Negro League Bobbleheads

Players

BlackPast has partnered with the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to bring you bobbleheads of Negro Baseball League players and teams from 1920 to 1947.  Each bobblehead that appears below is linked to the BP entry on that player or team.  Most of the proceeds from the sale of these bobbleheads go to the Negro Baseball League Museum in Kansas City or to the families of the players you see below.

Leroy “Satchel” Paige

Leroy Robert Paige, one of the few African American baseball athletes to play in both the Negro Baseball Leagues and in Major League Baseball.  He was also the first player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame because of his career in the Negro Leagues.
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Josh Gibson

Josh Gibson was born in Buena Vista, Georgia, on December 21, 1911. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1924 when his father found work in a steel mill.  He played baseball for company teams in the area but began his career with the Negro League when he signed with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. He played for the Crawfords from 1927 to 1929 and from 1932 to 1936.  In an era of segregation, Josh Gibson was known as the “Black Babe Ruth.”
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John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil was born November 13, 1911, in Carrabelle, Florida. Working with his father on a Florida celery farm when he was 13, the young O’Neil said to himself “Damn. There’s got to be something better than this.” After traveling to West Palm Beach to see Rube Foster’s baseball team at the Royal Poinciana Hotel, O’Neil decided baseball was going to be his way out.
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James “Cool Papa” Bell

James Thomas Bell was born May 17, 1903, in Starkville, Mississippi. Playing baseball as a 19 year-old rookie Bell earned the nickname “Cool Papa” after proving to his older teammates that he was not intimidated by playing professionally in front of large crowds. Signing with the St. Louis Stars in 1922, Bell entered professional baseball as a pitcher, reportedly throwing a wicked curveball and fade-away knuckleball.
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Andrew Rube Foster

Andrew Rube Foster was born in Calvert, Texas, on September 17, 1879. The son of Andrew and Sarah Foster, Rube started a baseball tradition that would be followed by his brother Willie Bill Foster. Rube quit school after the eighth grade, barnstorming with the Waco Yellow Jackets, an independent black team in 1897. By 1902, Rube’s baseball abilities gave him an opportunity to play with the Chicago (Illinois) Union Giants.
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John Henry “Pop” Lloyd

John Henry “Pop” Lloyd was born April 25, 1884, in Palatka, Florida. Reportedly discovered by baseball legend Rube Foster, Lloyd would begin his professional career with the Cuban X-Giants, where fans would give him the nickname “El Cuchara” (“The Shovel”) due to his steady hands and ability to grab any ground ball coming at him. His tremendous play at shortstop would be matched by only one other player, Hall-of-Famer Honus Wagner, who declared “it is a privilege to have been compared to him.”
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Larry Doby

Larry Doby was the first African American baseball player to go directly from the Negro Leagues to the major leagues when the Cleveland Indians purchased his contract from the Newark Eagles on July 3, 1947. Two days later, on July 5, 1947, Larry Doby became the first African American to play in the American League, making his debut fewer than three months after the landmark date of April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first African American player in the modern history of Major League Baseball.
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Oscar Charleston

Oscar Charleston was born October 14, 1896, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up as a batboy for the local Indianapolis ABC’s, Charleston was a runaway who joined the Army at age 15. Stationed in the Philippines, Charleston was given the opportunity to play baseball and run track for the Army, where he ran the 220-yard dash in 23 seconds. While there, Charleston was allowed to play in the usually all-white Manila League.
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Roy Campanella

Roy Campanella was an African American baseball player who helped break the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB), becoming the first African American catcher in MLB when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella, nicknamed “Campy,” was born on November 19, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John Campanella, an Italian American father, and Ida Campanella, his African American mother. Because he was racially classified as black he was forced to play in the Negro Leagues until 1947.
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Smokey Joe Williams

Born Joseph Williams in Sequin, Texas on April 6, 1886, “Smokey” Joe Williams (also known as “Cyclone” Joe Williams) is regarded as one of the greatest of the black baseball pitchers. In 1952, when the Pittsburgh Courier asked a panel of veterans and sports writers to name the best Negro League pitcher of all time, Smokey Joe Williams was the winner over Satchel Paige, 20-19. He stood 6’5” and had a variety of power pitches but was best known for his fastball.
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Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan

Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, also known as Bullet Joe, was a pitcher and outfielder who played most of his baseball career for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Baseball Leagues. In 1923, with the Kansas City Monarchs, his batting average was .364 and he had a league-leading 16 wins and 151 strikeouts as a pitcher. He led the Monarchs to their first pennant. The following year, Rogan hit .395 and the team completed the season with a 18-6 record.
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Monte Irvin

Monford Merrill Monte Irvin was a baseball player who played the left fielder and right fielder in the Negro Leagues and was one of the few who transitioned to Major League Baseball after the integration of the sport in 1947. Irvin played for the Newark Eagles, New York Giants, and Chicago Cubs. During his time playing for Giants, Irvin would be an MLB All-Star (1952) and a member of the team when the club defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series in four games. In 1955, Irvin was sent to the minor leagues, playing for the Minneapolis Millers in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he hit 14 home runs in 75 games.
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Ray Dandridge

Ray (Raymond) Emmitt Dandridge was a third baseman in the Negro Baseball Leagues. Dandridge was born on August 31, 1913 to Archie and Alberta Thompson Dandridge in Richmond, Virginia. Dandridge’s early childhood included playing baseball, football, and boxing. Dandridge had to quit playing football after suffering a leg injury and he began to focus on playing baseball. Dandridge was “discovered” by Candy Jim Taylor, manager of the Detroit Stars. In 1933, Dandridge signed to play for the Stars but the following year he joined the Newark (New Jersey) Dodgers who later became the Newark Eagles. Dandridge played with the Eagles from 1934 to 1938. During his time playing for the team, he was part of a legendary “Million Dollar” infield that included Dick Seay, Mule Suttles, and Willie Wells.
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Hilton Lee Smith

Hilton Lee Smith was a right-handed pitcher who played for the Monroe, Louisiana Monarchs and Kansas City Monarchs.

Smith joined the Kansas City Monarchs in late 1936. During his time, playing with the team he was a six-time all-star (1937-1942) and Negro League World Series Champion (1942). The New Historical Baseball Abstract called Smith the best Negro Leagues Baseball Player in 1939, 1941, and 1942. From 1939 to 1942 he had extraordinary records that included baseball averages 25-2, 21-3, 25-1, and 22-5. Also, between 1944 and 1948, he had a .326 batting average. In 1945, Smith unsuccessfully urged his boss J.L. Wilkinson to sign young Jackie Robinson for the Monarchs.
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John Preston “Pete” Hill

John Preston “Pete” Hill was a baseball outfielder and manager for the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1925.

Hill started playing professional baseball at the age of 17 in 1899 with the Pittsburgh Keystones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was one of the many all-black teams that existed before the first Negro Baseball League was founded in 1920. Hill remained with the team for two years until he joined the Cuban X-Giants and played with them from 1901 to 1902.
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Willie James Wells

Willie James Wells, who gained the baseball nickname “The Devil,” was a baseball player who played shortstop during his baseball career playing for a record eleven Negro Baseball League teams in the United States as well as in Mexico and Cuba.

Wells eventually played for several teams during his career including the Chicago American Giants (1929, 1933-1935), Detroit Wolves (1932), Kansas City Monarchs (1933), Homestand Grays (1937), Newark Eagles (1936, 1938-39, 1942, 1945), Birmingham Black Barons (1941), New York Black Yankees (1945-46), Baltimore Elite Giants (1946), Indianapolis Clowns (1947), and Memphis Red Sox (1948). Wells also played in the Mexican League including Veracruz (1940-41, 1944), Tampico (1943), and Mexico City (1944). Wells was a 10-time Negro Baseball League All-Star (1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1939, 1942, 1942, and 1945. He was also a 2-time Cuban League MVP Award winner in 1929/1930 and 1939/40 for the Petroleros de Cienfuegos (Cienfuegos Oilers) and Almendares. Wells managed the Newark Eagles (1942 and 1945) and Indianapolis Clowns (1947).
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Richard “Cannonball Dick” Redding

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.

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.
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Herbert Alphonso “Rap” Dixon

Herbert Alphonso “Rap” Dixon was a Negro Baseball League (NBL) baseball outfielder. To avoid an upcoming high school assignment of dissecting a cat in science class, Dixon went to a local sporting goods store and spent the money he had saved from working on the weekends in a steel mill to purchase a new baseball glove. Dixon took a train to Atlantic City where he played for the Bacharach Giants. After a short stay, he returned home, continued baseball with the Steelton Giants, and returned to school.

In 1922 Dixon’s career as a professional baseball player started with the Harrisburg Giants of the Eastern Colored League. The Harrisburg Giants were the highest-paid team in Black baseball at the time. Dixon played for the Washington Potomacs briefly during the 1924 season, toured Japan in 1927-1928 on an All-Star team selected by Raleigh “Biz” Mackey, and in 1928 Dixon signed with the Baltimore Black Sox where he had the best hitting season of his career. Dixon had a .315 lifetime batting average, was a five-time All-Star, and achieved a still-standing record 14 straight hits in 1929 against the Homestead Grays.
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Teams

New York Black Yankees

The New York Black Yankees was a baseball team active in the Negro Leagues from 1931 to 1948. For most of their career the Black Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, although the 1938 season saw the team playing their home games at New York’s Triborough Stadium. The Black Yankees sent a succession of players to the Negro National Baseball League East-West All-Star Game from 1937 to 1942 and again in 1947 and 1948. However, while they enjoyed good attendance at home games, individual player success and its fortunes as a team were less impressive. In its 13 NNL seasons the team finished in last place ten times.

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Homestead Grays

Homestead Grays was one of the most successful of the professional Negro League baseball teams. They won ten Negro National League Titles (1937-1945, 1948) and three Negro League World Series Titles (1943-1944, 1948), where they played the champion of the Negro American League. The team was based in Homestead, Pennsylvania, but played their home games at both Forbes Field in Pittsburgh and at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.

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Kansas City Monarchs

The Kansas City (Missouri) Monarchs were the most prominent baseball team to play in the Negro Leagues. Formed in 1920, they were also the longest-running team in the Leagues, disbanding in 1965. Many famous players were on the Monarchs roster, including the hall of fame pitcher Satchel Paige, and the man responsible for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, Jackie Robinson. The Kansas City Monarchs won several championships, including the first Negro League World Series in 1924.
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Birmingham Black Barons

The Birmingham Black Barons was a professional baseball team active in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960. They played their home games at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The team had its greatest success in the 1940s, winning three Negro National League pennants (1943, 1944, and 1949). Unfortunately, the Black Barons lost all three Negro League World Series games to the Homestead Grays of Pennsylvania.
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