Oscar Charleston

Oscar McKinley Charleston (October 14, 1896 – October 5, 1954) was an American center fielder and manager in Negro league baseball. In 1915, after serving three years in the U.S. Army, the Indianapolis, Indiana, native continued his baseball career as a professional with the Indianapolis ABCs; his career ended in 1954 as a player-manager for the Indianapolis Clowns. In addition to a forty-three-year career with more than a dozen teams, including the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords, Negro league baseball's leading teams in the 1930s, he played nine winter seasons in Cuba and in numerous exhibition games against white major leaguers. Charleston was known for his strengths as a hitter and center fielder. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

Highlights of Charleston's career included playing in the Negro National League's inaugural doubleheader on May 20, 1920. His most productive season was with the Saint Louis Giants in 1921, when he hit fifteen home runs, twelve triples, and seventeen doubles, stole thirty-one bases, and had a .437 batting average. In 1933 Charleston played in the first Negro National League All-Star Game at Chicago's Comiskey Park and appeared in the League's 1934 and 1935 all-star games. In 1945 Charleston became manager of the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers and helped recruit black ballplayers such as Roy Campanella to join the first integrated Major League Baseball teams.

Oscar Charleston
1923 Tomas Gutierrez Oscar Charleston
1920s baseball card of Charleston
Center fielder
Born: October 14, 1896
Indianapolis, Indiana
Died: October 6, 1954 (aged 57)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Batted: Left Threw: Left
Negro league baseball debut
1915Indianapolis ABCs
Last appearance
1941Philadelphia Stars
Career statistics
Batting average.339[1]
Slugging percentage.545[1]
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1976[1]
Election MethodNegro League Committee[1]

Early life and family

Oscar McKinley Charleston was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 14, 1896, the seventh of eleven children. His father, Tom Charleston, was a construction worker and a former jockey. Oscar spent his youth playing sandlot baseball and was a batboy for the Indianapolis ABCs.[7][8]

On March 7, 1912, fifteen-year-old Charleston lied about his age to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Company B of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry Regiment and served in the Philippines, where he ran track and played baseball on the regiment's team. In 1914 the seventeen-year-old, left-handed pitcher played a season representing the regiment in the Manila League. Charleston also pitched a 3–0 shutout and scored a run during a local all-star game. At the end of his tour of duty, Charleston decided not to reenlist. He returned to Indianapolis in April 1915.[9]

On November 24, 1922, Charleston married Jane Blalock Howard, a widow from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The couple often traveled together during the early years of their marriage when he was a player and manager for the Harrisburg Giants. The Charlestons had no children and separated during the 1930s, but they never divorced.[10]

Career and statistics

Between 1915 and 1954, Charleston was a player and/or manager for the Indianapolis ABCs, Lincoln Stars, Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Saint Louis Giants, Harrisburg Giants, Hilldale Club, Homestead Grays, and Pittsburgh Crawfords, as well as the Toledo Crawfords, Indianapolis Crawfords, Philadelphia Stars, Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, and the Indianapolis Clowns.[2][3] Charleston was a player-manager until 1941, but his thirty-nine year baseball career continued as a team manager until his death in 1954.[11][12] In addition to his play in the Negro leagues, Charleston participated in numerous exhibition games against all-white teams in the years before major league baseball became integrated in 1947. He also played nine winter seasons in Cuba.[13]

Official statistics for the Negro league players are incomplete and vary among sources. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's website and Baseball Reference's website reported as of March 6, 2018, that Charleston's career batting average over 239 Negro league games and twenty-six seasons (from 1915 to 1941) was .339, with a slugging percentage of .545. The Hall of Fame website also noted that Charleston had a .326 lifetime batting average in exhibition play against white major leaguers.[1][14][15] Data from other sources provided different statistics, but do not include specific periods of time. For example, the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica lists Charleston's lifetime overall batting average as .357,[8] as did baseball historian James A. Riley in his book The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (1994). Riley further stated that Charleston had a .326 batting average in exhibition games against white major league players and a .361 batting average in nine seasons of winter games in Cuba.[16]

Early years, 1915–20

After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 1915, Charleston returned to the United States and immediately began his baseball career with the Indianapolis ABCs. He was paid $50 per month.[17] On April 11, 1915, Charleston pitched his first game for the ABCs, a three-hit, 7–0 shutout in an exhibition game against the Reserves, a semiprofessional team of white players. Charleston, called "Charlie" by his teammates, soon moved to the center field position, where he became known for playing shallow (close behind second base) and his one-handed catches. Charleston was especially adept at catching high flies, using his running speed to retrieve balls above his head. His strong batting and fielding skills also earned Charleston the nickname of the "Hoosier Comet."[18]

In addition to his skills as a ballplayer, Charleston was known for his combative nature and willingness to fight when provoked. One memorable incident incident occurred during a game that the Indianapolis ABCs played against a team of white major and minor leaguers in Indianapolis on October 24, 1915. When ABCs player Elwood "Bingo" DeMoss got into a dispute with umpire James Scanlon over a bad call against the team, Charleston ran in from center field and punched the umpire, knocking him to the ground. According to local newspapers, the ballpark erupted into "a near race riot." Charleston and DeMoss escaped the field and were arrested and jailed. The two players were released after posting bail and immediately left town to play winter baseball in Cuba.[19] Charleston was also temporarily dismissed from the ABCs and sent to play for the Lincoln Giants in New York until the controversy died down. He returned to the team in June 1916.[20]

During another incident that occurred in Cuba in the mid-1920s, Charleston fought with Cuban soldiers during a Cuban League game against Havana. He was arrested and fined for his role in the fighting, but was released from custody and returned to the field to play the following day.[21][22] James "Cool Papa" Bell related a story to baseball historian John Holway of another confrontation involving Charleston. Bell told Holway that around 1935 Charleston tore off the hood a white-robed Ku Klux Klansman during a trip to Florida.[23]

In spite of the controversy surrounding some of his behavior, Charleston contributed to the success of the Indianapolis ABCs. In 1916 he was a member of the team when it beat the Chicago American Giants to claim what the game's promoters called "The Championship of Colored Baseball." (The first Negro League World Series was not played until October 1924.) Charleston left the ABCs at end of the 1918 season to attend the Colored Officer Training Program during World War I, but he served less than two months before the armistice was signed to end the war and he was discharged. When Charleston returned to Indiana in 1919, the owner of the ABCs did not field a team, so he joined the Chicago American Giants.[24]

Negro league player, 1920–41

When the Negro National League was established in 1920, Charleston returned to Indianapolis to play for the ABCs, playing center field for the team in the League's inaugural doubleheader on May 20, 1920, at Indianapolis. The ABCs beat the Giants 4–2 and 11–4.[25] Charleston remained with the ABCs until 1921, then signed with the Saint Louis Giants, who paid him $400 per month, the league's highest salary.[26] Charleston's most productive season was with the Saint Louis Giants in 1921, when he hit fifteen home runs, twelve triples, seventeen doubles, and stole thirty-one bases over sixty games.[27] Charleston's batting average that year was .434; he was also the league's leader in doubles, triples, and home runs.[8]

When the Giants folded at the end of the 1921 season due to financial difficulties, Charleston returned to the ABCs and stayed until 1924, when he became a player-manager of the Harrisburg Giants in Pennsylvania. Charleston continued his career with the Harrisburg team until 1927. After it disbanded, Charleston played for the Hillsdale Club, a team near Philadelphia, for two seasons (1928 and 1929) and spent the next two seasons (1930 and 1931) with the Homestead Grays. As Charleston aged, he shifted from center field to first base during his final years playing for the Giants and two years with the Grays.[27] Charleston also played nine seasons of winter baseball on teams in Cuba. His batting average for the nine seasons was .361.[12][28]

1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords
Charleston (standing far right) with the 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords

In 1932 Charleston became player-manager of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, whose roster included future Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Judy Johnson, in addition to teammates Ted Page, Jud Wilson, Jimmie Crutchfield, and Double Duty Radcliffe. (Cool Papa Bell joined the Crawfords in 1933.)[29] The Negro National League was revived in 1933 and the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays became its leading teams in the 1930s. The two teams competed for more than a dozen Negro League championships and had several future Hall of Famers on their rosters, including Charleston.[30]

Between 1932 and 1936, while Charleston was player-manager of the Crawfords, the team was considered the best in professional baseball. In 1932 the Crawfords played as an independent team and went 99-36, with Charleston batting .363. That year Charleston received the most votes (43,000) from fans and played first base in the first East-West All-Star Game on September 10, 1933. The game was held at Chicago's Comiskey Park in front of a crowd of 20,000 a few weeks after the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Charleston was also a first baseman in the 1934 and 1935 Negro League All-Star Games.[31] For the 1935–36 season, when the Crawfords were part of the Negro National League, the team's overall record was 36–24; Charleston's batting average was .304. Charleston was also a member of the Crawford team that won the 1935 Negro National Team pennant. The 1935 Crawfords team is considered the best in Negro League history.[32]

Charleston's career as a professional ballplayer was nearing its end when the Pittsburgh Crawfords was dissolved in 1939 and acquired by new owners. Charleston moved with the team to Toledo, Ohio, but it failed to attract enough fan support and relocated to Indianapolis in 1940. As it did in Ohio, the Indianapolis Crawfords failed to develop a fan base to sustain the team. Charleston retired as a player in 1941.[8][33]

Team manager and scout, 1941–54

During the winter of 1940–41, Charleston returned to Pennsylvania to become manager of the Philadelphia Stars. He remained with the club until 1944. Branch Rickey hired Charleston as manager of the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers in the United States League in 1945, but the team was short-lived. Its main purpose was to scout talented black players for the first integrated Major League Baseball teams. When this goal was met, the Brown Dodgers disbanded.[34] Although Charleston was not involved in Jackie Robinson's recruitment, he recruited others, including Roy Campanella.[22]

In September 1945 Charleston began his third enlistment in the military, this time serving as a security guard at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot, but his main responsibility was managing the depot's integrated baseball team. In 1946 Charleston returned to managing the Philadelphia Stars for five seasons, but retired at the end of 1950.[35]

The integration of Major League Baseball teams in the late 1940s marked the decline and eventual end of the Negro leagues.[36] In 1954 Charleston briefly came out of retirement to manage the Indianapolis Clowns, a barnstorming team that usually played on the road. The Clowns captured the Negro American League pennant in 1954 before Charleston returned to Philadelphia, shortly before his death that fall.[37]

Death and legacy

In early October 1954, Charleston fell ill due to a heart attack or stroke. He was admitted to a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hospital, and died on October 5, 1954, at the age of fifty-seven. Charleston's remains are buried at Floral Park Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.[38]

Charleston was one of the early Negro league baseball stars.[39] By 1920 he was generally considered as "the greatest center fielder and one of the most reliable sluggers in black baseball."[40] A renowned players of his era, Charleston was recognized for his athletic skills as a powerful, hard-hitting slugger, his speed and aggressiveness as a base runner, and as a top outfielder. He was also an "intense" player with a "volatile temper."[8][41] Charleston's observers often compared his play to his contemporaries, such as Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Babe Ruth.[42][43] Charleston ranks among Negro league baseball's top five players in home runs and batting averages, and its leader in stolen bases.[44]

Baseball writer Bill James, author of The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (2001), reported that Charleston "did everything exceptionally well" and considered him one of the game's top center fielders. James ranked Charleston as the fourth-best player of all-time behind Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Willie Mays.[45] In addition, numerous baseball historians, sportswriters, and fellow players consider Charleston as possibly the greatest all-around Negro league ballplayer and one of the greatest players in history. In addition to James, these include former New York Giants manager John McGraw; Charleston's contemporaries, Juanelo Mirabal, Buck O'Neil, and Turkey Stearnes; sportswriter Grantland Rice; and other baseball experts.[43][12][46] The Sporting News list of the 100 greatest baseball players, which was published in 1998, ranked Charleston sixty-seventh. Only four other black ballplayers who played all or most of their careers in pre-1947 Negro leagues placed higher on the list: Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Buck Leonard, and Cool Papa Bell.[47] In 1999 Charleston was also nominated as a finalist for Major League Baseball's All-20th Century Team.[22]

Honors and awards

  • Charleston was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.[48]
  • He was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1981.[49]
  • The Indianapolis chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research is named the Oscar Charleston Chapter.[12]
  • Oscar Charleston Park on East 30th Street in Indianapolis is named in the ballplayer's honor.[12]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e The statistics on the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's website as of March 6, 2018, are based on research that the Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group conducted for the years 1920 to 1948. See "Oscar Charleston". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "A.B.C.'s Take Three From The Sprudels". Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana: 10, column 6. May 19, 1915. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Oscar Charleston: Teams Played For". Baseball Reference. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  4. ^ "Hilldale Team Wins" (PDF). Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12. August 6, 1919.
  5. ^ "Harrisburg Takes Two From Chester Team". Chester Times. Chester, Pennsylvania: 8, column 1. July 28, 1924. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  6. ^ John Holway (1988). Blackball Stars: Negro League Pioneers. Westport, Connecticut: Meckler Books. p. 114. ISBN 0-88736-094-7.
  7. ^ Holway, p. 100. See also: James A. Riley (1994). The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. New York: Carroll and Graf. p. 165. ISBN 0-7867-0065-3.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Oscar Charleston". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  9. ^ Holway, p. 100. See also: Geri Strecker (Fall 2012). "Indianapolis's Other Oscar: Baseball Great Oscar Charleston". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 24 (3): 31 and 33.
  10. ^ Strecker, p. 36.
  11. ^ Riley, p. 166.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Retro Indy: Oscar Charleston". The Indianapolis Star. October 14, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Bill James (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 167. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  14. ^ "Oscar Charleston: Register Batting". Baseball Reference. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Some references provide statics based on a different time periods. For example, in his book, Shades of Glory (2006), Lawrence D. Hogan lists Charleston's career batting average for Negro league play between 1920 and 1941 was .348, with a slugging average of .576. See Lawrence D. Hogan (2006). Shades of Glory. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. p. 385. ISBN 9781426200335. Baseball historian John Holway reported in his book, Blackball Stars (1988), that between 1915 and 1936 Charleston's batting average against white major leaguers was .318 and included eleven home runs in fifty-three games. See Holway, p. 124.
  16. ^ Riley, p. 326.
  17. ^ Holway, p. 100. See also: Wilma L. Moore (Fall 2012). "Everyday People: Sports Champions and History Makers". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 24 (3): 27.
  18. ^ Holway, pp. 99 and 106; James, p. 193.
  19. ^ Riley, p. 165; Hogan, p. 134.
  20. ^ Geri Strecker and Christopher Baas (Fall 2011). "Batter Up: Professional Black Baseball at Indianapolis Ballparks". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 23 (4): 28–29.
  21. ^ James, p. 165.
  22. ^ a b c Paul Dickson (July 20, 2014). "The Importance of Oscar Charleston". The National Pastime Museum. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  23. ^ James, p. 165; Holway, pp. 99–100.
  24. ^ Hogan, pp. 124, 175–78; Holway, p. 104; Strecker, p. 34.
  25. ^ Strecker and Baas, p. 31; James, p. 166–67.
  26. ^ Strecker, p. 35. See also: Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, eds. (2015). Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-87195-387-2.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  27. ^ a b Strecker, pp. 35–36 and 38.
  28. ^ Riley, pp. 166 and 629; Holway, p. 105.
  29. ^ Strecker and Baas, p. 31; Strecker, pp. 35–36, and 38.
  30. ^ Hogan, p. 270.
  31. ^ Hogan, p. 289; Holway, p. 114; Strecker, p. 38.
  32. ^ Hogan, p. 289; Riley, pp. 166 and 629; Holway, p. 105.
  33. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, eds., p. 59.
  34. ^ James, p. 173; Gugin and St. Clair, eds., p. 59.
  35. ^ Holway, p. 119–20; Gugin and St. Clair, eds., p. 59; Strecker, p. 38.
  36. ^ James, p. 168; Holway, p. 119–20.
  37. ^ Strecker and Baas, p. 32; Gugin and St. Clair, eds., p. 59.
  38. ^ Strecker, p. 39; Holway, p. 120.
  39. ^ Gugin and St. Clair, eds., p. 57.
  40. ^ Strecker, p. 35.
  41. ^ James, pp. 171–72, 178, and 192–93.
  42. ^ Strecker, p. 31
  43. ^ a b James (2001), p.189.
  44. ^ Ken Mandel. "Five-tool player Charleston considered best all-around player in Negro Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  45. ^ James, pp. 189, 192–93, and 358.
  46. ^ Holway, pp. 120–21.
  47. ^ James, pp. 358–59.
  48. ^ Moore, p. 27.
  49. ^ "Oscar Charleston". Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 6, 2018.

References

  • "A.B.C.s Take Three From The Sprudels". Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana: 10, column 6. May 19, 1915. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  • Dickson, Paul (July 20, 2014). "The Importance of Oscar Charleston". The National Pastime Museum. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  • Gugin, Linda C., and James E. St. Clair, eds. (2015). Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. pp. 57–59. ISBN 978-0-87195-387-2.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • "Harrisburg Takes Two From Chester Team". Chester Times. Chester, PA: 8, column 1. July 28, 1924. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  • "Hilldale Team Wins" (PDF). Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 12. August 6, 1919.
  • Hogan, Lawrence D. (2006). Shades of Glory. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society. ISBN 9781426200335.
  • Holway, John (1988). Blackball Stars: Negro League Pioneers. Westport, Connecticut: Meckler Books. pp. 96–124. ISBN 0-88736-094-7.
  • James, Bill (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  • Mandel, Ken. "Five-tool player Charleston considered best all-around player in Negro Leagues". Major League Baseball. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  • Moore, Wilma L. (Fall 2012). "Everyday People: Sports Champions and History Makers". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 24 (4): 26–29.
  • "Oscar Charleston". Baseball Reference. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  • "Oscar Charleston". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  • "Oscar Charleston". Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  • "Oscar Charleston". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  • "Retro Indy: Oscar Charleston". The Indianapolis Star. October 14, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  • Riley, James A. (1994). The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. New York: Carroll and Graf. ISBN 0-7867-0065-3.
  • Strecker, Geri (Fall 2012). "Indianapolis's Other Oscar: Baseball Great Oscar Charleston". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 24 (3): 30–39.
  • Strecker, Geri, and Christopher Baas (Fall 2011). "Batter Up: Professional Black Baseball at Indianapolis Ballparks". Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 23 (4): 26–33.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links

1976 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1976 followed the system in place since 1971.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected two, Bob Lemon and Robin Roberts.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

It selected three players: Roger Connor, Cal Hubbard, and Freddie Lindstrom.

The Negro Leagues Committee also met in person and selected Oscar Charleston.

Center fielder

A center fielder, abbreviated CF, is the outfielder in baseball who plays defense in center field – the baseball and softball fielding position between left field and right field. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the center fielder is assigned the number 8.

East–West League

The East–West League was an American Negro baseball league that operated during the period when professional baseball in the United States was segregated. Cum Posey organized the league in 1932, but it did not last the full year and folded in June of that year. It was the first Negro league to include teams from both the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

Although the league lasted less than one season, it featured one of the strongest teams in the history of Negro league baseball, the Detroit Wolves. The league provided a foundation for the development of the second Negro National League, which would become the premier league for African American baseball players.

Fogel Field

Fogel Field was a baseball stadium, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The site was also known as Fordyce Field and Holder Field. Fogel Field was built in 1912 as a spring training site for Major League Baseball teams. The field was named for Horace Fogel, President of the Philadelphia Phillies. Fogel Field hosted the Phillies (1912) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1921–1923, 1926). The Kansas City Monarchs (1928), Homestead Grays (1930–1931) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1935) of Negro League Baseball also used Fogel Field as their spring training.

Several minor league teams from the American Association used Fogel Field as well: Indianapolis Indians (1926–1927), Milwaukee Brewers (1927–1931) and St. Paul Saints (1934–1935) . The Montreal Royals of the International League (1932) trained at Fogel Field.

Harrisburg Giants

The Harrisburg Giants were a U.S. professional Negro league baseball team based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 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.

Harrisburg finished in the middle of the pack in its first season, winning 26 and losing 28 for a fifth-place spot (out of eight teams). In 1925, however, the Giants picked up the pace, challenging defending champion Hilldale before falling just short with a 37-19 record. 1926 saw the Giants add shortstop/third baseman John Beckwith from the Baltimore Black Sox, and finish second again, this time behind the Bacharach Giants.

In 1927 the Harrisburg Giants fell to fourth, with a 41-32 record. The club dropped out of the ECL the following year to play an independent schedule, whereupon most of its best players signed with other teams.

Hilldale Club

The Hilldale Athletic Club (informally known as Darby Daisies) were an African American professional baseball team based in Darby, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia.

Established as a boys team in 1910, the Hilldales were developed by their early manager, then owner Ed Bolden to be one of the powerhouse Negro league baseball teams. They won the first three Eastern Colored League pennants beginning in 1923 and in 1925 won the second Colored World Series. Hall of Fame player Judy Johnson was a Hilldale regular for most its professional era with twelve seasons in fifteen years 1918–1932.

Pitcher Phil Cockrell played for Hilldale throughout those years.

Oscar Charleston, Biz Mackey, Louis Santop, Chaney White, and Jesse "Nip" Winters were also important Hilldale players in the 1920s.

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 Charleston, Biz Mackey, and Ben Taylor.

John Beckwith (baseball)

John Christopher Beckwith (January 10, 1900 – January 4, 1956), nicknamed The Black Bomber, was an American infielder in baseball's Negro Leagues.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he ranked among the Negro Leagues' career leaders in batting average, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (.587).

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. In 1927, he unofficially bashed 72 home runs against all-comers (he hit 54 HRs in 1928). Pitcher Scrip Lee, who faced both men, declared that "Babe Ruth and Beckwith were about equal in power." The legendary Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe claimed that "nobody hit the ball any farther than [Beckwith]—Josh Gibson or nobody else." Babe Ruth himself said that “not only can Beckwith hit harder than any Negro ballplayer, but any man in the world.” Beckwith, who played with such noted teams as the Chicago Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, and Lincoln Giants, was often overshadowed by Oscar Charleston, who twice topped him by a single longball for the league home run crown. Though he played nearly every position on the diamond, including pitcher, the rifle-armed Beckwith was best known as a third baseman. According to Baseball-Reference.com, three of his best offensive seasons in league play were 1925 (.407 with 16 HRs and 42 RBI in 46 games), 1930 (.471 with 20 RBI in 22 games), and 1931 (.364 with 11 HRs and 30 RBI in 30 games). If you breakdown Beckwith's league stats into modern 162 game intervals, he would average .347 with 205 hits—including 37 doubles, 10 triples, and 27 homers—107 RBI, and 118 runs scored per season. 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. Beckwith, who Turkey Stearnes called "one of my favorite ballplayers," made his last known Negro League appearance in 1938.

Beckwith died in New York City, six days before his 56th birthday.

Legacy Awards (NLBM)

The Legacy Awards are presented annually by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) to the best players, managers, and executives in each league of Major League Baseball, for on- and off-the-field achievement. The awards—for performance and achievement—are named for legendary players of Negro Leagues Baseball. The awards were first presented for the 2000 Major League Baseball season.The first Legacy Awards—in 2000—were presented in November at the "Legacy 2000 Players’ Reunion and Awards Banquet", which was organized to honor the tenth anniversary of the opening of the museum and the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of the Negro National League. For the next nine years (2001–2009), each year's awards were presented at a banquet in January or February of the following year. In 2010, there was no banquet. Instead, the awards were presented at separate events at the museum and in various major-league ballparks through the spring of 2011. The twelfth annual awards (for 2011) were presented at an awards banquet on January 28, 2012.In January, 2013 Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick announced that the 2013 awards banquet would be the final one held. All further awards will be presented to the 2010 awards, at various MLB ballparks or if the award winner happens to be in Kansas City with his team to play against the Royals. The logistics of off-season travel were the primary reason cited by Kendrick for the permanent change. Indeed, of all those honored for their 2012 season only the Padres Everth Cabrera, traveling from his off-season home in Nicaragua, was able to make it to Kansas City for the January 12th banquet and presentation. Previously, the proceeds from the Legacy Awards annual banquet were used for the benefit of the museum.

Leopardos de Santa Clara

The Leopardos de Santa Clara (English: Santa Clara Leopards) were a Cuban professional baseball team based in Santa Clara, Cuba. Founded in 1922, they played in the Cuban League from 1922 to 1925, from 1929 to 1930, and from 1935 to 1941. Although they competed for only 11 seasons, they won league championships in four regular seasons and in one "special season." According to Cuban League historian Jorge S. Figueredo, the 1923/24 team, which went 36–11 and won the championship by ​11 1⁄2 games, is "considered as the most dominant team in the history of Cuban baseball."During their existence, the Leopardos featured several of the biggest stars of Negro league baseball, including Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson. In addition, the team featured outstanding performances from Cuba's own baseball stars including Alejandro Oms and Martín Dihigo.

Lincoln Stars (baseball)

The Lincoln Stars (also known as the Lincoln Stars of New York or the New York Lincoln Stars) were a Negro league baseball team that played in New York City from 1914 to 1917. Their home stadium was the Lenox Oval, located at Lenox Avenue and 145th Street in Manhattan. Although they lasted less than four years, they were a good team that featured three players who would later be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame—Oscar Charleston, John Henry Lloyd, and Louis Santop.

Oliver Marcell

Oliver Hazzard Marcelle (June 21, 1895 – June 12, 1949), nicknamed "Ghost", was an American third baseman in the Negro Leagues for a number of teams around the league from 1918-1931. He also played shortstop. A Creole born in Thibodaux, Louisiana, he batted and threw right-handed.

While the Negro Leagues had many statistics recorded in the 1920s, Marcelle put up outstanding numbers. In 1922 with the Bacharach Giants, he posted a .379 batting average. Again in 1924, he hit well, putting up a .352 average for Bacharach and the New York Lincoln Giants.

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. He participated in two Negro League World Series, both for the Bacharach Giants. He put up fairly good numbers during one of them (.293, six RBIs in 11 games). In the other, he posted a .235 average with 2 RBIs in 9 games. However, he did much better than that when he got his chance against white competition. He went 23-for-63, good for a .365 average, in 17 exhibition contests against white players. Marcelle was rated ahead of Hall of Famers Judy Johnson and Ray Dandridge in the renowned 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro Leagues' best players.

In a strange incident in the late 1920s, Marcelle's teammate Frank Warfield reportedly bit Marcelle's nose off after the two got into a fight, when both men were playing in the Cuban Winter League. Bill Yancey, another teammate of Marcelle's, said, "What got [Marcelle] out of baseball, he and [teammate] Frank Warfield had a fight in Cuba [probably in the winter of 1927-28, over a dice game] and Warfield bit his nose off. He was a proud, handsome guy, you know, and then he used to wear a black patch across his nose and he got so he couldn't play baseball anymore." Marcelle had been a staple of the Cuban Winter League throughout the decade. In the 1923-24 season, he batted .393 to lead the league. He ended with an overall .305 average in Cuba.

After some time with the Detroit Stars, Marcelle didn't play very much longer. His final career average was supposedly around .315 with 11 home runs. Marcelle died in poverty in 1949 in Denver, Colorado and was buried in an unmarked grave in Riverside Cemetery.At age 57, Marcelle got the most votes as best third baseman in the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier player-voted poll of the Negro leagues best players ever.42 years after his death, Oliver Marcelle’s last chapter was finally closed. At 10:30 a.m. on June 1, 1991, members of Riverside’s ownership, the Fairmount Cemetery Co., gathered with members of the Erickson Monument Co., the Black American West Museum, and the Denver Zephyrs, the Triple-A inheritors of, in part, Marcelle’s Denver baseball legacy, to honor The Ghost one final time. In the culmination of a long effort led by baseball historian and Denver-area resident Jay Sanford, there, weeks shy of what would have been the legend’s 94th birthday, they unveiled a simple grave marker.

Oscar Johnson (baseball)

Oscar "Heavy" Johnson (1895–1960) was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues. He played catcher and outfielder. Johnson was one of the Negro League's foremost power hitters in the 1920s, reportedly weighing 250 pounds, and known for hitting home runs. Longtime MLB umpire Jocko Conlan once said that Johnson "could hit a ball out of any park."Johnson was part of the all-black 25th Infantry Wreckers, a teammate of other future Negro Leaguers including Bullet Rogan, Lemuel Hawkins, and Dobie Moore. He briefly played for the St. Louis Giants in 1920 while on Army furlough, hitting .300 in 3 games, but did not join the Negro Leagues until his discharge in 1922. In his rookie season with the Kansas City Monarchs, Johnson batted .406, and posted a .345 average in the Cuban winter league. Johnson won a retroactive triple crown in 1923 with a .406 batting average, 20 home runs and 120 RBI in 98 games. Johnson was also the first member of the Monarchs to hit a home run at the new Kansas City Municipal Stadium. 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. Johnson then moved to the Baltimore Black Sox, where he posted averages of .345 and .337 in his 2 seasons with the club. In 1927, with the Harrisburg Giants, Johnson hit .316, teaming with John Beckwith and Oscar Charleston. Johnson split the 1928 season between the Cleveland Tigers and the Memphis Red Sox, posting a .315 average overall.Former pitcher Bill "Plunk" Drake said that Johnson was once sleeping on the bench when he was awoken and told to pinch-hit; he grabbed a fungo bat and hit a home run. Despite Johnson's weight, he was described as a "remarkably fast runner for his bulk." He was also described as temperamental and moody, one of the "nasty boys". Johnson finished his career in 1933 with a .337 lifetime batting average.

Philadelphia Stars (baseball)

The Philadelphia Stars were a Negro league baseball team from Philadelphia. The Stars were founded in 1933 when Ed Bolden returned to professional black baseball after being idle since early 1930. The Stars were an independent ball club in 1933, a member of the Negro National League from 1934 until the League's collapse following the 1948 season, and affiliated with the Negro American League from 1949 to 1952.

In 1934, led by 20-year-old left-hander Slim Jones, the Stars defeated the Chicago American Giants in a controversial playoff series, four games to three, for the Negro National League pennant. At their high point in mid-1930s, the team starred such greats as Biz Mackey, Jud Wilson, and Dick Lundy. Following his release by Cleveland, Satchel Paige signed with the Stars in July 1950, before returning to the Majors with Bill Veeck and the St. Louis Browns.

The club disbanded after the 1952 season.

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.

St. Louis Stars (baseball)

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.

Stanley Glenn

Stanley "Doc" Glenn (September 16, 1926 – April 16, 2011) was a baseball catcher with the Philadelphia Stars of the Negro Leagues from 1944 to 1950. He also played three years in the minors and two in the Canadian senior Intercounty Baseball League in southwestern Ontario for the St. Thomas Elgins in the early 1950s.

After his retirement from baseball, Glenn spent 40 years in the wholesale electric supply business. In 2006, Glenn released his first published book entitled, Don't Let Anyone Take Your Joy Away: An inside look at Negro League baseball and its legacy.

Glenn was born in Wachapreague, Virginia, and was signed by hall-of-famer Oscar Charleston right out of John Bartram High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"I suppose one thing I remember so vividly was catching Satchel Paige (1946 and 1950)," Glenn says.

"As hard as he threw, the ball was like a feather. It was so easy to catch him, mainly because he was always around the plate."

Wallace Gordon

Wallace Clifford Gordon (April 21, 1881 - November 5, 1955) was a Negro Leagues Utility player for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League.

Sportswriter Harry Daniels named Gordon to his 1909 "All American Team" saying he is "the best man ever to play third base in colored base ball." Daniels added that Daniels was "the peer of base-stealers."Gordon played for many different teams, and played with some of the top pre-Negro Leagues players, such as Dizzy Dismukes, Bingo DeMoss, Oscar Charleston, and Ben Taylor.

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