Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monarchs Invade Yankee Stadium, Take On Philly Stars

The Monarchs first eastern swing of '45 started in Yankee Stadium on June 17th with an inter-league contest versus the Negro National League Philadelphia Stars. The game was part of a three team doubleheader; game one featured the Stars besting the New York Black Yankees 7-1. The Monarchs appearance in the Big Apple warranted plenty of media attention, including from the New York Times. On the 17th, the paper ran an item with the headline "Satchel Paige To Pitch," and pointed out the Monarchs and Stars "will show Jack Robinson and Frank Austin, who rate as baseball's leading shortstops." The June 16 New York Amsterdam News took their advance praise of Jackie further: "The colorful Monarchs, rated one of baseball's great clubs, are bringing besides Paige, the game's No. 1 attraction, one of the sport's most valuable additions in years, in the person of Jackie Robinson, stellar shortstop...On his showing to date with the Monarchs, he appears headed for stardom, and at the rate he is developing, may become one of the all-time great Race shortstops." The Amsterdam News also claimed the Monarchs had "one of the greatest catching staffs in the game headed by Manager Frank Duncan, ably supported by Sam Haynes and 'Double Duty' Radcliffe." (Chico Renfroe actually ended up as the catcher for the game.)

Game accounts claim between 14,000 to 16,000 fans were on hand to witness Satchel face off against 21-year old rookie Wilmer Harris. Harris gave up just two hits and no runs through the first six innings. Satchel got off to a rocky start, allowing the first three Stars batters to reach on singles, but escaped the inning without yielding a run. He had his stuff back from there, retiring the next 11 Stars batters, and allowed just one more hit and no runs in five innings of work. In the top of the seventh, with no score in the game, the Monarchs finally got to Harris. Jackie started the rally with a single, "(Lee) Moody doubled Robinson to third. (John) Scott scored both runners with his second hit of the game, a double to center; (Walter) Thomas cut a sharp single to right to score Scott" (June 22 Kansas City Call). The three runs were all KC managed on the day, but three was enough after Lefty LaMarque relieved Satchel and hurled four no-hit innings (though he did allow the Stars lone run on two walks and two Stars sacrifices).

The eastern trip was off to a good start. Negro leagues historian Wayne Stivers reports that the Monarchs and Stars played on the 18th in Philadelphia, resulting in a 5-1 Stars victory. Over the next two weeks, the Monarchs would travel through the northeast squaring off with the Stars and Josh Gibson's Homestead Grays.

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