February 23, 2020

Negro League DB Update: 1927 Eastern Colored League

December 23, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

Having brought our coverage of Negro league statistics forward to 1948, we are now going back to fill in the missing seasons from the late 1920s and early 1930s. First up is the 1927 Eastern Colored League, along with the Negro League World Series that year.

The 1927 ECL opened with the same seven teams that had finished the 1926 season. But the Lincoln Giants signed the Cuban outfielder Esteban Montalvo, who was claimed as the property of the Negro National League’s Western Cuban Stars. Montalvo wanted more money from the team’s owner, Tinti Molina, and had sat out the entire 1926 season. Nevertheless, both the ECL and NNL insisted he was a Cuban Stars player, and when the Lincolns’ Jim Keenan insisted on keeping him, the ECL booted them out of the league. It may seem odd today, but Keenan chose keeping Montalvo over league membership, apparently calculating that he would make plenty of money playing white semipro clubs and black independents like the Homestead Grays and Louis Santop’s Broncos.

The Atlantic City Bacharach Giants win their second straight ECL pennant by taking both halves of the split season. They accomplished this despite injuries to their two ace pitchers from the previous year: lefty Claude Grier was limited to a handful of appearances, while Arthur Henderson won 12 games, but missed most of the last two months of the season, including the World Series. The Bacharachs got solid offense from almost every position, enough that they outscored even the Murderer’s Row of the Harrisburg Giants. They enjoyed worthy contributions from unheralded players like second baseman Milton Lewis, who led the team with 11 homers, and Maurice “Eggie” Dallard, a former catcher moved to first base who added 8 more. But the team’s secret weapons were a couple of two-way players: Luther Farrell, who led the league in wins and strikeouts while hitting .325/.401/.535, and Jesse Hubbard, who spent much of the season as the leadoff hitter while also contributing a 10-3 record and 2.80 ERA.

The Bacharachs’ main rivals, the Harrisburg Giants, never quite got going, despite an impressive collection of sluggers, including the likes of Oscar Charleston (.399/.502/.694), Fats Jenkins (.377/.452/.509), and Heavy Johnson (.379/.461/.568). It also did not help that Harrisburg lost star outfielder Rap Dixon for most of the season when he accompanied the Philadelphia Royal Giants on their trip to Japan. (While there Dixon made the longest hit ever seen at Koshien Stadium.) The Giants did make a claim on the second half title, but the team’s owner, Colonel W. Strothers (“Colonel” was his given name, not a rank or honorific), didn’t turn up at the league meeting called to decide the matter, and the second half championship, along with the league pennant, were awarded to Atlantic City.

The erstwhile powerhouse of the league, the Hilldale Club, fell on hard times when their best player, Biz Mackey, joined Dixon on the Philadelphia Royal Giants (along with Andy Cooper of the Detroit Stars and Frank Duncan of the Kansas City Monarchs). Injuries and disciplinary disputes involving several other players further weakened the team, and they finished well under .500, despite Mackey’s return in the latter half of July. Perhaps as a result of his team’s difficulties, the owner, Ed Bolden, suffered a nervous breakdown at the end of the season.

Among the ECL’s other highlights in 1927 were great seasons from the Cuban Stars’ Martín Dihigo, who co-led the league with 13 home runs and filled in at shortstop for much of the season when player-manager Pelayo Chacón was first injured and then left the team; the Royal Giants’ Chino Smith, who batted an eye-watering .457; Hilldale’s Nip Winters, who won 13 games and hit .295; and Jud Wilson of the Baltimore Black Sox, who hit .424/.496/.706, with 30 doubles in 66 games.

For the second year in a row the Bacharach Giants faced the Chicago American Giants in the World Series. The first four games were held in Chicago, and the Americans swept them impressively, outscoring the Bacharachs 33 to 4. When the series moved to Atlantic City the Bacharachs staved off defeat with a narrow 3 to 2 victory. Despite allowing two runs, Luther Farrell threw a no-hitter that ended in controversy when the game was called due to darkness after seven innings. After a 10-inning tie in the next game, the Bacharachs won two more before Chicago finally put an end to the series with a decisive 11 to 4 win.

Many people have helped with this compilation along the way, but I want to single out Jim Overmyer, author of Black Ball and the Boardwalk: The Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, 1916-1929, for providing box scores from the Atlantic City Press, and Larry Lester, who generously helped fill in many other gaps.

Next up: the 1929 American Negro League, followed by the 1901/02 Cuban League, early Mexican League seasons, and more.

Dick Lundy, Oliver Marcell, and Jesse Hubbard of the 1927 Bacharach Giants (all from Cuban baseball cards)


2 Responses to “Negro League DB Update: 1927 Eastern Colored League”
  1. Hey, appreciate the research and the work involved here, Gary. Having done a little myself, it’s easy to get lost in the details of it all. Numbers are one thing, but people are quite another. Both are worth preserving. :-)

  2. John Jordan says:

    Hi All,

    Love your work. I am curious how many more seasons of the Eastern Colored Leagues need to be researched? And if so, how can I help?

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