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Oscar Charleston General Thread

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Herr28 View Post
    Yikes. Did you read that article about CFer Vacey Boon drowning? That is terrible.
    Yes, I read that. So sad to die so young.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


    • #32
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
      Yes, I read that. So sad to die so young.
      Sad stuff, for sure. Only multiplied due to the baseball connection, but it is terrible news to see even when it is just one of us regular Joe's.
      "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean


      • #33
        Some photos.

        Charleston 3.jpg...Charleston 2.jpg...Charleston 1.jpg

        Charleston 1917A.jpg
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


        • #34
          I did find a mention of Oscar Charleston in the Joe Posnanski book about his time with Buck O'Neil, The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O'Neil's America. It is actually a sad scene, with Buck O'Neil and Willie Mays at the Negro League Hall of Fame and Museum together. Charleston has a brief mention at the beginning of the chapter, but I am going to post the full 7 or so pages, because it is a powerful moment and well worth the read if anyone visiting here hasn't already read it.

          Pages 27-34

          Snow melted into puddles on the sidewalks outside. The greatest living ballplayer stood in the darkened entryway of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on the corner of Eighteenth and Vine in Kansas City. Willie Mays wore a thick, shiny San Francisco Giants baseball coat, though it was warm inside, and his face glistened with sweat. He stared through chicken wire at a carpeted baseball field in the center of the museum. He would not go to the field. The lights were too bright. "My eyes," Willie Mays said. "My eyes can't take the glare."

          The greatest living ballplayer studied the field. There were bases and a scoreboard, and ten bronze statues appeared to be playing a game. Mays tried to guess the names of the statues. He suspected that Satchel Paige had to be pitching and Josh Gibson was the catcher. He guessed that Oscar Charleston's statue roamed center field. Mays had heard all his life about Oscar Charleston. Some of the old-timers who had watched Negro Leagues baseball through the Jazz Age and the Depression said Oscar Charleston - "the Hoosier Comet," they called him - was the best to ever play the game of baseball. When Willie Mays was young - years before he played center field in the Polo Grounds and stickball in Harlem, years before he made catches that appeared like optical illusions and hit 660 home runs in the Major Leagues - he played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues. It was 1948. The old men in the stands watched him close. They argued among themselves. And they decided that Willie Mays could be the next Oscar Charleston.

          "How good was Oscar Charleston, Buck?" Mays asked the old man standing next to him.

          "He was you before you," Buck O'Neil said.

          Mays nodded as if he had heard that before, and he looked again through the chicken wire at the bronze statues of mostly forgotten men who played baseball in the Negro Leagues. They had played in a time when black men were banned from the Major Leagues. Segregation was an unwritten rule and mostly unspoken. Every so often some group like the American Communist Party or some rogue reporter would inconveniently ask the question: Why are there no black men in the Major Leagues? At first, the answer went that black men were not good enough players. But these black players consistently beat teams made up of Major Leaguers in exhibition games, and the answer changed. Black players, in the revised explanation, were not smart enough to in the big leagues or dedicated enough or disciplined enough. That held off the revolution until the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson, and he broke through in 1947. Willie Mays reached the Major Leagues four years later.

          Mays scanned the museum baseball field again and guessed that one of the outfielders had to be Cool Papa Bell. When Negro League players got together they always played the "Cool Papa Bell was so fast . . ." game. The game would start with someone saying something improbable like "Cool Papa Bell was so fast, he once scored from first base on a bunt." The next player would top him. "Cool Papa Bell was so fast, he once hit a line drive over the pitcher's head and got hit with the ball as he slid into second base." And finally someone (usually Buck) would say: "Cool Papa Bell was so fast, he could turn out the lights, get undressed, and under the covers before the room got dark."

          Mays pointed to first base. He guessed that was Buck Leonard. Buck nodded.

          "You know what they used to say about Buck Leonard?" Buck asked. "Sneaking a fastball by him was like . . ."

          ". . . sneaking sunrise past a rooster," Mays said softly, as if repeating a nursery rhyme he had not heard in a long time.

          Mays pointed to the statue at third base and said "Ray." That was Ray Dandridge, the one player on the field Mays had played with. That was in 1951, for a Minor League team called the Minneapolis Millers. Mays was a twenty-year-old kid and by then people in the Major Leagues saw his greatness. Mays played for the Minneapolis Millers for only a few weeks. He hit .477 in that time. Mays was bought by the New York Giants. Mays had grown so popular in Minnesota that New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham bought advertisements in the local newspapers apologizing to baseball fans for taking Mays away.

          Dandridge was popular in Minneapolis too, but for different reasons. He was an aging legend. He had played for years in the Negro Leagues and in Cuba and Mexico, and he hit the ball well, but people bought their tickets just to watch him field. They called him "Hooks" because he caught baseballs as if they had hooks on them. He played third base with the grace of a dancer - he lunged and leaped and dove for anything hit near him, and he always seemed to throw out the hitter by a half step. Hooks was thirty-eight when he played in Minneapolis, and he badly wanted his chance to play in the Major Leagues. He could still hit, and of course he could still field, but the Giants had no need for an ancient third baseman and they never bought his contract. The next year, Dandridge played baseball in Oakland, but by then the fastball had passed him by. Dandridge went home to Newark and became a bartender.

          "Dandridge helped me become the player I became," Mays said, and then his voice took on an uneasy edge. He had just remembered a television show he had seen. He did not know the name of the show, but on it people brought in old stuff they had found around the house, and showed it to antique experts who would give them a brief history and then estimate the value. Antiques Roadshow, Buck said. Mays nodded. He said that on that show some guy had brought in an old Minneapolis Millers jersey. He found it at a church bazaar and bought it for a few bucks. The guy discovered the jersey had once belonged to Willie Mays. The Antiques Roadshow appraiser estimated the jersey was worth a lot of money.

          "My jersey is selling for eighty thousand dollars," Mays said, biting off each word. That amount had special meaning - in 1959, the year after he had hit .347, won the Gold Glove for fielding excellence, and led the league in stolen bases and runs scored, Mays finally got a contract for $80,000. He had worked so hard just to reach that magcal number. He had played Major League baseball like no man before him. He led the league in home runs, and he led the league in stolen bases. He also chased down fly balls nobody else could reach and threw out base runners from just about every spot in center field. In those days, though, owners had all the control; this was long before free agency and arbitration and all that. Owners decided how much to pay a player and there wasn't much any player - not even Willie Mays - could do about it. The Giants paid Mays $80,000 in 1959, and they expected him to be happy about it.

          Mays turned away from Buck, he turned away from the photographer who kept snapping pictures of him, he turned away from the field. Mays glared at the wall. His teeth clenched, and his fists jammed hard in his coat pockets. A few minutes before, when Mays was lecturing a photographer for taking too many pictures, Buck had whispered: "Careful around Willie, now. He has a lot of sadness and pain in him."

          "Why is that, Buck?"

          "Hard being everybody's hero, I suppose," he said.

          Willie Mays put on a different pair of glasses and turned back to the chicken wire and the field, but he had lost interest in the guessing game. He leaned on something hard and pointed at the statues. "They're all dead," he said, and it was difficult to tell if he meant this as a question or a eulogy. Buck said, "All are dead but the one you're leaning on."

          Mays backed away and realized he had been leaning on a statue of Buck O'Neil. This was Buck as manager of the Kansas City Monarchs. The figure leaned in toward the field, his right hand resting on his hip, left arm folded across his knee. There was a stern look on the statue's face, as if someone on his team had just done something stupid. It's easy to imagine that a shortstop just let a ball go through his legs.

          "Looks like you're mad," Mays said.

          "I'd get like that sometimes," Buck said.

          "Funny, this is exactly how I remember you, Buck."

          "Yeah?" Buck said. "And I remember you in center field running like crazy after fly balls. Your hat would fly off. Yeah! Willie Mays running down a ball in center field, nothing in the world like it. That's what I remember."

          "That was a long time ago, Buck."

          "It was all a long time ago, Willie."

          The tour group had made it all the way around the museum, and the people walked onto the field. They touched the statues. The tour group had been put together specifically for Willie Mays, but he had seen the bright lights and waved them on ahead. He watched them through the chicken wire. He talked about how much money baseball players made today - "What is it now, twenty million a year? Thirty million?" - and what? "I don't have to say it, do I?" Mays said, and he did not have to say it - these players could not run with Mays or hit with him or catch with him or throw with him. Some of these players were great, but the mediocrities got paid a lot of money too, more money in a week than Mays had made in a year. Then Mays said he was not bitter about the money, exactly. It was something else.

          "We had fun, Willie," Buck said.

          "Yeah, we had fun, I guess."

          Buck tried to get Mays to talk about some of the games, some of the players, but Willie Mays had the blues, and he did not speak much. Mays said his eyes hurt. "Glaucoma," he explained. he changed glasses again. "I'd like to go around the museum, Buck," he said, an apology, "but I've got to get my eyes right."

          Buck nodded. Mays leaned toward the exit. Buck would say in that moment he looked at Willie Mays and remembered watching a game long ago, Buck could not remember where. He saw a ball hit hard, a line drive into the gap between left field and center. He thought: Well, there's a double. He looked down at his scorecard to mark it, and then he remembered that Willie Mays was playing center field. So his eyes flipped up and he watched Willie Mays run. Mays was not a graceful runner like Joe DiMaggio or Ken Griffey Jr. or Carlos Beltran. No, Mays ran with energy and delight, all arms and legs, a child chugging through the sprinklers on a warm summer day. When he was right, Buck said, Mays could outrun his shadow. "There were men faster than Willie Mays," Buck said. "But I never saw one faster with a fly ball in the air."

          In this memory, Buck watched Mays run after the ball, run and run, close the gap, his hat flew off, he dove, and then . . . the ball fell just out of reach of his glove. It skipped away, to the fence, and it was a triple, and on that day Buck knew that winter had come for Willie Mays.

          One day it happens
          Can't catch up with the fastball
          Can't run faster than fly balls
          You might lie to yourself for a while
          But you can't lie forever
          Gotta start a new life
          No cheering
          No crowds
          No teammates patting you on the back
          A little piece of you dies.

          Mays stood by the door. He looked back on the field one more time. "You know I really don't need to see the museum," he told Buck. "I lived it." Buck said, "Yes you did, Willie. You really lived." And then Willie Mays walked out into the sleet and cold. Someone held an umbrella over his head until he stepped into the car. A few hours later, a close friend of Mays's called and said Willie cried the entire ride back to the hotel. The friend said he rode the elevator up with Mays and walked him to his room, and when they said good-bye and the door closed, Willie Mays was still crying.
          "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean


          • #35

            Charleston, Oscar McKinley (12 Oct. 1896-6 Oct. 1954), African-American baseball player and manager, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Tom Charleston, a construction worker, and Mary Thomas. The seventh of 11 children, Charleston served as a batboy for a local professional team before enlisting in the army at age 15. While stationed in the Philippines with the black 24th Infantry, Charleston honed his athletic skills in track and baseball, becoming the only African-American player in the Manila baseball league in 1914. Following his army discharge a year later, he joined the Indianapolis ABCs at a salary of $50 per month. The American Brewing Company sponsored the ABCs, but C. I. Taylor, Negro League pioneer, directed day-to-day operations.

            Charleston, nicknamed Charlie, was a 5'11" 185-pound center fielder who batted and threw left-handed. Described as barrel-chested, he would have difficulty maintaining his weight as his career progressed. He played a very shallow center field in his fielding heyday and counted on his speed to reach balls hit over his head. During his first year with the ABCs, he married Helen Grubbs from Indianapolis, but the marriage ended in an early divorce. Although described by his peers as basically a quiet man off the field, he displayed a fiery competitive temper as a player. He fought umpires, opponents, and fans, contesting calls, sliding hard into bases, and battling spectators for balls hit into the stands. Likened to contemporary Ty Cobb for his baseball skills and competitiveness, Charleston, for some sportswriters, was not the "black Ty Cobb," but rather Cobb was the "white Oscar Charleston."

            After three years with the ABCs, Charleston in 1919 joined the Chicago American Giants run by Negro National League entrepreneur Rube Foster. It was common "blackball" practice for players, lured by better money offers, to change teams. Contracts were either poorly written or ignored, and barnstorming teams often made the most money. In 1921 Charleston moved to the St. Louis Giants and apparently gained superstar status, reportedly batting .434 in the 60-game season, including 14 doubles and league-leading 11 triples, 15 home runs, and 34 stolen bases. Although box score statistics for the Negro leagues are fragmentary, available numbers give Charleston a career hitting average of .350 in the Negro leagues from 1919 through 1937, .365 in Cuban League winter ball, which he played annually from 1919 through 1928, and .318 versus white major leaguers in 53 exhibition games from 1915 through 1936.

            Charleston began the 1922 season in St. Louis but returned mid-year to Indianapolis, earning $325 per month, $125 above any teammate and one of the highest salaries in black baseball. In 1924 he jumped to the Harrisburg Giants of the Eastern Colored League for four years as player-manager, batting .391 in 1924, .418 in 1925 with a league-leading 15 doubles and 16 home runs, and .335 in 1927 with 18 doubles and 12 home runs. In Harrisburg he married Jane Blaylock, daughter of a Methodist bishop. The couple had no children and divorced after about 20 years. In 1928 and 1929 Charleston was on the roster of the Philadelphia Hilldales and hit .360 and .339, respectively.

            As the depression made the financial life of teams in the Negro leagues especially precarious, independent, barnstorming clubs raided their ranks. The Homestead Grays of Pittsburgh, owned by Cum Posey, signed Charleston and other top players from failing franchises for the 1930 season. Because added weight had reduced his outstanding skills as a center fielder, Charleston moved to first base. Yet during the 1930 and 1931 seasons he hit a combined .371. In time, Posey and his successor, Gus Greenlee, who bought out Posey in 1932 to stock up his Pittsburgh Crawfords, accumulated the best black team in history, including future Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Judy Johnson, and Charleston, who was player-manager for the "Craws" from 1932 through 1937. As his skills began to diminish, Charleston batted .376 in 1933, .333 in 1934, and .288 in 1935. When the Dominican Republic Summer League in 1937 enticed many of the Crawford stars to move south, the team collapsed. Charleston moved to the Toledo Crawfords in 1938, but that franchise folded in mid-season 1939; the manager-first baseman joined the Philadelphia Stars, remaining for five seasons.

            During World War II Charleston worked at the Philadelphia quartermaster depot. In 1945 he managed the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, Branch Rickey's cover team set up to scout Jackie Robinson and other African-American players. As the Negro leagues faded away, Charleston's career ended with managing stints with the Philadelphia Stars (1946) and the Indianapolis Clowns (1947-1948). In 1949 he retired and worked in the baggage department of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Railway Station. He died in Philadelphia following a heart attack and stroke. Charleston's election in 1976 to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York, as the seventh Negro league player, finally brought recognition to his career and supported sportswriter Grantland Rice's earlier observation, "It's impossible for anyone to be a better ball player than Oscar Charleston."
            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


            • #36
     article by Ken Mandel

              Charleston considered best all-around player in Negro Leagues


              Five years before Rube Foster formed the first Negro National League, its future superstar roamed the outfield for the Indianapolis ABCs -- a 21-year-old, barrel-chested slugger who would combine Ty Cobb's personality with Babe Ruth's talent.

              Oscar Charleston, often referred to in the black press as "The Hoosier Comet," may have been the greatest all-around baseball player in history. He was an aggressive, fearless, brawler who wouldn't back down, and whose scrapes on and off the field are as incredible as his playing skills.

              No one scared him. During his first year as an ABCs pitcher/outfielder in 1915, after returning from military service in the Philippines, he and teammate Bingo DeMoss were arrested for assaulting an umpire and starting a riot. Other squabbles include fighting with a Ku Klux Klan member and several Cuban soldiers. Charleston's "never say die" attitude never wavered and would later translate into a successful managing career.

              Charleston rapidly established himself as a standout player with Indianapolis and was the centerpiece of the franchise when it joined the Negro National League in 1920, the first, fully organized major league. Other teams included the Kansas City Monarchs, Dayton Marcos, Chicago Giants, Detroit Stars, St. Louis Giants and Foster's Chicago American Giants.

              From the league's beginning, the seventh of 11 children was the league's biggest star. In 1921 some records say he batted as high as .446 with 14 home runs. Regardless of some unclear statistics, Charleston was a five-tool threat, and only because there aren't more tools. The left-handed swinger routinely led the league in batting, home runs and stolen bases.

              In his prime, his blend of power and speed was unmatched by any other player in the Negro Leagues. Rarely did he not take an extra base or slide into a base hard without his spikes high. And to keep infielders honest, the excellent drag bunter used his speed to bunt his way on base.

              There wasn't a drop-off with the glove either. Many players recalled the countless times he robbed them of hits in the gaps, and his combination of outstanding range, good hands, a rifle arm and superior instincts always had opposing hitters and base runners running scared.

              Charleston thoroughly understood the sport and exploited every opponent's weakness. He understood it so well that he often flaunted it, introducing the art of "show-boating" to the game, and fans loved it. He excelled in every facet and epitomized the spirit of black baseball.

              Former teammate Ben Taylor, a star first baseman and manager in his own right, said after the 1924 season that Charleston was the "greatest outfielder that ever lived … greatest of all colors. He can cover more ground than any man I have ever seen. His judging of fly balls borders on the uncanny."

              Even objective observers recognized this tremendous athlete. Hall of Fame umpire Jocko Conlon called Charleston, "The great Negro player of that time," and compared his centerfield skills to Hall-of-Fame outfielder Tris Speaker.

              Despite his antagonistic style of play and frequent emotional outbursts, Charleston was not only a fan favorite, but players loved him as well. Upon moving to the Eastern Colored League in 1922, Charleston began his often-repeated role of player/manager, piloting the Harrisburg Giants. Over the next nine seasons with three teams, Charleston hit better than .350 for nine straight seasons and twice hit more than .400.

              Pittsburgh Crawfords' owner Gus Greenlee then secured Charleston's dual services as he assembled his dream team in 1932. During the Crawfords dynasty from 1932-36, Charleston maintained an average above .340 and teamed with Josh Gibson to provide Pittsburgh with one baseball's most potent offenses.

              Charleston left the Crawfords for the Philadelphia Stars in 1941 and four years later accepted the post as manager of the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers in Branch Rickey's newly formed United States League. He also helped Rickey scout the Negro Leagues for the player who would smash down the color barrier - Jackie Robinson. When this league disbanded, Charleston accepted management duties with the Indianapolis Clowns where he stayed until his death after the 1954 season.

              The slugger ended a 27-year playing career that spanned four decades credited with a .376 batting average. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
              "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


              • #37

                Oscar Charleston was a center fielder and manager in the Negro Leagues for three decades.
                Who was the greatest Negro Leaguer of all-time? That question can spark an entertaining debate, though the vote often comes down to Oscar Charleston, a man some liked to call the “black Ty Cobb.” Those who saw the multi-talented black outfielder play, including Cobb’s teammate, George Moriarty, loved to reverse the image. “Ty Cobb,” they’d insist, “was the white Oscar Charleston.”

                Charleston was born October 14, 1896, in Indianapolis, where he launched his pro career in 1915. He subsequently played on or managed a host of teams, though in the early days of the Negro National League he was best known as the temperamental but brilliant long-ball-hitting center fielder for his hometown ABCs. Dave Malarcher of the Chicago American Giants described the 6-foot-1, 185-pound left-hander in his prime: “He was all muscle and bone, no fat, no stomach, perfect broad shoulders, fine strong legs, strong muscular arms, and powerful hands and fingers. He was fast and he was strong.” Another Negro Leaguer remembered Charleston flagging down a deep outfield drive with his bare hand. Admiring major leaguers once saw him smash a 450-foot home run over the center-field fence at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, a spot then untouched by any white hitter.

                Charleston played the 1921 season with the St. Louis Giants, batting .434 and leading the league with 15 home runs and 34 stolen bases. The following summer he was back with the Indianapolis ABCs, where he continued to showcase his versatility by again winning the home run and stolen base titles. He won a third straight stolen base crown in 1923 before jumping to Harrisburg in the rival Eastern Colored League, where topped the circuit in round-trippers three out of four years. He then played two seasons with Hilldale (where he concluded one argument by punching the owner in the nose) before moving on to the Homestead Grays in 1930. Two years later he became the playing manager of the mightiest black nine ever assembled, the Pittsburgh Crawfords, who were bankrolled by a local black racketeer, Gus Greenlee. Charleston stayed six seasons with the Crawfords.

                By now considerably heavier and stationed at first base, Charleston still “loved to play baseball,” recalled outfielder Ted Page. “There was nothing he liked to do better, unless it was fight. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, but he enjoyed a good fight—with the opposition.”

                Charleston also had several superb seasons in Cuba and was dynamite against major-league pitching. In a 1922 exhibition series against the Detroit Tigers, he collected three singles, a double, and a home run in just nine at-bats. In a 1930 series, he pounded Tigers ace Earl Whitehill for four hits in seven at-bats. All told, in 53 exhibitions he solved big-league pitching for a .318 average.

                Because this is a blog here is info on Bak:

                "Richard Bak grew up on Detroit's west side cheering for the likes of Jerry Lumpe, Karl Sweetan, and Fern LeBlanc, basically because he didn't know any better. He is a contributing writer to Hour Detroit magazine and the author of nearly 30 books, including Peach: Ty Cobb in His Time and Ours and Turkey Stearnes and the Detroit Stars: The Negro Leagues in Detroit, 1919-1933. Bak has two new books out: The Big Jump, the story of Charles Lindbergh and the great New York-to-Paris air race of the 1920s, and Detroitland, a collection of his history pieces. He currently is finishing When Lions Were Kings: The Detroit Lions and the Fabulous Fifties, which will be published in 2013."

                ^ All this praise from a Cobb aficionado. Bill Burgess where are you!?
                Last edited by bluesky5; 02-01-2014, 05:41 PM.
                "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


                • #38
                  Oscar Charleston Park
                  2800 E. 30th Street
                  (317) 327-7461

                  "Oscar Charleston Park is the home to Douglass Little League. Formerly known as Oxford Terrace Park, it was renamed in 1998 to Oscar McKinley Charleston Park after the near-eastside Indianapolis native who played for the Indianapolis ABCs, one of the top teams in early Negro League Baseball in 1915. He was the ABC's star centerfielder for seven seasons, and led them to a championship in 1916."
                  "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


                  • #39
                    Good job on the posts, bluesky. I was hoping you posted them in this thread too! So do you like that biographical encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues?
                    "It ain't braggin' if you can do it." Dizzy Dean


                    • #40
                      Pittsburgh Courier, September 22, 1928, pg 16

                      1928-09-22 Pittsburgh Courier pg 16.jpg
                      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


                      • #41
                        (1) Buck O'Neill said Willie Mays was the greatest major leaguer he ever saw, but Charleston was better. According to O'Neill, "Charlie was a tremendous hitter who could also bunt, steal a hundred bases a year and cover center field as well as anyone before him or since... he was like Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker rolled into one."

                        (2) Bernie Borgan, a longtime scout for the Cardinals, said Charles-ton was the greatest player he ever saw, including Ruth and Cobb.

                        (3) Great Cuban Pitcher Juanelo Mirabal said Charleston "would try to beat you any way he could. Just like Ty Cobb, rip your pants or your legs, just to beat you out of a game. To me, I don't know which one was best. Both of them were great."

                        (4) Dave Malarcher said Charleston "could play the whole outfield by himself."

                        (5) Satchell Paige said Charleston "used to play right in back of second base. He would outrun the ball. You had to see him to believe him."

                        (6) Hollis (Sleepy) Thurston, who barnstormed against Charleston, said he hit a HR every night.

                        (7) Jimmy Crutchfield said that if he had to pick the best player he ever saw, it would be Charleston or Josh Gibson.

                        (8) John Johnson of the Kansas City Call said Charleston ran so fast he made Cobb "look like a runner with a handicap."

                        (9) Bill James, who in my opinion is easily the foremost living baseball historian, says Charleston was "a barrel chested man with thin legs, like Ruth. He was intense, focused, bright, and did everything exceptionally well." James adds that "Charleston, in a sense, put Mays and Mantle together. He combined the grace, athleticism, and all-around skills of Mays with the upper body strength of Mantle, plus he was a left-handed hitter. His hands were so strong that when he was playing first base late in his career, pitchers would use him to rub down new baseballs, as he could rub a baseball so hard that he would open up the seams. He played shallow, like Speaker, and ran down everything hit over his head. He was an intense player--more intense than any of these [greats] except Cobb, and his intensity was less destructive than Cobb's. Buck O'Neill said Charleston had a stop sign on his chest. It's impossible to compare him to the others without head to head numbers; it's impossible to imagine that he was much better than they were. But he was a hell of a package."

                        "It's not like one person saw Oscar Charleston play and said that he was the greatest player ever. LOTS of people said he was the greatest player they ever saw. John McGraw, who knew something about baseball, reportedly said that, at least according to the Sporting News.... His statistical record, such as it is, would not discourage you from believing that this was true. I don't think I'm a soft touch or easily persuaded; I believe I'm fairly skeptical. I just don't see any reason not to believe that this man was as good as anybody who ever played the game."
                        ''A sport without black people ain't a sport. That's just a game!... That's like me saying, 'Ooh, I got the highest SAT score in the whole world, but no Asians took the test.' What kind of crap is that? 'I just won the marathon. No Kenyans could run, though!'''
                        Chris Rock


                        • #42
                          Ok, I am one step closer to tracking down the John McGraw quote Oscar Charleston. I found this from a 2012 book called Negro Leagues Baseball, page 41, by Roger Burns.

                          Burns cover.jpg...Negro Leagues Baseball.jpg

                          The quote is sourced to "Schulian 2005, Z2". There is a 2005 book called Twilight of the Long-ball Gods: Dispatches from the Disappearing Heart of Baseball by John Schulian but there was no McGraw quote about Charleston that I could find. I'll keep looking.

                          Schulian cover.jpg
                          Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 01-13-2014, 01:52 PM.
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


                          • #43
                            Charleston taking Lefty Grove deep in 1926.

                            The Chester Times, October 4, 1926, pg 15

                            1926-10-04 Chester Times pg 15.jpg
                            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


                            • #44
                              I now have access to a new newspaper archive which includes the Indianapolis Freeman, a black newspaper. Charleston apologizes for beating up the umpire.

                              The Freeman, November 13, 1915

                              1915-11-13 The Freeman pg 7.jpg
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


                              • #45
                                This is the earliest boxscore I have found so far. Charleston was a pitcher early in 1915!

                                The Freeman, April 17, 1915, pg 7

                                1915-04-17 The Freeman pg 7.jpg
                                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis


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