Negro Leagues spotlight: The Pittsburgh Crawfords

pitt_crawfords

From 1932 to 1936 the Pittsburgh Crawfords were the class of the Negro Leagues. Often referred to as the greatest Negro League team of all-time, the Crawfords had a roster stacked with talent, including 5 Hall of Famers: Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, James Cool Papa Bell, and Satchel Paige. Owned by Pittsburgh businessmen Gus Greenlee, the Crawfords were able to sign many of the game’s top African-American players in the wake of a financial collapse in the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League in the late 20’s and early 30’s. In that small window of the 1930’s, the Crawfords were near, if not atop, the standings at each season’s end.

Despite the departure of Satchel Paige, the 1935 season should go down as the Crawfords’ greatest season. With a core of four Hall of Famers and the help of stud pitcher Leroy Matlock (18-0), the Crawfords went 26-6 en route to a NNL Championship Title over the New York Cubans. Although available statistics on the 1935 season may differ, Josh Gibson led the team with an impressive .372/.435/.634 slashline.

In 1939, after a few poor to mediocre seasons and civil unrest stemming from racial labor disputes at Greenlee Field stadium, a plummet attendance forced Gus Greenlee to sell the team. The Pittsburgh Crawfords became the Toledo Crawfords for a season, and then the Indianapolis Crawfords before finally folding in 1940.

1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords, Offensive Statistics

Player Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA OBP OPS TB SLG SH
Sam Bankhead 24 188 162 39 56 11 5 1 7 6 19 0.346 0.414 0.908 80 0.494 7
Cool Papa Bell 32 190 170 46 53 3 5 2 10 7 20 0.312 0.384 0.808 72 0.424 0
William Bell 37 8 7 2 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.571 0.571 1.286 5 0.714 1
Ted Bond 31 98 87 12 25 5 0 0 0 4 10 0.287 0.361 0.706 30 0.345 1
Ernest Carter 32 20 19 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.211 0.25 0.461 4 0.211 0
Oscar Charleston 38 152 132 23 39 7 1 5 17 7 16 0.295 0.372 0.849 63 0.477 4
Jimmie Crutchfield 25 133 120 17 33 5 2 1 3 3 10 0.275 0.331 0.706 45 0.375 3
Rosey Davis 30 27 27 3 6 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.222 0.222 0.519 8 0.296 0
Josh Gibson 23 161 145 37 54 10 2 8 29 7 16 0.372 0.435 1.069 92 0.634 0
Bob Harris 9 9 2 3 1 1 0 0 1 0 0.333 0.333 1 6 0.667 0
Curtis Harris 65 62 6 17 2 1 1 6 0 2 0.274 0.297 0.684 24 0.387 1
A. Harvey? 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bill Harvey 27 18 16 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0.188 0.235 0.485 4 0.25 1
Nate Hunter 29 34 32 2 4 0 0 1 2 0 1 0.125 0.152 0.37 7 0.219 1
Judy Johnson 35 136 130 19 30 6 1 2 9 1 6 0.231 0.265 0.603 44 0.338 0
Harry Kincannon 25 6 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.167 0.167 0.333 1 0.167 0
Leroy Matlock 28 39 34 5 10 2 0 0 0 2 2 0.294 0.333 0.686 12 0.353 3
Pat Patterson 23 148 137 26 44 8 4 1 3 2 9 0.321 0.363 0.823 63 0.46 2
Bill Perkins 39 123 114 19 37 8 2 2 6 0 7 0.325 0.364 0.846 55 0.482 2
Sam Streeter 34 16 16 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.063 0.063 0.125 1 0.063 0
Ches Williams 27 162 155 20 35 6 1 0 5 3 6 0.226 0.255 0.532 43 0.277 1

Statistics and information courtesy of baseball-reference.com