Sunday, February 15, 2015

Black History Month: All-Time Philadelphia Negro League Team

1924 Hilldale baseball club

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
February 15 2015, 5:00 PM EDT.
@PGordonPBR

Negro baseball was a mainstay in the Philadelphia region for more than eight decades. The sport provided an identity for the black population, allowing for racial, cultural and financial success.

Hundreds of black ballplayers called Philadelphia home, but only a select few made significant contributions to the sport while spending the majority of their career in the Philly region.

To celebrate Black History Month we're revealing an All-Time Philadelphia Negro League Team roster, comprised of the best talent that played the bulk of their career in Philadelphia. As with the majority of black baseball clubs in the Negro Leagues, our roster is comprised of 15 slots.

Players often jumped from team-to-team and Negro League statistics are vastly incomplete as box scores were not always published and often were plagued by inaccuracies, so the season and WAR totals are not exact.

The stats we've included are from the Negro League Database published on Seamheads.com, an invaluable resource for anyone interested in learning about these often forgotten legends of baseball.

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C | Biz Mackey | Hilldale Daisies, Philadelphia Stars | 13 Seasons | 31.4 WAR
Regarded as one of the best catchers in Negro baseball history, Mackey began his career as a shortstop before transitioning to behind the plate in 1925. He helped Hilldale win three consecutive Eastern Colored League titles and the 1925 Negro League World Series. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Even today, Mackey is in the conversation of baseball's greatest catchers. He eventually went on to mentor Philly-product Roy Campanella.

C | Louis Santop | Hilldale Daisies
One of black baseball's earliest superstars, Santop was recognized for his tape measure blasts and finished his career as a .350 hitter. He was recruited by Hilldale in 1917 for an exhibition series against an all-white team and eventually joined the club in 1920 following a two year stint fighting in World War I. Santop hit for averages of .373, .358, .364, and .389 for the 1921-24 seasons.

1B | George "Tank" Carr | Hilldale Daisies, Philadelphia Stars 
A switch-hitter who hit for both power and average, Carr played a major role in Hilldale's success during the mid-1920s. He also was a threat on the bases, routinely swiping 15+ bags a year. He hit .367  during the 1925 regular season and homered in the '25 World Series against Kansas City. Like far too many of his teammates, Carr had a drinking problem that often overshadowed his play on the field. 

2B | Frank Warfield | Hilldale Daisies
A speedster that hit for average, Warfield played a pivotal role in Hilldale's success in the mid-1920s. He also managed the club to multiple Eastern Colored League pennants and a World Series win in 1925. An outstanding fielder, Warfield was saddled with a temper that often led to brawls and confrontations. 

3B | Judy Johnson | Hilldale Daisies | 12 Seasons | 14.2 WAR
Johnson is arguably the best third baseman in Negro baseball history. A star with Hilldale and enshrined in Cooperstown in 1975, he was just the sixth black player ever inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. He played a significant role in Hilldale's dominance in the early 1920s and remained with the club until it folded in the early 1930s. Growing up in Wilmington, Johnson played semi-pro ball in Philly before signing with Hilldale for $100.

P | Nip Winters | Hilldale Daisies | 8 Seasons | 24.6 WAR
A tall southpaw, Winters had an electric fastball but struggled with control. He put together an outstanding 1924 season, finishing 23-6 with a 2.52 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while leading Hilldale to the inaugural Negro League World Series. He went on to collect three of Hilldale's four wins in the series, but was unavailable to pitch the series finale. Winters struggled with alcoholism throughout his career and his skill faded noticeably following his departure from Hilldale in 1927.

P | Webster McDonald | Philadelphia Stars | 
Having spent nearly half of his 20-year career in Philadelphia, McDonald used a submarine motion and excelled against major leaguers in exhibition games, recording an 11-4 lifetime record. He finished his career with a combined 117-93 record and is arguably the best pitcher to ever play for the Philadelphia Stars. 

Players will continue to be unveiled throughout the month of February. 

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