The only player selected by the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues in 2006 to play in the major leagues, Willard Brown‘s short tenure with the St. Louis Browns was less than impressive. But it was not his time with the Browns that earned him a spot among baseball’s immortals; rather, his excellence with the Kansas City Monarchs ensured his election. He was a speedy outfielder with a powerful bat, who could lead the league in home runs and “steal second base standing up,” according to Buck O’Neil. He served in the United States Army during World War II in 1944-1945. In 1947, Brown became the first black ballplayer to hit a home run in the American League.
That wraps up the posting for today…18 new Hall of Famers in 2006. Wow.
Sol White was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an executive, though he was much more. He was one of the pioneers of the pre-Negro Leagues, and in 1907, he authored “History of Colored Baseball.”
Ray Brown was included in a 1938 Pittsburgh Courier list of names of Negro Leaguers who could play in the majors, talent-wise, if there were no restrictions against black players. His career won-lost record in the Negro Leagues was 105-44.
Mule Suttles was long overlooked due to his quiet personality, but he could hit the ball just as well as other superstars in the Negro Leagues. He batted .325 but was also known for his power; Suttles hit the first-ever home run in the East-West Classic All-Star Game in 1933. Teammate Red Moore said, “He was kind of a genteel person. He was friendly, but when he was on the field he went to play. He was all business.”
The first woman inducted in the Hall of Fame, Effa Manley‘s Newark Eagles won the Negro League World Series in 1946. Among her accomplishments, Manley fought for compensation from the major leagues when they would sign a Negro Leaguer to a big league contract.
It seems ironic to me that the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues would induct a white man, but as the founder of one of the greatest Negro League franchises, the Kansas City Monarchs, it is difficult to deny JL Wilkinson his place among baseball immortals.
Louis Santop was one of the first slugging superstars of the Negro Leagues, hitting rockets during the deadball era and often batting in the high .300s and low .400s. According to Wikipedia, his lifetime average was .406, and in 14 exhibition games against major league pitchers, he batted .296.
A short, stocky player, Jud Wilson was one of the best hitters in Negro League history. Though the statistics are sparse, his career average is believed to be over .350 in the Negro Leagues and .370 in the winter leagues. He also served the country in World War One and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.