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Is the Baseball Hall of Fame Forgetting Something?

Is the Baseball Hall of Fame Forgetting Something?

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Published by Bill
On February 9th, 1971 Leroy 'Satchel' Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, this happened despite a brief najor league career that did not begin until he was well into his 40's. While Paige and a select few were inducted many who were at least as deserving did not gain admission.
On February 9th, 1971 Leroy 'Satchel' Paige was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, this happened despite a brief najor league career that did not begin until he was well into his 40's. While Paige and a select few were inducted many who were at least as deserving did not gain admission.

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Published by: Bill on Feb 11, 2010
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07/06/2010

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Is the Baseball Hall of Fame forgetting something?
While a few of the best known players from the Negro Leagues "Golden Age" the late1920’s-WWII era have been inducted many more, especially from the earlier days, the pre-Negro Leagues dead-ball era the time of many lesser-known greats, has simply beenneglected. First some background my father’s first teaching job after he graduated from Temple University was at a reform school named Octavius V. Catto, a few years ago Iresearched the name and the man and discovered that in addition to being a leadingabolitionist, assistant to the principal, Professor Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett, at what wouldlater become Cheyney State, he also a supporter of the Pythians the foremost Negrobaseball team of its era. In fact he decided to apply for official recognition of the Pythiansby the National Association of Base Ball Players National Association of Base Ball Players(America's first organized league), during its annual convention in December 1867. ThePythians were, however, denied membership. The denial was based on the premise, "If colored clubs were admitted there would be in all probability some division of feeling,whereas, by excluding them no injury could result to anyone." The association even passeda resolution that excluded "any club which may be composed of one or more coloredplayers." This premise was the predecessor of the "gentleman's agreement" arriving laterinvolving the major leagues and colored players. In 1867, the Uniques of Brooklyn played the Excelsiors of Philadelphia for the first officiallyrecorded black teams. The Excelsiors defeated the Uniques 37-24. Soon following, the moreprestigious Philadelphia Pythians arrived on the scene. Negroes continued to thrive inadopting the ‘National Pastime’ despite the segregation, with the few black teams of the dayplaying not only each other, but white teams as well; to break down racial barriers inbaseball, when a group of whites formed the Pennsylvania Convention of Baseball Clubs in
 
1868. His aggressive nature and strivings for equality in this instance greatly offended manyimmigrant whites who enjoyed baseball as their pastime. On October 10, 1871, Catto wasleaving the Institute for Colored Youth, Catto was confronted by Frank Kelly, a DemocraticParty operative and associate of the Party's boss, who recognized Catto as he walked downthe street. Kelly fired several shots at Catto with one bullet piercing his heart. With his deathcame the death of the best Negro team of the time, the Pythians.In 1879, William Edward White, a Brown University player, may have become the firstAfrican-American to play in the major leagues when he appeared in one game for theProvidence Grays of the National League. In 1884, two African-American players, MosesFleetwood Walker and his brother Welday Walker, joined the majors when their club, the Toledo Blue Stockings, joined the American Association. Fleet Walker lasted until mid-seasonwhen an injury gave the team an excuse to release him; his brother only played a fewgames. Then in 1886 second baseman Frank Grant joined the Buffalo Bisons of theInternational League, the strongest minor league, and hit .340, third highest in the league.Several other African-American players joined the International League the following season,including pitchers George Stovey and Robert Higgins, but 1888 was the last season in whichblacks were allowed in a minor league of that level.Despite the Color line many baseball men tried to sneak talented player through the “WhiteCurtain.” In 1901 there was an unusual signing of one "Chief Tokohama" to baseball’sBaltimore Orioles by manager John McGraw. Chief Tokohama was later revealed to beCharlie Grant, a straight haired, beige-skinned African-American second baseman with highcheekbones. McGraw was attempting to draw upon the great untapped resource of African-American baseball talent in the face of baseball’s unspoken rule banning black players fromthe major leagues. The ruse was discovered after Grant signed with the Orioles as Chief  Tokohama, when Chicago White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey discovered his real identityand led the charge to ban him from the league. Grant ended up spending the 1901 seasonplaying stand-out second base for the all-black Columbia Giants. John McGraw, manager of the Orioles from 1899 to 1902 and the New York Giants from 1902to 1932, had real respect for African-Americans’ baseball abilities and wished to integratethe major leagues. McGraw was often in the stands at Negro League games, watching andtaking notes, and later copying strategies used by Black teams. In fact, legend has long heldthat McGraw had pitcher and Negro National League founder Rube Foster teach Giants starChristy Mathewson how to throw his "fadeaway" pitch or Screwball. McGraw held multipleexhibition games between his team and Negro League teams. Not only promoting andshowcasing the talent but as importantly bolstering their earnings.In October 1917, Negro Leaguer "Smokey" Joe Williams pitched against the National Leaguechampion Giants, striking out 20 batters before losing 1-0 on an error in the 10th inning. Hadrecords been kept of those exhibitions, the mark of 20 strikeouts would stood for 69seasons. McGraw was not the only big leaguer who favored integration, or took up thecause. Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Ted Williams, Dizzy Dean, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner and Jimmie Foxx were among the players who would barnstorm with all-star Negro League teamsin the off-season before black players were allowed to play with them in the regular season.Each of them attested that the ‘Tan Talent’ was equal to what they’d faced in the majors. Joe DiMaggio famously stated that Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige was "the best and fastest pitcher”he ever faced."Now to commemorate February 9
th
, 1971 the day that Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige was inductedinto the slate of Negro League and Pre- Negro League players I believe are more thanworthy of induction in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. 
 
Bud Fowler (real name John W. Jackson) had a lengthy career: 1877-1899: and he did someof everything he was a: 2b, P, SS, 3rd, OF, C, and manager with several teams and leagues:minor leagues (1877-1879, 1881, 1884-1899), Page Fence Giants (1895), Cuban Giants(1898),City Giants (1901), All-American Black Tourists (1903), Kansas City Smoky Stars(1904). He was a solid and sturdy 5' 7'' 155 he batted and threw with his right hand. Fowlerwas a true pioneer playing wherever his color permitted. The first known African-Americanprofessional player. He played more seasons and more games in Organized Baseball thanany Black man until Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1946 and played his 11th seasonin 1956. John Jackson was born in Fort Plain, New York, moved fittingly enough, to Cooperstown, New York the next year, and learned baseball there. Why he selected the name Bud Fowler isunknown. According to biographer L. Robert Davids, he gained the nickname "Bud" becausehe called the other players by that name.He began his career as a pitcher, and the first documented account of his appearing in agame was with Chelsea, Massachusetts, in April 1878. Later that month, pitching for LynnLive Oaks of the International Association, he defeated Tommy Bond and the famed BostonNationals, 2-1, in an exhibition game. Over the next few seasons he played with Worchesterof the New England Association (1878), Malden of the Eastern Massachusetts League (1879),Guelph, Ontario (1881), and the Petrolia Imperials (1881). After 1884, when he finished witha 7-8 record with Stillwater, Minnesota, of the Northwestern League, he did not pitchsubstantially.Foster also supported himself as a barber; he continued to play for teams in New Englandand Canada for the next four years. In 1883, Fowler played for a team in Niles, Ohio, and in1884 in Stillwater, Minnesota. Unsubstantiated reports state that he played with theWashington Mutuals in 1869 and with a Newcastle, Pennsylvania, team in 1872 cannot beconfirmed and are not fully reliable.Eventually he became an everyday player and, while he could play any position, secondbase became his preferred spot. He continued to play in White leagues, appearing withKeokuk in the Western League (1885), Pueblo in the Colorado League (1885), Topeka in theWestern League (1886), Binghamton in the International League (1887), Montpelier in theNew England League (1887), Crawfordsville in the Central Interstate League (1888), TerreHaute in the Central Interstate League (1888), Santa Fe in the New Mexico League (1888),Greenville in the Michigan League (1889), Galesburg of the Central Interstate League (1890),Sterling of the Illinois-Iowa League (1890), Burlington of the Illinois-Iowa League (1890),Lincoln-Kearney of the Nebraska State League (1892), and the independent Findlay, Ohio,team (1891, 1893-1894, 1896-1899).In earliest days of baseball there was no official color line, and Fowler played in organizedbaseball with White ball clubs until the color line became established and entrenched.However, his stays were almost always of short duration despite his playing ability-probablybecause of the race factor. In 1887 he was dropped from Binghamton of the InternationalLeague and was forbidden to sign with another International League team.In the fall of 1894, the social conditions led him to organize the Page Fence Giants, an all-Black team sponsored by the Page Woven Wire Fence Company of Adrian, Michigan, and theteam began play the following spring with Fowler as the playing manager and Grant "HomeRun" Johnson as the shortstop and captain. That spring the Page Fence Giants played a 2-game exhibition series against the National League Cincinnati Reds but dropped bothgames. However, the season was a success, as they ended it with a 118-36 record for a .766winning percentage and Fowler hit .316 for the year. Fowler had left the team before the

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