November 30, 2022

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1940 NNL & NAL

April 25, 2016 by · 8 Comments 

After two years of relative stability, 1940 proved to be a difficult season for the Negro leagues, as the trickle of players defecting to Venezuela or (especially) Mexico became a flood. Many of black baseball’s biggest stars—Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Willard Brown, Leon Day—spent most or all of 1940 south of the border.

Compounding this problem, the most famous of the Negro leaguers, Satchel Paige, spent his fourth consecutive season in exile. Injury and a refusal to play for the Newark Eagles, the team that owned his contract, had kept him off league rosters since 1936. Finally a complicated deal that awarded the Eagles two other players from the Crawfords—shortstop Bus Clarkson and pitcher Ernie Carter—resulted in Paige being allowed to suit up for league games with the Kansas City Monarchs, the club whose barnstorming B-team he had been headlining for two years. (Unfortunately we don’t yet have any box scores covering his league appearances late in 1940.)

The Homestead Grays may have lost Josh Gibson to Mexico, but they retained most of the rest of their roster, including Ray Brown (16-2, 1.88), Buck Leonard (.369, 8 homers), and Edsall Walker (11-4, 3.13). The Grays, now playing most of their home games in Washington, D. C., also added Howard Easterling (.344./.404/.511) and the 44-year-old Jud Wilson. The latter was supposed to make up for the loss of Gibson’s power but finished the year homerless and with a .260 average. Still, these players proved to be just enough to stave off the Elite Giants’ challenge and give the Grays their third pennant in four years.

Over in the Negro American League, the defending champion Kansas City Monarchs lost their two best everyday players, Willard Brown and Ted Strong. But KC compensated through the fine play of infielders Herb Souell (.340) and Jesse Williams (.368) and the pitching of Frank Bradley (4-1, 2.38), Jack Matchett (6-2, 2.58), and others, and won the pennant going away.

Once again, we owe our stats for the 1940 season to Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers, and the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group.

Up next: the 1919/20 and 1921/22 Cuban leagues. On deck: the 1941-43 Negro leagues and the 1937 Negro American League.

1940 NNL championship patch belonging to Wilmer Fields.

1940 NNL championship patch belonging to Wilmer Fields.


8 Responses to “Negro Leagues DB Update: 1940 NNL & NAL”
  1. Patrick says:

    Gary, thanks for all of these great updates. Will you eventually include the Mexican league stats in this database?

  2. Gary Ashwill says:

    @Patrick – Yes, we’d like to include Mexican league numbers eventually. It’s not very close to happening, unfortunately, because the Mexican league encyclopedia is not entirely compatible with the way we do things, in various ways. I’ve been looking into building it from the ground up, box score by box score, the way we do everything else, so we’ll see.

  3. Steven Greenes says:

    Extraordinary and valuable work. What year do you plan to use as the final year in order to complete the statistical database for the Negro Leagues?

  4. Gary Ashwill says:

    @Steven Greenes – The last year will probably be 1948, 1949, or 1950, depending on how those seasons look. It’s possible we could include years after that, because the Negro leagues from the 1950s need to be recorded somewhere, but we’d probably count those years as minor leagues.

  5. Jim says:

    I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for your negro league database and stories, Thanks to the genius of your website I have 23 teams in my Negro League Stratomatic baseball game, Again Thank You Ps I do have a question Was there ever any Negro League Team in Buffalo New York…I have read about Frank Grant

  6. Kevin says:

    Jim – There is some info on Buffalo Negro League teams here:

  7. Marcia Trent says:

    Thank you for all the data and updates. Can you assistance please?
    I have researched extensively, but I’m still not convinced nor can I say definitely that Harvey Martin ( Philadelphia Giants 1908) is my paternal grandfather. But I think you can steer me in the right direction. What I know is true – is that the birth date, birth place and death information is correct as listed in Seamheads.

    In my research, I have traced Martin to an article by Sol White, published in the New York Age and found a reference to this article published in ” May the Best Man Win ….” document published on this website.

    The article states that H. Martin played for Louisville Union team – I found several articles to verify that information is true. Have you run across any photos 0f the LU team?

    I am also wondering if the only person not identified in the World Colored Champion 1908 photo of the PG team could be Harvey Martin?

  8. Marcia – Sorry we didn’t respond sooner. We don’t have any photos of the Louisville Unions.

    In this 1908 PG photo is appears all the players have been identified:

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