The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Imagine a game between these two Black all-star teams

Black History Month is a good time to recall some of the greatest African-American ballplayers, both in Major League Baseball and the Negro Leagues.

Baseball fans love to debate the comparisons of players from different eras. In a fantasy world, anything’s possible, right? Well, what if I told you there could be a ballgame between the greatest Black players of Major League Baseball and the Negro Leagues? It would indeed be something to marvel. Some of the best African-American players in baseball history graced the two leagues. Most of them have already been honored with a plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As a make-believe general manager, I came up with a mythical all-star team of African-Americans who played in the majors, as well as a team of all-stars who played in the Negro Leagues. There were some difficult choices in selecting players for each position, although it turned out all are Hall of Famers and therefore it’s hard to make bad picks.

My selection for manager of the Negro League all-star team is Biz Mackey. Here’s his lineup against the major leaguers:

SS – Willie Wells

OF – Cool Papa Bell

1B – Buck Leonard

C – Josh Gibson

3B – Judy Johnson

OF – Monte Irvin

OF – Oscar Charleston

2B – Pop Lloyd

SP – Satchel Paige

Hilton Smith is the relief pitcher, while Larry Doby serves as the pinch-hitter/designated hitter.

My pick for manager of the Major League all-star squad is Dusty Baker. His lineup against the Negro League all-stars includes:

2B – Joe Morgan

SS – Derek Jeter

OF – Willie Mays

OF -- Hank Aaron

OF – Barry Bonds

1B – Frank Thomas

C – Roy Campanella

3B -- Jackie Robinson

SP – Bob Gibson

Baker can look to Lee Smith in the bullpen and Ken Griffey Jr. on the bench as a pinch-hitter/designated hitter.

I selected Robinson for third base on the Major League all-stars team. There haven’t been any Black players in the Hall whose primary position was third base. Since Robinson played third base periodically for the Dodgers, I gave him the nod over Terry Pendleton, who might be the next best Black player at the hot corner.

There are several cross-overs between the rosters. Irvin, Paige, and Doby were among the first African-Americans in the majors in the late 1940s after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Mays, Aaron, Campanella, Robinson, and Doby got their careers started in the Negro Leagues before getting the opportunity to compete in the majors.

So, which team would be favored to win such a game? It would be a great matchup for one of those computer baseball game simulators.

Can you picture Bob Gibson throwing high-and-inside to Josh Gibson, or Satchel Paige with his funky windup facing Barry Bonds? How about Cool Papa Bell chasing down a long fly ball hit in the gap by Hank Aaron?

Would Satchel be intimated by a batting lineup that featured Mays, Aaron, and Bonds in consecutive at-bats? After all, they collected 2,177 home runs between them. Could Josh Gibson throw out a speedy Joe Morgan on the bases?

We’ll never know for sure, but it would surely be a fun debate.

Add a Comment

(Enter the numbers shown in the above image)