Sunday, April 8, 2018

1988 Pittsburgh Pirates Negro League Stars (Part 2 of 4)

I've been missing from the blog for a few days, a casualty of some flu or something.  I'm starting to feel a little more human again, so I think I can finish off this post I started last week.

Today we're taking a look at cards #6 through #10 of the 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates team-issued Negro League Stars set; we showed cards #1 through #5 previously.  The set celebrates players and organizers for the two Pittsburgh-area Negro Leagues teams, the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
#6. John Henry "Pop" Lloyd.
When I was in college (i.e., many years ago), I read a book, Only the Ball Was White, about the Negro Leagues.  One of the first things you learn is that most of the teams were named the "Giants."  John Henry Lloyd played for the Cuban X-Giants, the Philadelphia Giants, the Leland Giants, the Lincoln Giants, the Chicago American Giants, and several other teams.  These didn't include, though, the Pittsburgh-area teams.  The card back does make a Pittsburgh connection, though, saying that his play at shortstop was frequently compared to Honus Wagner; Wagner was reportedly honored by the comparison, after seeing Lloyd play.  Lloyd made the Hall of Fame in 1977.
#7. Oscar Charleston.
Center fielder Oscar Charleston played for many teams over the years including both the Grays and the Crawfords, and managed the Crawfords.  He led the Negro Leagues and the Cuban League in batting, home runs, and steals many times, and was a lifetime .351 hitter in the Negro Leagues and .361 in Cuba.  He made the Hall of Fame in 1976.
#8. Smokey Joe Williams.
Joe Williams appears to have been known as Smokey Joe Williams and also Cyclone Joe Williams.  He pitched for many teams from the Negro Leagues, including the Grays from 1925-1932.  He was considered one of the greatest pitchers of the day either in the majors or Negro Leagues.  He was older than Satchel Paige, and the two greats faced each other only once, at the end of Williams' career and at the start of Paige's; Williams was the winner.  He made the Hall of Fame in 1999.
#9. Judy Johnson.
Third baseman Judy Johnson has been featured on this blog several times, since I'm always happy to highlight Delawareans.  The back of the card quotes Connie Mack, saying that if Johnson were white he could name his own price and any MLB team would be happy to have him.  But of course he never got to play in the majors, but became a legend with Hilldale, the Grays, and the Crawfords instead.  He made the Hall of Fame in 1975.
#10. Martin Dihigo.
We'll close this out with Martin Dihigo, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1977.  Dihigo played in the Negro Leagues, including with the Grays, in addition to playing in Mexico, Cuba, and Venezuela.  Dihigo was primarily both a pitcher and a second baseman, but played every position except catcher in his career; he made a .307 average in the Negro Leagues and a 26-19 won-loss record.  Across the different leagues he played in, it was not uncommon for him to be both the pitching and batting leader.

That's it for now; thanks for reading.  I'll hope that I'm feeling better enough to be able to return to my regular blogging schedule from here on.

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