Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Split With the American Giants in Columbus, Ohio

Red Bird Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Sunday, May 20th found the Monarchs meeting the Chicago American Giants at Red Bird Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The park, now known as Cooper Stadium, is still standing in Columbus, but no longer in use. 2008 appears to have been its last season hosting baseball. Developers are hoping to turn it into an automotive race track.

In the opening game of the double header, Jim "Lefty" LaMarque took the hill for the Monarchs. LaMarque was from the town of Potosi in eastern Missouri. His entire career in the Negro Leagues was spent as a Monarch, and spanned from 1942-51. According to Negro Leagues historian James A. Riley, LaMarque was "a hardworking, cagey hurler who was tough in the clutch. His sharp-breaking curve was his best pitch, but he had an assortment of effective pitches, including a blazing fast ball, a good drop, a screwball, and good control." According to LaMarque himself, from the book The Negro Leagues Revisited, "I won most of my games. I learned to have real good control. I guess my top speed was maybe 80 or 85 miles an fastball always moved. I couldn't throw a straight fastball, it just moved. I guess just the movement on the ball kept the hitters from hitting it as well as they could if it came straight at them. I think I was a pretty fair pitcher. Well, most people said I was." Lefty made the East-West all-star game in 1948 and '49.

On the bump for Chicago was veteran Sug Cornelius, one of the best Negro Leagues pitchers of the '30s. He was a three-time all-star ('35, '36 and '38). By 1945, 37 year old Cornelius was in his 18th year of Negro Leagues play. According to Riley, Sug was "a crafty right-hander with good control...had a superb curveball that he could 'throw around a barrel.' Other pitches in his arsenal included a good fastball, hard slider, screwball, drop, and change of pace."

Cornelius held a 3-1 lead over KC through seven innings, but his defense let him down in the final two frames. The Chicago Defender box score shows Giants shortstop Jesse Douglas (a former Monarch) committing four errors, which must have aided the Monarchs come-from-behind 6-4 victory. According to the game summary, Monarchs "first baseman (Lee) Moody hit the ball hard and timely as did Lefty LaMarque." Negro Leagues pitchers seemed to know how to swing a stick. Moody went 3-for-4 with two doubles. Jackie Robinson had a rare hitless game in three at-bats, bringing his three game hitting line to 2-for-10. After Frank Duncan caught opening day and Double Duty Radcliffe caught the second Sunday, Sammie Haynes shows up as the receiver on this third Sunday of the season. The rest of the Monarchs line-up remained consistent through the first three weeks.

The seven-inning nightcap pitted Booker McDaniels against Gentry Jessup in a rematch of the opening-day starters. This time, Jessup and the American Giants enjoyed a victory. Jessup did it all, holding the Monarchs hitless through six before Lee Moody got the Monarchs' lone hit with a seventh inning single. The Monarchs failed to push a run across the plate. Jessup received no run support from his teammates, so he took care of it himself with an inside-the-parker to take the game 1-0.

May 26 Chicago Defender

From Columbus, the Monarchs toured through Indianapolis and Springfield, IL on the way to Chicago for a doubleheader scheduled for Sunday, May 27. They were to meet the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns in Indianapolis's Victory Field on the 23rd, but I've found no result. They stayed in Indianapolis for a contest with the Chicago American Giants on Wednesday the 24th that they won 6-4, then traveled to Springfield to beat the American Giants again, this time 7-4, on the 25th. Of the eight game results I've found to this point in the season, the Monarchs won seven.


  1. Cooper stadium is where the Yanks AAA team played for years, including when I lived in Columbus. It still looks the same!

  2. Awesome! I'd been meaning to ask you about it, I kind of figured you'd probably been there.