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Adam W. Green

baseball player and manager, was born Felipe Rojas Alou, in Haina, Dominican Republic, to Jose Rojas, a carpenter/blacksmith and grandson of a slave, and Virginia Alou, a homemaker and Caucasian daughter of a Spanish migrant. The second Dominican-born player in major league baseball, Alou was one of three baseball-playing brothers and became the first Dominican to manage in the big leagues.

Alou grew up with five younger siblings in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot house his father had built in the village of Haina. For much of his childhood, food came from where Alou and his family could scavenge it: using bamboo poles and construction wire to fish in the Haina River or climbing coconut trees and scouring for other fruit. Baseball equipment was scarce in the poor village, and Alou and his brothers would play with lemons or coconut husks for balls and their hands for bats.

Alou traveled to ...

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Adam W. Green

baseball player, was born in Empire, Alabama, the third of five sons of Garnett Bankhead Sr., a coal miner, and Arie (Armstrong) Bankhead. Baseball was in the family blood: Garnett Bankhead was a power‐hitting first baseman in an Alabama industrial league, and all five Bankhead brothers played in the Negro Leagues, though Dan was the only one to play in the major leagues, becoming the first black pitcher in modern baseball history.

After attending various public schools in Birmingham, Alabama, Bankhead followed his two brothers Sam and Fred into the Negro Leagues, when he signed as a shortstop with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1940. He soon moved to the pitching mound, establishing himself with a dominant fastball and effective breaking ball; in 1941 he was named to the East West All Star Game hurling a pair of shutout innings That winter he played in the Puerto ...

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Ronald Eniclerico

baseball player. One of the most successful major league baseball players never to play on a championship team, Banks earned a reputation during his nineteen-year tenure with the Chicago Cubs as one of the most solid, dependable players in the game. He was known for his affable, optimistic attitude, epitomized by his well-known catchphrase: “It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two!”

Banks was born in Dallas, Texas, to a poor family. In his autobiography, Mr. Cub (1971), he relates the story that, when he was a child, a boy from his neighborhood stole a chicken that had been intended for the Banks family's Thanksgiving dinner. Banks's mother had killed the chicken herself, and Banks had to wrestle the boy for the bird in a nearby basement apartment to reclaim the family's dinner.

Banks began playing softball in high school where he first played shortstop ...

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In June 1866 sailors from the United States who were importing Sugar from Cuba invited local Cuban dockworkers to play baseball. Thus began the Caribbean's initiation to the game, less than thirty years after its North American inception. In the few years that followed, baseball was pushed to the fore of Cuban consciousness by visiting North American businessmen, U.S. Marines, and wealthy Cuban students who had played at schools in the United States. By decade's end the development of a local talent pool was under way, and with the emerging political turmoil in the Caribbean around the turn of the century, both migrating Cubans and occupying Marines took the new pastime across the Caribbean basin.

At first baseball was played by Cuba s wealthy class lending it the exclusivity of polo cycling cricket soccer and other European sports that had taken root in the clubs of the Caribbean s urban ...

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Charles Orson Cook

Negro Leagues superstar and manager, with a career in professional baseball that spanned almost forty years and more than a dozen teams. Oscar Charleston was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on 14 October 1896, and as a lad he was the batboy for the local Indianapolis ABCs, a Negro team. In 1910 he left home to join the army, at the age of fourteen. He was stationed in the Philippines, where he played baseball and ran track as a sprinter. Charleston was mustered out of the service and returned to his hometown in 1915 there he joined the ABCs where he established himself as a left handed power hitter and a southpaw outfielder of extraordinary speed and agility From his center field position Charleston claimed to be able to cover the entire outfield one unconfirmed account has it that his outfield teammates covered only foul territory allowing him to ...

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Shortly before the Civil War a new pastime began to sweep the gentlemen’s clubs and social societies, one that would eventually evolve into the “national pastime”—baseball. The game quickly gained momentum throughout America, with amateur, leisure clubs springing up across the eastern portion of the country, followed by professionalized teams in the 1870s.

Almost from the beginning the nascent pastime caught fire within African American communities just as it did in white society. However, for most of baseball’s first century of existence, a largely informal but nevertheless real “color line” divided the players, owners, journalists, and fans with the same type of racial segregation that plagued almost every other aspect of American society.

But despite this discrimination the passion for and subsequent quality of baseball was just as vibrant in African American culture as it was elsewhere and Chicago developed into what was arguably the strongest and most vital locus ...

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Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

Major League Baseball player. Roberto Clemente Walker was born in Barrio San Anton in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of the seven children of Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. His father was a foreman on a sugarcane plantation, and his mother ran a grocery store for plantation workers. As an adolescent, Clemente excelled in sports such as track and field and played amateur baseball with the Juncos double-A club and with the Santurce Crabbers in what was known as the Puerto Rican Winter League. Because he was fast, had a great throwing arm, and was also a strong hitter, scouts from big league teams watched him play in high school.

When Clemente graduated in 1953 the scout Al Campanis signed him with the Brooklyn Dodgers with a $10 000 bonus The following season however the Dodgers assigned Clemente to play for their top affiliate in the minors ...

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Claude Johnson

was born George Daniel Crowe in Whiteland, Indiana, the fifth child of Morten and Tom Ann Crow. He was the fifth of ten children—eight boys and two girls. Crowe’s father, Morten, was a lifelong farm laborer for hire. His mother, Tom Ann, was a homemaker. Both parents were from Adair County, Kentucky. A left-hander who stood six feet four inches tall with a brawny build and exceptional athletic ability, Crowe earned the nickname “Big George.”

He attended Franklin High School in Franklin, Indiana, where in 1938 as a junior he became the school’s first ever African American varsity basketball player. In 1939 he led the Grizzly Cubs to the final game of the Indiana State High School Athletic Association Basketball Championship and was named to the All State team as a center In addition as the leading vote getter for Indiana s newly instituted high school basketball All Star ...

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Jeremy Rich

basketball player, was born on 16 April 1985 in the multiethnic city of Wau, South Sudan (then part of Sudan). He was the son of Martha Deng and her husband, Aldo Deng, an official in the Sudanese government who had served as Minister of Transportation and deputy prime minister, the family belonged to the same Dinka ethnic community as fashion model Alek Wek. When the second Sudanese civil war commenced in 1983, the Sudanese government had Deng's father arrested. Deng secretly escaped with family members from South Sudan to Egypt in 1990 For the next five years Deng lived with eight other relatives mostly siblings in a tiny apartment in Alexandria Egypt He later recalled We shared everything My life sounds tough but thanks to them it was very easy They did all the work The nine of us lived in a two bedroom apartment Some of ...

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Joe Dorinson

baseball player and Hall of Famer, was born Lawrence Eugene Doby in Camden, South Carolina, the only child of David Doby and Etta Brooks. Abandoned by his father and left behind by his mother, who went north to look for a better life, he lived with his maternal grandmother and was known as Bubba Brooks for ten years. After his grandmother suffered a mental breakdown, he went to live with an Aunt Alice and Uncle James in 1934, at about which time he reclaimed his given name. Larry later remembered the four years that he spent with aunt and uncle, from 1934 to 1938, as the happiest of his young life.

At age fifteen, summoned by his mother, Doby arrived in Paterson, New Jersey, where he set the high school athletic world on fire with sparkling performances in baseball, football, basketball, and track. Like Monte Irvin ...

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Wesley Borucki

professional baseball player, coach, and manager. Larry Doby was born in Camden, South Carolina, to David Doby and Etta Doby (Brooks). He lived most of his youth in Camden with his maternal grandmother and an aunt and uncle.

Doby developed athletically in Paterson, New Jersey, where he joined his mother in 1938. He was an all-state athlete at Eastside High School. Doby played his first professional baseball game on 31 May 1942 with the Negro National League's Newark Eagles. In 1942–1943 he played basketball at Long Island and Virginia Union universities before conscription into the United States Navy. His fellow serviceman and Washington Senators all-star Mickey Vernon encouraged Doby to pursue professional baseball. Doby played second base for the Eagles, champion of the 1946 Negro World Series. That summer he married his high school sweetheart, Helen Curvy.

Doby played several successful exhibition games against ...

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Robert M. O'Brien

Hall of Fame baseball player. Anthony “Tony” Keith Gwynn was one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball and one of the most beloved players during the 1980s and 1990s.

Born in Los Angeles, he moved to Long Beach, California, when he was ten. He was a star athlete in baseball and basketball, earning a scholarship in the latter to San Diego State University in 1977. At San Diego State he was a star point guard, setting a school record for assists. After the basketball season ended he would play the second half of the baseball season for the school. Basketball was his first love, but being not tall enough and not quite fast enough led to the realization that he might not make it professionally, even though he was drafted in the tenth round by the National Basketball Association's San Diego Clippers.

However he played enough baseball ...

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Martha Ackmann

baseball player, was born Mamie Belton in Ridgeway, South Carolina, the daughter of Della Belton, a hospital dietician, and Gentry Harrison, a construction worker about whom little else is known. Mamie spent her early years in Ridgeway, where she attended Thorntree School, a two-room schoolhouse. Part of a large family that included twelve half brothers and half sisters, Mamie lived with her maternal grandmother, Cendonia Belton, while her mother worked in Washington, D.C. Mamie's uncle, Leo “Bones” Belton, was so close to her in age that she regarded him more as a brother than as an uncle. Belton introduced her to baseball. Along with other children in the area, “Bones” and Mamie played baseball on a makeshift diamond, with a lid from a bucket of King Cane sugar serving as home plate and baseballs made of rocks wrapped in tape.

After her grandmother s death ...

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Negro League baseball player and manager, was born in Whitehall, Louisiana, the youngest of the eleven children of Martha, a midwife, and Henry Louis Malarcher, a plantation worker. His mother had been a slave in Louisiana prior to the Civil War. Malarcher's family emphasized religious and educational training. His grandparents were founding members of the local black church and his family relocated in order to increase the educational opportunities for their children. As a young boy, Malarcher attended a country school in Union, Louisiana, and played on a local black youth baseball team known as the Baby T's. From 1907 until 1916 Malarcher attended New Orleans University (later Dillard University). There he starred on and served as a coach of the school baseball team, which went undefeated from 1913 until 1916.

Malarcher s stint at New Orleans University was productive both personally and professionally While there ...

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Daniel Donaghy

professional baseball player. Willie Howard Mays Jr. was born in Westfield, Alabama (just outside Birmingham), to William Howard Mays, a steel mill worker, and Ann Mays. Mays's parents, both accomplished athletes (his father a baseball player, his mother a champion sprinter in high school), stressed the importance of education as well as athletics. Growing up in a segregated town whose high school did not have a baseball team, Mays began playing alongside his father at fourteen for a semiprofessional squad sponsored by the mill where his father worked. His professional career began in 1947 with a brief stint with the Chattanooga Choo Choos in Tennessee before he joined the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro American League While his father supported his son s athletic aspirations he also insisted that his son complete high school before committing himself fully to baseball As a result Mays played only ...

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Adam W. Green

baseball player, was born Eddie Clarence Murray in Los Angeles to Charles Murray, a rug company mechanic, and Carrie Murray. The eighth of twelve children, Eddie was raised in the poverty-stricken neighborhood of Watts, but was closely watched by his parents, who readily dispensed chores and discipline. Playing baseball in the backyard, he and his siblings used broomstick handles to hit tin foil balls and swerving Crisco can lids. Though he also played basketball at Locke High, Eddie was the star first baseman and pitcher on the diamond, where he played with the future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Scoring admirably on a psychological exam given to amateur players, the results of the exam showed that he had “tremendous emotional control. He had a lot of drive, but it was masked by his emotional control,” according to former Orioles scout Dave Ritterpusch (Christensen The ...

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J. Todd Moye

Negro League baseball player, coach, and manager, was born John Jordan O'Neil Jr. to John Jordan O'Neil Sr., a farm and sawmill laborer and small-business owner, and Luella O'Neil, a homemaker and cook, in Carrabelle, Florida. O'Neil realized early on that his baseball talents could earn him a ticket out of the area's celery fields, and he began playing semipro ball at the age of twelve. He received his nickname through a case of mistaken identity in his twenties. A bootlegger named “Buck” O'Neal owned the all-black Miami Giants. When O'Neil left Florida to play on national barnstorming teams he was billed as “Buck”—perhaps as a result of innocent confusion, but more likely in an effort to capitalize on O'Neal's name recognition—and the moniker stuck.

O Neil attended segregated public schools in Sarasota Florida and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville He left college before earning ...

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John B. Holway

Negro League baseball player, was born in Winchester, Virginia, the son of French Poles, a laborer, and Matilda (maiden name unknown). “I played baseball since I was six years old, using a broomstick and a tennis ball,” Poles once reminisced. At age fifteen he was playing for the Hello Bill boys' club, graduating to the Springdale Athletic Club. In 1906 he joined the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Colored Giants. “I looked like my name,” he said, “a bean pole.”

He joined the illustrious New York Lincoln Giants as an outfielder in 1909. With the Hall of Fame shortstop John Henry Lloyd, the pitchers Joe Williams and Dick Redding, the catcher Louis Santop, and Poles, the team was one of the best in black baseball history. They claimed a record of 105 wins and only seventeen losses in 1909 Although most of their opponents were semiprofessional teams ...

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Adam W. Green

baseball player, was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of nine children of William Puckett, a department store and postal worker, and Catherine Puckett, a homemaker. Growing up in the crime-ridden Robert Taylor Homes projects, Puckett taught himself baseball fundamentals at an early age, throwing sock balls at a chalk strike zone on building walls. As a third baseman at Calumet High, he lifted weights to compensate for his diminutive (five-foot, eight-inch) stature.

After receiving little collegiate attention his senior year, Puckett worked on a Ford assembly line following graduation in 1979 at the age of 19 Noticed by a college coach at a free agent tryout Puckett was offered a scholarship to Bradley University Though small and round the atypical body for a centerfielder let alone leading base stealer the speedy Puckett moved to center field and led the ...

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Wesley Borucki

baseball player, administrator, and owner. Born in Stockdale, Ohio, Rickey was the second son of Frank and Sallie Rickey. His Methodist upbringing on the family farm during the depression of the 1890s gave him uncompromising beliefs in social justice.

Rickey loved baseball from his youth, catching on a Lucasville, Ohio, recreational team. He became a star student and athlete at Ohio Wesleyan University. Rendered ineligible for intercollegiate competition because of semiprofessional play after his freshman year, he was regarded highly enough by Ohio Wesleyan's administration to be appointed head baseball coach. He stood firm when the University of Kentucky threatened to cancel a game if Rickey played his black first baseman Charles Thomas. Kentucky's coach backed down. Rickey defied a hotel that would have barred Thomas when Ohio Wesleyan visited Notre Dame.

In September 1904 the Cincinnati Reds acquired Rickey but the team soon ...