Thursday, December 29, 2005


The Harrisburg Giants 2006-I season is almost ready to get underway with the St. Louis Stars invading West End Grounds next week. The Giants goal is to improve upon their 2005-II record of 79-75. To do so they have bolstered their lineup with the addition of two 19th century greats – Frank Grant and Clarence Williams. Last year’s Achilles heel – pitching – appears to be no less of a problem this year as observers of Giants training sessions report both Geechie Corbett and Daltie Cooper appearing to be a little off last year’s form.


Here is the expected opening day lineup including last year’s unofficial averages:


Fats Jenkins, LF                        .309      Fats is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame being considered on 2/28/06

Rap Dixon, RF                          .306      Rap is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame being considered on 2/28/06

Oscar Charleston, CF/mgr         .343      Oscar was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1976

John Beckwith, 3B                    .292      John is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame being considered on 2/28/06

Rev Cannady, SS                      .283      Rev was considered for Hall, 2005

Ben Taylor, 1B                          .250      Ben is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame being considered on 2/28/06

Frank Grant, 2B                        DNP    Frank is on the ballot for the Hall of Fame being considered on 2/28/06

Clarence Williams, C                 DNP    Waxey was considered for Hall, 2005

Geechie Corbett                        20-4


On the bench will be Hall of Fame candidate Spottswood Poles and two others given consideration for the Hall in Heavy Johnson and Nat Rogers. In addition, there are eight other all-star caliber players on the roster. The strength of the team will remain offense, outfield, and baseball acumen. Based on their strengths, the Harrisburg Giants were the highest paid team in all of blackball in 1927.

Friday, December 02, 2005


79-75 … how could the Harrisburg Giants, who you likely never heard of, have a 79-75 record against a schedule made up the Murderer’s Row Yankees, the Gas House Gang, the World Champion Boston Red Sox, Koufax & Drysdale’s Dodgers, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, Lou Gehrig & on and on.

Because they were a pretty good team in their own right. The National Baseball Hall of Fame is currently considering inducting additional Negro League players into the Hall of Fame. Currently, there are 18 Negro League players in the Hall plus Robinson, Campanella, Banks, Mays, Aaron & Doby for a total of 24. Now an additional 94 were given consideration and 39 remain so on a ballot to be voted on in late February. Of these, 118 greatest Negro League players (24 in the Hall and 94 considered), 11 played for Harrisburg or the Harrisburg Giants. They are listed below:

Oscar Charleston Harrisburg Giants 1924-27 Hall of Fame, 1976 (i.e the best)
Ben Taylor Harrisburg Giants 1925 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
John Beckwith Harrisburg Giants 1926-27 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Frank Grant Harrisburg Ponies 1890 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Sol White Monarchs 1889, Harrisburg early 1891 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Rap Dixon Harrisburg Giants 1922-28 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Fats Jenkins Harrisburg Giants 1923-28 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Spot Poles Harrisburg Colored Giants 1906-08 on ballot (i.e. among 63 best)
Heavy Johnson Harrisburg Giants 1924, ‘27 considered (i.e. among best 118)
Nat Rogers Harrisburg Giants 1924-25 considered (i.e. among best 118)
Rev Cannady Harrisburg Giants 1925-27 considered (i.e. among best 118)
Clarence Williams Harrisburg Ponies 1890 considered (i.e. among best 118)

Thus, according to the Hall of Fame … 9% of the 118 greatest Negro League players of all-time … played on the Harrisburg Giants … hence their rather stellar 79-75 record.

Monday, November 28, 2005

2006 Will Be A great Year For Negro League Baseball


February 28 Hall of Fame Announcement Cooperstown
May 5 Pennsylvania Conference on Black History Harrisburg
May 5 Negro League Tribute Night Harrisburg
July 7 9th Jerry Malloy Negro League Research Conference Kansas City
July 28 HOF Induction Cooperstown
August 1 Negro League Tribute Night Lancaster
August 19 Judy Johnson Night Wilmington

To Blog Or Not To Blog

I’ve been noticing the short comings of this media … it is clear to me that what I need is a website and not a blog … the blog style lends itself to perhaps the daily update of the simulated season but as far as posting static information the website is much more preferable … and it costs accordingly. I want to a web designer today to discuss my website … and found it would cost $2500 plus a hosting fee. Accordingly, despite its shortcomings … a blog it is.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Hall of Fame Press Release of 11/21/05

A five-member screening committee of Negro league baseball historians, appointed by the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors, has selected a slate of Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues candidates for consideration for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A 12-member voting committee will meet in Tampa on February 27, 2006, to vote on the 39 candidacies, with any electees to emerge to be enshrined in Cooperstown, July 30, 2006, as part of the annual Hall of Fame Weekend ceremonies.

"The screening committee did a great job of handling the first step of narrowing the list of candidates to those who should be seriously considered for election to the Hall of Fame," said Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey.

The five-member screening committee, including Adrian Burgos, Dick Clark, Larry Hogan, Larry Lester and Jim Overmyer, was appointed by the Board of Directors in July, because of their deep knowledge of the subject matter. The committee developed the two ballots, utilizing the statistics and narrative from a landmark study commissioned by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, funded by Major League Baseball, and completed in 2005. The ballots:

Negro Leagues Ballot
Allen, Newt
Hughes, Sammy T.
Parnell, Red
Beckwith, John
Jenkins, Fats
Pompez, Alex
Bell, William
Lundy, Dick
Posey, Cum
Brewer, Chet
Mackey, Biz
Scales, George
Brown, Ray
Manley, Effa
Suttles, Mule
Brown, Willard
Marcell, Oliver
Taylor, Candy Jim
Byrd, Bill
Minoso, Minnie
Taylor, CI
Cooper, Andy
Moore, Dobie
Torriente, Cristobal
Dixon, Rap
Oms , Alejandro
Wilkinson, J.L.
Donaldson, John
O’Neil, Buck
Wilson, Jud

Pre-Negro Leagues Ballot
Grant, Frank
Hill, Pete
Johnson, Home Run
Mendez, José
Poles, Spot
Redding, Cannonball Dick
Santop, Louis
Taylor, Ben
White, Sol

The screening committee was chaired by Fay Vincent, Major League Baseball's eighth commissioner and an Honorary Director of the Hall of Fame. Vincent, the non-voting chairman, led discussions with committee members.

During two days of deliberations at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, the committee selected 39 candidates for review by the voting committee: 30 on a ballot of former Negro leagues players, managers and executives, and nine on a second ballot of pre-Negro leagues pioneer players and builders. Any candidate to receive votes on 75% of ballots cast will earn election. Every candidate will be voted upon individually.

"I'm very satisfied with the work done by the screening committee," said Vincent. "The committee members had some difficult choices to make, but because they are extremely knowledgeable, had strong research at their disposal and spent a great deal of time reviewing all candidates thoroughly, they did a tremendous job. The final ballots represent players, managers, executives and builders who are top-tier candidates and worthy of review for consideration for election to the Hall of Fame."

Written recommendations from fans, historians and Hall of Fame members were accepted and reviewed by the screening committee. The list was pared down and as a result, the screening committee began with a roster of 94 candidates.

A separate 12-member voting committee, appointed by the Board of Directors and inclusive of the screening committee, will meet February 25-27 to review the final ballots of candidates. After two days of discussion, committee members will cast paper ballots and vote "yes" or "no" for each candidate. Any candidate with "yes" votes on at least 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame. The 12 voting committee members and their areas of expertise in African-American baseball history include:

Todd Bolton, Latin America
Greg Bond, 19th Century
Adrian Burgos, Latin America
Dick Clark, Negro leagues
Ray Doswell, overall knowledge
Leslie Heaphy, Women's History, Negro leagues
Larry Hogan, overall knowledge
Neil Lanctot, Negro leagues eastern teams
Larry Lester, Negro leagues
Sammy Miller, Eastern and Western teams
Jim Overmyer, Eastern teams and 19th century
Robert Peterson, overall knowledge

Any electees to emerge from the two ballots will be inducted along with any candidates to emerge from 2006 BBWAA voting. The BBWAA ballot will be announced next week and results of the voting will be announced January 10.

Major League Baseball provided the Hall of Fame with a $250,000 grant in July 2000 in order to initiate a comprehensive study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. The funds were to allow the Museum to expand the scope and depth of its knowledge and historical collection on this aspect of baseball and American culture.

In February 2001, the Board selected "The Negro Leagues Researchers/Authors Group" research team, led by Dr. Hogan of Union County College (NJ), Dick Clark, and Larry Lester, to conduct the comprehensive study. The three historians led a diverse group of more than 50 other authors, researcher and historians in this first-of-its-kind academic study.

The research resulted in a raw narrative and bibliography of nearly 800 pages and a statistical database, which includes 3,000 day-by-day records, league leaders and all-time leaders. The research was culled from box scores from 128 newspapers of sanctioned league games played from 1920-54.

With the research now complete, the study includes sanctioned league game box scores from almost 100% of games played in the 1920s, in excess of 90% of the box scores from games played in the 1930s and box scores from 50-70% of games played in the 1940s and 50s, during which time the various leagues began to disband and newspapers ceased to report game information. The end result is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics on the Negro leagues that have ever been accumulated.

National Geographic, in conjunction with the Hall of Fame, will published a book called Shades of Glory, in February, using material from the research study. This definitive, detailed, richly illustrated book will not only cover the game as it developed on the field, but it will also provide a review of how baseball played an important role within the black community, particularly during the days of segregation.

The announcement of the ballots is the first public step toward honoring the great African-American players who were denied the opportunity to compete in the major leagues. In April of 2006, the Museum will unveil the new Pride and Passion, an expanded exhibit honoring this aspect of baseball history. By that time, fans will know more about many forgotten ballplayers who are now up for Hall of Fame consideration.

"The election guidelines allow for worthy candidates to have a chance at election in February 2006," Petroskey said, "and this step produced two excellent ballots for the voting committee to consider."

© National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. 25 Main Street • Cooperstown, New York • 13326 • 1-888-HALL-OF-FAME

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fact v Fantasy

As the reader hopefully will notice this blog is based on a real baseball team that existed during the segregated era of baseball however much of it is fantasy based on a recently completed simulated season of 154 games. All of the games were legitimately played, in that they were all games of skill & chance and not scripted, but indeed can be considered in no other category than fantasy.

I want, however, to draw your attention to the link to the Other Harrisburg Giant Blog. Please use it. Unlike this site which is a mix of fact and fantasy that site contains nothing but facts concerning the accomplishments of the Giants during their existence in the Eastern Colored League from 1924 through '27. Do yourself a favor - use that link. Educate yourself!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

2005-II Attendance/Financial Records

FROM: Nat Givens, PR
TO: Interested Fans of the Harrisburg Giants

2005-II Harrisburg Giant Attendance Highlights
Dates Attendance Per Game
Overall 135 250,201 1,853
Island Park 38 75,710 1,992
Cottage Hill 38 63,514 1,671
West End 40 66.954 1,674
Rossmere 19 44,023 2,317

Largest Crowds
11/13/05 Rossmere (’38 Grays) 3,487
07/04/05 Island Park (’27 Yanks) 3,325
11/16/05 West End (’30 Stars) 2,743
07/16/05 Island Park (’10 Lelands) 2,718
10/09/05 Rossmere (’29 Black Sox) 2,711
11/12/05 Cottage Hill (’38 Grays) 2,302

Fiscal Information
Attendance 250,201
Revenues per Attendee $1.60
Revenues $400,322
Salaries (276,000)
Park Rental (Hbg/Stltn) (58,000)
Park Rental (Lancaster) (14,250)
Other (40,032)
PROFIT $12,039

Highest Salaried Players
Oscar Charleston $20,000
Satchel Paige $20,000
John Beckwith $15,000
Ben Taylor $12,000
Rev Cannady $10,000

2005-II Harrisburg Giant Pitching Statistics

Now that the season is over, Nat Givens, Giants PR man, is releasing statistics. Here is the first batch and it is for the pitchers. First, the team's line:

79-75 .513

Charles Geechie Corbett 20-4 3.32 228
Kenneth Ping Gardner 13-11 3.40 223
Daltie Cooper 14-9 2.67 202
Willie Gisentaner 9-14 5.82 201
Cliff Carter 5-14 5.61 152
Mervyn Red Ryan 7-11 4.27 145
Sam Cooper 3-5 4.90 79
Lucas 1-4 5.83 66
Wilbur Pritchett 5-3 5.16 59
Leroy Satchel Paige 2-0 0.47 19
Russ Royster 0-0 4.91 11
Willie Fordham 0-0 8.38 10
Tom Hailey 0-0 8.31 9
Ben Taylor 0-0 6.75 3
79-75 4.27 1407

Season Leaders
Games Lucas, 32
WHIP Corbett, 9.5
Ks Gardner, 82
Saves S. Cooper, 3
CG Corbett, 17
Shutouts Corbett, D. Cooper, 5
Streak L 9 Carter
Streak W 9 Corbett

Single Game Leaders
Longest 13 Gisentaner 7/28, ND, 4-6 ;loss ’04 Red Sox
Most Ks 12 Paige 7/6 v ’27 Yanks, 1-0 win
Perfect Game Corbett, 9/7 v ’06 White Sox (Hitless Wonders), 7-0 win

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Missouri Bound; Cup and Lights Depart Harrisburg

The Saint Louis Stars ended the Harrisburg Giant season in disappointing fashion for the home squad this evening. The visiting Stars defeated the Giants 4-2 behind the stiff when necessary pitching of Ted Trent. The Giants stalwart Geechie Corbett (20-4) took the loss. Spoils for the victors included the handsome loving cup trophy – the Hoverter-Reed Cup which shall reside in St. Louis next season until, hopefully, regained next year by Harrisburg.

Mule Suttles first inning homer opened the scoring and Cool Papa Bell’s 5th inning solo shot ended the Stars scoring. In between J.H. Russell knocked in two with a sacrifice fly and a single.
The Giants scored single runs in the 2nd on a Charleston force-out and 6th on Wise Johnson’s fly ball. Manager Charleston used four pinch hitter’s (O for four) in the last three stanzas’s to try to pry lose a run or two. Charleston himself stranded 6 base runners over the course of the game. Trent yielded 10 hits but clamped down in the clutch.

The temporary lights installed for the series will be returned to the Monarchs in Kansas City. The Giants finish the 2005-II season with a 79-75 record and look forward to improvement next year. The 2006-II season is scheduled to open on January 2, 2006 at the West End Grounds. It is rumored that Babe Ruth and the ’27 Yanks will again provide the opening opposition.

StL .110 110 000 - 4 7 0 W-Trent
Hbg 001 001 000- 2 10 1 L- Corbett 20-4
HR - Suttles, Bell

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Giants Bomb the Bombers, 12-3, Advance to Cup Final

The fabled Bronx Bombers were pounded for the second consecutive day in Harrisburg. After being beaten 9-2 yesterday by the Saint Louis Stars; they fell 12-3 this evening to the home standing and defending Harrisburg Giants. Lefty Gomez started and took the loss while Ping Gardner went the route for his 13th victory of the 2005-II campaign.

After Joe DiMaggio’s first inning homer put the Yanks in front, Rev Cannady put the Giants in front for good with a two run single followed by a Beckwith sacrifice fly. Beckwith’s two run homer in the third capped a second three run rally which the Giants repeated yet another time in the 4th led by five consecutive hits chasing the lefthander. Wise Johnson homered later for the Giants while Tommy Henrich added a too little, too late solo shot in the 9th.

The victory sets up a one game showdown tomorrow between the Giants and the challengers – the St. Louis Stars. Ted Trent will toil for the Stars and 20 game winner Geechie Corbett will hurl for the Giants. Game time is 7 p.m. under the temporary lights at West End Ground.

NY 100 100 001 3 11 2 L-Gomez
Hbg 303 310 20x 12 14 0 W – Gardner 14-11
HR – DiMaggio, Beckwith, Johnson, Henrich

Monday, November 14, 2005

Stars Capture Opener; Play for Cup on Wednesday

The St. Louis Stars crushed the New York Yankees, 9-2, under the temporary lights this evening at West End Grounds in Harrisburg. It was the opener of a three game round robin carried out on three straight nites. The portable lights were loaned to the Harrisburg Giants by J.L. Wilkinson’s Kansas City Monarchs.

The game was a pitching duel between the Star’s Slap Hensley, who yielded just 7 hits (5 over the last three innings) and two solo ninth inning homers to Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig, and the Yanks Red Ruffing who also weakened late and to a larger degree. The Stars scored in the first when Willie Wells doubled and scored on Mule Suttles single. The score held at one until the top of the 8th when Cool Papa Bell tripled in one run and Willie Wells followed with a homer. In the 9th, Dewey Creacy (with a two run homer), Hensley, Bell, and Suttles all knocked in runs. Wells, Suttles, and Creacy had two hits apiece as did Gehrig and Selkirk of the Yanks.

The Stars earned a day off and a chance to win the Hoverter-Reed Cup on Wednesday when they face the Giants. Lefty Gomez will face the Giants and Ping Gardner tomorrow at the Grounds.

St L 100 000 035 9 11 1 W- Hensley
NY 000 000 002 2 7 2 L – Ruffing
HR – Wells, Creacy, DiMaggio, Gehrig

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cup Series Begins Tomorrow

2005-II Hoverter-Reed Cup

Named after Harrisburg's two greatest baseball Mayors, this trophy will go to the team that captures this annual round robin. If no team wins two games the Cup remains in the Giants trophy case. The participants are chosen from the teams that performed best in the
2005-II season versus the Giants. On Monday, November 14th, the St. Louis Stars of 1930 will take on the 1937 New York Yankees with the winner challenging for the Cup on Wednesday evening versus the Giants. The loser will play the Giants on Tuesday.

Here is how the teams qualified based on performance (W-L and scoring margin) during the season:

Major League Negro League
1937 New York Yankees 4-1 +31 1930 Saint Louis Stars 3-0 + 17
1934 Saint Louis Cards 4-1 +6 1945 Cleveland Buckeyes 3-0 + 13
1930 Philadelphia A's 4-1 +5 Washington Potomacs ECL 3-0 + 8

1930 Saint Louis Stars
In 1930, the Stars won both halfs of the NNL season. The Saint Louis Stars won the first half and the Detroit Stars won the second half. The St. Louis version compiled the best overall record (69-24 .742) and beat the Detroit version in a 7 game post season playoff. The Stars were led by MVP Willie Wells, slugger Mule Suttles, versatile Ted Radcliffe, and pitchers Slap Hensley, Ted Trent and Leroy Matlock.

To earn the Cup invite, they swept the Giants three straight in mid-October. After winning two low scoring games (3-0, 2-1) they needed to win by a wide margin the third in order knock the Cleveland Buckeyes out of the Cup spot. The Stars responded with with an 18-5 romp. Double Duty Radcliffe caught the first game of the doubleheader and pitched the second.

Key Stats
Willie Wells .403, 15 HRs, 17 steals in perhaps a Triple Crown season
Cool Papa Bell .362 with 15 steals
Mule Suttles .422, 12 HRs in a limited role having played in both NNL & NAL
Double Duty Radcliffe .293 as a hitter and 9-3 as a hurler
Hensley 18-7
Trent 11-2
Matlock 10-3
Wells, Bell, Suttles, Hensley, Russell were all All Stars
Mgr Johnny Reese

1937 New York Yankees
This team won 102 games in '37 and 409 games during their four year run as World Champs. They finished 13 games ahead of the 2nd place Tigers. This was the original Bronx Bombers team managed by Joe McCarthy. They won a subway series with the rivals from across the Harlem River, the New York giants, in five games. They earned their way here by outscoring the Harrisburg Giants by 31 runs in winning 4 of 5.

Key stats
Gehrig .351 37 159
Dickey 332 29 133
Joe 346 46 167
Crosetti with 127 runs scored was 4th on team!
Gomez 21-11 2.33
Ruffing 20-7 2.99
Murphy 13-4, 10 saves

Harrisburg Giants
The Giants, of course, are a composite of players from their tenure in the Eastern Colored League plus several players from before and after. The Giants compiled a 129-96 .573 record during their four year stay in the major Negro Leagues. The Giants feature eight players named to the 1952 Pittsburgh Courier All-Time Negro League All Star team.

11/14 St. Louis (Hensley 18-7) v New York (Ruffing 20-7)
11/15 Harrisburg (Gardner 13-11) v St L (Trent 11-2) or NY (Gomez 21-11)
11/16 Harrisburg (Corbett 20-3) v StL (Trent 11-2) or NY (Gomez 21-11)

2-0 wins cup, 1-1 leaves it with Giants

Next game: 1/2/06 to begin the 2006-I season.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

2005-II Week Five-Seven Games 33-56

2005-II Week Five Games 32-40

After sweeping the Homestead Grays to get to 18-14, the Harrisburg GIANTS took on the World Champion 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers managed by Hall of Famer Walter Alston and featuring immortals Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, former Negro Leaguers Jim Gilliam and Lou Johnson, and stolen base king Maury Wills. The result was a 3 game to two series win for the Dodgers.

Dodgers 6 GIANTS 4 WP-Don Drysdale LP- Ping Gardner 3-4
Dodgers 7 GIANTS 3 WP-Sandy Koufax LP- Willie Gisentaner 3-3
GIANTS 3 Dodgers 0 WP-Wilbur Pritchett 1-1 LP- Claude Osteen
Dodgers 6 GIANTS 4 WP-Johnny Podres LP- Cliff Carter 3-1
GIANTS 9 Dodgers 7 WP-Wilbur Pritchett 2-1 LP- Howie Reed

Wilbur Pritchett steped up big time in game three when starter Geechie Corbett got tossed out of the game and hurled 7 1/3 inning of one-hit
shutout relief. Ironically, since the opponent was The Vulture’s (i.e. Phil Regan) future team itself, Pritchett picked up a second relief win in the finale.

The weekend series found the 20-17 GIANTS taking on the 1946 Negro League World Champion Newark Eagles featuring immortals Monte Irvin, Leon Day and Larry Doby.

Eagles 5 GIANTS 1 WP – Leon Day LP – Lucas 0-2
GIANTS 3 Eagles 2 WP – Daltie Cooper 3-3 LP – Max Manning
Eagles 5 GIANTS 1 WP – Rufus Lewis LP – Corbett 5-1

2005-II-Week 6 41-48 08/08-14/05
The Gas House Gang moved past the '27 Yanks as the leader for the Hoverter-Reed invite
Cardinals 13 GIANTS 7
Cardinals 9 GIANTS 8
Cardinals 6 GIANTS 3
GIANTS 7 Cardinals 2
Cardinals 1 GIANTS 0

Likewise, the Washington Potomacs moved into the Negro League Hoverter-Reed spot
GIANTS 2 Potomacs 0
Potomacs 5 GIANTS 4
Potomacs 9 GIANTS 0

2005-II-Week 7 49-56 08/15-21/05
Oscar Charleston v Barry Bonds
GIANTS 6-4 Giants
Giants 4-2 GIANTS
GIANTS 12-2 Giants
Giants 7-0 GIANTS
GIANTS 9-3 Giants

GIANTS 7-2 Monarchs
Monarchs 7-2 GIANTS
Monarchs 4-2 GIANTS

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hoverter-Reed Challenge Cup

Bud Marshall, Business Manager of the Harrisburg Giants, announced today that there would be some sort of championship challenge at the end of the 2005-II Harrisburg Giant season. It would take the form of a three day, round robin tournament featuring the Giants and the two teams – one from the majors and one from the Negro Leagues, thatperformedd best against the Giants during the season. The prize will be a Challenge Cup named in honor of Harrisburg’s two multi-term “Baseball Mayors”. The first, from the twenties is Mayor George Hoverter. Hizzoner played baseball as an amateur and a professional in Harrisburg at the end of 19th19th century. He was Mayor during the 1920s and always threw out the first ball at Harrisburg Giant and Harrisburg Senator games. The second is present Mayor Stephen R. Reed who brought baseball back to Harrisburg – after a 35 year absence – in 1987 with his luring the Harrisburg Giants to the capitol city. Later, he had the city purchase the team in order to maintain its presence here. He also has been a prime force in the movement to honor the Negro Leagues in Harrisburg. The trophy – a 26” gold loving cup – will be known as the Hoverter-Reed Challenge Cup.

The Cup will be awarded to the winner of a year ending three game series to be played at West End Grounds in 2005-II. Hosting the series every year will be the Harrisburg Giants. The venue will rotate annually among the Giants four home parks. Invited to compete for the Hoverter-Reed Cup will be both the Negro League team and the Major League team that performs best against the Giants during the regular season. Opponents will be ranked by W-L with cumulative margin being the tiebreaker.

To date, in 2005-II, the 1930 St. Louis Stars and the 1937 New York Yankees hold the leads in the respective races to make it to the finale. The series will be a round robin with the two opponents playing each other in the opener and each playing the Giants in single games the following two days. An opponent needs to sweep to capture the trophy; the Giants merely need to split to retain it. More details forthcoming.

Spottswood Poles by Fredrico, Part Two

Spottswood Poles was decorated with five battle stars and a purple heart for his service to his country, and had enlisted during the prime of his career. He and his wife Bertha are both buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His nephew, Reid Poles, who currently lives in Middletown, PA, with his family, used to spend summer vacations with his aunt and uncle at their Harrisburg, PA home. Reid said that his aunt and uncle were so well suited for each other and were truly in love. Reid has also said that his uncle was more than an uncle to him, he was also his buddy and baseball mentor. Reid became a very fine ballplayer in his own right under the tutelage of his uncle, who would coach him when he played for the Harrisburg Giants in the early 1950s.

When Spottswood Poles playing days were over, he started a string of taxis in his hometown of Winchester, VA, and later would move back to Harrisburg and work at the Olmstead Air Force Base in Middletown. Unlike many of the hard luck stories of former ballplayers, he never wanted financially the rest of his life. He and his wife never had any children of their own and it seems that their nephew’s summer visits filled that space in their lives.

A story that Reid tells about his uncle shows what a competitor Spottswood Poles really was. He was coaching Reid’s team in a game where the winning team took 60 percent of the gate. It was late in the game and the score was tied and they really needed a hit. His uncle called time and put himself in to pinch hit. Reid was filled with angst since his uncle was well into his sixties and Reid wondered if they were about to be embarrassed. His worry was unfounded since his uncle drilled a screaming line drive through the hole between first and second for a clean hit. His uncle was puffing with gusto as he took himself out for a pinch-runner. To quote Reid, “We won that daggone game. I’ll never forget that.”

When I contacted former Harrisburg Patriot News Editor Saul Kohler in April of 1998 and asked him about Spottswood Poles who he had interviewed for an article that was printed in the paper in 1953, his first response was to say that Spottswood Poles was one of the finest gentleman he had ever met and that it would be an honor to have his name mentioned in the same article as Spottswood Poles. The mayor of Winchester, VA, between 1978-82, Elizabeth Glaize Helm told me she knew Spottswood and Bertha Poles when she was a young girl and has nothing but the fondest memories of them and had to respond to my open letter to the Winchester Star newspaper seeking to make contact with anyone who had known Spottswood Poles.

Most Humble Apology

I failed to post once in September and October. I know some of you checked often; and one housewife from Emporia, KS told me she checked daily. I ask her forgiveness and all of yours. While I may not have been posting I have not been dormant. When last seen the Harrisburg Giants had an 18-14 record and were about to take on Sandy Koufax and the LA Dodgers of 1965. Well, they did. They lost to both Koufax & Drysdale but came back to beat Koo Foo in his second start but lost the series. The Giants have continued their season and it has had great thrills. A perfect game was tossed by Geechie Corbett, now 17-3. Charlie has continued his torrid hitting - .343, 38, 127 through 136 games. Spot Poles, whose story will continue on this blog, is hitting .350 with 56 steals despite not winning a full-time job until well into the season. With a 68-69 current record, the Giants goal of 80 wins seems unattainable but a .500 season against this stellar caliber of opponent is still within reach. Please stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Poles and fellow members of the 369th. Posted by Picasa

Spottswood Poles by Fredrico, Part One

Fredrico is a Renaisance Man from Mechanicsburg, PA. He is a Mensa level musician, inventor, philosopher, griot, sage, and Negro League Baseball fan. This piece was written around 1998 for a Harrisburg Negro League event. In order to manage the article is broken into sections. Apologies to Fredrico.

Spottswood Poles was a great athlete and was called one of the four greatest black athletes of all time by famed actor, singer and athlete, Paul Robeson. Robeson also placed pugilists, Jack Johnson and Joe Louis, plus track star, Jesse Owens among the quartet of all-time superstars. Hall of Fame manager, John McGraw echoed Robeson’s sentiments when he placed Spottswood Poles among the all-time great outfielders in baseball history. Syd Pollock noted Negro League owner and excutive said that Oscar Charleston and Spottswood Poles were the two greatest outfielders in Negro League history.

Many in his time would compare and call him the black Ty Cobb, but the comparison to Cobb would have to end when they have left the ballfield. Cobb’s intensity on and off the diamond many have said came from almost a demonic driven desire, which catapulted him to the upper echelons of success both in baseball and in business. That same demonic driven desire would also burn compassion and gentility out of Cobb’s life to the point that his personal relationships with his wives, his children, many players and fans would be left in ashes.

Whatever liberties sportswriter Al Stump took in writing his book on Cobb and Hollywood in bringing it to the silver screen, there still seems to be very few admirable traits to be found in Ty Cobb’s life except his skill as a baseball player. I find it quite strange that advertising executives have decided to use Cobb’s image for the 1998 baseball season’s campaign for ESPN. In this day and age when there are many complaints about the lack of role models in the pool of sport’s heroes, wouldn’t it have been refreshing to see Spottswood Poles, who deserves the same acclaim as afforded to Cobb, be portrayed in a baseball promotion. I must admit that Ty Cobb was an awesome baseball player, but I feel that Spottswood Poles may very well have been his equal or even better!

From what I’ve gathered in my search for who Spottswood Poles was as a man, which in the end is more important than his playing skills, I’ve assimilated the following impressions: His intensity came from a love of life and a desire to do the right thing. He was a man of dignity and pride, but had understanding and compassion. He was a man who didn’t suffer fools gladly and expected maximum effort from those around him in whatever mutual endeavor. He was a man of honor, who despite suffering the throngs of racism, still went to do what he believed was his duty by serving in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in the 369th infantry in France during World War I.

Spottswood Poles Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 14, 2005

2005-II Week Four Games 25-32

2005-II-25 07/25/05 Island Park A -1,491
2004 Boston Red Sox 010 000 000 – 1 1 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 000 241 01x – 8 12 0
HR- Ortiz
WP – Geechie Corbett 4-0
LP – Pedro Martinez

* Ortiz HR only Red Sox hit; Corbett’s E.R.A. now 2.61
* Eggleston, Cannady 3 hits apiece
* 8 different Giants scored; Dixon shut out

2005-II-26 07/26/05 Island Park A -1,515
2004 Boston Red Sox 000 211 600 – 10 13 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 003 202 010 – 8 11 2
HR- Dixon, Millar 2, Ortiz
WP – Arroyo Save - Foulke
LP – D. Cooper

* Millar’s 4 hits, including 2 homers, pace Bosox
* Jints keep it close in the 9th when 3 of 4 Red Sox reach safely but a DP and a basepath out end inning
* DH allows all four great Giant flyhawks to play: Charlie, Rap, Fats, and Spot 2005-II-27 07/27/05 West End Grounds A -1,461
2004 Boston Red Sox 001 010 011 – 4 11 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 100 000 14x – 6 11 0
HR- Manny Ramirez
WP – Ping Gardner
LP – Mike Timlin

* Giants stole 5 on Mirabella
* Bottom of 8th features 5 singles and a hit batsman for 4 Giant runs
* Wise Johnson two run single provides margin; had three ribbies for the day

2005-II-28 07/28/05 West End Grounds A -1,218
2004 Boston Red Sox 020 000 110 000 02 – 6 13 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 220 000 000 000 00 – 4 12 1
HR- Mark Bellhorn
WP – Mike Timlin
LP – Wilbur Pritchett

* Both starters pitched well; Bill Wakefield after allowing 4 in the first two hurled 6 shutout innings; while Gisentaner wobbled a couple of times but pitched a gutsy 13 IP allowing 4
* Mark Bellhorn’s HR tied it in 8th
* Kevin Millar 1-2 with a double, 3 walks, and 2 HBP
* Red Sox scored two, left two in 2nd without a hit
* 14th inning rally = Millar double, Varitek singled with Millar holding third … followed by two harmless outs but Minkiwiecz and Damon added two out singles

2005-II-29 07/29/05 Cottage Hill Field A -1,906
2004 Boston Red Sox 000 002 020 06 – 10 11 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 000 300 000 00 – 3 9 1
HR- Manny Ramirez 3, Kevin Millar
WP – Schilling
LP – Ryan

* Oops! No need for the 10th, oh well … gotta pay more attention
* Manny Ramirez homered in his last three appearances including gamewinner in 8th and frosting in the 10th
* Curt Schilling went 10 for the win
* Red Sox take series 3-2;
2005-II-30 07/30/05 Cottage Hill Field A -1,457
Homestead Grays 110 000 000 – 2 5 1
Harrisburg Giants 102 000 10x - 4 7 2 [16-14]
HR – Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston 2 (11)
WP – Geechie Corbett 5-0
LP – Raymond Brown

* Charlie’s 2nd homer of game in 7th provides insurance
* Corbett 9 5 2 2 4 2 W, CG and starts two 1-6-3 DPs
* Dummy Day adds an unassisted DP in 9th

2005-II-31/32 07/31/05 Rossmere Base Ball Park A -2,371
Homestead Grays 000 000 001 - 1 5 1
Harrisburg Giants 140 102 10x – 9 11 0 [17-14]
HR – Oscar Charleston 2 (13)
WP – Daltie Cooper 2-3
LP – Roy Partlow

* Two more for Charlie, now on pace for 65!
* Charlie was 4 for 4 with 6 ribbies, 2 runs and a steal
* Daltie Cooper surrenders 5 hits and has two himself

Homestead Grays 020 000 002 – 4 7 0
Harrisburg Giants 000 201 002 – 5 8 1 [18-14]
HR – Rap Dixon, Buck Leonard
WP – Red Ryan 1-1
LP – Lefty Williams

* Tubby Scales ends rallies in 7th & 9th by hitting into DPs
* Leonard’s HR in 9th puts Grays up…
* … Spot Poles PH wins it in the bottom of 9th
* to spark the Series Sweep!

Friday, August 12, 2005


CHICAGO - Theodore Roosevelt "Double Duty" Radcliffe, a former Negro League star thought to be the oldest professional baseball player, died today of complications from a long battle with cancer. He was 103. Ted Radcliffe grew up in Mobile, Ala. as one of 10 children. As a teenager in 1919, he and his brother, Alex, also a baseball player hitchhiked to Chicago. A year later, Ted
signed with the semi-pro Illinois Giants for $100 a month. The rest of his family soon followed and settled in Chicago. He formally entered the Negro National League in 1928. He was given the nickname "Double Duty" by sports writer Damon Runyon in the 1932 Negro League World Series, when Radcliffe played both games of a double-header for the Pittsburgh Crawfords. In the first game, he caught a Satchel Paige shutout; in the second, Radcliffe pitched a shutout of his own. Runyon wrote that Radcliffe "was worth the price of two admissions." "Double Duty shared such a love for baseball and a passion for life," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "We all loved to see him at the ballpark, listen to his stories and share in his laughter. He leaves such a great legacy after experiencing so much history and change during his long life. He will be missed by all of us with the White Sox." Radcliffe, who played for or coached 30 teams in his career, recorded an estimated 4,000 hits and 400 home runs, winning 500 games and collecting 4,000 strikeouts as a pitcher. He appeared in six East-West All-Star games, pitching in three
and catching three. He was known to be glib and fast-talking. Ty Cobb once reported that, as a catcher, Double Duty wore a chest protector that said "thou shalt not steal." As player-manager of the integrated Jamestown Red Sox in 1934, Radcliffe was the first Black man to manage
professional white players. At age 41, Double Duty won the Negro American League MVP award, and a year later homered into the upper deck of Old Comiskey Park during the
East-West All-Star Game. In 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs, Radcliffe roomed with Jackie Robinson, and he was later credited with integrating two semi-pro leagues. In 1997, Radcliffe was inducted into the "Yesterday's Negro League Baseball Players Wall of Fame" in Milwaukee. At age 96, he became the oldest man to appear in a professional game when he threw a single pitch for the Schaumberg Flyers. Radcliffe earned the State of Illinois Historical Committee's Lifetime Achievement Award and was honored by Mayor Richard M. Daley as an outstanding Chicagoan. He was inducted into the Illinois Department of Aging Hall of Fame in 2002 and a WGN-TV documentary about his life, narrated by Morgan Freeman, won an Emmy Award. Every year since his 99th birthday (including his 103rd birthday this July), Double Duty threw a ceremonial first pitch for the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Always a friendly face at the ballpark, Radcliffe enjoyed dozens of White Sox games each season and gladly entertained players and fans with his wealth of wonderful stories.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Charleston Wedding: November 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana ... Oscar Charleston weds Harrisburg's Jane Blalock. Posted by Picasa

An Interview With Oscar Charleston

Oscar McKinley Charleston, Player-Manager of the Harrisburg Giants, sat for a rare interview with the Blogmaster. The interview actually took place through the magic of the APBA Major League Baseball Game at Charlie's home in 1925 (I can't explain) on 16th Street in Harrisburg, PA. I found myself at the Charleston home after attending Sunday Mass at St. Francis Catholic Church around the corner on Market Street. The home is located at 12 South 16th Street and, when I last viewed it in 2005, had been converted to a two family home. I drive by there often and seeing its condition and the vibrant nature of what I new to be a quiet and somewhat rundown neighborhood caused me to park the car and approach the house. Once close I saw the neatly dressed, friendly woman sweeping the sidewalk and I remarked about the street; its life; its well manicured little gardens; the design of the street lights; the cars (the cars!). Where was I. It turned out she was Jane Blalock Charleston; Mrs. Oscar Charleston; and she invited my woozy self onto her porch for some lemonade and a nice seat on a swininging chair. It was not long before Oscar Charleston arrived home in full uniform having played a game in Lancaster that day. After some awkward introductions (between a pair of timetravelers) Mr. Charleston graciously sat for an interview:

Me: It is truly a pleasure to meet you; I am a big fan and have followed your life and career for quite a while.
OC: So I see ... I don't pretend to understand but I don't think it benefits your or my purpose to spend too much time wondering about this happenstance of a meeting. What can I do for you?
Me: Are you enjoying this season playing such a formidable schedule?
OC: It is a challenge I sought for all my life. I played the best players in the world but to take the field against Ty Cobb was a moment I dreamt of and to beat his Tigers 4 of 5 was a great thrill and the Babe, a great ol' guy, the greatest of them all, to play that Murderer's Row squad was also a long sought match. I look forward to meeting Barry Bonds in a few weeks. His playing abilities remind me of mine at a younger age. I hit with such a power and speed combination as is his fashion.
Me: What are some highlights of the season so far?
OC: I'm excited about Beckwith's run at .400 and Geechie's 5-0 start. Can he win 30? My homer total is 13 you know. I'd love to beat Ruth's record. As far as the highlight game; I very much enjoyed the series with the Crawfords. Even the loss was stirring.
Me: Do you read the Blog?
OC: No; but the Patriot News covers all the games as if playing a team from 2004, like those champion Red Sox, is normal.
Me: Are you aware of the fact that you are in the National Base Ball Hall of Fame?
OC: Yes ... very proud of that ... me and Cool. I am also aware that it is likely many more players from my day; from my leagues; may be installed next year.
Me: Who do you think belongs in the Hall that is not in?
OC: Well, I know I'm in and I know I belong but I'm not sure who all is in ... if I was selecting I'd pick Santop and Gibson; ol' Ben Taylor at first; Bingo at second; Henry Lloyd at short; the Ghost at the hot corner; Torriente, Dihigo, and Rap Dixon as the flyhawks; of course I'd have Satch on the mound. Seems I named a couple of Harrisburg Giants there. I thought Rogan was the greatest all around player; perhaps more versatile than Dihigo. Dismukes could also pitch.
Me: Do you have...
OC: Just a second. I'm not done.
OC: I played baseball before the Negro Leagues were formed and I was still managing, and occasionally pinch hitting, after their demise. I played outfield in my youth. I want to tell you about the greatest outfields I ever played with. In 1918-19 I played for the Chicago American Giants under Rube Foster. My partners in the outfield were Christobal Torriente and Jimmie Lyons. (NOTE: I did not interject but Jess Barbour saw more playing time than Lyons in '19 and both Duncan & Hill saw more time than both Charlie & Lyons in '18). Later, in Cuba with the Santa Clara Base Ball Club, I patrolled the pickets with the great Alexandro Oms and Pablo Mesa. Now, that was an outfield; certainly the best that you never heard of young man. In 1922-23, winter you understand, me an Oms both hit over .400. But the best outfield I ever played with; the best I may humbly add that I have ever seen; was the outfield of these Harrisburg Giants - me in center between two other centerfielders; Rap Dixon played right with his cannon of an arm and he was a great hitter. A feared hitter. Went to Japan and wooed the Emperor with his bat. In left was little Clarence Jenkins; not an ounce of wasted flesh on him yet for some reason we called him Fat. Fat Jenkins. Him and Georgie Fiall on our team were cagers. They were great basketball players; the pair of them; so we called them "the heavenly twins". However, good as Fats was at basketball; I believe he was better at baseball. All of those outfielders: Torriente, Hill, Lyons, Oms, Mesa, Jenkins, Dixon and others are Hall of Fame candidates. I hope Rap gets his due in '06. This Blog can help that you know.
Me: What about the ti...
Jane: Do you boys want some more lemonade?

With that I was off the porch, in the street, looking at the duplex on the shabby street. A few youngsters ran by me to the porch in response to the entreaties of the mother offering refreshment to the neighborhood. While, in a sense, I felt welcome and invited; I got back in my car and drove back to my world.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


If you visit here please let me know .. I've had two or three e-mails from readers but little else. If something peaks your interest please post a comment be careful to comment on the site and not simply send an e-mail. It is this interactive feature that makes a blog ... a blog. I want to continue to maintain and update it but only if it is being read. Thanks much for your attention.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Trophy Ball Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

2005-II Week Three Games 17-24

2005-II-17 07/18/05 Cottage Hill Field A-1,892
1909 Detroit Tigers 001 000 000 – 1 8 1
GIANTS…………... 000 300 21x – 6 8 0 (8-9)
HR- John Beckwith (3)
WP – Cliff Carter 2-1 1.29
LP – Summer

* Ty Cobb proved quite the attraction as the 1,892 was far and away the largest crowd at Steelton’s Cottage Hill Field for the season.
* The game was actually played – i.e. the dice rolled - at Lancaster’s new Clipper Magazine Stadium. Attending with me were John Cochrane, Rebecca, Don Adams and his sons, and several other APBA conventioneers.
* The Tiger offense proved to be a dullard … scattering 8 hits with Cobb going

1 for 4
* Ben Taylor had three hits including a homer and a double
* John Beckwith continues torrid: .434, 3, 8 with a team leading 23 hits, 13 runs, 1219 PRO
* Harrisburg is hitting .266 with 4.4 runs per game; with a 4.18 E.R.A. allowing 5 runs per game
* The APBA Conference ended the next day with NYer John Hunt capturing the tourney leading the 1975 Cincinnati Reds to the title of the defending champion 1957 Milwaukee Braves

2005-II-18 07/19/05 Cottage Hill Field A-1,751
1909 Detroit Tigers 000 000 000 – 0 4 0
GIANTS…………... 000 102 32x – 8 11 1
HR- Charleston 2 (7), Gisentaner (2)
WP –Gisentaner
LP – Donovan

* Lefty’s numbers: 9 4 0 0 3 3 CG Sho W
* Charleston’s 2 HRS put him on pace to slam 60 in 154!
* Both Rap Dixon & Ben Taylor sat out their first game of the year
* Only Charlie and Rev Cannady have appeared in every game
* 9-9 .500!

2005-II-19 07/20/05 Island Park A-1,866
1909 Detroit Tigers 002 001 021 – 6 9 0
GIANTS…………... 000 000 002 – 2 9 1
HR- Ty Cobb
WP –Mullin
LP – Lucas

* Mullin masterful in pinch; Jints get a hit an inning for 6 innings – no runs
* Mullin tired in 9th and yielded two runs
* Cobb’s homer sparks Tygers; Donie Bush 3 adds hits
* Beckwith remains torrid with 2 hits

2005-II-20 07/21/05 Island Park A-1,601
1909 Detroit Tigers 100 000 001 – 2 5 1
GIANTS……...…… 020 000 001 – 3 8 0.
HR- none
WP –Corbett
LP – Willett

* Crawford triples home a run in first
* Cannady matches with a run scoring trip of his own in 2nd, however the Jints do not strand him
* Score remains 2-1 until 9th when Cobb singles/steals and scores on Delehanty’s single
* Bush booted Cannady’s grounder to start 9th, Taylor singled and Poles pinch-hit wins it
* Spottswood Poles is 4 for 6 with three walks (.778 OBP) as a pinch hitter

2005-II-21 07/22/05 West End Grounds A-1,301
1909 Detroit Tigers 100 000 000 – 1 5 0
GIANTS…………..000 305 10x – 9 12 2
HR- Charleston (8), Beckwith (4)
WP – D. Cooper
LP – Summers, 2nd loss of series

* Beckwith 3 for 3 and Hit by a Pitch in finale
* Cannady slammed two doubles and hit into two double plays
* Jints get 6 hits in a row in the 6th
* Charleston 5 for 19 with 3 HRs and steal, Cobb 4 for 18 with one HR and 1 SB
* .272 average with 4.4 runs/game & 3.77 E.R.A. and 4.3 runs allowed/game

TRANSACTION – Pitcher Mervern “Red” Ryan, who played for the Harrisburg Giants in 1922, joined the team after the game.

Beckwith .462, 3 HRs, 12 R.B.I.
Charleston .301, 8, 18
Taylor .312, 4, 18
Cannady .317, 0, 15
Dixon .247, 0, 4

Corbett 3-0 3.10
Gisentaner 2-1 4.63
Carter 2-1, 1.29
Gardner 2-2 2.59

The Pittsburgh Crawfords during their brief period at the pinnacle of Black baseball had shown very bright. For most of that period they featured five future Hall of Famers: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, and Oscar Charleston. In 1932 they had five former Harrisburg Giants on their roster: Charleston, Rap Dixon, Fats Jenkins, Walter Cannady, and Three-Finger Gisentaner. It turns out that, despite Jim Riley and APBA carding him, Satchel Paige seemingly did not appear in a game for the Crawfords in ’35. Despite that he is scheduled to pitch in the upcoming Sunday doubleheader. Here comes game one:

2005-II-22 West End Grounds A-1,422
PGH 011 202 023 – 11 15 1 WP- Roosevelt Davis
HBG 121 201 001 - 8 13 1 LP – Ping Gardner
HR - Gibson

* Sam Bankhead injured early
* Cool Papa Bell had 3 hits, including 2 triples and one steal
* Harrisburg’s Charleston had 4 hits, including 2 triples, 4 ribbies
* Pittsburgh’s Charleston draws the collar
* Curtis Harris’ pinch hit followed by Cool Papa Bell triple put fords in lead in 8th
* Josh Gibson’s homer in 9th provided the ultimate margin, he had a triple earlier
* Mmy friend Willie Fordham had his debut marred by the Gibson HR, not to mention a balk
* Tthe Crawfords showed balance as all 9 lineup slots got a hit
* After no balks in the first 21 games, the Giants committed two in the last two innings

* Aa nice crowd is expected for tomorrow’s doubleheader scheduled for Rossmere Base Ball

2005-II-23/24 07/24/05 Rossmere Base Ball Park A-2,502
This double header drew a large crowd to watch Crawford aces Paige & Matlock pitch. A sweep was expected but not the sweep that happened.

1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords 004 200 001 – 7 12 1
HARRISBURG GIANTS 301 020 12x - 9 11 0
HR- Josh Gibson (2nd of series)
WP – Lefty Gisentaner
LP – Satchel Paige

* Gibson’s 4th innig grand slam goes for naught
* Charlie scores 3x for Harrisburg and once for Pittsburgh – only in Fantasy Ball J
* Gibson purposely passed in 9th to load bases…Judy Johnson bounced out
* Gisentaner, hitting .438, doubled and scored the ultimate winning run in 8th
* Sam Cooper, with his 8.71 E.R.A., earned a one pitch save

1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords 001 100 000 – 2 9 0
HARRISBURG GIANTS 200 000 01x – 3 4 0
HR- Charleston (9)
WP – Carter 3-1
LP – Matlock

* Jints were 6-2 on the week
* Charlie knocked in all three Giant runs
* Poles on base all four trips, two steals, two runs
* Beckwith caught the last three innings

Pittsburgh Crawfords v HARRISBURG GIANTS
July 23rd at West End Grounds, Harrisburg
July 24th, Sunday Doubleheader, Rossmere Base Ball Park, Lancaster,
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

2005-II Week 2 Games 14-16

2005-II-14 07/16/05 Island Park Harrisburg, PA A-2,718
1910 Leland Giants 003 000 003 - 6 9 1
GIANTS…………. 300 020 000 – 5 7 2 (6-8)
HR- Charleston (4)
WP – Wickware
LP – Cooper, D 0-2 2.77

* At APBAcon in Lancaster, Eric Naftaly managed the victorious Lelands. Eric is a veteran and astute player as well as a gentleman. In Las Vegas in ’04 he won the APBA tournament and this year he was eliminated on a tiebreaker after winning 8 of 10.
* Lelands trailed never lead until 9th
* 9th: Lloyd 2B, Petway rbi single, two outs ensued before Pryor’s pinch hit single tied it, Pete Duncan’s bingle put Chicago in the lead.
* Rube Foster earned the save
* Lloyd had a pair of doubles; Charlie had 3 hits, a homer, and 2 steals

2005-II-15-16 07/17/05 Rossmere Base Ball Field A-2,309
1910 Leland Giants 000 000 000 – 0 7 0
GIANTS………….. 100 101 10x – 4 13 0 (7-8)
HR- none
WP – Ping Gardner 2-2 2.59, 2nd shutout in a row!
LP – Pat Dougherty

* Giles Thibaut, from Pittsburgh, managed the Lelands. A delightful hybrid Buc/Les Expos fan with ties on his wife’s side to the Homestead/Munhall area across the bridge from Pittsburgh.
* Ping Gardner’s second straight shutout, he had two hits
* Spottswood Poles stole three and scored two
* Charlie had two hits, two ribbies
* Henry Jordan reached all plate appearances, 3 hits and a walk

1910 Leland Giants 240 410 – 11 15 0
GIANTS………….. 000 001 - 1 4 1 (7-9)
HR- Charleston (5)
WP – Rube Foster’s 2nd win of the series
LP – S. Cooper 0-3 9.00 ouch!

* Newest APBA Hall of Famer Gentleman Joe Sweeney managed the Leland Giants in his only appearance of the weekend outside of the tournament. I was flattered to play him. He showed no mercy with the dice.
* this lopsided game was called because of darkness after 6 innings
* Chicago had 15 hits in their 6 innings … Cooper surrendered them all
* Jap Payne had 4 hits, Pop Lloyd had 3 and three others had a pair
* Harrisburg completes week two with a 7-9 mark

Sleep Charlie

The following poem was written to eulogize Oscar Charleston by his former teammate Gentleman Dave Malarcher:

OSCAR CHARLESTON by David J. Malarcher, third baseman, Indianapolis ABCs

Sleep, Charlie! Thou, the great, the strong!
Within the depths of mud and mire!
While high above the diamond throng
The sterling statue in retire
Proclaims the splendor of thy game,
Thy paramount, unequaled fame!

Thou were the best who roamed the field!
Thy stalwart fingers never failed
The batters’ erring fate to seal,
The pitcher’s powers wrought too frail!
Oh! Would thy skill could live always
To stir the sportsman happy praise!

Sleep, Charlie! I, who knew thee well,
Do here declare to Earth and time
In Heaven’s language, thus to tell,
In poignant poetry divine,
The glory of thy destiny
Thus this undying rhyme to thee!

Sleep, Charlie! Now in holy dust!
(As mighty Cobb and Petway rest)
Bearing the praise of all of us,
The diamond’s greatest and the less
Here honor we on thee bestow,
That ages will thy greatness know.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Different cemetery...this is from Floral Park in Indianapolis, IN. It is the final resting place for the great Oscar Charleston. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Paraphrasing Abe

I attended this year’s 8th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Research Conference in Chicago. There I had the honor of addressing a group of Negro League baseball enthusiasts and other interested persons at Chicago Burr Oak Cemetery. The event was a memorial dedication service honoring several Negro League baseball players whose graves had previously been unmarked. Dr. Jeremy Krock of Peoria, IL spearheaded a fundraising effort to provide gravesite markers for several of these great men. Prior to the unveiling of one of the markers, I offere the following comments which are printed here in response to a request:

Hmmmm … gathered at a cemetery to honor dead heroes … I beg your forgiveness of my paraphrase: Four score and five years ago our brothers brought forth in this nation a new league segregated by necessity but dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Nineteen players from that league are buried here in this field. We have come to dedicate a portion of this field, as a final resting place for eight of those whose graves have heretofore been unmarked but whose lives were marked with greatness. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead present here and around the nation, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. It is for us the living to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they fought … It is us … this band of sisters and brothers … the Negro League Research Community … whom I love like family... that must carry on the work in order to honor the great players of the Negro Leagues living & dead … in so doing, I am quite certain, that we will be making this world of ours a much better place and advance the cause of brotherhood and opportunity far beyond the baseball diamond. God bless these dead heroes. God bless the living. God bless us all!

Following the service we toured the cemetery visiting not only 17 Negro League players resting places but Heavyweight Champion Ezzard Charles, Harlem Globetrotter Inman Jackson, singer Dinah Washington, and musician Willie Dixon and most memorably the recently reinterred Emmett Till. Needless to say it was a very moving event.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Pittsburgh Crawford Manager Oscar Charleston counsels Rap Dixon, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson and Jud Wilson. Three of them are Hall of Famers now; next year might find all five in the Hall. Posted by Picasa

Hall of Fame will be Honoring Additional Negro Leaguers


Screening and Voting Committees Appointed; Candidacies to be Reviewed for Election in 2006

(COOPERSTOWN, NY): The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Board of Directors approved holding a special election of Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues candidates to the Hall of Fame in 2006. The announcement comes on the heels of the completion of a landmark study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. Based on the results of that important study, the Board of Directors felt it was the right time to hold a special election.

“The record of the African-American contribution to our National Pastime was largely missing until recently,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark. “With extensive research and a statistical analysis now complete, the Board felt it was the right time to review Negro Leagues and pre-Negro leagues individuals with regards to Hall of Fame election. The guidelines adopted will allow for any worthy candidates to have another chance at election in 2006.”

Earlier this month, the Board appointed screening and voting committees. Under the guidelines established, a Screening Committee will construct ballots and a Voting Committee will meet vote on the ballots. Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent will serve as the non-voting chairman of both committees. Frank Robinson, a Hall of Famer and Board member, has been asked to offer his advice and assistance to Vincent and both committees. Any candidates elected by the Voting Committee in February 2006 would be inducted in Cooperstown during Hall of Fame Weekend in July 2006.

Written recommendations for inclusion on the ballots from fans, and historians not a part of the committees, will be accepted through the month of October. Recommendations can be sent by e-mail to, or can be submitted by mail to: Committee on African-American Baseball, 25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326. A letter or e-mail of receipt will acknowledge all proposals. All proposals will be made available to the Screening Committee and a final set will be kept for archival purposes.

The five-member Screening Committee appointed by the Board of Directors will meet in November to develop two ballots: One ballot of Negro leagues players, managers, umpires, executives; and one ballot of candidates who preceded the formation of Negro leagues. The Screening Committee will use the statistics and narrative from the landmark study to determine the ballots. The Screening Committee members include Adrian Burgos, Dick Clark, Larry Hogan, Larry Lester and Jim Overmyer, each of whom contributed to the reports and have a deep knowledge of the subject matter. Complete biographies of the five committee members can be found at

A 12-member Voting Committee, inclusive of the Screening Committee, appointed by the Board of Directors, will meet in February 2006 to review the final ballots of candidates. After open discussions over two days, committee members will cast paper ballots and vote “yes” or “no” for each candidate. Any candidate with “yes” votes on at least 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame. The twelve voting committee members and their areas of expertise in African-American baseball history include:

Todd Bolton, Latin America
Larry Hogan, overall knowledge
Greg Bond, 19th Century
Neil Lanctot, Negro leagues eastern teams
Adrian Burgos, Latin America
Larry Lester, Negro leagues
Dick Clark, Negro leagues
Sammy Miller, Eastern and Western teams
Ray Doswell, overall knowledge
Jim Overmyer, Eastern teams and 19th century
Leslie Heaphy, women’s history, Negro leagues
Robert Peterson, overall knowledge

In July 2000, the Baseball Hall of Fame was granted $250,000 from Major League Baseball in order to initiate a comprehensive study on the history of African Americans in Baseball, from 1860-1960. The funds were to allow the Museum to expand the scope and depth of its knowledge and historical collection on this aspect of Baseball and American culture.

In February 2001, the Board selected “The Negro Leagues Researchers/Authors Group” research team, led by Dr. Hogan of Union County College (NJ), Dick Clark, and Larry Lester, to conduct the comprehensive study. The three historians led a diverse group of more than 50 other authors, researcher and historians in this first-of-its-kind academic study.

The research resulted in a raw narrative and bibliography of nearly 800 pages and a statistical database, which includes 3,000 day-by-day records, league leaders and all-time leaders. The research was culled from box scores from 128 newspapers of sanctioned league games played from 1920-54.

With the research now complete, the study includes sanctioned league game box scores from almost 100% of games played in the 1920s, in excess of 90% of the box scores from games played in the 1930s and box scores from 50-70% of games played in the 1940s and 50s, during which time the various leagues began to disband and newspapers ceased to report game information. The end result is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics on the Negro leagues that have ever been accumulated.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

1924 Harrisburg Giants: Oscar Charleston, rear far right; Rap Dixon, rear 2nd from left; Fats Jenkins, front 2nd from left; Colonel Strothers, rear center Posted by Picasa

ECL Coverage: 1925

In 1925 the Harrisburg Giants hitters terrorized the EAstern Colored League and the best independent, semi-pro and professional teams in the middle Atlantic states. The local papers provided excellent coverage. Here is an example from the pages of the Intelligencer Journal:

Monday, April 27, 1925 - Daily Intelligencer

Giants Win Opener at Rossmere

Thousands See Giants Come From Behind to Whip Wilmington;
Triple Steal in 8th. Starts Rally

Harrisburg Colored Nine Overcomes Five-Run Lead and Wins Opening Home Game at Rossmere; Final Score was 8-5

The Harrisburg Giants made their debut to local baseball fandom yesterday afternoon at Rossmere Base Ball Park, and delighted the thousands of fans present by coming from behind and overcoming a five-run lead to defeat the Wilmington Potomacs 8 to 5 in a game that was chock full of fast baseball, smart baseball and thrilling baseball. The game was for the benefit of the American Legion Band.

Tying the score at 5 all in the lucky seventh, the local representatives of the Eastern Colored circuit pulled a piece of baseball strategy that gave even the most quiet baseball fans an opportunity to release some of his pent up enthusiasm. With two down Jenkins singled, Dixon was advanced to first when he was hit by a pitched ball. The heavy hitting Charleston was walked purposely. The signal from the bench was given and the men on the bases started to move, beginning a triple steal. The play was successful and Jenkins crossed home plate. Dixon and Charleston later scored when Lindsay fumbled Canady’s hot liner. This play put the game on ice for the Giants.

Wilmington’s last chance at-bat came in the ninth and the Giant hurler retired the side without a run. The visitors started like sure winners in the first inning by polling out five runs. White the first man up was given a free ticket to first by Henry. Dallard got a single which was closely followed by another single off the bat of Hamilton. With the bases loaded, Brown connected for a base hit and scored Henry. Lindsay the next man up collided with one of Henry’s curves for a circuit clout clearing the bases. The spree ended the scoring for Wilmington for the day.

The Giant players came to bat with determination written on their faces in the dying half of the initial inning. Dixon singled to center, and Charleston the next man to bat, not to be outdone by Lindsay, sent the ball over the right field fence. After the free hitting on both sides in the first inning, both twirlers settled down to work, and for six innings the two teams battled back and forth, neither side being able to duplicate the first inning punch.

In the seventh frame, the locals tied the score. Jenkins walked pilfered second, and was sent home on Dixon’s base hit. Dixon stole second and scored from second on Taylor’s double against the fence. Taylor tied the score several minutes later when he crossed home station on Burnett’s single. The side was retired without further damage.

Then came the fatal eighth as far as Wilmington was concerned, and the fruitful eighth as far as the Giants were concerned. The triple steal which scored one man, and started a rally which later scored two more, is now baseball history.

Local fans put their stamp of approval on the Giants who displayed real ability in their first game of the home season. Both sides played wonderful ball and if the rest of the games booked for Rossmere this season can be judged by the opening one, then Lancaster baseball fans are in for some real pastiming. Grier and Henry twirled good ball with the exception of several innings in which all the scoring was done. Brown at third for the Wilmington nine gave the fans a real treat in fielding ability.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Willie Fordham & friend in 1952 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Greatest Outfield in the History of the Game

The outfield of the Harrisburg Giants from 1924 through 1927 in the Eastern Colored Leagues consisted of the great Oscar Charleston, Steelton’s Rap Dixon and two-sport superstar Fats Jenkins. It was an unparalleled and spectacular set of flyhawks.

In the history of major league baseball there have only been 8 outfields that were intact for four or more years and included at least one future Hall of Famer. Only one Negro League team met that standard – the Harrisburg Giants. Here is a complete list of such outfields (Hall of Famers in bold):

1891-95 Philadelphia Phillies: Ed Delehanty, Billy Hamilton, Sam Thompson
1910-16 Boston Red Sox: Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis
1924-27 Harrisburg Giants: Oscar Charleston, Rap Dixon, Fats Jenkins
1925-29 New York Yankees: Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel
1928-31 Chicago Cubs: Hack Wilson, Ki Ki Cuyler, Riggs Stephenson
1929-32 Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Adam Comorosky
1954-58 Boston Red Sox: Ted Williams, Jimmy Piersall, Jackie Jensen
1957-62 Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Billy Virdon, Bob Skinner
1966-70 Pittsburgh Pirates: Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Matty Alou

The above certainly makes a case for the greatness of the Harrisburg Giant outfield. Oscar Charleston is universally considered the greatest outfielder in the Negro Leagues; baseball analyst Bill James ranks Charlie behind only Ruth, Wagner and Mays at any position in any league. Buck Leonard placed Fats Jenkins in his all-time outfield while both Charleston and Cool Papa Bell include Dixon in their all-time outfields. Charleston & Jenkins were 6 time all-stars; Dixon five times. All three participated in the initial East-West Classic. The three Giants hit a composite .353 during the four year period with Charleston hitting over .400. During the 1924-27 period, 25 outfielders played who later were named to the Hall; of them only 4 were African-American. Since integration, 12 of 17 HOF outfielders have been African-American. Thus clearly the Negro Leagues are under represented in the Hall from the twenties; the point being both Dixon & Jenkins are Hall of Famers if judged on merit. It is no stretch to imagine these three as simply the best set of teammates to ever play outfield together in baseball history.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Talkin' Baseball Posted by Picasa

2005-II Week Two Games 9-13

2005-II-9 07/11/05 West End Grounds Harrisburg, PA A-988
1960 Pirates 020 002 010 - 5 11 0
GIANTS 010 000 010 - 4 10 2 (3-6)
HR- Burgess, Beckwith (2)
WP – Harvey Haddix
LP – Daltie Cooper 0-1

* Hope to see Roy and many of you in Lancaster this weekend.
* Three unearned runs doom spoil Daltie’s nice effort … one error was his
* Burgess 4 for 5, including a HR, with Pole’s circus catch the only time he was retired
* Face recorded the save; first save of the year with Murtaugh being first modern manager
* game ended on a Clemente running catch and throw to double Poles

2005-II-10 07/12/05 West End Grounds Harrisburg, PA A- 1,109
1960 Pirates 211 100 200 – 7 13 0
GIANTS 010 000 000 – 1 4 0 (3-7)
HR- Rocky Nelson, Bob Skinner, Dick Groat!
WP – Bob Friend
LP – Sam Cooper

* Nelson’s 2 run first inning all that was needed
* John Beckwith injured; cut by Groat in 4th, return doubtful in series
* Beckwith had 2 of the 4 hits, went like lambs after the Brown Bomer’s exit
* Bill Virdon & Groat 3 hits apiece

2005-II-11 07/13/05 Cottage Hill Field Steelton, PA A- 765
1960 Pirates 000 000 000 – 0 6 1
GIANTS 012 000 000 – 3 6 0 (4-7)
HR- none
WP – Ping Gardner 1-2 3.63
LP – Vernon Law

* Gardner’s gem is the big story; perhaps the only story
His Line: 9 6 0 0 3 5 for the CG shut out win!!!
* Groat 3 of the 6 hits in a losing cause
* Fats Jenkins 2 hits, a walk and a steal indicate he may be coming alive as he crosses the Mendoza line for the season

2005-II-12 07/14/05 Cottage Hill Field Steelton, PA A- 1008
1960 Pirates 001 100 000 – 2 5 1
GIANTS 000 000 111 – 3 7 0 (5-7)
HR- none
WP – Three Finger Gisentaner 1-1 6.23
LP – Fred Green, in relief of Vinegar Bend Mizell

* Gisentaner’s Gutsy Routegoer: 9 5 2 2 2 5
* Down 0-2 in the bottom of the 7th: Dixon doubles, Charlie knocks him in
* 1-2 bottom of 8th: Dummy Day doubles, pinchhitter Poles knocks him in
* 2-2 bottom of 9th: with 2 outs, Rev Cannady doubles, Taylor purposely passed, Mack Eggleston knocks in the game winner!

2005-II-13 07/15/05 Island Park Harrisburg, PA A- 2,308
1960 Pirates 010 000 202 – 5 9 1
GIANTS….... 200 013 11x – 8 17 0 (6-7)
HR- Taylor (3), Jenkins (2), Mazeroski
WP – Corbett 2-0 3.60
LP – Gibbon

* Happy 78th Birthday Willie Fordham, Harrisburg Giants 1954-57
* Lancaster here we come!
* Cannady doubles in two in first; Jints never headed
* Pivotal second saw both teams strand three
* Taylor slams three-run shot in 6th
* Cannady totals 4 hits
* Maz participated in 5 DPs for the series

YEAR TO DATE - 6-7 .462 with 54 runs and 63 allowed
Team is hitting .267 with 11 homers
Team E.R.A. is a nifty 4.28

BOOK REVIEW: I Gave It My Best Shot by Willie Fordham

I GAVE IT MY BEST SHOT by Willie Fordham, Wordshop Press, 2000

Willie Fordham was an excellent African-American baseball pitcher that came out of mid-state Pennsylvania at precisely the wrong time for making it all the way to a major league roster. In this, his first book, he has provided a written account of his life and times that covers a critical juncture in United States history – the beginning of the end of segregation.

This is not your ordinary baseball book; in fact it is not really a book about baseball. It is a book about a man who was extraordinarily skilled at baseball and played at the highest levels of the game that his circumstances allowed. Moreover, it is a story of growing up in Pennsylvania in the ‘30s and ‘40s, maturing in the U.S. Army in the post-war era, raising a family and beginning a career in the ‘50s and receiving unnecessary but welcomed validation at the pivot of a new century.

The account begins in the rural river towns of Millerstown and Newport in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, and recounts many youthful adventures. Most of these coming with valuable lessons learned over 60 years ago but applicable to the youth of today. A recurring lesson is found in the title. It is an adage repeated by the author again and again. Give it your best shot. Never give up. The effort alone is worth it; the prize a bonus. It is precisely this lesson that makes this book an excellent gift for a young teen of any gender, race or ethnic background.

Clearly Willie Fordham had talent. His opportunities to display his talent were limited by racial segregation and the post-war glut of talent in organized baseball. However, his outstanding amateur career (Newport and Carlisle High Schools) earned him a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, a roster spot on the final edition of the Harrisburg Senators in 1952 and eventually a spot in the rotation of the latter day Harrisburg Giants of the Eastern Negro League in ’54 and ’55. Unfortunately, the book contains little information on the social aspects of being in the early wave of the re-integration of organized baseball and no mention whatsoever of his time with the Harrisburg Giants, an integrated entry, in a lower classification of the dying Negro Leagues. Given my enthusiasm for what Mr. Fordham covered in this book, I truly would welcome a second work focusing more closely on baseball and the transitional period between segregation and integration.

I can say unequivocally that had Willie Fordham graduated from Carlisle High School in 1995 instead of 1945 when he would have had an equal shot at 50% more major league jobs, I have no doubt that Willie Fordham would be toiling in the major leagues today. However, that is merely my opinion. As for ol’ Will, he – like Buck O’Neil in his book ‘I was Right on Time” – appears more than satisfied to have come along when he did and given it his “best shot.”

Available from the author (717) 545 7565 or publisher (717) 233 7611 for $15.00 per copy.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Harrisburg Blackball History by Ted Knorr & Calobe Jackson

The National Pastime traces its roots to the first half of the 19th century. While it may not have been invented by a civil war general; it certainly was popularized and proliferated by the Civil War. In post-war America, Baseball was THE National Pastime. In Harrisburg it was no different and in Black Harrisburg it was the same. Baseball was the sport of all races, classes and cultures in the young country.

The earliest ball game on record (and existing box score) involving a Black Harrisburg club is a contest between the Pythian Club of Philadelphia and Harrisburg’s Monrovia Base Ball Club. On October 5, 1867, George Galbraith of the Monrovians club wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Pythian Club alerting them of the Harrisburgers “desire to engage with you in a match game of ball on the first day named, Friday, October 22nd.” It appears the game actually took place on October 20th and was won by the Pythians 59 to 27. The well-known Octavius Catto played for the Pythians. Jacob White was the Pythians manager and T.Morris Chester likely named the Monrovian Club having spent 7 years in Monrovia the capital of Liberia. A Chester played third base for the Monrovians. All three men, Catto, White and Chester are honored with historic markers in Pennsylvania describing their storied careers off the diamond. Just two month’s after the game, the Pythians were denied membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players. The NABBP passed a resolution stating that they “unanimously report against the admission of any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons.” The color line had been officially drawn. There was nothing unwritten about this line.

As baseball moved from an amateur pastime to an opportunity to make one’s livelihood, African-Americans joined the play for pay bunch as did other Americans. The first Black professional player was Bud Fowler who toiled for two teams in the International League in 1878. A Harrisburger, Jack Frye, was among the second pair of Black pros when he (for Reading) and Moses Fleetwood Walker (for Toledo) cashed paychecks in 1883.

The first professional Black team was the Cuban Giants in 1885. Their roster included two Harrisburgers - Frye and catcher Clarence Williams.

Baseball in those days was not entirely segregated; more than six dozen African-Americans appeared in games in so called organized baseball before the turn of the century. A very successful integrated team of that era was the Harrisburg Ponies of 1890. This precursor of the Senators fielded a team that included both Williams (who became the first African-American to play baseball on City Island) and Frank Grant the non-parallel second baseman who just may have been the best ballplayer period of the 19th century.

Another big event in 1890 occurred in April, when the newspaper reported that a certain Strothers was organizing a baseball team. That team evolved into the Harrisburg Giants. Strothers - Colonel William Strothers - was born in Culpepper. Virginia in 1868. He ran away from home in 1880 to work on the railroad. Returning East he settled in Harrisburg in 1888. He was quite the entrepreneur and renaissance man being a laborer, policeman, a dance instructor, a politician, a pool hall operator and businessperson. No matter what career path Strothers was taking at any point in time a constant was baseball. He ran the Giants from their beginnings in the 1890s until his death in 1933.

Clarence Williams was one of the best catchers in Blackball in the 19th and early 20th century. He played on several great teams including the Cuban Giants, Harrisburg Ponies, Big Gorhams, and the Cuban X Giants. Williams was called the "king of coachers" in 1889 by a reporter for the New York Age and also cited as such in a Harrisburg newspaper of 1890. The moniker applied not only to Williams strategies but also to his highly entertaining mannerisms in motivating his players. Williams caught many notable games. He was behind the plate in 1887 when Billy Whyte, of the Cuban Giants pitched a great game against the famous Detroit team. In 1903, he caught the first perfect game in the annals of blackball when he was behind the plate in the X-Giants Danny McClellan’s 27 batter effort versus York. Later that year he caught Rube Foster as the big right-hander pitched the X-Giants to the so-called “Colored Championship of Baseball.” The deciding game of the rather unofficial world series was played at Island Park in Harrisburg.

In 1906 the great Spottswood Poles made his professional debut for the Harrisburg Colored Giants as he played outfield under Colonel Strothers management. Earlier Poles, lived and played youth league ball in Harrisburg’s Springdale neighborhood, which was bounded by Walnut, State, 13th and 18th Streets.

The Giants had another fine team in 1909 featuring former Philadelphia Giant outfielder John Manning and Arthur “Buddy” Carpenter whose great-grandson Aaron Johnson is the current President of Harrisburg’s Little League.

In 1916, fourteen year old Herbert “Rap” Dixon burst upon the scene breaking in with the semi-pro Keystone Giants in Steelton. Rap was born in Kingston, GA and came north in the great migration when his father sought work in the steel industry. Dixon’s playing ability and bat were soon noticed by Strothers who was building his Giants into an independent powerhouse.

In 1922, they featured a third baseman named Chic Meade. What made Meade remarkable was he, apparently, was a white man passing for black. After his baseball career was over and during a stint in jail his true racial identity was discovered. Meade was the business manager for the Giants in 1925.

Another event that happened in 1922 was the November wedding of Harrisburg’s Jennie Blalock and the best outfielder in baseball Oscar Charleston of Indianapolis.

Prior to the 1924 season, Strothers franchise joined the Mutual Association of Colored Baseball Clubs AKA the Eastern Colored League. Also Oscar Charleston came to his wife’s hometown to play for the locals that year. He shared managerial duties that year with catcher Henry Jordan.

The Giants compiled the second best record in the Eastern Colored League during its 5 year span. The Giants success was due to the highest paid lineup in Blackball which scored runs at a pace higher than that of the ‘27 Yankees which set the 20th century major league standard up to that time. Hitters like Beckwith, Cannady, and Taylor complemented the outfield of Dixon, Charleston and Fats Jenkins. The outfield is one of only nine in baseball history that was intact for 4 years and included a Hall of Famer. It is truly one of the best outfields in all of baseball history.

The Giants peaked in ‘25 when they finished second to the Hilldale Club. The head to head matches that year between the Lawmakers, as the Giants were sometimes called, and the Darby Daisies (Hilldale) were the stuff of legend. Both teams featured Hall of Famers, should be Hall of Famers and near greats. The Giants had not only Charleston, Jenkins and Dixon but Ben Taylor and Rev Cannady who hit .397. Hilldale had Judy Johnson, Biz Mackey, Louis Santop, George Carr and a great pitching staff led by Nip Winters. Pitching was the difference but not the only difference as Harrisburg Manager Oscar Charleston pointed out in a rather pointed letter to the Black press. The E.C.L. was not entirely on the up & up. The influence of Hilldale owner Bolden was greater on scheduling league games and assigning umpires than it should have been. However, the best team won. The truth of the skullduggery that year was likely somewhere between Charleston’s contentions and Hilldale Business Manager Lloyd Thompson’s equally passionate disclaimers. Hilldale copped the pennant and defeated the defending champion Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League World Series. Make no mistake, though; the Harrisburg Giants of 1925 were a fine, fine ball club.

The Giants peak was ‘25 but they picked up ‘26 where they left off the previous year. They jumped out in front and led the E.C.L. for much of the year. It was Atlantic City which provided the challenge this year and in the end, the Bacharach Giants won the first of their two consecutive pennants. If possible, the ‘26 Giants were even more offensive than ‘25. The lineup lost the veteran Taylor, and his relatively low power numbers, and added the Black Bomber himself John Beckwith. If Leonard & Gibson were the Black Gehrig and Ruth a decade later; I’m not sure who to whom you compare the duo of Beckwith and Charleston.

In 1927, the year Ruth hit sixty homers, John Beckwith is said to have hit 72 (less than a dozen in ECL competition) homers; while Oscar Charleston led the league in homeruns with 11. This year proved to be the swan song for the Harrisburg Giants. After 4 years on eastern blackball’s center stage - and a composite winning percentage of .576 - the Harrisburg Giants left the ECL. The ECL itself dissolved shortly thereafter.

The batboy of the Harrisburg Giants in 1926 and ‘27 was the young Marshall Waters. Mr. Waters went on to a long, lengthy career in civic and political affairs in Harrisburg. Never did he allow his passion for baseball to lessen and even today will enter into a debate on the game with just a little encouragement.

Just prior to the ‘27 season, Biz Mackey of the Hilldale Club took a team of all-stars to Japan. This historical cultural exchange took place a good seven years prior to the more often noted Babe Ruth tour of ‘34. In collecting the best talent that he could find to take to the far east, Mackey selected the Harrisburg Giants right fielder Rap Dixon. In turn, ol’ Rap just about stole the show. Rap would entertain the fans prior to the games. He would circle the bases in just over 14 seconds and toss balls over the outfield wall while standing on home plate. When the games began he was even more dramatic. He belted a home run of such prodigious proportions that Emperor Hirohito presented him with a trophy to commemorate it.

Rap did not restrict his accomplishments to foreign turf. In 1929 he rapped 14 consecutive hits in a series versus the Homestead Grays and in 1930 in the first Negro League games ever played in Yankee Stadium, Rap slammed three home runs. In 1933 when the first East-West All Star Game was played, Rap started the game in right. To underscore the greatness of the Harrisburg Giants outfield of ‘24-’27, it should be noted that Fats Jenkins played left field and Oscar Charleston first base in that first all-star game. The game was played 6 years after the trio’s last appearance together in the Giant outfield.

Another indicator of the Giants greatness (and staying power) was the makeup of the Pittsburgh Crawfords roster in 1932. The Crawfords of that era are generally thought to be one of, if not the best, lineup in Negro League history. They featured five Hall of Famers (Paige, Gibson, Bell, Johnson and Charleston) but they also included five former Harrisburg Giants. In addition to the trio in the outfield, Rev Cannady and Willie Gisentaner appeared with the fords that season. In fact, despite having five Hall of Famers, Rev Cannady was referred to as the “Best All-Around Player in Baseball” on Crawford stationary that Spring.

Alas, 1933 was the last year for the original, Strothers-owned, Giants. Their last roster featured some pretty good players and well known names. The most prominent among them being Bill Lindsey. IN 1933, at the age of 65, Colonel William Strothers died. Interestingly, his passing came only days before the New York Black Yankees were scheduled to play in Harrisburg. Former Giants Fats Jenkins and Rev Cannady were on that Yankee team and paid their respects to their beloved Colonel in uniform prior to taking the field.

In 1934, Rap Dixon contributed to baseball in a way other than his own athletic talents when his keen evaluative eye found a young, schoolboy named Leon Day playing second base in the Baltimore sandlots. Day joined Dixon’s Baltimore Black Sox team and went on to a career that ended with enshrinement in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Also on that ‘34 Black Sox team was Rap’s younger brother Paul Dixon who toiled in the outfields for several Negro League clubs in the 30s.

In the early forties the fires of Blackball were kept burning by a team called the Strother’s A.C. which featured Rap Dixon and his brother Paul in the outfield.

In 1943, the Harrisburg-St. Louis Stars were scheduled to compete in the Negro National League. However, they withdrew shortly after the season began to tour the country to raise money for the war effort. The Stars toured with a team managed by Honus Wagner that featured Dizzy Dean as a three inning pitcher.

Negro League baseball appears to be the highest quality of baseball played in Island Park during war years of 1943-1945 and beyond. These games were promoted by Rap Dixon and Bud Marshall, a local pharmacist. Many Negro National League games and exhibition games between Negro League teams and local military teams took place on Island Park. The military teams were often composed of major and minor league players. Games are often fund raisers to help war cause. Examples of such teams were Olmstead Air Force base, New Cumberland Army Base, and Indian Town Gap. Many Negro servicemen are stationed at Gap for Quartermasters training. These servicemen often come to town and observe Negro baseball games. The Army was still segregated at the time. Since many of these soldiers are from the south, it is their first opportunity to see teams in integrated contests.

On July 20, 1944 in Detroit, MI, Rap Dixon died. He was buried in Midland Cemetery, Steelton, PA on July 24, 1944.

In the late 40s, Spottswood Poles managed a high level amateur team which was often called the Harrisburg Giants in honor of its lineage. After Poles stepped down as manager, Rich Felton took over the reigns. It is in this latter day period of Negro League baseball when such local talents as Wilbur Fordham and Tom Healey (both of whom played for the Harrisburg Senators), Leo “Psyche” Burnett, Russell Royster, Robert Pierce and Reid Poles played.

In 1952, as the Negro Leagues decline was in rapid motion, the Pittsburgh Courier polled its readers to name the greatest players of the Negro Leagues. They eventually named 5 teams plus honorable mention. Among those honored were the following eight Harrisburg Giants: Oscar Charleston, 1st team outfield; Ben Taylor, 2nd team first base; John Beckwith, 2nd team utility; Rap Dixon, 3rd team outfield; Fats Jenkins, 3rd team outfield; Spottswood Poles, 4th team outfield; Rev Cannady, 4th team utility; and Bunny Downs, 5th team second base.

Also in 1952, former Harrisburg Giant keystoner McKinley “Bunny” Downs signed a cross-handed hitting shortstop to a $200 per month contract to play for the Indianapolis Clowns. This young player went on to a major league career with the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves. His name? Hammerin’ Hank Aaron!

Spottswood Poles passed on in September 12, 1962. Both he and his wife, Bertha, are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1963, Fats Jenkins, Captain, and the rest of the New York Renaissance Five were named to the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.

In 1975, Oscar McKinley Charleston was installed at Cooperstown in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1997, Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed appointed a panel of local historians and fans to honor Harrisburg’s Negro League history. On June 17, 1997, Harrisburg Giants uniforms took to the field again when the Harrisburg Senators played their Eastern League clash with the Portland Sea Dogs sporting replica uniforms. Honored that evening was the 83 year old former Giant batboy Marshall Waters. Mr. Waters tossed a near perfect pitch to open the game that evening. Tonight is the second annual Negro League Commemorative Night and we honor Spottswood Poles the venerable outfielder, gentleman, war hero and Harrisburg Colored Giant of 1906 and ‘07.

Reed’s appointed panel of mortals will continue over the years to honor the greats of Harrisburg’s Negro League past. In the future we will see pioneers like Frye and Williams, administrators like Strothers and Marshall, personalities like Blalock, greats like Charleston, Jenkins, Beckwith and Taylor, native sons like Dixon and the latter day players like Healey, Fordham, and Royster be so remembered. All we can do is rekindle the storied past as best we can that these gentlemen (and women) created against all odds in a very different time and place. As long as baseball is played on the Island the echoes of these “dusky heroes” will remain forever pronounced against the evening mist that shrouds the late innings of an August afternoon.

Ted Knorr is a longtime SABR member and has worked diligently for the past decade to bring these events to Harrisburg. Calobe Jackson, Jr. is a SABR member as well as civic leader and President of the Harrisburg School Board. “Jackie” is Chairman of the Harrisburg Negro League Commemorative Committee.