More Negro League Pitchers

This post further details pitchers of the Negro Leagues who have not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Jess “The Mountain” Hubbard was a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Royal Giants in the years after World War I.  A light-complected half-Indian, Hubbard once pitched in the Giants farm system but never made it to the Majors because of his half-black heritage.  Hubbard instead joined the Negro Leagues and made a name for himself as a stellar pitcher.  Like Orlando Hernandez of modern times, Jess liked to keep batters off-balance by throwing from a number of different arm angles.

Although Terris McDuffie was a solid pitcher in the Negro Leagues throughout the 1930s, he is best remembered as Effa Manley’s man-on-the-side.  Abe Manley was technically the owner but Effa took a greater interest in the team and a much greater interest in McDuffie, an illiterate man who hid this fact to the public.  The flamboyant right-hander won 19 games for Manley’s club in 1936 but when Abe found out about his wife’s affair with Terris, Abe traded the pretty boy to the New York Black Yankees for two bats and some worn-out gear. 

Connie Rector was a Texan but found New York to his liking.  He spent the bulk of his career bouncing around New York based teams because he couldn’t get enough of the Big Apple nightlife.  Not an overpowering pitcher, Rector possessed terrific control and his best offering was his change of pace.  Connie had a 20-win season with the Lincoln Giants in 1929 and once pitched in perhaps the greatest rotation in black baseball history with Smoky Joe Williams and Cannonball Dick Redding.  Rector, of course, was the number three hurler in that trio.

Sam Streeter was a little southpaw from Alabama who started the first ever Negro League All-Star Game.  A master of the spitball, Streeter pitched with the Pittsburgh Crawfords during the 1930s and was regarded as their staff ace until they signed Satchel Paige.  Sam was also a solid hitter who often hit above .300.

In a career in the Negro Leagues that spanned 24 years, Chet Brewer was a solid pitcher who spent the bulk of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs.  Although Brewer possessed a decent fastball he is regarded as more of a finesse pitcher.  Chet threw an assortment of pitches, some illegal in the Majors, to make him a winning pitcher,  With the Monarchs in 1926, Chet is credited with 20 wins against all levels of competition.  Brewer was a bit of a rambler and is sometimes listed as the first black American to have pitched in Mexico.  Chet also pitched in the Orient as well as Panama and other locales.

A star pitcher for the Hilldale Club of the 1920s, Phil Cockrell mixed in a spitball to go with his above average fast one.  He helped Hilldale capture three straight pennants from 1923 through 1925 and is credited with records of 10-1 and 14-2 in the latter two pennant-winning seasons.  Nicknamed “Fish,” Cockrell won the deciding game in the 1925 Negro League World Series.  After his playing days he became an umpire.

John Donaldson, was a legend during the Deadball Era who excelled after World War I with the Kansas City Monarchs.  The flame-throwing southpaw would be a sure bet for the Hall of Fame had he pitched in the east rather than out west.  A star with J.L. Wilkinson’s All Nations team from 1913 to 1917, the club typically played teams of very low caliber and Donaldson often mowed them away with little effort.  After his stint in the military during World War I, Donaldson finally ventured out east and pitched briefly in Brooklyn and Indianapolis before settling in with Wilkinson’s Kansas City Monarchs.  Born in Glasgow, Missouri, Donaldson has the stigma of being a barnstorming pitcher and not a legitimate Negro League hurler.  Be that as it may, Wilkinson often referred to Donaldson as the greatest pitcher he had ever seen, and he once owned Satchel Paige.  Giants skipper John McGraw once stated that he would have paid the princely sum of $50,000 for Donaldson had he been white.

Holsey Scranton Scriptus “Scrip” Lee was a submarine pitcher who excelled for the Hilldale Club of the 1920s.  Scrip is credited with 24 wins in 1923 and he pitched Hilldale to a championship over the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1925 World Series, taking their revenge for having been beaten by the same outfit the year prior.  Lee was a curveball pitcher first and foremost, and given his submarine delivery, made his breaking pitches hard to pick up for batters.  A former Army man, Lee served in the military before WWI under General Pershing.

Southpaw Dan McClellan is credited with throwing the first perfect game in Negro League history when he accomplished the feat in 1903 with the Cuban X-Giants.  He later joined the Philadelphia Giants where he had his greatest success in a rotation with Hall of Famer Rube Foster.  Although he lacked a good fastball, Dan kept batters off-balance with his solid assortment of off speed pitches.

Cannonball Dick Redding is arguably the greatest pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.  One of the top pitchers during the Deadball Era and on through the 1920s, Redding was a hard worker and tough competitor which, with his blazing fastball, made him an instant star.  Dick never worked out of the windup–he just slung his heat by dazed batters.  Over the course of his career, Cannonball is credited with an unheard of total of 30 no-hitters.  He had all the attributes of Washington Senators legend Walter Johnson, who was without a peer in the Majors.  Dick, however, had a peer in Smokey Joe Williams who he often pitched with in the same rotation.  Many observers couldn’t tell who was the better pitcher.  They were generally regarded as both great pitchers.  A big, good-natured man, Redding saw combat action during World War I and used his military leadership skills in baseball as a respected veteran and later manager.

 image of Cannonball Dick Redding

Considered the ace of the Hilldale Club during their powerhouse years of the 1920s, Nip Winters was a large southpaw with good speed and a solid curve.  Although wild at times, Nip was effectively wild, keeping batters on guard.  He is credited with a 32-6 record in 1923 and tossed a no-hitter in 1924.  In that season’s World Series, against the Monarchs of Kansas City, Nip posted a 1.16 ERA.  But Nip was an excessive drinker and many on the Hilldale Club complained of his lazy, careless style of play.  He was traded to the Lincoln Giants but his career fizzled out quickly.

Like Schoolboy Rowe of the Major Leagues, Laymon Yokely was an easy-going man with great pitching skills who was a solid gate attraction.  Like Rowe, Yokely was overworked due to his fan appeal and his arm went south mid-career.  Also like the Schoolboy, Yokely made a valiant comeback after his initial success with the Black Sox.  Yokely, who was nicknamed “Corner Pocket,” was credited with six no-hitters before his arm troubles.  Afterwards he rebounded after a few seasons with lesser teams to win 25 games with the Philadelphia Stars in 1939.

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