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"I threw aspirin tablets!"
Negro Leaguer of the Month
Cecil "Minute Man" Kaiser
Cecil Kaiser was one of many pint-sized pitchers in the annals of Negro League baseball, and for many years could pitch with men twice his size!
Kaiser grew up in West Virginia, and played for various semipro teams before being discovered by the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Though he was usually an outfielder, his legendary manager, Candy Jim Taylor, thought that the strong-armed Kaiser might be an effective pitcher, and Kaiser was a natural.
Kaiser threw hard (his Minute Man nickname came because he struck out batters in a minute!), but was also known to throw an assortment of curves using various deliveries. Kaiser regularly struck out 10 or more batters in a game.
At bat, Kaiser had surprising power for his size, and occasionally got ahold of a fast one and hit it out of sight!
Kaiser hit his prime in the Puerto Rican winter league in 1949 when he had a league-leading ERA of 1.68 with the Caguas Creoles.
Kaiser spoke often in retirement about pitching against Hall of Famer Satchel Paige and pitching to catcher Josh Gibson. Kaiser's highest salary came with the Grays in the late 1940s when he made $700 a month, roughly $7400 in today's dollars!
Kaiser was signed to a minor-league contract in '51 with the Farnham Pirates, managed by Negro League star Sam Bankhead, the first black manager in minor-league history. Farnham was made up of many ex-Negro League legends such as Bankhead, Joe Scott, Archie Ware, Josh Gibson Jr, Bob Trice and Lester Lockett.
Kaiser, 35, went 14-13 with a 3.96 ERA on the mound and batted .260 with four homers. Only future Major Leaguer Humberto Robinson had more wins or a better ERA on the team.
In '52, Kaiser was promoted to the Class B Tampa Smokers of the Florida International League, where he was managed by Major League star Joe "Ducky" Medwick. Pitching stats aren't available, but Kaiser batted .235 in 20 games.
Kaiser spent several years playing industrial semipro ball for the Ford Motor Company before hanging up his spikes in the late 1950s. After retiring from Ford, Kaiser worked for the Goodwill Printing Company as he neared 90 years of age.
At the time of his death at age 94 in 2011, Kaiser was reported to be the oldest suriving Negro Leaguer.