Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

William Powell was one of the Negro League players signed by Major League teams in the early 1950’s that did not make it out of the minor leagues.  After coming out of the military service in 1946, he pitched for the Birmingham Black Barons five years; leading them in 1948 to the Negro American League pennant.  The 6’2 ½’, 195 pound right hander started two games for the Black Barons against the Homestead Grays in that year’s Negro League World Series.  Powell also was the winning pitcher in the 1948 Negro League East-West All Star game.      

He was 31 years old in 1950 when he was signed by the Chicago White Sox.  Powell spent the next 11 years in the minor league system of five teams, the White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, and Minnesota Twins. 

There were other former Negro League players who had a fate similar to Powell.  Some were signed by teams that had a racial quota, only a specific small number of African American players could be on their Major League roster.  Others were on teams that were really not committed to playing African American players, signed them only as a public relations show; and purposely held them back.

There were also Negro Leaguers, like Powell, who were passed their prime playing years; but were still good enough to make a living playing a long time in the minor leagues. He pitched until 1961,  he was then 42 years old.      

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