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bbpostcards 04-21-2015 02:55 PM

Jimmy Claxton 1914 postcard discovered
 
2 Attachment(s)
Southpaw pitcher Jimmy Claxton was both the first African American to play in organized baseball in the 20th century (he pitched two games for the Pacific Coast League's Oakland Oaks in 1916) and the first black player to appear on an American baseball card (1916 Zeenut). He sits in the front row, far right of this postcard of the 1914 Hubbard Giants baseball team from Portland, Oregon. The Oregonian newspaper lists Claxton as one of four pitchers on the 1914 team. You can find research on the team by clicking here.

pariah1107 04-21-2015 03:29 PM

Awesome!!!!! Yes, Claxton played in Oregon 1914-16. For the Hubbard Giants in 1914, he integrated the Portland Inter City League in the late summer of 1915 for the Sellwood Dingbats. He began the 1916 season with the Gresham Giants but left the team in Mid-March (before the official season began).

By April 2, 1916 he was in Oakland as he was featured on the Tribunes' sports page, after another dominant pitching performance including a 23 strikeout game versus Waseda university of Japan.

I was going to post this in another thread, but might as well do it here. Season-by-season breakdowns of his batting average, win/loss record, and personal bests. Judge for yourself just how good he was:

Batting average:

1915 Sellwood Dingbats; 3/5
1919 Shasta Limiteds; 11/36
1920 Shasta Limiteds; 2/6
1923 Mukilteo Lighthouse Keepers; 18/52
1924 Tacoma Longshoreman; 18/79
1926-31 Roslyn Yippers; 103/257 (.667 average in 1929 36 for 54)
1933-35 Scott Motors of Reno; 49/146
1936-37 Verdi, Nevada; 15/45
1938 Reno Brewery; 1/4

595 at-bats, 209 hits, .351 batting average. 14 HR. On nearly every team he started the season hitting ninth, but finished the season hitting second to fifth in the batting order.

Pitching:

1915 Sellwood Dingbats; 0 wins, 2 losses
1916 Oakland Oak Leafs; 7 wins, 1 loss
1919 Shasta Limited; 6 wins, 3 losses
1920 Shasta Limiteds/Godfrey All-Stars; 1 win, 5 losses
1923 Mukilteo Lighthouse Keepers; 7 wins, 2 losses
1924 Tacoma Longshoremen; 10 wins, 4 losses
1925 Edmonds; 4 wins, 0 losses (possibly 25 wins according to '64 interview)
1926-31 Roslyn Yippers; 50 wins, 34 losses
1932 Cuban Stars; 0 wins, 2 losses
1933-35 Scott Motors of Reno; 23 wins, 6 losses
1936-37 Verdi, Nevada; 11 wins, 4 losses
1938 Reno Brewery; 3 wins, 2 losses
1939 Reno Mountain Eagles; 0 win, 2 losses
1940 Dixie Club; 3 wins, 1 loss
1941 Fife Tigers; 1 win, 0 loss
1942-46 Various Tacoma teams unknown record.

128 wins and 71 losses, with the exception of 1916, 1919-20, 1932, 1939-41 all in integrated company.

Most strikeouts single game: 23, Oakland Oak Leafs v. Waseda University April 2, 1916
Most strikeouts single game integrated team: 22, Yakima Indians v. Spokane All-Stars (13 innings) September 2, 1928
Most strikeouts consecutive games: 36, Roslyn Yippers v. Seattle Royal Giants and Issaquah July 17 & 24, 1929
Most consecutive hits in at-bats in Washington State Semi-pro history: 13, Roslyn Yippers v. Spokane, Yakima Westside Bears, and Seattle Royal Giants July 4-17

If anyone finds newspaper record of any Claxton game please feel free to contact me as I've been working on a book to be done this August for publication for the 100 year anniversary of his integration of baseball, May 28, 2016. Thank you in advance, Ty Phelan

Bob Lemke 04-21-2015 04:23 PM

And he made a pretty good horn, too. What? . . . Never mind.

slidekellyslide 04-21-2015 05:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pariah1107 (Post 1403673)

Batting average:

1915 Sellwood Dingbats; 3/5
1919 Shasta Limiteds; 11/36
1920 Shasta Limiteds; 2/6
1923 Mukilteo Lighthouse Keepers; 18/52
1924 Tacoma Longshoreman; 18/79
1926-31 Roslyn Yippers; 103/257 (.667 average in 1929 36 for 54)
1933-35 Scott Motors of Reno; 49/146
1936-37 Verdi, Nevada; 15/45
1938 Reno Brewery; 1/4

595 at-bats, 209 hits, .351 batting average. 14 HR. On nearly every team he started the season hitting ninth, but finished the season hitting second to fifth in the batting order.

Pitching:

1915 Sellwood Dingbats; 0 wins, 2 losses
1916 Oakland Oak Leafs; 7 wins, 1 loss
1919 Shasta Limited; 6 wins, 3 losses
1920 Shasta Limiteds/Godfrey All-Stars; 1 win, 5 losses
1923 Mukilteo Lighthouse Keepers; 7 wins, 2 losses
1924 Tacoma Longshoremen; 10 wins, 4 losses
1925 Edmonds; 4 wins, 0 losses (possibly 25 wins according to '64 interview)
1926-31 Roslyn Yippers; 50 wins, 34 losses
1932 Cuban Stars; 0 wins, 2 losses
1933-35 Scott Motors of Reno; 23 wins, 6 losses
1936-37 Verdi, Nevada; 11 wins, 4 losses
1938 Reno Brewery; 3 wins, 2 losses
1939 Reno Mountain Eagles; 0 win, 2 losses
1940 Dixie Club; 3 wins, 1 loss
1941 Fife Tigers; 1 win, 0 loss
1942-46 Various Tacoma teams unknown record.

Claxton played for the Nebraska Indians in 1932...it is unknown for how long though.

Jaybird 04-21-2015 05:16 PM

The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, Oregon) Sun, May 31, 1914

http://i1023.photobucket.com/albums/...psp40atnwh.png

bbpostcards 04-21-2015 05:32 PM

Jimmy Claxton 1914 postcard discovered
 
Terrific research, guys, thanks.

pariah1107 04-21-2015 09:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slidekellyslide (Post 1403704)
Claxton played for the Nebraska Indians in 1932...it is unknown for how long though.

Multiple sources indicate he played for the Nebraska Indians. 1915 or 1932 are the most likely years he did so. However, I have not been able to find newspaper record that he played for them yet. As you know the Nebraska Indians barnstormed throughout the Midwest, and it could have been at any game, at any time.

Not included in the above record were games with the Chicago Union Giants in 1932, where he was reported to have won 43 and lost one versus House of David teams. Highly doubtful as he suffered a shoulder injury in 1931, and his record for the 1932 Cuban Stars/Washington Pilots was not good. Remember he was a 40 year old rookie in the Negro Leagues. All sorts of these types of rumored records, in 1918 he won "38 of 42", and "28 of 32" either down south or "back east" depending on the source. Unless there is verifiable first-hand evidence of his at-bats/hits, wins/losses, or any other statistic they have been ignored. It's harsh but necessary in this case in order to gain certainty with cumulative stats. I honestly feel the above covers only 20% of his overall career, but it's all I can do.

slidekellyslide 04-21-2015 10:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pariah1107 (Post 1403811)
Multiple sources indicate he played for the Nebraska Indians. 1915 or 1932 are the most likely years he did so. However, I have not been able to find newspaper record that he played for them yet. As you know the Nebraska Indians barnstormed throughout the Midwest, and it could have been at any game, at any time.

I'd never heard or read anywhere about 1915. When I first read about his stint in 1932 it was a newspaper account, but the link is no longer in google. Ed Hamman owned the team in 1932 and they played a ton of games...150+ I believe. They picked up players here, there and everywhere under Hamman. It's entirely possible that Claxton played with them for only a game or two just because the Indians were in the same town he happened to be in.

pariah1107 06-27-2015 01:44 AM

This has become a minor obsession, or personal annoyance... When did Claxton play for the Nebraska Indians? My best guess: August 23, 1931 - October 1, 1931, or after May to the end of the season 1932.

He was known as a “vagabond”, but Claxton seldom travelled great distances, or across the country. In July of 1931 he joined a team of Chicago-based barnstormers, the Gilkerson’s Union Giants halfway through their tour in Washington. The Union Giants played semi-pro and amateur all-star aggregates on an almost daily basis from April to October. The Giants also sponsored a basketball team that competed in the winter of 1931-32 versus teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters. They were “billed as the fastest colored baseball team in the United States”. (7-2-31, Yakima Daily Republic)

The team headed west in the spring and remained on the road until late August. Sold to Gilkerson in 1917, the Union Giants also rarely travelled to the West Coast, "Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas being the stamping ground of this stellar outfit prior to this invasion.” (7-12-31, The Tacoma Daily Ledger) Through the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, and Great Plains they battered opposition along the railroad, and lost only a handful of games. They had a “winners-takes-all” (7-8-31, The Tacoma Daily Ledger) policy which led to heated competition for gate receipts and stacked amateur opposition.

The 1931 Union Giants roster was a very impressive, sober group of even-tempered gentlemen for the most part. The exception was pitcher Cristobal Torriente’s very public struggle with alcoholism. The team’s elder statesman, 54 year old catcher “Pops” Coleman stated, “Ballplayers can’t party at night and expect to be able to hit the ball or think fast on the diamond.” (Pops Coleman quote from internet)

Claxton reunited with 1923 Queen City All-Stars teammates Owen “Bazz” Smaulding, and Bob “Foot” Saunders. New teammates included outfielders Walter “Steel Arm” Davis (1891-1941) and Hurley McNair (1888-1948), 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Cristobal Torriente (1893-1938), former Kansas City Monarch “Dink” Mothell (1897-1980), Charles Akers comedian shortstop, regular catchers included the ageless Clarence “Pops” Coleman (1877-?), Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe (1902-2005), and a very young Richard “Subby” Byas (1910-1985). In his prime Byas was a very popular catcher, he actually beat the legendary Josh Gibson in fan votes for the 1936 Negro League All-Star team. A host of other versatile black ballplayers were acquired as travel and finances permitted.

The next week Claxton pitched seven innings of relief after Smaulding faltered versus the Centralia Tigers. “Gilkersons Union Giants, colored boys from Chicago spoiled Centralia’s Southwest Washington league team to five runs at Noble Field yesterday evening and then defeated them, 9 to 5. Spaulding started on the mound for the Giants, but retired in favor of Claxton, a southpaw after the Tigers collected their five runs in the second inning on six hits and an error, Claxton allowed only five hits in the remaining seven innings.” (July 16, 1931, Centralia Daily Chronicle)

As the team travelled east from the Northwest, Claxton pitched the Union Giants to victories over the Centralia Tigers (7-16-31, Centralia Daily Chronicle), Ogden-Weber All-Stars in Utah (7-31-31, Ogden Standard Examiner), and Wymore, Nebraska, “Claxton, a curve ball hurler, checked the Wymoreans to two hits” (8-23-31, Beatrice Daily Sun) in a 9 to 0 shutout victory with 12 strikeouts. In between starts he played rightfield (8-4-31, Salt Lake Tribune). Though he had at least 3 wins and no losses, Claxton struggled at the plate; 3 for 20 by available records.

The Gilkerson Union Giants entered the 11th Annual Southwestern Iowa Baseball Tournament (8-29-31, Atlantic News Telegraph). The single elimination tournament was for $1,500, a huge sum of money during the Depression. The Union Giants defeated their first opponent Rosendale, Missouri (8-29-31, Atlantic News Telegraph), but lost in the second round to the Sioux Falls Canaries led by Swede Risberg, infamous Chicago White Sox shortstop who participated in rigged1919 World Series.

In the tournament, the Cuban House of David led by Luis Tiant, went on to defeat the Council Bluffs Dwarfies for the championship and prize money (9-27-31, Lincoln Star). After the tournament, the Gilkerson Union Giants, Cuban House of David, and Cuban Red Sox faced each other in a series of games in Lincoln, Nebraska at Landis Field and at Corwith, Iowa. Claxton had played for the Cuban House of David when the John Donaldson led team passed through Washington in the summer of 1929. Tiant and Claxton were briefly teammates in 1932 when the Cuban House of David moved North after spring training in April and changed their name to the Cuban Stars. They must have had a decent friendship, as 30 years later when Luis Tiant Jr. was a minor league pitcher with Portland he visited Claxton and his family in Tacoma, May of 1964 (5-17-64, Tacoma News Tribune).

Any help would be appreciated from board members.... Thank you all

pariah1107 06-27-2015 09:42 PM

EUREKA! I bit the bullet and went through the 824 matches for "Claxton" in 1932 on newspaperarchives.com. Rifled through info including some false leads on the USS Claxton, a secondbaseman/pitcher for Radford Grocers (Texas) named Jim Claxton (not him), a football player from University of Tennessee also named Jim Claxton, and a right guard from Ardsmore, Oklahoma named Claxton.

Jimmy Claxton played for at least five teams in 1932 alone (probably more*):
Cuban House of David
Cuban Stars (5-10-32, Sandusky Register)
Washington Pilots
Buffalo Colored Stars (8-15-32, Dunkirk Evening Observer)
Nebraska Indians (8-22-32, Moorhead Daily News & 8-25-32, Brainerd Daily Dispatch)
* Sometime in 1931 or 1932 according to his 1964 interview he also played for Good Thunder, Minnesota and Eureka, South Dakota but I cannot find record of it.

Talk about free agency :) He played right, center, first base, and pitched.

Updated career Batting Average: 273 hits / 781 at-bats, .349 lifetime batting average

1915 Portland Giants; 2/11
1915 Sellwood Dingbats; 3/5
1919 Shasta Limiteds; 11/36
1920 Shasta Limiteds; 2/6
1923 Mukilteo Lighthouse Keepers; 18/52
1924 Tacoma Longshoremen; 18/79
1926 Roslyn Yippers; 17/46
1927 Roslyn Yippers; 15/57
1928 Cle Elum-Roslyn Miners; 23/66
1929 Roslyn Yippers; 36/54
1930 Roslyn Yippers; 8/26
1931 Roslyn Yippers; 4/11
1931 Gilkerson Union Giants; 3/20
1932 Washington Pilots; 1/1
1932 Buffalo Colored Stars; 0/3
1932 Nebraska Indians; 5/10
1933 Scott Motors of Reno; 19/60
1934 Scott Motors of Reno; 22/65
1935 Scott Motors of Reno; 16/48
1936 Verdi; 21/47
1936 Reno Garage; 1/1
1936 Western Nevada League All-Stars; 0/4
1937 Verdi; 9/29
1938 Reno Brewery; 13/28
1939 Cuban House of David; 1/8
1940 Dixie Club; 3/4
1940 Verdi Ramblers 2/4


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