Monday, September 26, 2016

Larry Kimbrough: Ambidextrous Negro League pitcher

Due to a childhood injury of his left arm, naturally left handed Larry Nathaniel Kimbrough learned to equally use his right hand.  Born, September 23, 1923 in Philadelphia, PA., Kimbrough went on to become one of the few ambidextrous pitchers in Negro League baseball.  He pitched mainly with his right hand, but did throw some games left handed.  He never switched between the two during a game.
Image result for Larry Kimbrough negro league baseball
After refusing to accept offers to sign with Negro League teams while in high school, Kimbrough began pitching for the Philadelphia Stars in 1942 after one year at Wilberforce University (Wilberforce, Ohio).  He got the nickname “Schoolboy”.  He started with a flash pitching a shutout against the Newark Eagles.   

 Following two seasons, Kimbrough received his draft notice for military service and did not return to the Stars until 1946.  But he did not regain his pre-military magic on the mound and never became a star pitcher.

Although being only 23 years old at the time, Kimbrough retired from professional baseball after 1946 and had a long distinguished career with the US Postal Service. 

To learn more about the Negro League baseball era, read “Last Train to Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era”.  To order go to (

Monday, September 12, 2016

Cum Posey: The only one in the Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame


Cumberland “Cum” Posey made his mark in sports history as the architect and owner of the Homestead Grays, one of the most renown and successful franchises in Negro League baseball.  One of the seventeen individuals from the Negro League baseball era inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, New York) in 2006, Posey helped to provide the opportunity for African American and dark-skinned Latino baseball players to exhibit their God given talent during the time racial discrimination kept them out of the Major Leagues.

 However, Cum Posey received another distinction last week by being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The other inductees with Posey were; former National Basketball Association (NBA) players Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, and Zelmo Beaty; former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Sheryl Swopes, Michigan State Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, former NBA referee Darell Garretson, and former NBA and college coach John McLendon.  Long before the existence of the NBA or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Posey received acclaim as one of the best basketball guards in the country when he graduated from high school in 1908. 

A super quick point guard (5’ 4” - 5'9" depending on the source), he went on to become the first African American student athlete at Penn State (1909 – 1911).  After leaving school, Posey and his brother organized a basketball team in his hometown of Homestead across the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh; The Monticello Rifles.   Not only the team’s star player, Cum also operated the business and promotional functions for it.  The team changed its name to the Loendi Big Five in 1913 and became for years one of the best in what was the black professional basketball circuit.

Posey returned to college in 1916 and under the name Charles Cumbert became the first African American student athlete at Duquesne.  Leading the team in scoring from 1916 – 1919), he wanted to get an additional year of eligibility so he successfully used an assumed name.
Image result for cum posey
After playing baseball in the summer with the Homestead Grays since 1911, Posey bought the team in 1920 and by 1925 baseball became his main focus.

Cum Posey is the first to be recognized at the Hall of Fame in both Cooperstown and Springfield.

Here is an excerpt from my book, “Last Train to Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era” (Black Rose Writing – 2015), with more information about Cum Posey:

"A star athlete at Homestead High School, Posey played football,

basketball, and baseball as a teenager.   Named Pittsburgh area’s top

high school basketball player in 1909, Posey (5’9”, 140 pounds) also

received national attention as one of the best guards in the country.

He played college basketball at Penn State and Duquesne.

However, baseball was a more popular sport in Posey’s

hometown of Homestead. The black steel workers passionately

played it every weekend from spring through fall. There were many

Last Train to Cooperstown


sandlot baseball teams sponsored by Pittsburgh area steel mills and

companies in the steel industry. These teams would be opponents

for a Homestead black team organized in 1900 called the Blue

Ribbons. The Blue Ribbons also played against local white


teams. By the time Posey began playing for the team

in 1911, its name had been changed to the Murdock Grays. Shortly

afterwards the team became the Homestead Grays.

Posey used the speed he exhibited on the basketball court to

develop into a decent center fielder in baseball. He still played local

semi‐professional basketball during the winter in his early years

with the Grays. It was during his involvement with basketball that

the skills Posey used when he owned and operated the Grays were

first exhibited. Along with his brother Seward, he organized and

operated a basketball team that was successful for many years in

the black semi‐professional circuit. He continued to operate the

team for 14 years after he began playing with the Grays.

Posey’ status with Grays steadily increased as he was the team

captain in 1916, the field manager in 1917, and in 1918 was also

handling many of the team’ business operations. Finally, Posey

and a local businessman (Charles Walker) bought the Grays in


To learn and more about Cum Posey and Negro League baseball, order  "Last Train to Cooperstown" at ( or