Richard “Cannonball Dick” Redding (1893-1948)

Dick Redding
Image Courtesy: Society for American Baseball Research, Fair use image

Richard “Cannonball Dick” Redding was a pitcher, outfielder, and manager in the Negro Leagues. Redding was born on April 15, 1893 in Atlanta, Georgia. Much of his early life is unknown. Redding’s baseball career started in 1911 when at 18 he played with the Philadelphia Giants for the first half of the season before moving to New York to play with the New York Lincoln Giants. After joining the Lincoln Giants, he pitched and won for the time in 17 straight games. The following year, he was paired with fellow baseball player Smokey Joe Williams on the pitching staff where he recorded a 43-12 season.

In 1914, Redding joined the Lincoln Stars baseball team in New York City, New York. The following year he won 20 straight games for his new team and by August 1915, the press gave him the nickname, the Demon pitcher. In September 1915, he left the Lincoln Stars and rejoined the Lincoln Giants where he fashioned a 3-1 record that included a shutout and hitting a .385.

In 1917, Redding joined Chicago American Giants he earned the nickname Smiling Dick. When the United States entered World War I, later that year, Redding joined the Army and saw combat in France. After World War I ended, Redding returned to the United States and joined the Bacharach Giants in Atlantic City, New Jersey he was player-manager in mid-summer 1919. He remained with the team until the 1922 season. It was also during this time that the Eastern Colored League was formed and Redding, signing with the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1923.

During his time with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, Redding and fellow pitcher Smokey Joe Williams developed a feud where they refused to shake hands and take photos together. Redding remained with the Brooklyn Royal Giants for a decade until 1932 when he retired from baseball at the age of 39.

After retiring, Redding suffered from extended bouts of mental illness and eventually died in 1948 in a mental hospital in Islip, New York at the age of 55. After his death, the Pittsburgh Courier Negro Leagues player poll in 1952 voted Richard Cannonball Redding as one of the best players in the history of the Leagues. Redding was one-time married to Edna Redding.