1. Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was born in July 1917 in Piper, Alabama. Piper was a newly formed coal company town several miles south and west of Birmingham. The mines closed in the 1950s and the town no longer exits. Obviously, it gave Davis his nickname.
2. His first professional baseball experience was in 1936 playing with the Omaha, Nebraska Tigers. He was primarily a second baseman, but did some work at first.
3. After several years in professional baseball (minor league variety), he made the Negro Major Leagues in 1942 with the Birmingham Black Barons. During his days in Birmingham he played shortstop, second base, and first base.
4. In 1943 he hit .386. The sources vary on Negro League stats. In this case I gave the highest average I could find. Other sources have him bat as low as .173 (see what I mean about Negro League stats). Whatever he hit, he helped lead Birmingham to its first Negro American League pennant. They lost the Negro World Series to the Homestead Grays.
5. Birmingham repeated in 1944 and again lost the Negro World Series. Davis had a bad year with the bat, but was still considered a superior second baseman.
6. Between 1946 and 1949 inclusive, Davis made the East-West All Star Game each season. The East-West game was the Negro Leagues version of Major League Baseball’s All Star Game.
7. In 1948 he became player-manager of the Black Barons and led them to the last Negro World Series. Again they played Homestead, and again they lost.
8. Willie Mays joined the Black Barons in 1948, thus making Davis his first professional manager.
9. In 1947 he was optioned to the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles) as one of the first black players acquired by the organization. A dispute over whether he needed minor league experience or was ready to play for the Browns immediately led to the Browns not exercising their option.
10. In 1950 he became the first black ballplayer signed by the Boston Red Sox. He was 33.
11. He bounced around the Boston minor league system and never made the Major Leagues. He retired in 1958.
12. Between 1968 and 1985 he did scout work for the Tigers, the Cardinals, and the Expos.
13. Piper Davis died in 1997.
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