ball in Puerto Rico, spending most of his time with the Aguadilla Sharks.
Much as with the Negro leagues, records of games were poorly documented, but some statistics show Day went 34–26 in his career with the team, and he established the league's record for most strikeouts in a game, posting 19 in 1939.
He returned to the Mexican League in 1947 and 1948 for the financial remuneration, however, comparatively speaking, the venture was unsuccessful for Day, who finished with a combined record of 18–20 and a 4.00 ERA.
Following his departure from the Negro leagues in 1950, Day spent a season with the semi-professional Winnipeg Buffalos of the Mandak League. Finally, in 1951 Day made his debut in organized baseball, albeit in the minors, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a Triple-A club where Day tallied a 1–1 record with a 1.58 ERA through 14 games. Lastly, Day also played for two other Class-A teams in the St. Louis Browns farm system, the Scranton Miners and the Edmonton Eskimos, before retiring from professional baseball in 1955 at age 39.
In his post-baseball career, Day worked as a bartender in Newark before returning to his hometown in Baltimore in 1970, where he held a position as a security guard until 1979. Before Day's death in 1995, there were numerous efforts to celebrate his career and induct Day into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, a long-time dream of his. One such effort was made by Mayor Kurt Schmoke who declared January 31, 1992, Leon Day's Day in Baltimore. Governor William Donald Schaefer made a similar proclamation for Annapolis later that same year on May 10. Day's discreet demeanor and humble personality often understated his several accomplishments, most likely leading to him being overlooked by the Baseball Hall of Fame's voting committee. After falling short one vote of being inducted in 1993, Day was elected to the Hall of Fame on March 7, 1995. Six days later, Day died of heart failure while in hospice at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore; he was 78 years old.
Impossible to ignore was Day's disparity to his rival, Paige. Historians have noted that Paige had a boisterous approach compared to Day's reserved demeanor; Paige was tall and Day was short and slender; and Paige worked hard to promote his name while Day shied away from attention. The pitchers' infrequent head-to-head matchups led to remarkable pitching duels, three of which Day won.
Posthumous efforts were designed to honor Day. Baltimore renamed a west city park in 1997, refurbished with a baseball field and a sign welcoming visitors to "Negro League Hall of Famer Leon Day Park". Day's widow, Gerdaline, established the Leon Day Foundation in 2001 to sponsor organized sports and preserve the cultural significance of the Negro leagues.
The 1942 Negro World Series was a best-of-seven match-up between the Negro American League champion Kansas City Monarchs and the Negro National League champion Washington-Homestead Grays. In a six-game series, the Monarchs swept the Grays four games to none, with two additional games not counted in the standings. The Monarchs actually won the 1942 series 5-1, but a second game played in Yankee Stadium on September 13 (a seven-inning victory by the Monarchs) was not counted by prior agreement, and the only game played in Kansas City was thrown out on appeal when the Grays used unauthorized players from other NNL teams.
It was the first World Series between eastern and western Negro Leagues champions since 1927, resuming after a 14-year lapse since the collapse of the Eastern Colored League had ended the previous post-season meetings. The series featured seven members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, three from the Monarchs (Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Willard Brown) and four from the Grays (Josh Gibson, Jud Wilson, Ray Brown, and Buck Leonard). One additional Hall of Famer, Leon Day, played in one of the games that was not counted, Monarchs legend Bullet Rogan umpired in that same game.
The Monarchs and Grays had met during the regular season in two exhibition games, in which the Grays had twice defeated Monarch ace Satchel Paige in extra innings. Some of the pre-Series publicity had concentrated on whether Paige would be seeking revenge for his losses or whether the Grays truly held a "jinx" over him and would continue to dominate him. Paige pitched in all four official games and earned one victory and one save.
This was the Grays' first appearance ever in the Negro World Series, though this was their third consecutive NNL pennant, and fifth in six seasons. They would appear in the next three CWS, winning in 1943 and '44. It was the third appearance by the Monarchs (going back to 1924) in the CWS, their second championship, and their fifth NAL pennant in six seasons. They would appear one more time, losing to the Newark Eagles in 1946.1995 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1995 introduced a system of multiple classified ballots for consideration by the Veterans Committee. That group met in closed sessions as usual and selected four people:
Richie Ashburn, Leon Day, William Hulbert, and Vic Willis. Day and Hulbert were named from the new ballots for Negro Leagues and 19th century figures.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players
(no change) and elected Mike Schmidt.1995 Major League Baseball season
The 1995 Major League Baseball season was the first season to be played under the expanded postseason format, as the League Division Series (LDS) was played in both the American and National leagues for the first time. However, due to the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike which carried into the 1995 season, a shortened 144-game schedule commenced on April 25, when the Florida Marlins played host to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Atlanta Braves became the first franchise to win World Series championships for three different cities. Along with their 1995 title, the Braves won in 1914 as the Boston Braves, and in 1957 as the Milwaukee Braves.1995 in baseball
The following are the baseball events of the year 1995 throughout the world.Castile and León Day
Castile and León Day (Spanish: Día de Castilla y León) is a holiday celebrated on April 23 in the autonomous community of Castile and León, a subdivision of Spain. The date is the anniversary of the Battle of Villalar, in which Castilian rebels called Comuneros were dealt a crushing defeat by the royalist forces of King Charles I in the Revolt of the Comuneros on April 23, 1521.
Commemoration of the Battle of Villalar was closely associated with liberal politics in Spain from the late 18th century until the 1970s, as conservatives generally sympathized with the royal government. With the demise of General Franco's government, the day has broadened to a more general celebration of Castilian nationalism rather than only liberal politics. The government of Castile and León established April 23 as an official holiday in 1986, although festivals have been held yearly since a decade earlier at Villalar.
April 23 is the same day as St. George's Day, with there being some crossover between the two holidays.Christmas club
The Christmas club is a savings program that was first offered by various banks and credit unions in the United States beginning in the first half of the 20th century, and including the Great Depression. The concept is that bank customers deposit a set amount of money each week into a special savings account, and receive the money back at the end of the year for Christmas shopping.Christmas ham
A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a traditional dish associated with modern Christmas and historical Yule. The tradition is believed to have begun among the Germanic peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god in Germanic paganism associated with boars (see Sonargöltr), harvest and fertility.Christmas in Hawaii
Christmas in Hawaii is a major annual celebration, as in most of the Western world.Christmas in July
Christmas in July is a Christmas celebration held in July, the nature of which differs by hemisphere.Cranberry sauce
Cranberry sauce or cranberry jam is a sauce or relish made out of cranberries, commonly served as a condiment with Thanksgiving dinner in North America and Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom and Canada. There are differences in flavor depending on the geography of where the sauce is made: in Europe it is generally slightly sour-tasting, while in North America it is typically more heavily sweetened.Knecht Ruprecht
Knecht Ruprecht (German pronunciation: [ˌknɛçtˈʁuː.pʁɛçt] (listen); English: Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert) is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.Mandak League
The Manitoba-Dakota League was an independent baseball league based in North Dakota and Manitoba that was founded in 1950. It became the home for many African-American and Latino players. The league lasted through the 1957 season. It was known informally as the Mandak League or Man-Dak League.
It was the outlet for former Negro Leaguers to continue playing and entertaining fans, occupying fields with ex-major leaguers, minor league stars and some of the best Manitoba, North Dakota,and Minnesota born players. It featured such greats as Willie Wells, Leon Day, Ray Dandridge and Satchel Paige, who pitched briefly for the Minot Mallards in 1950.Melomakarono
The melomakarono (Greek: μελομακάρονο plural: μελομακάρονα, melomakarona) is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil, and honey.
Along with the kourabies it is a traditional dessert prepared primarily during the Christmas holiday season.
Typical ingredients of the melomakarono are flour or semolina, sugar, orange zest and/or fresh juice, cognac (or similar beverage), cinnamon and olive oil. During rolling they are often filled with ground walnuts. Immediately after baking, they are immersed for a few seconds in cold syrup made of honey and sugar dissolved in water. Finally, they are decorated with ground, as well as bigger pieces of walnut. Dark chocolate-covered melomakarona are also a more recent variation of the traditional recipe.Mikulás
Mikulás (or Szent Miklós) is the Hungarian version of Saint Nicholas, and a similar figure to Santa Claus. In many cities, Mikulás is getting more conflated with Santa Claus. Still, it is believed that Mikulás arrives to celebrate his day, December 6, and leaves before Christmas. This tradition is also well known in Romania (Moș Nicolae), Slovenia (Miklavž), the Czech Republic, Slovakia (both Mikuláš), Croatia (Sv. Nikola) and Poland (Mikołaj).Nativity of Jesus in later culture
The birth of Jesus has been depicted since early Christianity, and continues to be interpreted in modern artistic forms. Some of the artforms that have described His Nativity include drama (including television and films) and music (including opera).Nochebuena
Nochebuena is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve and celebrated on December 24 every year. For Latin American cultures, it is often the biggest feast for the Christmas season and is the annual Spanish tradition. Nochebuena (literally "the Good Night") is the Spanish word for Christmas Eve. In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional family dinner. Roasted pig, or lechón is often the center of Nochebuena for feasts around the world. It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them with a powerful flame.Rap Dixon
Herbert Allen "Rap" Dixon (September 15, 1902 – July 20, 1944) was an American outfielder in Negro League baseball for a number of teams. He was born in Kingston, Georgia.
Although Dixon began playing in the league in 1922, he joined the semi-pro Keystone Giants in 1916 at the age of fourteen. Dixon was noticed for his quick and powerful bat by William Strothers, who was building up the independent Giants at the time.
When Dixon began playing for Strothers in the 1920s, the outfield for the Giants was one of the best of all time; Dixon, Oscar Charleston, and Fats Jenkins. The lineup, in its entirety, scored runs at a higher pace than the 1927 New York Yankees. Dixon had many weapons; speed, hitting, and power were all his strengths and he became known as a triple threat. In 1929, he batted .382 with seven home runs, and led the league with six triples.
Dixon was also notable for discovering the Baseball Hall of Famer Leon Day playing in the Baltimore sandlots.
In a doubleheader played on Saturday, July 5, 1930, Dixon helped make history at Yankee Stadium, which, for the first time ever, played host to two Negro League teams. With 20,000 in attendance, Dixon hit one home run in the opener, then two more in the nightcap to help Baltimore salvage a split with the Lincoln Giants.Dixon also was a teammate of such Hall of Fame greats as Satchel Paige and Judy Johnson when he was with the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
In later years, with the Black Sox, Rap played with his brother Dick and also with Day. Dixon was selected to the East-West All-Star Game in 1933. Also, in 26 games against white major leaguers, he compiled a .372 average.
The accomplished Negro League legend died at age 41 in Detroit, Michigan.Spanbaum
A spanbaum ("wood shaving tree"), variously referred to in English as a hand-shaved tree, wood chip tree or span tree, is a handmade ornamental tree which is usually part of a pyramid ornament. They are mainly manufactured in woodturning workshops in the Ore Mountains of Saxony in eastern Germany. Their method of production is known locally as Spanbaumstechen.Summertime Clothes
"Summertime Clothes" is a song by experimental pop band Animal Collective. It was released on June 29, 2009 in the UK and on July 7, 2009 in the US as the second single from the band's 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, by Domino Records. The song was originally known as "Bearhug."
The single features three new remixes of the song by Dâm-Funk, Leon Day, and Zomby, and is available as a 12" vinyl single and as a digital download.
|J. G. Taylor Spink Award|
|Ford C. Frick Award|
Italics denotes players who have been voted in but not yet inducted.