Archive for February, 2010

Double No-No

February 17, 2010

The other truly odd game of 1917 occurred on the 2nd of May. This game was in the National League and pitted home team Chicago against the Cincinnati Reds. It became famous at the double no hitter.

The Cubs sent lefty Jim “Hippo” Vaughn to the mound. There are a couple of stories about his nickname. One says it had to do with his size, the other with the way he walked. Don’t know which is true, but the Sports Encylcopedia: Baseball  lists him as 6’4″ and 214 pounds, not exactly hippo-like numbers. He was opposed by Cincinnati ace right-hander Fred Toney.

Both pitchers managed to get through a regulation game without giving up a hit. Both had a couple of walks, with Cubs outfielder Cy Williams being the only Chicago base runner (on two walks). In the tenth inning, Vaughn managed to get the first out, then light hitting shortstop Larry Kopf singled for the first hit of the day by either team. For the year Kopf was a .255 hitter with no power, a little speed (17 stolen bases), and a handful of runs (81). He went to third on an error and came home on a single by backup outfielder Jim Thorpe (Yes, that Jim Thorpe). Thorpe hit all of .247 for the year with 36 RBIs, none more famous than bringing home Kopf. Vaughn then shut down the Reds and Toney took the mound. He set the Cubs down in order to pick up the win and notch his only no hitter.

For years baseball carried the game as the only double no hitter ever pitched. When they changed the rules recently, Vaughn’s effort was washed away and only Toney now gets credit for a no hitter. I guess that’s fair, but it is kind of a shame.

For the season the Cubs ended up 5th 24 games back. Vaughn won 23 games against 13 losses with an ERA of 2.01 and 195 strikeouts. The Reds finished just ahead of Chicago in 4th place 20 games back. Toney was 24-16 with a 2.20 ERA and 123 strikeouts.

Over their careers, Vaughn did slightly better finishing 178-137 over 390 games with 1416 strikeouts and a 2.49 ERA. Toney was 137-102 (a better winning percentage) over 336 games with 718 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.69. But for one day, they were both superb and Toney was better.

This finishes a run of 3 posts on no hitters in 1917. In fairness, I need to point out there were 2 others that year, both in April. Eddie Cicotte of Chicago no hit the Browns on the 14th (and perhaps the two no hitters in May were payback by the Browns) and George Mogridge no hit the Red Sox on the 24th.  There were six no hitters in 1917. That ties 1908, 1915, 1969, and 1990 for most in a single season.

Can’t Buy a Hit

February 16, 2010

The second bizarre pitching performance of the 1917 season includes the hapless St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. In 2 of 3 games over 2 days, the Browns no hit the Sox. The Browns had their number for at least one weekend.

On Saturday, 5 May 1917, the Browns and White Sox played a single game in St. Louis. For the White Sox, ace Eddie Cicotte took the mound, opposed by lefty Ernie Koob. In the first, Buck Weaver singled. It was a close play, made difficult by the fact the second baseman hadn’t fielded it cleanly. By the end of the day the official scorer had consulted with a number of reporters and officials and changed the play to E4 (error by second baseman Ernie Johnson). It’s a crucial change, because it was the only hit Koob gave up that day. With the change, Koob had thrown a no hitter besting Cicotte 1-0. The score wasn’t in doubt, only the hit. So Koob, who won only 24 games for his entire career, had a no hitter.

The next day, 6 May, was a Sunday. The teams played a double header. In game 1, the Browns beat up on the White Sox 8-4 with Eddie Plank taking the win. Right hander Bob Groom relieved in the eighth inning, pitched two no hit innings and picked up a save. Then Groom started game 2. Like Koob, he didn’t give up a hit, winning 3-0. This time there was no controversial play. So Groom had pitched a total of 11 no hit innings during the day picking up both a win and a save (which he never knew, dying prior to the save becoming a stat).

Neither Koob nor Groom were particularly great pitchers. Koob went 6-14 with a 3.90 ERA in 1917. For a career he was 24-31 with an ERA of 3.13 over 125 games and ended up with more walks than strikeouts (186 to 121). His final season was 1919 and he died in 1941. Groom was 8-19 (the 19 losses led the AL), with an ERA of 2.94 in 1917. For his career he was 120-150 with a 3.10 ERA over 367 games. He had 783 walks and 1159 strikeouts. He ended his Major League career in 1918, only a year after his no hitter, and died in 1948.

A couple of interesting points to make here: First, it’s the only time the same team threw no hitters on back to back days (in 1968 there were no hitters on back-to-back days, but by different teams, and in 1990 there were two no hitters thrown on the same day, but in different leagues). Second, the Browns were on their way to finishing a dismal 7th (in an 8 team league) 43 games back. The pennant winner? The Chicago White Sox, who won the pennant by nine games and the World Series in six games. So the Sox were a better team, but for one weekend they simply couldn’t buy a hit off two marginal pitchers playing for a weak team in St. Louis. Who would have guessed it?

Perfect…..Sort of

February 15, 2010

The year 1917 had a couple of unusual pitching performances. In this post and a later one, I’m going to take a look at them.

The 23rd of June 1917 was a normal baseball day in Boston. The games (it was a doubleheader) were in the afternoon and the Washington Senators were in town. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Senators ace Walter Johnson wasn’t supposed to pitch so the first game should have been just another outing in an attempt to grab the pennant. Instead, the Sox fans were treated to a once ever happening, a perfect game in which the winning pitcher only faced 26 batters.

The Sox sent lefty ace Babe Ruth (you forgot he was a pitcher, didn’t you?) to the mound against Senators right-hander Doc Ayers. The Washington lineup was : Ray Morgan (2b), Eddie Foster (3b), Clyde Millan (cf), future Hall of Famer Sam Rice (rf), Joe Judge (1b), Charlie Jamieson (lf), Howard Shanks (ss), John Henry (c), and Ayres. Not exactly Murder’s Row. For the season, Rice would hit .302 and lead the team with 25 doubles, 69 RBIs, and 35 steals, while Judge would lead the team in slugging at .415. On the other hand, Jamieson was a backup outfielder who played in only 20 games that season and hit all of a buck 71.

It should have been a relatively easy day for Ruth, but he was already arguing with the umpire Brick Owens after the first pitch. On four straight pitches he walked leadoff hitter Morgan. Enraged, Ruth charged the ump and managed to slug him. Ruth was escorted off the field by police and catcher Pinch Thomas was also tossed out after apparently making some comments about the ump’s ancestors. In came Sam Agnew to catch, and to pitch the Sox called on 26 year old right-hander Ernie Shore.

Shore had been in the Majors for a while. He’d won more than he’d lost, managing 19 wins in 1915 and 17 in 1916. He’d split two decisions in the 1915 World Series victory over Philadelphia and had won both starts in the 1916 win over Brooklyn. So Shore wasn’t some bum being brought in to fill a hole, but he’d not expected to pitch that day and had only five warmup pitches before throwing his first real pitch.

Senators owner/manager Clark Griffith sent Morgan on the first pitch. Catcher Agnew threw him out by a comfortable margin. Then Shore set down Foster and Millan to end the inning. And that was it for the Senators. Shore shut them down completely, allowing no hits, no runs, and striking out two. At the end of the game the score stood 4-0 with Sox center fielder Tilly Walker, third baseman Larry Gardner,  catcher Agnew, and pitcher Shore scoring runs while right fielder Harry Hooper and Agnew each drove in a pair (remember, Agnew was in the lineup only because Pinch Thomas was tossed out in the first inning).

Shore had pitched at perfect game. Well, sort of. There was that nagging problem of Morgan reaching on a walk, but then Shore hadn’t pitched to him, Ruth had. And of course Shore was pitching when Morgan was thrown out at second. So all 27 outs were made with Shore on the mound, but he’d only pitched to 26 men. Hadn’t happened before, hasn’t happened since. For years baseball carried it as a perfect game, but noted Ruth had walked a man. Since the changes in rules it’s no longer considered “perfect” but merely a joint no hitter.

Shore played eight years in the Majors going 65-42 with a 2.47 ERA, 271 walks, and 310 stikeouts over 982 innings. Not a bad career, but certainly nothing special. He died in 1980, known for one game. It was a heck of a game.

BTW—-special piece of trivia. Harry Hooper played right field and led off for the Red Sox. In 1922 he was in the outfield for the White Sox when Charlie Robertson threw a perfect game for Chicago. As far as I can tell, Hooper is the only player to participate in two “perfect” games (but see below).

Shout Out

February 14, 2010

There are a lot of really first rate baseball blogs on line, along with some that are incredibly wretched. Three of the best are here at wordpress. I’d like to recommend them to you. Below is a brief look at each, in alphabetical order:

brettkiser.wordpress.com—–This has a couple of pages of issues and comments, but the meat of the site is a series of baseball biographies of players and managers. Most of them are short enough to grasp at a single reading, but give you enough information to understand the player. There are two really fine points about these biographies. First, the cover a great swath of baseball history and aren’t all clustered around modern players. Second, they run the gamut of players from well known to fairly obscure. This way you’re not stuck getting a simple rehash of things you probably already knew. Check this site out, it’s worth it.

ondeckcircle.wordpress.com—–also covers a lot of topics on baseball. There are discussions of issues and a fair amount of fantasy information. I’m not a fantasy player, but I’ve found the posts on fantasy baseball are informative and give me insight into current players in a way different from a dry review of the stats or a tired expose on some new stat that the author just invented. So even non-fantasy players can profit from the posts. Again, check this one out.

sportsphd.wordpress.com—–more eclectic than the other two in that the blog covers more of sports than merely baseball. The guy also gets with football, basketball, hockey (what, no swimsuit issue comments?) and gets with each well. There’s a monthly stat feature and a book review. He’s currently running a series called “These Men Changed Baseball” that takes a look at the men who originally integrated baseball from Jackie Robinson to Pumpsie Green. Interesting and fresh as it does not concentrate strictly on the superstars. Make sure you check this blog out soon.

Enjoy ’em all.

Singin’ the Blues

February 13, 2010

Last night while watching the opening of the Olympics, I heard the following words put together in one sentence: “16-year old” “jazz singer” and “national anthem” I immediately began cringing. That may have been the worst set of words put together since Maximilian Schell asked Montgomery Clift to make a sentence with “hare, hunter, field.” (See Judgment at Nuremberg) Then I heard some idiot woman butcher one of the three best national anthems around (Australia and Germany have the other two and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” as the EU anthem is different). It reminded me of one of my least favorite aspects of Major League Baseball.

Now I like the national anthem as well as the next person. I’m all for rockets glaring red and bombs bursting in the air and proving through the night. I’m for the land of the free and also for the home of the brave, but I’m not for butchering the song. I’m never sure whether  I’m going to hear “light my fire” or a dirge. I understand that this is the highpoint of a lot of singers’ careers, but except for their mother, no one came to the ballpark to hear them sing. They want to hear two words only: “Play Ball.”

So I want to ask the people who sing at the ballpark to do me a favor. Just sing the song. Sing it like it was written. Then shut up and let the game begin. Heck, the quicker you get done, the quicker we get to the seventh inning stretch and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Jackie Robinson and the Death of the Negro Leagues

February 12, 2010

There’s an old phrase I remember from years ago in my science classes (my son is fairly sure there was only alchemy that far back), “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Seems that’s true in baseball too. For years the black community wanted the integration of Major League Baseball. The columns of Wendell Smith of Pittsburgh are a wonderful read when looking at this attitude. In 1947 they got what they wanted. They also got something they didn’t, the death of the Negro Leagues.

When Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers he opened up a new pool of talent for Major League teams. Slowly, it’s true, but steadily the big league teams began signing black players and by 1959 every team had at least one on its Major League roster. For most Americans, then and now, this was progress. For the Negro Leagues it was slow and steady death. For every black player that went to the Major Leagues, there was one less white player with a job; but for every black player that went to the Major Leagues, there were also less fans in the stands at Negro League parks and that was deadly. Some estimates indicate a tripling of black faces in Ebbets Field in the first three years Robinson played in Brooklyn. If that’s true, then those fans, whose wages hadn’t changed, were not going to Negro League games and spending money at Negro League parks. In the post on Effa Manley I noted the Newark Eagles attendance dropped 52%. That’s fairly common. And if Negro League teams collapsed that put more and more black people out of work; not just players, but owners, executives, peanut sellers, etc.

Part of the loss of fan base is because of the falling off in quality of play. As more and more stars of the Negro Leagues ended up in the Majors or in the vast reaches of the Minor Leagues, the level of play in the Negro Leagues suffered. Taking a look at the 3 Negro League World Series’ beginning in 1946, the year Robinson played in Montreal preparatory to heading to Brooklyn, you can see this beginning.

In 1946 the Newark Eagles and Kansas City Monarchs squared off in the Series. By 1948 Monte Irvin and Larry Doby of the Eagles were gone to the Majors (Doby) or to the minors (Irvin). The Monarchs lost Hank Thompson, Willard Brown, and Satchel Paige (and manager Buck O’Neill became the first black coach in the Majors)  to previously all-white teams.

The aftermath of the 1947 Series saw the New York Cubans lose Minnie Minoso, Lino Donoso, Pat Scantleberry, and Jose Santiago to the white leagues and the Cleveland Buckeyes lose the services of Sam Jethroe, Quincy Trouppe, and Toothpick Sam Jones.

By the last World Series in 1948 the damage was already heavy and the two teams, the Homestead Grays and the Birmingham Black Barons, lost only three players: Luke Easter, Bob Trice, and Willie Mays (Yes, that Willie Mays). There was no Series in 1949. (A disclaimer here: I may have missed a player or two, but I think I have the majority of players off to the Majors or Minors from the six teams involved.)

Those players were being replaced by lower quality players and the leagues suffered. By 1949 the Negro National League collapsed. The Negro American League lasted into the 1950s, but was in many ways a repository of minor league talent with just a few significant players left. Independent teams were also failing. Major players like Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks were deserting the black teams for integrated Major League teams with greater prestige and more money.

A number of owners like Newark’s Effa Manley tried to stem the tide by requiring that the Major Leagues either honor Negro League contracts or pay the Negro League teams for the services of players already under contract. Most big league teams ignored her and her peers and simply signed who they wanted. In fairness to the Major League teams, the Negro League teams had not been real good at honoring each others contracts.

So within 3 years of Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Negro Leagues were on life support. Within 10 years they were moribund. A handful of black teams, many trying to make their way as baseball versions of the Harlem Globetrotters, managed to hang on into the 1960s, but the era of black baseball was over.  For every team integrated, the US moved toward a more incusive society, but for every team integrated a black team died and bunches of men were out of a job. It was a tradeoff and unintended.

In honor of Black History Month, I’ve devoted a week to black baseball. This post marks the end of my foray into the subject, at least for a while. Hope you’ve enjoyed them and learned something. I did.

Queen of the Hall of Fame

February 11, 2010

Effa Manley

In baseball history, there has never been anything quite like Effa Manley. She ran a team, ran it well, and became a star in her own right.  Other women owned baseball teams, but Effa Manley actually ran hers. She was controversial, brash, beautiful, and understood baseball.

She was born in Philadelphia in 1897 (or 1900, depending on who you believe). There are three stories about her background. One insists she was white, the second that she was black, and the third contends she was of mixed race. In a 1973 interview, she indicated that she was white, but the other stories persist.  Whichever was true, Manley identified with black America.

There are as many tales of what happened to her between 1897 and 1935 as there are stories of her racial makeup. Some of them may even be true. What is certain is that she worked in the millinery business in New York becoming a baseball fan in general, and a Yankees fan specifically. In 1935 she married Abe Manley, a black entrepeneur (again, there are conflicting stories about where he got his money). They formed the Brooklyn Eagles that same year. According to Manley the name came from wanting the team to fly high, but it should be pointed out that the major black newspaper in the area was the Brooklyn Eagle.

In 1936 the team moved to New Jersey as the Newark Eagles. From the beginning, Effa Manley ran the team, although Abe was co-owner and at least somewhat responsible for hirings and firings. She made player and contract decisions, was responsible for scheduling and promotions. She worked to improve the quality of play in the Negro National League and insisted that contracts be honored by all teams. On the field she understood the game and could make player and management decisions by simply watching the game. There are stories that she even called plays by crossing and uncrossing her legs to indicate a bunt.

Socially, she was active in the community, serving as treasurer of the local NAACP chapter, organizing a boycott of Harlem stores that refused to hire black clerks (as usual, she won), and holding an anti-lynching day at the ballpark. On a personal level, she became somewhat notorious, being linked publically with a number of her players, especially pitcher Terris McDuffie. One story goes that if she wanted her husband to get rid of a player, she’d start a rumor she was having a fling with the player and within a week he’d be gone. Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s too good a story to not pass along.

In 1946, the Eagles won the Negro League World Series, besting the Kansas City Monarchs. It was a team consisting of Hall of Famers Leon Day, Monte Irvin, and Larry Doby. All were players Manley pushed to aquire. It was the high point in her team’s history.

By 1947, the Negro Leagues were beginning to lose players to the white Major Leagues. Manley’s Eagles suffered the loss of both Irvin and Doby. Within a couple of years, newly found pitcher Don Newcombe was gone also. Eagles attendance suffered badly, dropping from 120,000 in 1946 to 57,000 in 1948, a drop of 52.5%. The team couldn’t sustain that kind of loss.

Manley seems to have realized that integration of white leagues was killing black baseball. She demanded that Major League teams honor Negro League contracts, that raiding stop, and that Negro League teams be compensated for the loss of players to the Majors. She was, by and large, ignored (Bill Veeck of Cleveland being an exception). By 1947 the losses were terminal and the Manley’s sold the Eagles. The team folded after the 1948 season.

In retirement, Manley remained active in the community and continued to promote baseball and agitate for recognition of black baseball. She died in April 1981 (Abe died in 1952). In 2006, a special committee designed to study the Negro Leagues elected her to baseball’s Hall of Fame, the sole woman enshrined. Her plaque in Cooperstown reads in part “tireless crusader in the civil rights movement who earned the respect of her players and fellow owners.” I have a feeling she would have liked that.

Negro Leagues World Series, Round II

February 10, 2010

After a 13 year hiatus, the Negro Leagues restarted a postseason series. The old Eastern Colored League was gone, replaced by the Negro American League. The Negro National League had been revived and by 1942 the two leagues agreed to work together, at least enough to play a World Series. Unlike the 1920’s series’ the new set would be four games out of seven for victory. The series’s ran from 1942 through 1948. The premier American League teams were the Kansas City Monarchs, the Birmingham Black Barons, and the Cleveland Buckeyes. In the National League, the New York Cubans and Newark Eagles each had good seasons, but the league was dominated by the Homestead Grays, who played in 5 of the 7 World Series’. Ironically both the Cubans and Eagles won their series’ while the Grays went 3-2. Below is a short summary of each series:

1942: Kansas City Monarchs defeat the Homestead Grays 4 games to none. Timely hitting by players like Buck O’Neill and Newt Allen, coupled with Hall of Fame pitching by Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith shut down the Grays power in a sweep. Grays players Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Sam Bankhead, Jud Wilson couldn’t get timely hits, while pitcher Ray Brown was vulnerable.

1943; The Grays win a seven game series against the Birmingham Black Barons 4 games to 3. The power hitting Grays, supplemented by an aging but still fast Cool Papa Bell squeak out a victory against a Barons team that featured Double Duty Radcliffe still playing after starring in the 1920s World Series.

1944: The Grays pound the Barons again, this time winning in five games.

1945: The Cleveland Buckeyes win their first pennant and stun the Grays in a four game sweep. Buckeyes stars Quincy Trouppe,  future National League Rookie of the Year Sam Jethroe, and Arch Ware proved you could beat the Grays without great power.

1946: The Newark Eagles dethrone the Grays to win the Negro National League title. With future Hall of Famers Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Biz Mackey (yes, he was still around), and Leon Day, the Eagles take on the Kansas City Monarchs of Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, Buck O’Neill, Chet Brewer, and Hank Thompson. The Eagles and Monarchs battle for the full seven games before Leon Day wins game seven making the Eagles champs. It was a unique series for two reasons. It was the only Word Series won by a team with a female owner, Effa Manley, and the last series before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1947: The New York Cubans make the series for the only time in their history. Their Latin based roster includes Luis Tiant (father of the later American League pitcher), Minnie Minoso, Jose Fernandez, and pitcher Dave Barnhill. They face off against the Buckeyes who had won it all two years previously. Trouppe, Ware, and Jethroe were still around and were joined by pitcher Toothpick Sam Jones. The Cubans won 4 games to 1. The season had been rocked by the arrival of Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn and the departure of the first black players to the white leagues.

1948: The Grays returned to the series for the first time since 1945. Gibson was gone, but Leonard and Bankhaead were still around. They were joined by power hitting outfielder Luke Easter. They took on the Black Barons, also returning to the series, for the first time since 1944. Most of their old gang was gone, but they had a new outfielder named Willie Mays who looked promising. Despite Mays, the Barons lost 4 games to 1, thus giving the Grays the last Negro League World Series title.

After 1948 the Negro Leagues floundered. The National League folded, the American League hung on as nothing much more than a minor league. Many teams took to being independent and went back to barnstorming. The era of the great Negro League teams was over. So was their World Series.

The Crawfords

February 9, 2010

A lot of people have spent a lot of time writing books and articles   expounding on which team was the greatest ever. The 1927 Yankees frequently win. Recently there have been pushes for the Yankees of 1939 and of 1998. Might I suggest there is another contender; the 1930s Pittsburgh Crawfords of the Negro National League. They may not have been the greatest team ever, but they were close.

In 1931, Gus Greenlee purchased the Crawfords, named for a prominent black grill in Pittsburgh. He set out to make it the premier black ballclub in the United States. To do that he needed to do a couple of things. He managed to get a handful of other owners to join in reestablishing the Negro National League. This gave his team a place to play with a certain amount of guaranteed gates and a way to showcase his team in other locations outside western Pennsylvania. Of course, he also needed players. Between 1932 and 1936 he put together a powerhouse that may have been the greatest concentration of players ever.

He picked up Oscar Charleston first. Charleston was toward the end of his career and had moved from the outfield to first base. He could still play and he could still hit but Greenlee wanted him to be his player/manager. It was a good choice. Charleston was well liked and well respected by the team.

The rest of the infield consisted of Dick Seay at second, Chester Williams at short, and Judy Johnson at third. Johnson was the star. He played an excellent third base, hit for good average, had speed, and was supposed to be a good clubhouse man. Williams could hit pretty well, but had no power. He was good in the field and was considered the premier fielding shortstop of his day. Seay hit eighth for a reason. As a second baseman he was terrific, but didn’t do much with the bat. 

The four primary outfielders were Cool Papa Bell in center with Jim Crutchfield, Sam Bankhead, and Rap Dixon flanking him at various times. Bell led off and was noted for his speed and bat control. In the field he was fast enough to cut down shots into the gaps and had a decent arm. Crutchfield, Bankhead, and Dixon were a step down from Bell, but could all contribute with both the bat and the glove.

Josh Gibson was the catcher. He is almost universally conceded to be the finest player in Negro Leagues history. Some baseball historians contend he was the best catcher to ever play, regardless of race. His power was legendary, the stories mythic. He is in many ways the Negro Leagues equivalent of Babe Ruth, not just in playing ability, but also in the level of myth surrounding him. He gets credit for 800 or more home runs, but less than 200 can be documented, so nobody knows how many he hit, but apparently it was a lot.

The pitching staff could stand up to most teams in any league. Led by Satchel Paige, Gibson’s only rival for the title of most famous Negro Leaguer, the team also consisted of Double Duty Radcliffe, William Bell, and lefty LeRoy Matlock. Paige was a legend in the era. He was supposed to have the best fastball of the age and could make a baseball do whatever he wanted. There are stories of him sending his fielders to the bench so he could strikeout the side without being distracted (the same sort of stories also exist about Dizzy Dean, among others). Radcliffe was known for pitching one end of a double header then turning around and catching the other game. Matlock became famous for stringing together 18 consecutive wins in 1935.

The 1934-1936 Crawfords are the specific teams that get consideration as the finest Negro League team. They won the pennant in 1934 and 1935. In 1936 there was a dispute with the Washington Elite Giants over the pennant winner. A seven game series to determine the champion was suggested, but cancelled after only one game, which the Elite Giants won.

By 1937 the team was getting old. A number of players like Paige, Gibson, and Bell went to Latin America to play for more money. By 1939 the team was in such bad shape both economically and in talent that Greenlee sold the team, which was moved to Toledo.

For a few years the Crawfords dominated Negro League baseball. Their players produced 5 Hall of Famers in Gibson, Paige, Bell, Charleston, and Johnson and a number of other players who were much more than role players. they fell prey to the economics of the era and of Negro League baseball in general, but are still remembered as a premier franchise in black baseball.

Negro Leagues World Series, Round I

February 8, 2010

With the 1920’s black baseball began coalescing into more organized leagues playing something like coherent schedules. There was still a lot of barnstorming and such, but league play became more central to the teams. Rube Foster’s Negro National League held primacy of place as the first and finest of these leagues. The Eastern Colored League rapidly became an equal and by 1924 the two leagues were rival enough to decide on a series of postseason games that came to be called the Negro Leagues World Series.

The World Series lasted four years before the Eastern Colored League got into deep financial trouble. Like troubles hit the National League and the Series stopped after 1927. Each Series was a best of nine format, only the first going the full nine (actually it went 10, there was a tie). The National League dominated the competition, winning three of the four, but only the one win by the Eastern Colored League team was a blowout. Below are brief looks at each Series:
1924:  Kansas City Monachs  (NNL) vs Hilldale Daisies (ECL) won by the Monarchs 5 games to 4. Key Monarchs players included Newt Allen at 2nd, Dewey Creasy at 3rd, Heavy Johnson in the outfield, and pitchers Bullet Rogan and Luis Mendez who also managed the team. The Daisies featured Tank Carr at 1st, Biz Mackey at both short and behind the plate, Judy Johnson at 3rd, Lois Santop behind the plate when Mackey was at short, and southpaw pitcher Nip Winters. With the Daisies ahead in the series 4 games to three, Santop muffed a foul in the last inning of the the game. The Monarchs turned the error into the decisive run and won the series the next game.

1925:  A rematch of the last series. This time the Daisies won the Series 5 games to 1.  Winters pitched well, Mackey moved behind the plate where he became a Hall of  Fame catcher (an aging Santop backing him up and doing most of the pinch hitting).

1926:  The National League’s Chicago American Giants (Foster’s old team) beat the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants 5 games to 3. The American Giants featured player/manager Dave Malarcher at 3rd, Jelly Gardner in the outfield, and Rube Foster’s brother Bill pitching. The Bacharach Giants countered with Dick Lundy at short, Oliver Marcelle at 3rd, and pitchers Luther Ferrell and Claude Grier, both of which tossed no hitters in a losing cause.

1927:  The same two teams met with the same result, a 5-3 victory for the American Giants.

After the season the World Series was discontinued for 13 years, but a number of great players (Santop, Mackey, Rogan, Mendez, Bill Foster) managed to eventually reach the Hall of Fame. So did Rube Foster, founder of the National League. The new Series would feature a revived National League and a brand new league, the Negro American League.