By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN Presents A Different Kind Of “All-Star” Squad
However, this will not be your conventional All-Star team. We here at BASN could very easily put together a team of Hall of Famers and other greats and debate about it until the cows come home.
Our team will mainly be comprised of former Negro Leaguers and major leaguers with either ties or backgrounds from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
Several HBCU players and officials from both the Negro Leagues and the major leagues have contributed on and off the field of baseball over the years. The late Bill Lucas, the major’s first black general manager with the Atlanta Braves, was a product of Florida A&M Also, Buck O’Neill, one of the game’s greatest ambassadors, was a three-time All-Star first baseman during his Negro League playing career. Before he became the major’s first black coach (for the Chicago Cubs in 1962), he was a longtime player-manager of the Kansas City Monarchs from 1946 through 1955.
The Carabelle, Florida native, who also was the Negro American League’s batting champion (.353) in 1946, also attended Edward Waters College in nearby Jacksonville.
Those two men are just two examples of the players and history that we’ll honor on this “All-Star” team. Some of the players you’ll recognize, others you may not. But if nothing else, you’ll see just how these men contributed to the long history of the game.
Let’s get it started FIRST BASE: Cecil Cooper. The current bench coach for the Houston Astros hits all of our criteria. A five-time American League All-Star, Cooper was a standout for Prairie View University. The Texas native, who still holds several records in Milwaukee Brewers history, also had two brothers who played with the Indianapolis Clowns.
Honorable mention includes Donn Clendenon: The 1969 World Series MVP for the Amazin’ Mets attended Morehouse College as did his father, former Negro League catcher Nish Williams.
Also: Andre Thornton (Cheyney State), Willie Mays Aiken (South Carolina State).
SECOND BASE: Lorenzo “Piper” Davis. Nicknamed after his hometown in Alabama, Davis was an All-Star second sacker for the Birmingham Black Barons in the 1940′s. A product of Alabama State, Davis would later become the Barons’ player-manager in 1948. Davis is also credited with discovering a 17-year-old outfielder that same season — Willie Mays.
SHORTSTOP: Dick Lundy. Known as “The King” during his playing days, Lundy was the Negro Leagues best shortstop during the 1920′s. A member of the Baltimore Black Sox “$1,000,000 Infield” of 1929, Lundy also attended Edward Waters College in his hometown of Jacksonville. As a manager for the Newark Dodgers in the 1930′s, Lundy would sign future Hall of Famer Ray Dandridge.
Honorable mention includes Byron “Mex” Johnson: Before his days as an All-Star shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1930′s, Johnson was a standout quarterback for Wiley College. The Arkansas native shared the backfield with another future Negro Leaguer, Pat Patterson.
THIRD BASE: Dave Malarcher: Before his playing days, “Gentleman Dave” attended both Dillard University and Xavier University in Louisiana. A native of Whitehall, La., Malarcher was a standout third baseman for the great Chicago American Giants teams managed by Negro Leaguer founder Rube Foster in the 1920′s.
Honorable mention includes Enos Cabell: The former athletics director for Texas Southern is currently in his second year as special assistant to the general manager of the Houston Astros. A 15-year veteran of the majors, Cabell spent most of his career with Houston. He was a member of the Astros’ 1980 Western Division Championship squad.
OUTFIELD: Monte Irvin, Lou Brock, and Larry Doby. How about an Hall of Fame outfield all with ties to both the Negro Leagues and the majors? In fact, Doby (Virginia Union) and Irvin (Lincoln University) were teammates for the 1946 Negro League Champion Newark Eagles. They were also opponents in the 1954 World Series when Irvin’s Giants swept Doby’s Indians in four straight games.
As for Brock, widely regarded as one of the game’s greatest base stealers was a standout at Southern University before he was signed professionally by the Chicago Cubs. The man most instrumental in signing the future Hall of Famer? — the previously mentioned Buck O’Neill, who was serving as a scout for the Cubbies at the time.
Honorable mention includes Andre Dawson, Al Bumbry, and Vince Coleman. All three of these men were HBCU standouts that also were their league’s Rookie of the Year in their debut season. In 1973, Bumbry (Virginia State) was the AL Rookie of the Year for the Orioles. Four years later, Dawson (Florida A&M) was the NL’s Rookie of the Year with the Expos. Finally in 1985, another FAMU standout (Coleman) was tabbed as the NL’s top rookie.
CATCHER: Johnny Roseboro and Earl Battey. Like a good All-Star team we had to have two catchers. Ironically, these two backstops were also opponents in 1965 World Series. A four-time All-Star, Roseboro (Central State) caught two of Sandy Koufax’s no-hitters while with the Dodgers. Battey, a standout for Bethune Cookman, was a three-time All-Star with the Twins in the 1960′s. The Dodgers outlasted the Twins in seven games in the ’65 Fall Classic. Four years later, Roseboro was Minnesota’s catcher when they won the AL Western Division crown.
PITCHERS: Satchel Paige, Joe Black, Bill Foster, and Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd. Quite a diverse group, huh? One of the Hall of Famers of the group, Paige briefly attended Knoxville College before he began his long career in baseball.
A former offensive lineman and wrestler at Morgan State, Black was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1952 for the Dodgers. He was also the first black pitcher to win a World Series game that same season. Black also played with the Baltimore Elite Giants where one of his teammates was Roy Campanella, a future battery mate with him at Brooklyn.
The brother of the founder of the Negro Leagues, Hall of Famer Bill Foster was one of the Negro League’s best lefthanders of all-time. At the end of his playing days Foster would serve as a dean and baseball coach for his alma mater, Alcorn State. As for the “Can”, Boyd was a standout for Jackson State University before coming the majors with the Red Sox, Rangers, and Expos. His pitching idol?? Satchel Paige.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Hal McCrae and Jerry Hairston, Sr. Two of the games greatest DH’s also have HBCU backgrounds. McCrae, known for his days with the Royals of the 1970′s, was a standout for Florida A&M before he began his career with the Cincinnati Reds.
A standout for Southern University, Hairston Sr. was one of the game’s best pinch hitters and his family’s baseball roots go back to Negro Leagues up until the present day majors. His dad, Sam was a former Negro League All-Star catcher who would become the first African-American player signed by the Chicago White Sox. His son, Jerry Jr., is currently a utility infelder/outfielder for the Texas Rangers.
BENCH: How about a bench that includes outfielders Ralph “The Road Runner” Garr (Grambling State) and Marquis Grissom (Florida A&M)? Garr led the NL in hitting in 1974 (.353) while with the Braves. Grissom, a three-time All-Star, won four consecutive Gold Gloves (1993-96) while with the Montreal Expos and Atlanta Braves.
Well, there you have it. Our non-conventional team is all set. Like many All-Star teams, there were some players that folks may think we’ve left off. But like the majors, we’ll have write-in candidates.
That’s where you come in. If you think you can put together a better team than yours truly, we’ve love to hear about. Drop me an e-mail about either your team or someone you think we may have missed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, we’re looking for either Negro Leaguers or former African-American major leaguers all with an HBCU background.
If we get enough responses, we’ll post them on the site. So drop us a line to either say yea or no on our team. Hopefully, we have either jarred some great baseball memories or sparked your interest in either the Negro Leagues or the majors.