December 15, 2017

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1945 NNL & NAL

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week the Negro Leagues DB added the 1945 Negro National League and Negro American League.

In the NAL the Cleveland Buckeyes, led by Sam Jethroe (.339/.435/.559) and player-manager Quincy Trouppe, ended the two-year run of the Birmingham Black Barons as league champions. The Buckeyes were the eleventh attempt (in 24 years) at fielding a Cleveland team in the organized Negro leagues, and the first to win a pennant.

The Kansas City Monarchs snagged a former UCLA football star named Jack Roosevelt Robinson. He had never played professional baseball, but he won the shortstop job right away, and became the best player in the (war-weakened) league, hitting .384/.445/.606 in games with box scores. Even with his help, the Monarchs languished in third place.

In the NNL the Homestead Grays won their eighth pennant in nine years with one of the oldest championship squads ever put together, featuring four players in their 40s. Josh Gibson battled depression and drug addiction, but fought through it to post his usual 203 OPS+. Even so, the young Roy Campanella (.389/.483/.571) of the Elite Giants might have matched (or even surpassed) Gibson as the Negro leagues’ premier catcher.

Going for their third straight World Series win, the Grays found themselves shackled by the unheralded Buckeyes’ pitchers. The mighty Grays offense could only squeeze out three runs in four games on an anemic .165 batting average. Homestead went down meekly in four straight games, and the long-suffering fans of black baseball in Cleveland finally had something to cheer for.

But all this was overshadowed by Jackie Robinson’s departure from the Monarchs in late August for a meeting with Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey. Change was rounding third and on its way home.

Our 1945 stats are based on the work of Larry Lester and Wayne Stivers, with new research and additional box scores from us.

Up next: 1946, 1947, and 1948 Negro leagues, 1938 Negro American League, 1927 Eastern Colored League, 1929 American Negro League…and more.

Satchel Paige & Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs

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