Best of the Week: 6/2/2019 – 6/8/2019


As the world marked the 75th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy (D-Day) this week, the baseball world made sure that baseball’s contributions were not forgotten:

 

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

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Charley and Mack Pride


A while back I posted the list of former Negro Leaguers who were “drafted” by Major League Teams in the 2008 MLB Negro Leagues Player Draft. According to MLB.com, the draft was “a continuation of baseball’s effort to fix a historical wrong.” Each team selected a surviving former Negro Leagues player to represent all players who were denied the opportunity to play Major League Baseball. Charley Pride and his brother Mack were drafted by the Texas Rangers and the Colorado Rockies, respectively. This list of “drafted” players appears below.

Yesterday, I summarized the baseball career of country singer Charley Pride. But he wasn’t the only athlete in the family. His older brother, Mack Pride, Jr., also was a pitcher in the Negro Leagues. Mack Pride played for the Memphis Red Sox in 1955 and the Kansas City Monarchs in 1956. According to the Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum, Mack Pride, “has sung in night clubs, at weddings, funerals and on television ministry programs. He coached little league baseball for six years. He has held various occupations for the past 30 years.”

Mack Pride was featured along with other Negro Leaguers in a traveling exhibit titled, “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience” in 2011.

~ baseballrebecca

Player Drafted By
Bob Mitchell Arizona Diamondbacks
James “Red” Moore Atlanta Braves
Bert Simmons Baltimore Orioles
Jim Colzie Boston Red Sox
Walter Owens Chicago Cubs
Hank Presswood Chicago White Sox
Charlie Davis Cincinnati Reds
Otha “Li’l Catch” Bailey Cleveland Indians
Mack Pride, Jr. Colorado Rockies
Cecil Kaiser Detroit Tigers
Enrique Maroto Florida Marlins
Bill Blair Houston Astros
Ulysses Hollimon Kansas City Royals
Neale “Bobo” Henderson Los Angeles Angels
Andrew Porter Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Scott Milwaukee Brewers
Bill “Lefty” Bell Minnesota Twins
Robert Scott New York Mets
Emilio “Millito” Navarro New York Yankees
Irvin Castille Oakland Athletics
Mahlon Duckett Philadelphia Phillies
James Tillman Pittsburgh Pirates
Walter McCoy San Diego Padres
Carlos Manuel Santiago San Francisco Giants
John “Mule” Miles Seattle Mariners
Walter Lee Gibbons Tampa Bay Rays
Charley Pride Texas Rangers
Harold Gould Toronto Blue Jays
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Washington Nationals

 

The Baseball Career of Charley Pride


 

File:Charley-Pride 1981.JPEG

Charley Pride performing in 1981 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

“When I saw Jackie Robinson go to the big leagues, I knew that was my way of getting out of the cotton fields.” ~ Charley Pride

 

Charley Pride’s dream was to play Major League Baseball. Instead, he ended up a Grammy-winning musician. He’s never been too far away from baseball, though.

Pride was born on March 18, 1938, in Sledge, Mississippi. After he was discovered pitching for a sandlot team against the Memphis Red Sox, Pride signed with Memphis and played for them in 1952. He then signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees and was assigned to the Boise Yankees of the Class C Pioneer League in 1953. An injury that year sent to the Class D Fond du Lac Panthers of the Wisconsin State League. He also played for the Negro Leagues’ Louisville Clippers, who reportedly traded him and another player to the Birmingham Black Barons for money for a team bus.

Pride played for Birmingham again in 1954, and, according to Baseball-Reference.com, played for the Class C Nogales Yaquis in Nogales, Mexico, in 1955. He returned to the Memphis Red Sox in 1956, where he won 14 games as a pitcher and earned a spot on the Negro American League All-Star Team.

Pride spent the next two years in the Army. He completed basic training at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and he was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. In Colorado he was assigned to quartermaster duty and also played on the fort’s baseball team.

When his Army service ended, Pride wanted to find a way to be released from his contract with the Memphis Red Sox and remain in Colorado; but as he notes in his autobiography, “Curt Flood had not yet challenged [the system of being “owned” by a team for life] with his free-agency lawsuit and therefore the players had little leverage in dealing with the owners.” Thus, Pride returned to Memphis for the 1958 season. Despite being selected for the East-West All-Star Game that season, he was not able to negotiate a raise for the next season. So, he chose to sit out the 1959 season.

In early 1960, Pride responded to an ad in the Sporting News inviting players to try out for the Missoula Timberjacks of the Class C Pioneer League in Missoula, Montana. Unfortunately, he was released after 3 starts. It was then that he found out about the Montana State League, which was comprised of semi-pro and amateur teams sponsored by smelting companies. He got a job with the American Smelting & Refining Company in Helena, Montana. The company paid him $100 a week and put him on the company baseball team, the East Helena Smelterites. The Smelterites won the league championship that year.

Pride clipped newspaper stories of his work in the Montana State League and sent them to baseball teams hoping to get a spring tryout in 1961. Though teams like the Cubs turned him down, the California Angels told him if he could get to the spring training location in Palm Springs, California, by March 1, he could try out. After two weeks, they cut him, telling him he just didn’t have “a major league pitching arm.” So, Pride returned to his job in Montana and his position on the baseball team. The Smelterites won the league championship that year, too.

Pride planned on trying to get a tryout with the Mets the next season, but that winter he broke his ankle in an accident at work, making it impossible for him to try out during spring training. He was healed in time for the Smelterites season. The team won the league championship that year, as well.

It was during his time in the minors and in Montana that Pride also began to experience success in music. Whether it was playing on the team bus, or at local bars and music venues in Montana, he was beginning to get noticed. However, although his music career quickly took off, Pride continued his relationship with baseball.

File:Jim Palmer 1972.jpg

Jim Palmer in 1974 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In 1970, Pride was named an honorary member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He attended the Brewers’ spring training camp for three seasons after being invited by the team’s manager who was a country music fan. In 1974, he signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers so that he could play in some of their spring exhibition games – he even got a hit off of Jim Palmer of Baltimore Orioles fame.  In fact, Pride would become a fixture at Rangers’ games, having settled with his family in Dallas, Texas. In 2010, became a part-owner of the Rangers with Nolan Ryan and other partners.

In 2008, Pride and other living former Negro League players, including his brother Mack Pride, were “drafted” by each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in a recognition of the achievements of the Negro Leagues; Pride was selected by the Texas Rangers. In 2013, Pride was presented the Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

If you haven’t checked out the documentary, Charley Pride: I’m Just Me, on PBS, you can watch it now on their American Masters website!

~ baseballrebecca

 

Happy Birthday, Monte!


Monte Irvin 1953.jpg
Monte Irvin with the New York Giants, ca. 1953 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
“Baseball is a game you’d play for nothing. And I am so happy the Lord gave me a little ability, because it allowed me to meet a lot of good people and see so many exciting places.” ~ Monte Irvin 

Yesterday would have been Monte Irvin’s 100th birthday. Irvin, who passed away in 2016, spent eight years in the major leagues, after nine years in the Negro Leagues and three in the Army. He was just the seventh African American player in Major League Baseball, and a member of the first all-black MLB outfield in 1951, along with Willie Mays and Hank Thompson.

Monford Merrill Irvin was born in Haleburg, Alabama, on February 25, 1919. He moved to Orange, New Jersey, with his family when he was a child. After playing for the semi-pro Orange Triangles, Irvin joined the Newark Eagles in 1938. When he did not get the raise he asked for in 1942, Irvin went to Mexico and played for the Veracruz Azules. During the off season, he was drafted into the Army, where he spent three years in England, France, and Belgium, and served in the Battle of the Bulge.

Irvin returned to the Eagles in 1945. While with the Eagles, he played winter ball in Puerto Rico and Cuba. In 1949, Irvin signed with the New York Giants, earning a salary of $5,000. In 1949 and 1950, he split time between the Giants and their AAA affiliate, the Jersey City Giants, making his major league debut on July 8, 1949. Irvin played with the Giants through the 1955 season, after having been an all-star in 1952 and playing in two World Series – the Giants lost in 1951, but won the World Series in 1954.

Monte Irvin’s baseball awards and accomplishments include:

  • 5-time Negro League All-Star, 1941, 1946-48 (two All-Star games in 1946)
  • Mexican League Triple Crown winner, 1942
  • Puerto Rico Winter League MVP, 1945-46
  • Negro League Batting Champion (with a .401 batting average), 1946
  • NL RBI leader, 1951
  • MLB All-Star, 1952

Irvin signed with the Chicago Cubs for the 1956 season, but in 1957 a back injury during spring training led to his retirement. After his playing career, held a variety of jobs, including being a scout for the New York Mets from 1967 to 1968. In 1968, he became the first Black MLB executive when he was appointed to the position of Public Relations Specialist for the Commissioner’s Office, a position he held until his retirement in 1984.

Irvin was elected to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame a year later. The San Francisco Giants retired his uniform number in 2010.

Happy Birthday, Monte!

~ baseballrebecca

Stat-urday, 2/23/2019


MLB lost another legend on Tuesday when Don Newcombe passed away. Here are his career stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com:

Year Team W L W-L% ERA G GS IP
1944 Newark Eagles 1 3 0.250 4 24.0
1945 Newark Eagles 3 4 0.429 7 56.2
1946 Nashua Dodgers 14 4 0.778 2.21 26 19 155.0
1947 Nashua Dodgers 19 6 0.760 2.91 29 27 223.0
1948 Montreal Royals 17 6 0.739 3.14 37 27 189.0
1949 Montreal Royals 2 2 0.500 2.65 5 5 244.1
1949 Brooklyn Dodgers 17 8 0.680 3.17 38 31 34.0
1950 Brooklyn Dodgers 19 11 0.633 3.7 40 35 267.1
1951 Brooklyn Dodgers 20 9 0.690 3.28 40 36 272.0
1952 Military Service – U.S. Army
1953
1954 Brooklyn Dodgers 9 8 0.529 4.55 29 25 144.1
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers 20 5 0.800 3.2 34 31 233.2
1956 Brooklyn Dodgers 27 7 0.794 3.06 38 36 268.0
1957 Brooklyn Dodgers 11 12 0.478 3.49 28 28 198.2
1958 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 6 0.000 7.86 11 8 34.1
1958 Cincinnati Reds 7 7 0.500 3.85 20 18 133.1
1959 Cincinnati Reds 13 8 0.619 3.16 30 29 222.0
1960 Cincinnati Reds 4 6 0.400 4.57 16 15 82.2
1960 Cleveland Indians 2 3 0.400 4.33 20 2 54.0
1961 Spokane Indians (Dodgers AAA) 9 8 0.529 4.96 25 23 147.0
1962 Chunichi Dragons (Japanese League) 0 0 4.5 1 1 4.0
Totals: 17 Seasons 214 123 0.635 467 407 2987.1

Films on Friday: Trailer for Charley Pride Documentary on PBS


The documentary, “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me,” premieres tonight on PBS! The show will cover not only Pride’s country music career, but his time in the Negro Leagues. (And, by the way, the almost 81-year old singer also will perform tonight in Tucson, Arizona, before going on tour in New Zealand and Australia.)

Check out the trailer below. You can also catch the show on pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps beginning tomorrow.