The Loss of Ted Kimbro

Ted Kimbro (from Agatetype)

In 1914, Europe exploded into World War I. It was “The War to End All Wars,” the war to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” It give us such wonderful terms as “mustard gas” and “flamethrowers.” It was a catastrophe that engulfed the United States in 1917. And as with everything else it engulfed, the Negro Leagues suffered also.

Ted Kimbro out of St. Louis, Missouri was an up and coming infielder in the Negro Leagues. Most of his career was with the St. Louis Giants, his hometown team, and later the New York Lincoln Giants. At 19 he was with the West Braden Sprudels, a team in Indiana named for a type of bottled water. He, initially, was a shortstop, but spent most of his career at second and third. What stats are available show him a better second baseman than a third baseman. Over the years his average crept up to peak at .352 in 1917. He was, everyone hoped, a coming star.

What was coming was the First World War. Kimbro was drafted in July 1918, sent for training to Fort Dix, New Jersey. He teamed with Pearl Webster, a catcher, to help make a quality black team at the base. Training over, Webster went to France and an early grave (from flu), while Kimbro stayed on in New Jersey for a short while.

If the war was a problem in 1918, an equally awful issue was the spread of the Influenza Pandemic that shot around the world, aided, most historians agree, by the dislocation of peoples caused by the war, and throwing together infected people with others who ended up catching the disease also. Kimbro was one of those. He developed bronchial pneumonia, one of the things influenza did to people, and died at Fort Dix 29 September, 1918, another casualty of the War to End All Wars.

How good was Kimbro? We’ll never know. He was 23 when he died and just moving into the best parts of his career. Seamheads has a stats page on him and part of it extrapolates his numbers out to a 162 game schedule. For Kimbro they show 90 runs scored, 32 stolen bases a season and a triple slash line of .283/,351/.387/.738 with an OPS+ of 118 and an average of just over 4 WAR (which is based on a total of 104 documented games).



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4 Responses to “The Loss of Ted Kimbro”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    It’s so screws up that blacks served their country. Then they came home and got treated like crap. So hypocricial. It kind of reminds me of that song “Eve of Destruction”—– “Hate your neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace.

    Are you still going to write about the New York Black Yankees?

  2. glenrussellslater Says:

    I left a comment before and it was under consideration to be printed but it’s disappeared. Well, anyway, good series, V, and are you still going to write one on the New York Black Yankees?


  3. wkkortas Says:

    The “Spanish Flu” killed more people than all the bayonets and Big Berthas combined, and I’m not sure what that all means.

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