Oscar McKinley Charleston, born October 14, 1896 in Indianapolis, Indiana, gets consideration as the best overall player in Negro League baseball history by those who have studied the era. Some say he should even get votes as the best ever to play the game. A center fielder who played first base the latter part of his career, Charleston spent 39 years in Negro League baseball as a player, manager, and umpire.
The apex of Charleston’s ability as a player and skills as a manager coming together would be with the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1932 – 1936. During that period at one time or another he was the manager for “Cool Papa” Bell, Judy Johnson, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Jud Wilson; all Hall of Fame players. In 1935, Charleston hit three home runs as the Crawfords defeated the New York Cubans in the playoff series for the Negro National League (NNL) championship. The Crawfords also won the NNL championship in 1936.What other two players along with Oscar Charleston were voted the top three outfielders in Negro League history in a 1952 Chicago Defender survey?