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Chico Renfroe


Jackie Robinson (left) and Chico Renfroe with the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs
from "Black Baseball in Kansas City," by Larry Lester

 

"Minot Mallards clinched their 3rd straight Man-Dak League pennant with a 6-1 victory over Carman. The Mallards had 11 hits, including a double and two singles by Othello Renfroe who stretched his hitting streak to 15 games during which he's batted .500 on 30 hits in 60 at bats."
report of 1954 game published at: www.attheplate.com


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Negro Leaguer of the Month


October, 2011

Othello “Chico” Renfroe
Position: shortstop, second base, catcher
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5’- 10 ", Weight: 165 lb.
Born: March 1, 1923 in Newark, NJ
Died: September 3, 1991 in Atlanta, GA
Career: 1945-1954
Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, New York Stars, Cleveland Buckeyes, Indianapolis Clowns, Atlanta Black Crackers, Torreon Algodoneros (Mexico), Minot Mallards,

Chico Renfroe was a hustling ballplayer who could play a variety of positions, and was a great man to have on a ball team.

Renfroe grew up in the Jacksonville, Florida area, and was the bat boy for the Chicago American Giants in the 1930s before attending Clark University in Atlanta in the years before World War II. In 1945, Renfroe signed with the Kansas City Monarchs, joining Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson and Double Duty Radcliffe.

Renfroe's natural position was shortstop, but Robinson played that position in ’45, so Renfroe became a utility man.

In 1946, Robinson was in the Minor Leagues, so Renfroe took over at shortstop and he played well enough to make the East-West All-Star Game. Later in the year the Monarchs made the Negro League World Series and played the Newark Eagles; though the Monarchs lost in seven games, Renfroe led all batters with a .414 mark.

Over the next few seasons, Renfroe played a variety of positions and usually batted in the .280-range with occasional power.

In ’49 Renfroe joined the Indianapolis Clowns for a season before jumping to Mexico to play with the Torreon Algodoneros (Cotton Growers in English) from ’50-’52. His teammates in Mexico included Negro League standouts Barney Brown and Buck Leonard.

In ’51, Renfroe jumped Mexico in the summer to play with the Minot Mallards of the Manitoba-Dakota League where he batted .298 with three homers in 27 games playing as the Mallards’ regular catcher.

Renfroe returned to Minot in ’53 and ’54. In ’53, Renfroe batted .274 with 11 doubles, two triples and three homers in 64 games. In ’54, Renfroe had his best offensive season of his career, batting .349 in 229 at bats, with 14 doubles, two triples, three homers and 39 RBIs.

The Mallards won the league championship both years, and Renfroe was a key reason why. Besides Renfroe, the Mallards featured many white ex-Minor Leaguers such as Duke Bowman and Mickey Rocco, as well as Negro League star pitcher Sugar Cain.

Throughout his career, Renfroe was known for his outgoing personality, and it was said by more than one Negro Leaguer that if there was a camera around Renfroe would get in the picture, and would show off his world class smile! Off the field, Renfroe was known as a sharp dresser and a lady’s man.

After retiring as a player, Renfroe was a Major League scout for the Montreal Expos and the sports editor for the Atlanta Daily World Newspaper.

Renfroe died at age 68 of a heart attack.

XXX