February 18, 2018

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1946 NNL & NAL

January 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1946 the Negro leagues began to face the inevitable. The Brooklyn Dodgers finally broke Organized Baseball’s 60-year-old color line, signing several black players for their minor league system—including the best player in the 1945 Negro American League, the Monarchs’ shortstop Jackie Robinson, and arguably the best player in the 1945 Negro National League, the Elite Giants’ catcher Roy Campanella.

Returning veterans helped the Negro leagues compensate for white baseball’s inroads, at least temporarily. Monte Irvin (.363/.431/.522), Larry Doby (.339/.414/.557), Leon Day (11-2, 2.41), and Max Manning (10-2, 2.80) led the Newark Eagles to a dominant pennant victory in the NNL, while Willard Brown (.306/.342/.528) and Ted Strong (.321/.406/.464) sparked the Kansas City Monarchs to an equally lopsided win in the NAL. The Eagles prevailed in a tense, classic, 7-game World Series.

Bereft of their longtime leader Cumberland Posey, who died in March, the Homestead Grays slumped to their worst season since the mid-1930s, as they finished in second place, but barely above .500 (36-34) in league games. The blame lay not with veterans Josh Gibson (.320/.382/.651), Buck Leonard (.337/.459/.550), or Cool Papa Bell (.393/.452/.451), but rather with a pitching staff devastated by the loss of Johnny Wright to the Dodgers’ organization and the departures of Roy Welmaker and Ray Brown (to Venezuela and Mexico, respectively).

Newcomers to the Negro leagues in 1946 included a young Cuban third baseman named Orestes Miñoso, as well as future big leaguers Al Smith, Harry Simpson, and Luis Márquez.

Next up: the 1948 NAL & NNL, 1938 Negro American League, 1927 Eastern Colored League, 1929 American Negro League, and more.

Future major leaguers Al Smith, Harry Simpson, Minnie Miñoso

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