Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

REMEMBERING THE NEGRO LEAGUES

The other sluggers

A sampling of some of the top power hitters from black baseball:

July 23, 2006|VAN NIGHTINGALE

* Grant "Home Run" Johnson: He got his nickname after hitting 60 home runs for a semipro team in Findlay, Ohio, but like his major league counterpart -- Frank "Home Run" Baker -- Johnson's home runs as a professional were more timely than numerous. A shortstop who played for more than a dozen teams, he was considered one of the top players of his era, the late 19th and early 20th century.

* Louis Santop: They didn't call the 6-foot-4, 240-pound catcher "Big Bertha" for nothing. Playing for Eastern powers Hilldale, the Lincoln Giants and the Brooklyn Royal Giants early in the 20th century, he left a legacy of tape-measure shots. Famed columnist Red Smith once wrote that Santop was "one of the greatest hitters, black or white, of all time."

* Wilbur "Bullet Joe" Rogan: He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 ... as a pitcher. But like Babe Ruth, he excelled at bat as well as on the mound. In 1922, he led the Negro National League with 20 victories, and was second in home runs with 18. His 62 league home runs rank 14th on the all-time list.

* Oscar Charleston: In a 27-year career, Charleston did it all, dominating with speed and power, as well as being considered the Negro leagues' finest center fielder. He led leagues in both the East and West in home runs four times, and was fourth all-time with 169 home runs in league play.

* Willie Wells: Considered the Negro leagues' finest shortstop in the 1930s and '40s, Wells had surprising power for a middle infielder. His 27 home runs for St. Louis tied the single-season record, and his 138 league home runs in his career are fifth-best.

* Norman "Turkey" Stearnes: James "Cool Papa" Bell, himself a Hall of Fame outfielder, once called Stearnes "the greatest ballplayer I ever saw," and they might well agree in Detroit, where he played his best years with the Stars. A four-time home run champion in the Negro National League, he finished third on the all-time list with 197 league home runs.

* Willard "Home Run" Brown: A star in two lands, Brown was the leading Negro leagues power hitter for the Kansas City Monarchs, leading them to pennants in five of six years from 1937 to '42. In Puerto Rico, he was known as "Esse Hombre" -- "The Man" -- after winning three home run titles in the winter leagues, with an all-time best of 27 in 1947-48.

*

Sources: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, Blackball Stars, Cool Papas and Double Duties, The Negro Leagues Book.

*

VAN NIGHTINGALE Los Angeles Times

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The leaders

Home run leaders of the major Negro leagues:

*--* NEGRO NATIONAL LEAGUE (1st) 1920 Edgar Wesley, Detroit...13 1921 Oscar Charleston, St. Louis...17 1922 Oscar Charleston, St. Louis...20 1923 Oscar Johnson, Kansas City...20 1924 Norman Stearnes, Detroit...10 Dobie Moore, Kansas City...10 1925 Norman Stearnes, Detroit...18 Edgar Wesley, Detroit...18 1926 George Suttles, St. Louis...27 1927 Willie Wells, St. Louis...23 1928 Norman Stearnes, Detroit...24 1929 Willie Wells, St. Louis...27 1930 Willie Wells, St. Louis...15 1931 Norman Stearnes, Detroit/KC...11

*--*

*--* NEGRO NATIONAL LEAGUE (2nd) 1933 Josh Gibson, Pittsburgh...23 1934 Josh Gibson, Pittsburgh...16 1935 Josh Gibson, Pittsburgh...16 1936 Norman Stearnes, Philadelphia...17 1937 Josh Gibson, Homestead...21 1938 George Suttles, Newark...14 1939 Josh Gibson, Homestead...17 1940 Buck Leonard, Homestead...11 1941 Monte Irvin, Newark...9 Buck Leonard, Homestead...9 1942 Josh Gibson, Homestead...14 1943 Josh Gibson, Homestead...22 1944 Josh Gibson, Homestead...17 1945 Josh Gibson, Homestead...11 1946 Josh Gibson, Homestead...17 1947 Larry Doby, Newark...14 Monte Irvin, Newark...14 1948 Buck Leonard, Homestead...18

*--*

*--* NEGRO AMERICAN LEAGUE 1937 Willard Brown, Kansas City...9 1938 Willard Brown, Kansas City...6 1939 Eldridge Mayweather, St. Louis...3 1940 Dan Reeves, Chicago...7 1941 Willard Brown, Kansas City...2 1942 Willard Brown, Kansas City...9 1943 Willard Brown, Kansas City...6 1944 Tommy Sampson, Birmingham...7 1945 Alec Radcliffe, Chicago...7 1946 Willard Brown, Kansas City...13 1947 Bob Boyd, Memphis...4 1948 Willard Brown, Kansas City...18

*--*

*--* EASTERN COLORED LEAGUE 1923 Charlie Mason, Atlantic City...12 1924 Oscar Charleston, Harrisburg...9 1925 John Beckwith, Baltimore...24 1926 Martin Dihigo, Cuban Stars...12 Clint Thomas, Hilldale/Atl. City...12 1927 Oscar Charleston, Harrisburg...12 1928 George Carr, Atl. City/Hilldale...14

*--*

Note: Teams affiliated with the various Negro League played unbalanced schedules, with the average number of games fluctuating significantly season to season. In most seasons, the league average was roughly half the length of a major league season, but it was sometimes much less.

*

Source: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues

*

Bound for Cooperstown

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|