Pittsburgh’s Rich Baseball History Gets Richer

Since I use Baseball-Reference.com a lot during my research and even sponsor a few pages myself, I’d like to take a second to point out the great new feature they have added to their site.  Through exhaustive research by many individuals, they have added stats for Negro League players from 1903-1948. Many of these players had their best days in the city of Pittsburgh with the Homestead Grays, who played home games at Forbes Field, or the Pittsburgh Crawfords. For example, the 1932 Crawfords featured one of the greatest hitters, Josh Gibson, and one of the greatest pitchers, Satchel Paige, that ever put on baseball uniforms. They also had Oscar Charleston, Smokey Joe Williams, Jud Wilson and Judy Johnson, all members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The information on the site in not complete by any means. It is a work in progress and a great link to the past history of the players who not only played on the same fields as the National and American Leaguers of the time, but also weren’t allowed to play major league baseball prior to 1947.

The first African-American player in the history of the Pirates, Curt Roberts, played for the Kansas City Monarchs alongside the great Buck O’Neil and Hall of Famers, pitcher Hilton Smith and outfielder Willard Brown. That team also had infielder Gene Baker, a member of the Pirates in 1957-58 and 1960-61.

Some other Pirates players who started in the Negro Leagues include:

Jim Pendleton, a member of the 1957-58 Pirates, played with the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League in 1948.

Luis Marquez, a Puerto Rican born player, was a member of the 1948 Homestead Grays and the 1951 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Harry “Suitcase” Simpson played for the 1948 Philadelphia Stars and the 1959 Pirates.

Lino Donoso, a Cuban born pitcher, played for the 1947 New York Cubans and the 1955-56 Pirates.

Sam Jethroe has eight seasons worth of Negro League stats already up. He played for the 1954 Pirates.

Here is the page for teams that played in Pittsburgh.

It is obvious to see the city of Pittsburgh has a rich history with the Negro Leagues, from players who made it to the majors with the team, to Negro League teams playing in the city. Finally, just because he was a favorite subject to read about when I was a kid, likely due to the nickname and Hall of Fame status, I must point out the page for one of the fastest baseball players ever, James “Cool Papa” Bell. He never made it to the majors, a case of being born too early, but he played five seasons for the Crawfords, another five for the Grays and his Baseball-Reference page has 21 season’s worth of stats to check out. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974

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About John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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