Monday, September 3, 2018

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

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone is enjoying some time with their family and celebrating things like the weekend, overtime pay, and other things brought to us by the labor movement.  We have had a family cookout (just me, my wife, and our 3-year-old son), involving hamburgers, hot dogs, and kicking around a soccer ball.  Now with our guy taking his nap, I am watching the Bucs game and writing this long-planned post, finishing out my series on the 1988 Pirates team-issued set of Pittsburgh Negro League stars.

Previous posts in this series:
  • Part 1 (Cards 1-5) (Rube Foster, 1913 Homestead Grays, Cum Posey, 1926 Pittsburgh Crawfords, and Gus Greenlee).
  • Part 2 (Cards 6-10) (John Henry "Pop" Lloyd, Oscar Charleston, Smokey Joe Williams, Judy Johnson, and Martin Dihigo).
  • Part 3 (Cards 11-15) (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Sam Streeter, James "Cool Papa" Bell, and Ted Page).

#16.  Walter "Buck" Leonard.
Buck Leonard is one of the Negro Leagues players inducted long ago to the Hall of Fame, in 1972.  His mention on the Cooperstown website starts off saying that he was a key part of the Homestead Grays dynasty, as a gifted hitter.  Leonard played 1934-1948 with the Grays.  He played in Mexico afterwards, but declined a major league contract feeling that he was too old (according to Wikipedia).  He and the late Josh Gibson entered the Hall together.
#17. Ray "Hooks" Dandridge.
Ray Dandridge, similarly to Buck Leonard, was too old to play in the majors by the time of integration, although he did keep playing into the 1950s.  He was a great third baseman, sometimes credited as the best defensive third baseman of his generation.  He made the Hall in in 1987.
#18.  Willis Moody and Ralph "Lefty" Mellix.
Here we have two players, Willis Moody and Ralph Mellix.  There isn't much information available for either, so I'll say what the card back says: both played for the Grays, Moody as an outfielder and Mellix as a pitcher.  But their greater contribution is in the community as organizers of a sandlot team, 18th Ward, in the black neighborhood of Beltzhoover in Pittsburgh.  The 18th Ward team played for 33 seasons.
#19. Harold Tinker.
There is similarly little information on Harold Tinker, and I'll again go with what is said on the card back.  Tinker did play for the Pittsburgh Crawfords, in center field.  He is remembered in this set for his work in the Pittsburgh sandlot teams, leading a racially integrated team for the Terrace Village housing projects.
#20. Monte Irvin.
We close out the set with another Negro Leagues great who did make the transition to Major League Baseball, Monte Irvin; he made the Hall in 1973.  On my want list is a good card of Irvin with the Giants, for my small PSA-graded subcollection.  Irvin passed away fairly recently, in January 2016.  I can't tell that Irvin had a Pittsburgh connection, as he appears to have played with the Newark Eagles before integration, and with the New York Giants and the Cubs after.  I guess they wanted to include another star in the set, whether or not their was a Pittsburgh connection.

This set is one of the best things by far I've picked up since resuming my collection.  I'm glad to have been able to acquire it, and to have showcased all the cards here.  Thanks for reading!

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