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Negro Leagues DB Update: 1926 Negro National League

New in the DB: the 1926 Negro National League, once again based on the work of Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers, and the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group, with additions and edits by us. Along with the NNL playoffs and the 1926 World Series, the 1926 NNL takes its place alongside our compilation of the 1926 Eastern Colored League to give a complete picture of black professional baseball that year.

The Kansas City Monarchs, vying for their fourth straight NNL pennant, lost the great shortstop Dobie Moore early in the season when his ankle was shattered by a bullet. Newly appointed player-manager Bullet Rogan (12-4, 3.15, as a pitcher while batting .285) did his share on the field. The Cuban outfielder Cristóbal Torriente (.351/.426/.496) helped make up for the loss of Moore’s bat, and the pitching trio of Rogan, William Bell (15-5, 2.45), and the 19-year-old Chet Brewer (12-1, 2.24) enabled the Monarchs to win the first half with relative ease.

The legendary Rube Foster, founder of both the Chicago American Giants and the Negro National League itself, fell victim to mental illness and had to retire, leaving his captain Dave Malarcher in charge of the team. Leaning very heavily on the strong left arm of Rube’s brother Willie (13-4, 1.63), the American Giants went on a run under Malarcher to win the second half. In the playoffs they rallied from a 4 games to 1 deficit to beat the heavily favored Monarchs, Willie Foster pitching two shutouts on the last day, beating Bullet Rogan both times, to put his team through, 5 games to 4. In the World Series Chicago overcame a no-hitter by Claude “Red” Grier to edge the ECL champion Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, again by a 5 games to 4 margin.

Aside from the pennant race, the most noteworthy achievement in the 1926 NNL had to be the performance of the St. Louis Stars’ new slugger, George “Mule” Suttles. Taking advantage of the friendly left field porch at Stars Park, Suttles compiled an astonishing 77 extra base hits in 86 games, including 30 home runs and 20 triples, both the highest totals we have seen by a player in a single Negro league season.

Only one more league-season remains for us to achieve full coverage of all the traditional major Negro leagues. Next up will be the Negro Southern League of 1932, the only year it was considered a major league, as well as more Mexican League seasons.

Mule Suttles in 1926.

THE 1941 MEXICAN LEAGUE SEASON

Before the 1941 season began, the Mexican League consolidated, going from 7 teams down to only 6 teams. Although the number of Negro Leaguers decreased from 67 to 58, in percentage terms they increased from around 33% to 40% of the total player population. But this understates their impact, as in terms of At Bats, Negro League position players had over 50% of the league’s AB’s. And even that underplays the impact of the Negro League position players. A look at the OPS+ Leader Board will reveal the highest ranked native Mexican player was Epicacio Torres, at 96 OPS+.

This time Josh Gibson played the entire season in the league, and easily was the “MVP” for 1941, hitting .374 with 33 Home Runs and 124 RBIs in 358 At Bats. It would have been a Triple Crown season for Gibson except that Wild Bill Wright hit .390, and led the league with 26 Stolen Bases. It was a good year for Shortstops as Bus Clarkson (.334/.414/.598), Sam Bankhead (.351/.433/.521), and Willie Wells (.347/.430/.516) all had strong years.

Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Famer Jesús Valenzuela was the ERA leader at 3.12 (153 ERA+), with his Tampico teammates Francisco Castañeda (3.51 ERA) and Nate Moreland (3.67 ERA) finishing right behind him.
Azules de Veracruz pitcher Barney Brown had the best W/L record at 16-5.

In the race for the championship, even with the top 3 pitchers Tampico only finished in 3rd, as heavy hitting Azules de Veracruz, with Hall of Famers Gibson, Wells and Ray Dandridge won for the second consecutive year.

(The data comes primarily from Pedro Cisneros’ “Mexican League Encyclopedia”, compiled into electronic form by Frank Hamilton. I, Juan Rivera, Eric Chalek, and Gary Ashwill all reviewed, edited, modified and added to the data, particularly in areas of team information, player identification and biographical material.)

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1927 Negro National League

As we count down to the 100th anniversary of the first Negro National League (in February 2020), we’re adding the 1927 Negro National League to the database, to accompany our work on the 1927 Eastern Colored League.

Based again on the work of Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers, Dick Clark, and the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group, this update adds some big offensive seasons by the likes of Turkey Stearnes of the Detroit Stars (.353/.433/.671, with 19 home runs) and Willie Wells of the St. Louis Stars, whose 28 home runs were the most we’ve recorded by a player in a single Negro league season.

The Birmingham Black Barons, back in the NNL after a season in the minor Negro Southern League, managed to steal the second half flag on the back of efforts by rookies Roy Parnell (.422/.464/.653) and Leroy Paige (6-1, 2.48), and veterans Harry Salmon (15-6, 2.94) and Sam Streeter (14-13, 2.80). In the playoffs, however, they ran into the defending World Series champion Chicago American Giants.

Led by Willie Foster—whose 24 wins (including the postseason) were another Negro league record—the American Giants disposed of the Black Barons in five games, then won the first four games of the best-of-nine World Series. The Eastern Colored League champion Atlantic City Bacharach Giants rallied to win three and tie one (including a seven-inning no-hitter by Luther Farrell) before the Chicagoans finally closed out the Series with an 11-to-4 win.

Aside from Foster, the mainstays of the American Giants 1926-27 mini-dynasty were a couple of position players who have been largely overlooked even by historians: Pythias Russ, a catcher-turned-shortstop who hit .325 overall with 33 doubles, and Walter “Steel Arm” Davis, who hit .402/.444/.554 in the regular season and .375/.397/.697 in the postseason. Russ just got better and better, raising his average to .369 in 1929, but after that season he fell ill, and died of tuberculosis at the age of 26. Davis started out as a pitcher in the Texas Colored League and spent large swaths of his career playing for non-league barnstorming teams like Gilkerson’s Union Giants, where he built a reputation both as a formidable power hitter and as an on-field comedian. He was killed in a bar fight in 1941.

This update also includes the 1941 Mexican League, which Kevin Johnson will write about soon.

Next up for the DB: 1926 Negro National League, 1932 Negro Southern League, and more Mexican League seasons.

The 1927 Birmingham Black Barons, 2nd half champions of the Negro National League (Birmingham Reporter, April 30, 1927, p. 3).

Today's Birthdays
Player Pos Years Born WAR
Nat Pollard
RP
1946-1948
1915
-0.2


Died on This Day
Player Pos Years Died WAR
Ben Taylor
1B
1909-1929
1953
35.1
Bill Perkins
C
1928-1948
1958
5.4
Tommy Sampson
2B
1940-1948
2002
4.9
Doc Dudley
LF
1920-1923
1975
2.6
Orinthal Anderson
RF
1947-1947
1977
-0.2
Frank Blattner
2B
1916-1921
1954
-0.9
Bobby Anderson
2B
1920-1920
1975
-1.4

If you have any questions regarding Negro Leagues statistical or biographical data, please contact gary@seamheads.com. For any other questions/comments/suggestions, please contact the web developer at BaseballGauge@gmail.com.

All biographical data, copyright 2011-2018 Gary Ashwill.

Playing statistics for 1887-1922 and 1926-1938, as well as all Cuban League games (1902-1928) and Negro League vs. Major League games (1887-1944), copyright 2011-2018 Gary Ashwill.

Playing statistics for 1923 (except Negro League vs. Major League games), copyright 2011-2018 Patrick Rock.

Playing statistics for 1933 and 1943, copyright 2013-2018 Scott Simkus.

Playing statistics for 1924-1925, 1939-1942, and 1944-1946 Negro Leagues (not including Cuban League and Negro League vs. Major League games), copyright 2011-2018 Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers, Gary Ashwill.


Defensive Regression Analysis data used here was obtained with permission from Michael Humphreys, author of Wizardry

Win Shares are calculated using the formula in the book Win Shares by Bill James