Posts Tagged ‘Oliver Marcell’

Chicago Leads the Way

February 14, 2019

Willie Foster, 1927

When the Negro National League was formed in 1920, the Chicago American Giants were the top of the league. They remained there a few years before being bested by J.L. Wilkinson’s Kansas City Monarchs. It took a while for the American Giants to return to the top of the league. By that time a new league, the Eastern Colored League had formed and the two leagues were involved in the first version of the Negro World Series (there was a new version beginning in the 1940s). In 1926 and 1927 the American Giants squared off against the ECL winner, the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants for the Negro League championship.

With Dave Malarcher, third baseman, as manager, the American Giants fielded a team dominated by pitching. Hall of Famer Willie Foster, Rube Foster’s brother, as the primary lefty and Willie Powell, Rube Currie, George Harney, and Webster McDonald from the right side, the staff was deeper than most Negro League teams. The infield had Charlie Williams at second, Malarcher at third, and Pythias Russ at short. The big guns in the outfield were Steel Arm (Walter) Davis and George Sweatt.

The Dick Lundy managed Bacharachs had Oliver Marcell at third and Lundy at short, with Chancy White and Ambrose Reid in the outfield. Luther Farrell and Hubert Lockhart were the two main pitchers. Both were lefties.

There’s not a lot of play-by-play available, but it was a streaky series. The American Giants won the best of nine 5 games to 3 with games being played in both Atlantic City, and Chicago. I mention that because frequently the Negro World Series did a barnstorming tour playing games in several cities. The series produced a tie. Chicago won the first four games, all in Chicago With scores of 6-2, 11-1, 7-0, and 9-1 none of the games were close. Then the Bacharachs won game five 3-2. The tie was game six. Games seven and eight saw Atlantic City tighten the series with 8-1 and 6-5 victories. In game nine, Chicago won 11-4 to finish out the series and claim their second straight championship.

It was the end of the road for the first version of the Negro World Series. The ECL folded in 1928 and the NNL followed in 1930. I’ve been looking for the winners and losers shares for the series and couldn’t find them. If you do, let me know.

The Bacharachs

February 19, 2015
Bacharach Giants Logo

Bacharach Giants Logo

If you ask most people to name a Negro League team, odds are you’ll get the Monarchs or the Grays or the Crawfords. A few might know the American Giants or the Eagles. One of the better teams that’s mostly unknown today was the Bacharach Giants.

Originally the Duval Giants of Jacksonville, Florida, the Giants’ owners Henry Tucker and Tom Jackson moved the team to Atlantic City in 1916. Atlantic City mayor Harry Bacharach (who is a character on television’s “Boardwalk Empire”)  was looking for ways to improve the city economy and Tucker and Jackson agreed to move the team. In honor of the mayor, the team was renamed the Bacharach Giants, a name it kept until its demise. As far as I can tell, Bacharach never owned any part of the team but was supportive of them. They made money initially, but by 1918 were in trouble as World War I took away fans and money.

In 1919 they relocated to New York becoming the New York Bacharach Giants. By then they were so well-known as “Bacharach Giants” that they retained the team nickname despite have left both New Jersey and Harry Bacharach. They did poorly in New York and by 1922 were back in Atlantic City (and the name stayed around despite Bacharach no longer being mayor). They became associated members of the Negro National League, meaning that they could play sanctioned games against the NNL teams, but were not eligible for the pennant. This worked well by allowing the Bacharach Giants to both play the premier teams of the era but to also barnstorm around the East Coast making money.

In 1923 the Eastern Colored League was formed with the Bacharach Giants as a charter member. They finished fourth in both 1923 and 1924. Finishing fourth again in 1925 led to major overhaul of the team. Manager John Henry Lloyd was traded and shortstop Dick Lundy took over the team. A line up featuring Oliver Marcell at third, Red Ferrell in the outfield, and pitchers Arthur “Rats” Henderson, and Red Grier led the Bacharachs to the ECL title in 1926.

After two successful Colored World Series (renamed Negro World Series in 1942) matchups, the NNL and ECL hosted a best of nine series in 1926. The Bacharachs faced the Chicago American Giants (Rube Foster’s old team). The Series last 11 games (two ties) and Grier, in game three, tossed the first no-hitter in postseason play, but the American Giants won game 11 by a run. It was Grier’s second no-hitter of the season (the other against the Elite Giants).

The Bacharach Giants repeated as ECL champs again in 1927 and again faced the American Giants in the postseason series. This time they lost in eight games, but again a Bacharach pitcher, this time Ferrell (who now pitched more than he played the outfield), tossed a no-hitter. In 1928 they were in second when the ECL folded due to financial difficulties.

In 1929 a number of Eastern clubs formed the American Negro League. It lasted one season and the Bacharachs again became a barnstorming independent team. By 1930 they were in deep trouble and there is debate about what happened next. One source says they folded, another that they were sold. Either way the team resurfaced in Philadelphia in 1931. Still called the Bacharach Giants they remained independent until 1934 when they joined the newly revived Negro National League. They stayed two seasons then returned to independent play. They hung on into 1942 when they finally disbanded.

Over the life of the team some truly great players wandered through the Bacharachs. Hall of Famer John Henry Lloyd played short and managed the team. Dick Lundy and Oliver Marcell spent most of the 1920s in Atlantic City (and both have solid cases to join the Hall of Fame).  “Cannonball” Dick Redding pitched for them before they joined the Eastern Colored League.

For a very short time the Bacharach’s were a top-notch Negro League team. They produced great players, but were never able to stand at the top of the Negro Leagues. They are, in short, a fairly typical Negro League team.