Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Negro League baseball history fact for today - Jim LaMarque

James (Jim) Harding LaMarque, born on July 29, 1921 in Potosi, Missouri; was a lefthanded starter for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1941 – 1951.  During most of his years  with the Monarchs, LaMarque shared the mound with Hall of Fame pitchers Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith; along with Connie Johnson who went on to pitch in the Major Leagues for five years.  He pitched in their shadows and his accomplishments are overlooked.
LaMarque pitched a complete game in the Monarchs’ 15 – 5 victory over the Newark Eagles in Game Three of the 1946 Negro League World Series.  However he gave up three first inning runs in the Monarchs’ 9 – 7 lost in Game Six.  The Monarchs lost the Series four games to three.

He won 15 games in 1948 and was selected to pitch in the Negro League East – West All Star Game that year and also the next, 1949.  LaMarque pitched four innings giving up three hits and striking out one in his two All Star Game appearances.
After playing in the Mexican League in 1950, LaMarque returned to the Monarchs in 1951.  He finished his career playing amateur baseball after leaving the Monarchs.

LaMarque died January 15, 2000 in the city where he played his entire Negro League career, Kansas City.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

Acknowledged as one of baseball’s greatest hitters, Ted Williams was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 24, 1966.  At his speech during the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, Williams said:
“Inside the building are plaques to baseball men of all generations.  I’m proud to join them.  Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel.  Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better than someone else.  This is the nature of man and the nature of the game.  And I’ve been a very lucky guy to have worn a baseball uniform, and I hope someday the names of Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson in some way can be added as a symbol of the Negro players who are not here only because they weren’t given a chance.”

Williams knew that there had been Negro League players who deserved Hall of Fame recognition.  It was a fact that could not go much longer being ignored.  The only African American players in the Hall of Fame at that time were Jackie Robinson (inducted in 1962) and Roy Campanella (inducted in 1969).  Both got their start in Negro League baseball, but were inducted based on their tremendous success in the Major Leagues.
Five years after Williams made his speech, the Hall of Fame began opening its doors to the great players of the Negro Leagues.   Satchel Paige was inducted in 1971.  Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, and Monte Irvin were inducted in 1972.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

Clinton “Casey” Jones was born on July 19, 1918 in the Mississippi River delta area near Clarksdale, Mississippi.  He played the majority of his fifteen year Negro League baseball career (1940 – 1955) with the Memphis Red Sox.  The 6’ 2”, 195 pound catcher was a battery mate for two of the better Negro League pitchers during that period of time, Verdell Mathis and Don Bankhead.   Named Negro American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1950, Jones played in two Negro League All Star Games; 1950 and 1953.   After the racial barriers were eliminated that kept black players out of white organized baseball, Jones never signed with a Major League club as did Bankhead and other Red Sox teammate Bob Boyd.