Posts Tagged ‘Willie Foster’

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 First Negro League All-Star Game

February 18, 2013
Steel Arm Davis

Steel Arm Davis

In an earlier previous post I remarked on the formation and history of the East-West All-Star Game. As with most all-star games some of them are very good and others stink up the place. For my money one of the very best East-West games was the first one in 1933.

Held on 10 September in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, the game consisted of two fan chosen teams that cut across league lines to create two geographically chosen teams. The East starting team had an infield (from first to third) of: Oscar Charleston (Crawfords), John Henry Russell (Crawfords), Dick Lundy (Stars), and Jud Wilson (Stars). The outfield was from left to right: Vic Harris (Crawfords), Cool Papa Bell (Crawfords), and Rap Dixon (Stars). The battery had Biz Mackey (Stars) catching, and Sam Streeter (Crawfords) pitching. The bench consisted of eight players (a few of them not from either the Crawfords or the Stars) including future Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Andy Cooper, Judy Johnson and catcher Josh Gibson.

The West team was equally stellar. The infield (again first to third) was Mule Suttles (American Giants), LeRoy Morney (Buckeyes), Willie Wells (American Giants), and Alex Radcliffe (American Giants). From left to right the outfield was Steel Arm Davis (American Giants), Turkey Stearnes (American Giants), and Sam Bankhead (Elite Giants). The battery consisted of  catcher Willie Brown and pitcher Willie Foster (both of the American Giants). The bench comprised seven players (most from either the Nashville Elite Giants or the Kansas City Monarchs) with Newt Allen being the most noted. The West team did not substitute during the game (the only time that occured in the East-West Game), so the subs got the day off.

Steel Arm Davis recorded the first out on a fly from Cool Papa Bell and the East went in order in the first. In the top of the second, Jud Wilson singled to record the first hit, but did not score. The game remained scoreless into the bottom of the third when Sam Bankhead singled, went to second on an out and scored on Turkey Stearnes’ single. The fourth inning saw six runs scored, three by each team. The botom of the third included a two-run home run by Mule Suttles, the first homer in East-West history. The East got two more in the fifth on a single, a hit bastsman, another single, and Wilson’s two run single. That put the East up 5-4. It was their last lead.

The West took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth on two singles sandwiched around consecutive doubles. They picked up three more in the seventh and a final run in the eighth. By the top of the ninth, the East led 11-5 and were coasting. A single, an error, and two sacrifice flies brought the game to 11-7 with Josh Gibson coming up. He hit a long fly to end the game.

The big heroes were Foster, who pitched the only complete game in East-West history, and Suttles who was two for four with three RBIs, two runs scored, a double, and a home run. More than that, the game was a huge success among fans. It made it certain that the game would be continued.