My Negro League All Stars

Back in the early 20th century, two Rubes, one black and one white, hit the winter barnstorming trail on their own terms, and mostly in the west, where white America was less bothered by the mixture of races. Note the images behind pitchers Rube Waddell and Rube Foster. The Waddell image is the same one that was later used to characterize the “Mad Magazine” comic book.” As the founder of the 1920 Negro National League, Rube Foster stands tall and alone as my all time favorite Negro League executive.

In picking my starting nine players from the old Negro Leagues, I worked with two simple parameters: (1) I restricted my choices to only those former Negro Leaguers who never made it, or had a chance to make it to the major leagues of organized baseball due to segregation; and (2) I made my selections from those players who also have since been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. As a result, I found that, with the exceptions of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, and only perhaps, I would not have picked any differently without these restrictions. And, from what I’ve read, I would not have taken Satchel Paige over Smoky Joe Williams as my starting pitcher.

At any rate, here are my choices, by position. For a thumbnail on their career strengths and accomplishments, check out the Hall of Fame website link for further facts and commentary:

My Negro League Starting Nine All Stars

Smoky Joe Williams, Pitcher

Josh Gibson, Catcher

Oscar Charleston, First Base

Martin Dihigo, Second Base

Judy Johnson, Third Base

Willie Wells, Shortstop

Turkey Stearnes, Left Field

Pete Hill, Center Field

Cool Papa Bell, Right Field

Notes: Most players from the Negro League era possessed and developed great versatility at several positions. It was a survival thing. The more you did, the longer you lasted. Some, however, went far beyond the call to greater utility into a rarefied territory of all around playing genius. The greatest of these greats was most likely a Cuban fellow named Martin Dihigo, now regarded by many historians as possibly the greatest player of all time. I put him on second base because he had to go somewhere for the sake of making sure this lineup contained all my choices for the best team I could put on the field, given the self-imposed restrictions I first place upon my selections. I also ended up with an outfield of speedy guys with strong arms who could all play center field well and easily handle the spots down each line.

Have a nice Sunday, everybody!


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2 Responses to “My Negro League All Stars”

  1. Frank M Says:

    What? No Terris McDuffie? :o)
    He used to come over to the house sometimes when I was a kid-dad played with him in the Dominican Republic.

  2. Fred Davis Says:

    Hi, Bill: My only change would be to put Ray Dandridge at third base. Among other things, he led the International League in batting when he was in his fifties. Tommy Lasorda says Ray was the greatest third baseman he ever saw.

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