Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Can You Help?

The day-by-day tracking of the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs has come to a close, but that doesn't mean I'm not still on the lookout for game reports. I'll go back and add info and stats if and when they turn up. If you're interested in helping, here's a list of Monarchs games I have reason to think were played but for which I have no report. If you have access to newspaper archives for the host cities, perhaps you'd be good enough to check. Thanks!

April 9 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Montgomery
April 10 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Montgomery
April 13 vs. Memphis Red Sox in Little Rock
April 23 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in New Orleans
April 24 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
April 25 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
April 26 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
April 30 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
May 1 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Waco
May 2 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Ft. Worth
May 4 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Oklahoma City
May 15 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Oklahoma City
May 23 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Indianapolis
June 4 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Montgomery
June 5 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in New Orleans
June 7 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Nashville
June 11 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Kansas City
June 12 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Belleville, IL
June 23 vs. Homestead Grays in ?
July 17 vs. Baltimore Elite Giants in Baltimore
July 30 vs. Chicago American Giants in Kansas City
August 11 vs. Baltimore Elite Giants in ?
August 11 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Wilmington, DE
August 17 vs. Baltimore Elite Giants in Baltimore
August 21 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Nashville
September 2 vs. Memphis Red Sox in Kansas City
September 3 vs. Memphis Red Sox in Kansas City
September 4 vs. Memphis Red Sox in Belleville, IL
September 7 vs. Birmingham Black Barons in Toledo
September 20 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Wichita, KS
September 23 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
September 24 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Houston
September 25 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Waco
September 26 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Ft. Worth
September 27 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Dallas
September 28 vs. Cincy-Indy Clowns in Ft. Worth

Thank Yous

One of the fun things about this project has been receiving help from fellow Negro Leagues enthusiasts. I posted to the SABR email list before starting the project asking for help, and I am grateful to all those who have generously assisted me.

Thanks to:
Chris Wertz
Dwayne Isgrig
Larry Lester
Wayne Stivers
Howard Henry
John Erardi
Jeff Zimmerman and Royals Review for the interview

And special thanks to John Holway, who paid out of his own pocket for research to be conducted that turned up many game accounts I wouldn't have otherwise found.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Your 1945 Kansas City Monarchs

(click to enlarge)

front row, L to R: Frank Duncan, John Scott, Jackie Robinson, Chico Renfroe, Chester Gray, Herb Souell, Walter Thomas, Sammie Haynes

back row: Jesse Williams, Jack Matchett, Booker McDaniels, Jim "Lefty" LaMarque, Dozier Hood, Eddie Williams, Lee Moody, Hilton Smith, Ensloe Wylie

Photo is from the wonderful book Black Baseball in Kansas City, which is a collection of photos with a heavy emphasis on the Monarchs.

Jackie wrote in his autobiography that playing in the Negro Leagues was a miserable way to make a buck, but he always seems to have a beaming smile in the few pictures of him with the Monarchs!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Postseason Exhibitions End The Season

The regular season came to an end on September 3rd, and the Monarchs weren't headed for the playoffs - but they weren't quite done either. They played exhibitions throughout September, including a long series with the Clowns between the 15th and 30th. I've scraped together nine game results from this period that include five wins to four losses. On the 18th in KC, outfielder John Scott knocked two home runs in a 6-0 win, with Lefty LaMarque tossing the shutout. The next day, Scott hit a double and triple as the Monarchs trounced the Clowns 9-1. The season came to a close in New Orleans when the workhorse of the '45 pitching staff, Booker McDaniels, tossed a gem: 13 strikeouts, three hits and a shutout.

Here's what the postseason exhibition schedule looked like:

And here's a look at the approximately 3,500 miles added to the bus on the tour:

9/28 Kansas City Call re: 9/18 & 9/19:

10/6 Pittsburgh Courier re: 9/30:

Friday, August 27, 2010

End Of The Second Half

The Monarchs played just a few more regular season games after Jackie was injured on August 21 and left the team for good on August 27. They lost their fourth straight game to the American Giants in Chicago on the 27th, 5-6. Rarely used Monarchs pitcher Steve Wylie walked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. On the 28th, while Jackie Robinson was meeting with Branch Rickey in Brooklyn, the Monarchs continued their losing ways by dropping both ends of a double header to the Clowns in Cincinnati. Hilton Smith pitched the first game, a 5-6 loss, while Lefty LaMarque pitched the second game, a 0-3 loss. In the final games of the regular season, the Monarchs hosted the Memphis Red Sox in double headers on September 2nd and 3rd. I unfortunately don't know the results of these games. Regardless, the Monarchs late season slide meant they no longer had any hope of capturing the second half title for the right to face the Cleveland Buckeyes in a postseason series to determine an American League champion. Games I've turned up show a 15-12 second half record, but final standings from the September 14 Call give their record as 8-8. If I remove games against the National League and non-league competition, I show a 7-10 record for the Monarchs. No hope for a postseason berth.

According to the September 14th Call, the AL batting leaders finished like this:

.393 Sam Jethroe, Cleveland
.372 Art Wilson, Birmingham
.361 Art Pennington, Chicago
.352 Ed Steele, Birmingham

It was Jethroe almost "across the board" in the other departments too. The hard hitting Cleveland outfielder climaxed a great campaign by finishing on top in five other divisions with 55 runs scored, 123 total bases, 10 triples, 8 home runs and 21 stolen bases
The two Cleveland Jefferson boys, George and Willie, topped the pitchers. George was first with 11 victories and only 1 defeat and Willie second with a 10 mark. Gentry Jessup of Chicago, however, won the most games, 15, but lost 9.
The Monarchs won the team fielding honors, with .966...Jackie Robinson was seventh in individual batting standing, and LaMarque stood third in the number of games won.
Here are the results I've found for the second half along with Jackie's hits and at-bats:

(click to enlarge)

And here's a look at the the 8,600 or so miles the team traveled in the second half. Lots of time in the northeast:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jackie's Time With The Monarchs Ends As He Heads To Brooklyn To Meet With Branch Rickey

The Monarchs were in Chicago for a four game set with the American Giants over August 24-27th. The Monarchs had a series to forget on the field, dropping all four contests while being outscored 29 to nine. Booker McDaniels had a particularly rough game on the 26th, allowing 15 runs and 21 hits in eight innings. The Monarchs managed no runs and just one hit in the game.

Jackie Robinson and Clyde Sukeforth (source)

Off the field, however, it was a monumental series, even if no one knew it at the time. The Brooklyn Dodgers, in the person of scout/coach Clyde Sukeforth, made their first contact with Jackie at the game on Friday the 24th. According to Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson: A Biography:
On August 24, at Comiskey Park, Jack was out on the field, but nursing a sore shoulder, when a white man called out his name and beckoned. Jack went over. The man introduced himself as Clyde Sukeforth, which meant nothing to Robinson. The he said he was there on behalf of Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Now he had Jack's attention. Mr. Rickey was starting a team, the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers. He wondered about Jackie's arm strength; could Jack throw a few balls for Sukeforth? The Dodger  scout would remember Jack listening "carefully, and when I was through he spoke right up--Jackie was never shy, you know."
"Why is Mr. Rickey interested in my arm?" Jack asked. "Why is he interested in me?"
Sukeforth convinced Robinson to meet him after the game at the Stevens Hotel, where the scout was staying, and where he bribed a bellman two dollars to allow Jack to use the passenger elevator, from which blacks were normally barred. Eventually Jack arrived and began to pepper Sukeforth with questions. One thing above all intrigued both men. Mr. Rickey had made it clear, as Sukeforth informed Jack, that if Robinson would not come to him, he would come to Robinson. Both Jack and Sukeforth now suspected that something more than a place on the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers might be at stake.
The men arranged to meet in Toledo, where Sukeforth had to observe another player,then take the train to New York. Sukeforth then sent a wire to Rickey telling of Jack's injury ("Player fell on shoulder last Tuesday [21st]. Will be out of game a few more days"). On Sunday night [26th], after the white scout convinced a ticket seller that, yes, he intended to share quarters with the black man, they left Toledo.
After a day of travel on the 27th, Robinson had his legendary meeting with Rickey on the 28th.

Robinson did go to the ballpark with his Monarchs teammates one last time on the 26th, but didn't play due to his injury. Chicago Defender sportswriter Fay Young had somehow gotten wind that Jackie might be heading east to meet with Rickey, and he questioned Jackie about it at Comiskey on the 26th. Young wrote in a September 1 column:
Between the doubleheader [on the 26th], your columnist flagged Robinson and asked him what there was to the rumors.
"Just rumors," answered Jackie.
Pressed for an answer to a simple question as to whether he had been invited, approached on the subject or not, Robinson evaded a direct answer.
Told that if it was such a secret , somebody had been doing some talking as too many, even to his club owner, knew about it, Robinson came back with a grin, "Well, it's a rumor. If you don't see me here tomorrow, then there's something to it."

September 1 Chicago Defender

Friday, August 20, 2010

Satchel Whiffs 15 Clowns In Complete Game Victory

From the August 21 Nashville Banner, courtesy of John Holway:
Leroy (Satchel) Paige showed Nashville baseball followers why he is regarded as one of the best hurlers in the country at Sulphur Dell Monday night as he turned back the Cincinnati Clowns, 6-4, for Kansas City on nine well-scattered safeties.
Paige, showing some of the best control seen at the Dell this year, threw a total of 133 pitches to the plate. 87 were strikes 25 were called balls and 21 were hit. He whiffed 15 opponents and walked but one man, a pinch hitter in the ninth. 
The Monarchs and Clowns played in Nashville again on the 21st before the Monarchs made their way to Chicago for a series against the Chicago American Giants that would prove fateful for Jackie Robinson.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sunday Double Header In Cincy

The Monarchs and Clowns played two on August 19 in Cincinnati's Crosley Field. The Clowns put "a serious crimp" in the Monarchs second half chances by sweeping the two games from KC.

August 25 Chicago Defender

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jackie On The End Of WWII And His Off-Season Plans

The US dropped atomic bombs on Japan on August 6th and 9th. By the 14th, Japan had informally surrendered. From the August 18 Afro-American:
Jackie Robinson, former  UCLA football star, now shortstop with the Kansas City Monarchs, and a veteran of 31 months: "I bet $5 it wouldn't be over before October, but that is one bet I am happy to lose. If it is true, it is great news. Now the boys can come home. My best friends and cousins are over there, so you know how I feel about the end."
Monarchs in the service such as Buck O'Neil, Hank Thompson and Willard Brown could start dreaming about being back home and back with the Monarchs in '46.

The August 18 Pittsburgh Courier had this report on Jackie's off-season plans:
Sam Huston College of Austin, Texas, announced this week that Jack (The Rabbit) Robinson has signed a contract to coach football there this fall. Robinson, here last week playing shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs, said he hasn't signed a contract and that he may play professional football in the Pacific Coast League.

3-1 Win Over Clowns In Indianapolis

Having wrapped up the last eastern swing of the season, the Monarchs headed back to the Midwest. The first stop was in Indianapolis on August 18. Hat tip to John Holway for turning up this brief game account from the August 19 Indianapolis Star:
The Kansas City Monarchs defeated the Indianapolis Clowns, 3 to 1, in a Negro American League game before approximately 3,000 fans at Victory Field last night.
The line score reveals that Booker McDaniels was the lone Monarchs hurler.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Standings and Batting Leaders

The August 17th Kansas City Call published the below standings that show the Monarchs leading the way in the second half of the Negro American League season. The second half ran through September 3. The article lists the batting average leaders as of August 8 like so:

.429 G. Jefferson, Cleveland
.409 Sam Jethroe, Cleveland
.388 Ed Steele, Birmingham
.368 Art Pennington, Chicago
.360 Buddy Armour, Cleveland
.349 Jackie Robinson, Kansas City

Monday, August 16, 2010

3-3 Tie Versus The Grays In D.C.

After the Memphis Red Sox dispatched the Philadelphia Stars, the Monarchs and Homestead Grays faced off to round out a four team doubleheader at Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium on August 16. Lefty LaMarque got the call to start for KC, and faced Roy Welmaker of the Grays. Josh Gibson was not in the Grays lineup this day, and LaMarque managed to take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth. But the Grays tied it up, prompting manager Frank Duncan to bring Hilton Smith in from the bullpen. After a scoreless tenth, the game was called "to allow the Monarchs to take a midnight train to Youngstown, Ohio" (August 25 Pittsburgh Courier).

This is the last game of Jackie's for which I have a box score. He went 1-for-3 with a double, bringing his average to .414 (41-for-99) in stats I've been able to uncover. That figure includes spring training, the all-star game, and barnstorming games outside of the Negro Leagues. In regular season games against Negro American and National League teams, I have Jackie hitting .436 (34-for-78). A hall of fame sanctioned study headed by Dick Clark and Larry Lester gives Jackie's average as .434 (23-for-53) and slugging as .660. Jackie probably played in over 100 games with the Monarchs, and the 99 at-bats I have for him come from just 26 games. All of these numbers are mere hints at how Jackie fared, but they leave the clear impression that he was a phenomenal player in 1945.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Victory In Queens Over Semi-Pro Bushwicks

August 15 brought the Monarchs to New York to face a semi-pro club called the Bushwicks. The Bushwicks were regular hosts to Negro League teams at Dexter Park. According to the August 16 New York Times,
The Kansas City Monarchs, behind the effective twirling of Booker McDaniels, crushed the Bushwicks,  9-3, last night at Dexter Park in Queens. The visiting twirler struck out eight and yielded five hits, which he kept well scattered.
The report and box (showing Jackie going 2 for 5 with two singles) from the Brooklyn Eagle:

Dexter Park is no more, but there is a historical marker at the site that lists Jackie and Satchel as stars that played there.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Monarchs Triumph In First Ever Night Game At Braves Field

Braves Field, Boston (source)

Big, big thanks to Chris Wertz for passing along the below game summaries of the Monarchs 11-1 trouncing of a Navy team in the first ever night game played at Braves Field.

William "Sheep" Johnson of the Boston Chronicle goes to great lengths to disparage Satchel for not showing up to the game, while lavishing praise on Hilton and Jackie. He writes:
Jackie gave the fans thrill after thrill by his brilliant fielding, base running and hitting. His drag bunt, his delayed steal of third, and his stealing home with the opposing pitcher, looking right down his throat, unable to do anything about it, were his three sensational plays. Jackie proved why he is the talk of the country. He acts like a Big Leaguer, hits like a big leaguer, thinks like a big leaguer, throws like a big leaguer, and he fields like a big leaguer at shortstop. In fact HE IS A BIG LEAGUER AND AS THE COLONEL FROM THE BOSTON RECORD (Dave Egan) SAYS "THE RED SOX COULD USE HIM RIGHT NOW AND PERHAPS GIVE THE BOSTON FANS A REAL BIG LEAGUE CLUB."

August 25 Boston Chronicle

August 14 Boston Herald

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monarchs Shut-Out By Wilmer Harris & Philly Stars In D.C.

The Monarchs final eastern swing of the '45 season continued on August 9 with a game against the Philadelphia Stars in Washington D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. It turned into a pitchers' duel between Philly's Wilmer Harris and KC's Booker McDaniels. Harris got the better of it, holding the Monarchs hitless through seven before Lee Moody broke through with a single. KC managed two more hits off Harris, but no runs. McDaniels yielded just two runs in a tough luck loss.

Satchel was slated to start the game, but showed up too late. The Birmingham Black Barons and Homestead Grays played following the Monarchs game, so Satchel started for Birmingham "to keep (from) disappointing the large number of fans who had turned out to see him in action. He held the Homestead Grays hitless for the three innings he toiled, fanning six of the nine batters to face him. Included in the number of strike-out victims was Josh Gibson" (August 18 Afro-American, below).

Right next to the game summaries is the beginning of an article about the three New York major league teams being under investigation by a New York anti-discrimination commission. The commission didn't need to worry about Branch Rickey's Dodgers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hilton & Monarchs Get Revenge On Homestead Grays

August 4 Pittsburgh Courier

After losing to the Grays in Philadelphia, the Monarchs evened the score the next night in Pittsburgh. Hilton Smith held the mighty Grays lineup to three hits (one a Buck Leonard home run) and two runs in a complete game performance. Jackie displayed a bit of his famous base-running. From the Pittsburgh Courier summary below: "With Moody at bat and Scott on first, the fleet-footed Robinson came home from third when Josh Gibson tried to nail Scott attempting to steal second. Robinson slid in under Jackson's return throw to Gibson."
August 11 Pittsburgh Courier

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Josh Gibson Blast Downs Monarchs In Philadelphia

The Monarchs met the Homestead Grays in the first game of a four team double header at Philadelphia's Shibe Park on August 7th. The Grays slipped past the Monarchs 3-2. Josh Gibson hit a two run blast off Lefty LaMarque in the fourth inning to plate the eventual winning run. The Monarchs were scoreless through eight before staging a ninth inning rally that fell short. In the second game, the Philadelphia Stars overtook the Birmingham Black Barons 13-9.

August 18 Afro-American

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Paige, McDaniels Shut-Out Air Force Team In KC

Just two days after meeting a Navy team in KC, the Monarchs hosted another military team on August 5th. The Ft. Leavenworth Sherman Field Flyers started Herman Besse (who split time between the minors and majors between 1936-54) against Satchel Paige. The Monarchs showed the Flyers respect and/or wanted to please the hometown fans by pitching Satchel and Booker McDaniels in the game. The Flyers were no slouches--They had won the 1944 National Baseball Congress (semi-pro) championship. But they were no match for the Monarchs this day. Satchel went five strong innings, allowed three hits, no runs and struck out six. McDaniels picked up where Paige left off and completed the shutout while allowing four hits and four strikeouts.

The Ft. Leavenworth Flyers uniforms may have looked like this in 1945; the auction house where I found the photos lists them as WWII era.

The Monarchs infielders did most of the offensive damage. Taking up the first four spots in the lineup, they got four of the seven KC hits and scored all six runs. In games I have, the infielders (Lee Moody, Herb Souell, Jesse Williams and Jackie Robinson) were hitting between .303 and .450 after this contest. Jackie made the most of his one hit in five at-bats this day; he drove in a run, stole a base, and scored. The Monarchs offense was helped by some sloppy fielding by the Flyers; whoever was keeping score for the Kansas City Call rung them up for nine errors.

Soon after this game, the Monarchs headed off for their final east coast swing of the season.

August 10 Kansas City Call

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jackie Goes Deep, But Monarchs Remain Winless Against Buckeyes

The Monarchs made their lone 1945 appearance in Cleveland on July 24. Their opponent was the formidable Cleveland Buckeyes, first half American League champions. The Monarchs had gone 0-5 against Cleveland in the first half. This game on the 24th is the only time the two teams faced each other in the second half that I'm aware of. Satchel, having pitched a complete game just two days prior, took the hill for KC for the first five innings. He yielded three runs to the powerful Buckeyes lineup.

Eugene Bremer

Eugene Bremer went the distance for Cleveland, and had a shutout through eight innings. In the ninth, trailing 3-0, Jackie launched a pitch beyond the left field wall but a few inches foul. Later in the at-bat, he sent another wallop to left, this time a few inches to the fair side. It was a solo drive, but started a rally that resulted in another run. But Bremer and Cleveland snuck out of the inning to take a 3-2 win and improve to 6-0 against the Monarchs for the '45 season.

Jackie's homer left an impression on Cleveland catcher/manager Quincy Trouppe, who had this to say in his memoir 20 Years Too Soon:
Later that season I played against (Jackie) in Cleveland, and he overpowered my pitcher's curve with a line drive into the left-field stands. I knew then he had the makings of a top pro. When a young player breaks into pro ball hitting the curve with authority, you can expect to see him develop into an excellent hitter.
Although he had the makings of a real good player, I think it came as a surprise when word got out that the Brooklyn Dodgers had signed him to a contract. It was hard to imagine any black player cracking the major leagues, and with Jackie's temper being the way it was, it didn't seem likely that a major-league team would be willing to take a chance with him. The golden dream, the impossible golden dream of sepia players roaming the ball fields of the major leagues, was now crystallizing into reality at last.

July 28 Cleveland Call and Post

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sweep Of Red Sox In Detroit; Jackie's Base Running On Display

The Monarchs traveled to Detroit's Briggs Stadium (later Tigers Stadium) to take on the Memphis Red Sox in a July 22nd double header. It's the only appearance in Detroit the Monarchs made in 1945, and Detroit fans came out in force; the 25,000 fans were one of the largest crowds the Monarchs would play in front of that season. They were treated to a rare complete game performance from Satchel Paige in the first game. Satchel held the  Red Sox scoreless through eight, then gave up a lone run in the ninth before completing the 3-1 win.

Jackie put on a display of classic Negro Leagues small ball in the sixth. Following a Herb Souell triple, Jackie laid down the squeeze. Souell scored, and Jackie reached first. Then he stole second, then third, and raced home safely on a dropped ball at the plate.

In the second game, Hilton Smith faced off against familiar foe Verdell Mathis; Hilton and the Monarchs came away with a 3-1 win.

July 28 Pittsburgh Courier

Friday, July 16, 2010

Meeting With Semi-Pros In Chester, PA

After getting rained out in New York the day before, the Monarchs made the relatively short hop down to Chester, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Their opponent was a semi-pro club called Lloyd A.C. who had a steady schedule against Negro Leagues clubs. The Monarchs started off the game with three consecutive bunts, the first a hit, the second a sacrifice, and the third, by Jackie, went for a hit. The Monarchs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first before seldom used pitcher Steve Wylie took the hill for KC. Wylie had pitched a grand total of one inning since spring training that I'm aware of, but he had a 3-2 lead after six innings. Unfortunately for KC, Lloyd A.C. came back with two runs in the seventh to win the game. Jackie kept his average at .500 with a 2-for-4 performance.

July 17 Chester Times summary and box

The Monarchs were slated to meet the Baltimore Elite Giants in Baltimore on the 17th, but I've found no account. On the 19th, they were to meet the New York Cubans at the Polo Grounds, but were once again rained out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rained Out At Polo Grounds

The Monarchs spent the week of July 9-14 traveling from KC to NY, no doubt stopping for some games along the way (I haven't uncovered any). After the long trek, they were met with a rainy Sunday the 15th, and the scheduled doubleheader against the New York Cubans at Polo Grounds was called off.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chester Times On Jackie

The Monarchs were scheduled to meet a non-Negro league team by the name of Lloyd A.C. in Chester, Pennsylvania on July 16. Bill Burk wrote the below preview of Jackie's visit for the Chester Times that appeared on July 14. Interesting how highly regarded Jackie had become by some in such a short amount of time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Win Over Barons In KC On "Ankle-Deep" Mud

A small crowd of 1,900 braved some nasty weather on July 8 to see the Monarchs host the Birmingham Black Barons. According to the Kansas City Call, the infield mud was "nearly ankle-deep." The Monarchs didn't seem to mind the conditions, and piled up six runs and 15 hits against the visitors. Booker McDaniels continued to shine, throwing a complete game, yielding one meager run and striking out seven. At the plate, he added an RBI double and a run scored for good measure. Jackie continued his tremendous hitting with a 3-for-5 night that included two doubles, two runs scored and three runs batted in. He improved his average to a cool .500 (33-for-66).  

July 13 Kansas City Call

While the Monarchs were playing in Kansas City, Satchel Paige was moonlighting with the East Chicago Giants in East Chicago, Indiana. The Giants faced the Gary Sportsmens Club, who had Dizzy Dean's ravaged  arm pitch the first two innings. The sportsmen were no match for Satch; he struck out the first eight men and allowed one run in his four innings of work. Double Duty Radcliffe had apparently recovered after getting knocked out by a foul tip on July 1st; he caught the game for Satchel. The Giants were victorious, 12-4.

July 14 Afro American

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jackie Starts Second Half With A Bang

After a disappointing third place finish in the first half of the season, the Monarchs began their run for the second half title on Saturday, July 7 in Muskogee, Oklahoma against the Birmingham Black Barons. Lefty LaMarque twirled a complete game, allowed just one run, and Jackie smashed two home runs on the way to a 6-1 victory. This is only the second game in which Jackie homered that I'm aware of; the first had come way back on April 22, and was an inside-the-parker. Unfortunately the one brief game account for the July 7 game I've found doesn't specify what variety Jackie's two dingers were.

July 13 Kansas City Call

Muskogee was the setting for the most poignant story from Jackie's time with the Monarchs. It comes second hand from Buck O'Neil in his autobiography (Buck was in the Philippines with the Navy in '45):
(Jackie's) electricity wasn't just on the field. He got (the Monarchs) thinking in a different way. Growing up as he did in California, Jackie went to integrated schools and played on integrated teams. So when he got to the all-black Monarchs and saw the things they had to put up with--the Jim Crow laws, the separate drinking fountains and restrooms--he became furious. Othello "Chico" Renfroe, who played left field on that club, later told me that Jackie stormed out of so many places he left behind a fortune in change.
There was an incident in Muskogee, Oklahoma, that year that Hilton (Smith), who was Jackie's roommate, told me about. We had been buying gas for years at a service station there that had just one restroom--and we weren't allowed to use it. We thought nothing of it, and we gave the owner a lot of business anyway. Well, when the bus pulled into Muskogee and stopped at this station, Jackie got out and headed toward the restroom. The owner, who was filling the tank, called after him, "Hey boy! You know you can't go in there." Jackie asked him why. "Because we don't allow no colored people in that restroom."
The guys knew about Jackie's hair-triggered temper, so they just stood around, wondering what he was going to do. Jackie turned to the man very calmly and said, "Take the hose out of the tank." The owner stopped the pump and looked at him. "Take the hose out of the tank," Jackie repeated. Then he turned to his teammates and said, "Let's go. We don't want his gas."
Well, the Monarchs had two fifty-gallon tanks on the bus. That gas station wasn't going to sell a hundred gallons of gas to one customer until the bus came back through a few weeks later. He shoved the hose back into the tank and said, "All right, you boys can use the restroom. But don't stay long."
From then on, the Monarchs could use the restroom whenever they passed through.  But more importantly, they decided never to patronize any gas station or restaurant where they couldn't use the facilities.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

First Half Ends With Two More Losses To Buckeyes

After dropping two to the Cleveland Buckeyes on July 1, the Monarchs had a chance for revenge just three days later in a 4th of July doubleheader in Kansas City...But the first half champion Buckeyes once again took both tilts. Hot-hitting outfielder Sam Jethroe tagged Booker McDaniels for a triple and homer in the second game.

The Monarchs were missing one of their best hitters after first baseman Lee Moody injured his shoulder in batting practice. According to the below summary from the Kansas City Call, Jackie "Robinson, shortstop was moved to first to send Jesse Williams, second baseman back to his former shortstop position. Previously (Johnny) Ray had been sent to third after Souell's illness on Sunday (the 1st). Souell was sent to left field. With this sudden shifting of the field, Manager Duncan's boys made seven errors to aid in pulling up the Buckeye's 8 to 1 score. Plus this McDaniels began to tire in the seventh and in the eighth the Ohioans hit everything he had to offer."

July 6 Kansas City Call

The four losses dropped the Monarchs into third place in the first-half standings, behind Cleveland and Birmingham. The standings published in the Call put the Monarchs at 17-14; games I've found show a 15-13-1 record.

final first half standings from July 6 Kansas City Call

Here's the Monarchs schedule and results from the first half that I've been able to put together. Jackie's hits and at-bats are also listed. He blistered 26 hits in 54 at-bats in the 15 games for which I have info.

(a noble click embiggens)

And finally, a look at the 6,500 miles the Monarchs put on the bus in the first half:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Frank Duncan On Jackie's Time With The Monarchs

Frank Duncan, 1941 (source)

Frank Duncan, manager and catcher for the '45 Monarchs, had this to say to John B. Holway for his book Blackball Tales:

I remember when Jackie Robinson got out of the Army, came through here as a second lieutenant in 1945. We trained at a Texas League park, and Wilkinson, our owner, says, "Frank, Jackie Robinson'll be over here, he'll join you in a few days."

I said, "Fine." I'd never seen him play, I'd only seen him play one game of football, when the College All Stars played the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1941. When Jackie showed up,  I said, "Jackie, now tell me, what is your best position?"

He said, "Shortstop."

But I had Jesse Williams at shortstop, so I told Jackie, "You work out over there at second base with Serrell."

Jackie said, "I'm a little fat, I'm going to get some of the weight off me, I can do better."

I says, "You may have a different system of training, being a football player. You follow your own routine, I'll leave it up to you." And that's what he did.

Jackie wasn't the best player on the club. No, he wasn't. But you talk about running those bases--oh man. I told him, "You're on your own, Jack." I had Baldy Souell hit behind Jackie, because he was a darn good hitter. With Jackie on second base Souell on first, Jackie would make a break, and Souell thought he was going. I'd look up, Souell would be standing on second base, Jackie still on there. I says, "Where were you going?"

He says, "I thought Jackie was going."

I said, "I'm going to do you better than that, I'm going to put you in front of Jackie."

We played exhibitions all around New Orleans around Easter Sunday, and when we broke camp and got back up here (Kansas City), Robinson was in pretty good shape. By the time we got to New York, Washington, and Baltimore, those scouts were on him. I don't know how the Dodgers ever signed Jackie, but I know one thing: The Monarchs didn't get any money for him. Didn't get a dime. They lost money on that deal. Lost lots of money.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Monarchs Blow Late Leads Against Cleveland Buckeyes In KC

Jackie Robinson steals home past Cleveland Buckeye catcher, Quincy Trouppe, by Kadir Nelson

The first half of the split season was to end on July 4. The Monarchs and Cleveland Buckeyes had both been in the running for the first half title, so two doubleheaders between the teams on July 1 and 4 had loomed large at the end of the half. Unfortunately for the Monarchs, any tension for the four games was drained thanks to the Buckeyes locking up the first half before coming to KC for the games on July 1. The Monarchs would have to win the second half crown if they wanted a chance to play in the Negro American League championship at the end of the season.

But first, they had to try to handle the powerful Buckeyes as the first half wound down. The June 29 Kansas City Call detailed how tough the task facing the Monarchs was: "Cleveland boasts some of best hitters, pitchers and fielders in the league. The hurling staff is headed by Eugene Bremmer, the Jefferson brothers, Willie and George and Lowell Harden and Manager Quincy Trouppe, catcher. In the hitting department the Buckeyes have four men batting above the .350 mark. Lloyd (Ducky) Davenport is the heaviest hitter with an average of .372 in 23 games; Sammy Jethroe, last year's fair-haired hitter in the American league is batting right behind Davenport with .372 out of 25 games; Woods of Cleveland, third baseman, is batting .350 out of 25 games and last but not least, Armour, left fielder is batting .350 out of 17 games." (Jethroe was one of the players that had a try-out with the Boston Red Sox earlier in the year with Jackie.)

As you can read in the game summaries below, the Monarchs blew leads late in both games. Jackie went 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored in the first game. Double Duty Radcliffe started the first game catching for KC, but was knocked out by a foul tip off Jethroe's bat.

July 6 Kansas City Call

Saturday, June 26, 2010

7-4 Win Over Grays In Pittsburgh

Having demolished Homestead Grays pitching in his first few appearances against them, Jackie may have been due for an off-day. It came on June 26 in Pittsburgh with an 0-for-5 night. His teammates picked up the slack, and the Monarchs triumphed 7-4 over the mighty Grays. Herb Souell led the way with four hits and three runs. His hot hitting on the eastern trip raised his average to .442, leapfrogging Lee Moody for second on the team to Jackie's .509. On the hill, Booker McDaniels went the distance, and according to the Pittsburgh Courier, his "blazing fast ball was too much for the usually heavy-hitting Grays. He struck out seven over the course of the evening and pounded out three hits himself," two of which were doubles. Buck Leonard managed "a mighty home run clout" to give the Grays a three run lead in the third inning, but KC completed the comeback with runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth. McDaniels doesn't have the name recognition of Satchel Paige or Hilton Smith, but he was the best KC pitcher to this point in the season. In games I've found to this point, his record stood at 5-2 with a 1.92 TRA (total runs allowed per nine innings, whether earned or unearned).

June 30 Pittsburgh Courier

Friday, June 25, 2010

Stars Hand Satchel Second Loss In As Many Days

One day after getting roughed up by the Grays in the District of Columbia, Satchel took the mound against the Philadelphia Stars in Philadelphia's Shibe Park on June 25. Paige got lit up again, this time for five runs in four innings. The National League wasn't agreeing with Satch; in the four American League games I have stats for before the eastern trip, Satchel had allowed just three runs in 20 innings. Between June 24 against the Grays and the 25th against the Stars, he gave up 14 runs in ten innings.

June 30 African-American

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Jackie Goes 7-for-7 in Double Header With Grays

A double header against the Homestead Grays in Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium on June 24 was the setting for what was probably Jackie Robinson's greatest day at the plate during his short tenure as a Kansas City Monarch. He came to the dish eight times that day, and reached base safely eight times. In the first game, Jackie walked, hit two singles, and two doubles. In the second, he had three hits of unknown variety. It seems likely the Brooklyn Dodgers would have had their scouts' eyes on Jackie on this eastern trip. If a scout was there this day, he surely came away impressed. The incredible display raised Jackie's average in games I've unearthed to a preposterous .558. Monarchs third baseman Herb Souell joined Jackie in having a monster day at the plate, going a combined 7-for-9.

It wasn't a perfect day in the field for Jackie however; in the sixth inning of the first game, with the score tied 2-2 and the bases drunk, Josh Gibson hit a "slash" to Jackie at short. Jackie snagged the ball, but badly mis-threw to Monarchs catcher Double Duty Radcliffe, allowing Jud Wilson and Cool Papa Bell to score. Things just got worse for KC after that, and they fell 12-3 in game one.

No fewer than seven future hall-of-famers took the field: Jackie, Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, Jud Wilson, Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson. The Grays were an incredible powerhouse; they were eight-time defending Negro National League pennant winners. In other words, 1936 was the last year a team other than the Grays took the National League. Talk about a murderer's row: the Grays' two through six hitters were Dan Bankhead, Wilson, Bell, Leonard and Gibson. All those five hitters could muster in game one was nine hits and seven runs.

Game two brought another offensive onslaught by the Grays. They rang up ten runs in the second inning against a combination of Lefty LaMarque and Booker McDaniels to win the game 10-6. 

June 30 Pittsburgh Courier summary and box