Born on January 5, 1923 in San Diego, California, John Franklin “Hoss” Ritchey played only one year in Negro League baseball. The 5’10”, 170 pound catcher played with semi-pro teams in his hometown after returning from the Army when World War II ended. Then in 1947, he was signed by the Chicago American Giants. Ritchey won the Negro American League (NAL) batting championship that season hitting over .360.
The next season he was signed by the San Diego Padres and became one of a group of African American players to integrate the Triple AAA minor league level Pacific Coast League (PCL). Former Negro League players Luke Easter, Arte Wilson, and Minnie Minoso were all Ritchey’s teammates in 1949 when the Padres became a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Ritchey spent eight seasons in the minor leagues (1948 – 1956), mostly with PCL teams. A good hitter, he had some seasons when he hit over .300. But Major League scouts believed he did not possess the strong throwing arm catchers needed at the next level.
Who won the 1947 Negro American League (NAL) pennant?