Indianapolis Clowns..Were originally formed in 1929 as the Miami Clowns, then as the Ethiopian Clowns. The Clowns entertained with a mix of comedy on the field and excellent baseball skill. Their comic routines gave potential customers one more reason to come to the park during the depression years..
they regularly played the powerhouse clubs of the Negro Leagues, the Monarchs, Elite Giants, American Giants, compiling a respectable record. The Clowns entrance into the Negro American League in 1941 clearly demonstrated the ability of the club as a professional baseball team..
1953 the Clowns, in an effort to spark fan interest signed three women..Toni Stones, Connie Morgan and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson...
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson
1953-55 Indianapolis Clowns
Before joining the Clowns, Johnson and a girlfriend tried to join the All-american Girls Baseball League..."I went to join the team and they looked at us like we were crazy."
Fondest memory "The thrill of knowing I'm good enough to play with the fellas"
Satchel Paige taught 5'2" 120lbs Peanut to throw the curve, "The curveball gave me an edge"
1997 - Milwaukee County Stadium Negro Wall of Fame
The best players black and white were sought to play in the winter leagues in Latin America...
The Latin players could measure themselves against the greatest from the United States. White players could earn extra money while enjoying a tropical climate. Blacks would be treated as equals and have the chance to test their skills against the white Major League stars..
When Negro League players played in the winter leagues they were treated like stars and with respect.
Rodolfo Fernandez - pitcher
Cuban Stars 1932-34, 1936
New York Cubans 1935, 1939, 1943
Santo Domingo, Cuidad Trujillo All-Stars 1937
Venezuelan League 1937-38
Mexican League 1940-42
Canadian League 1946...
Excellent sinker, good control on his fastball and curve. Excelled against Major League teams in exhibition, defeating the New York Giants 4-0, Brooklyn Dodgers 3-0 and Cincinnati Reds 2-1...
Coached the New York Cubans and managed and won a championship in 1952 with Aguila, Cibaenas, Dominican Republic..
1957 Philadelphia Phillies (injuries forced him out after 5 games)
First African-American to play for the Phillies
Played part of an All-Star team against the Willie Mays All-Stars (from the Major Leagues). mays hit two 2-run home runs, while totaling 5 RBI's in the game. Kennedy hit 2 solo home runs and an RBI double for 3 RBI's in the game...The Mays' All-Stars won the game 5-3...
Pitched his first game in Yankee Stadium against Satchel Paige before a crowd of 35,000. Paige usually pitched 3 innings near the end of his career. Paige told Harris he would stay until a run was scored. paige stayed until the seventh inning, when the New York Black Yankees scored 3 runs. NY defeated Harris and the Stars 3-1...
"Playing against the Newark Eagles, struck out Monte Irvin, Larry Doby and Lenny Pearson in one game.."
1951 - Elgin, New Brunswick, Canada
Also played for the Jackie Robinson All-Stars, and for teams in Panama, Venezuela and Santo Domingo
"I can remember that sometimes we'd play three games in one day, like the 4th of July. The first game would start at 10:00 in the morning, the second game at 2PM, the third early in the evenings. Sometimes playing in three different towns."
1964-1982 : Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, NY Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels
229 wins - 172 loses 3.30 ERA
Tiant begins with an exaggerated mid-windup pivot, turing his back to the batter, he would whip around and fire a dozen different kinds of pitches from three different positions, all for strikes, without looking at home plate...Tiant was present to represent his father....
Luis Tiant, Sr.
1930-1947 New York Cubans
Gifted Left-handed pitcher. Legendary among Cubans. A great fastball and a screwball, with the best move towards first base...
Would intentionally walk "Cool Papa" Bell just to set up a base stealing duel...
Same Jethroe - Cleveland Buckeyes 1942-48 His hitting ability earned him four appearances in the East-west Classic. 1946 Jethroe hit a league leading .393 and compiled a Negro League career batting average of .342.
1949 Jethroe signed with the Boston Braves, in his rookie season 1950, Jethroe hit .273, scored 100 runs, stole 35 bases and earned National League rookie of the Year honors.
After leading the National League in stolen bases, 1950, 1951, vision problems would force Jethroe from baseball finishing his Major League career in 1954 with the Pittsburgh Pirates..
He continued his career for several seasons in the International League.
Josh Gibson, Jr. Followed his father's base-path playing for the Homestead Grays 1949-1950. Youngstown (Mid-Atlantic League) Farnham Quebec (Canadian League) "Somewhat embarrassed, remembered playing against Satchel Paige, who picked off Sam Bankhead from Second base and Josh Jr from first base in the same inning."
Josh Gibson - 1930-46 catcher Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords..Considered by many to be equal to Babe Ruth for his power and ability to hit 500ft home runs..Credited with 75 home runs in 1931 and 69 during the 1934 seasons.
Max Manning - Newark Eagles 1938-1949 Known for his fastball -- struck out first five batters in his debut. Manning played for the Houston Eagles in 1950, after the Negro Leagues folded. Played in the East-West All-star game twice, also played for Satchel paige's All-Stars, as well as playing in Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Cuba. Best years 1946 15-1, 1947 15-6...
John "Buck" O'Neil - Kansas City Monarchs 1937-1955, Memphis Red Sox. 1942 NL American Title,Negro World Series. 1940, 1946 Batting Title.Played in East-West All-Star Classic 1942, 1943, 1949, managed West 1950, 1953, 1954, 1955. Led Monarchs to league titles 1948, 1950, 1951, 1953. First black coach in the majors with the Chicago Cubs 1962, had scouted for the cubs since 1956.
Monte Irvin - Newark Eagles..Joined the NY Giants in 1949. during the 1951 season Irvin drove in a league leading 121 runs, while batting .312 with 24 HRs. Irvin had a MLB career .293 BA, 443 RBIs and 99 HRs. Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame - 1973.
Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball in 1947, when he appeared for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The US Postal Service issued a stamp in honor of Jackie in 1982, I decided since I would not be able to add Jackie's signature to the book, I would take a first day cancer and add the cancel to the book, along with a printing of a linoleum block print I had created for the issuance of the stamp in 1982.
When I first heard there was going to be a memorabilia show featuring over 60 Negro League Baseball players, June 21-22, 1997, I knew I had to go. The show was held at a hotel in Secaucus, NJ With the league's demise in the 1950's, I knew there would be a point in time when there would be no players living. Therefore the time was right to put together a special collection. I decided to purchase a sketch book, have the ballplayers sign a page to which I would later add information and draw an appropriate sketch.
I found a sketch book that utilized a beige colored paper, instead of white. I would then draw all my sketches in brown and orange inks to give the book a old-time feel. I also asked the players what there favorite memories of playing were and added them to the page with their signature, for a more personalized touch.
While I was collecting the autographs JC Hartman's wife inquired if I was going to get the book published. That was not my intention, however with this blog, I am publishing the book.
At the time I worked on this book, getting information or photos of players from the Negro Leagues was difficult. Dial-up internet, non-existant books at the library. It was a struggle so some data may be missing from the players in this book.