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"...my catcher was Sylvester Foreman from the Kansas City Monarchs, a very good boy, a good man."
Webster "Submarine" McDonald quoted from "Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues" by John Holway

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Negro Leaguer of the Month archives
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Negro Leaguer of the Month

August, 2013

F. Silvester "Hooks" Foreman
Position: Catcher
Batted: Right; Threw: Right
Height: 5 ’-10”, Wt. 180
Born: August 4, 1895 in Oklahoma
Died: August 23, 1940 in Kansas City, MO
Career: 1920-1932
Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, All Nations, Milwaukee Bears, Homestead Grays, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis ABCs, Bertha (MN) Fisherman, Little Falls (MN), Moose Jaw (Canada), John Donaldson's All-Stars, Washington Pilots

Hooks Foreman was a great catcher who knew how to play to the crowd, and fashioned himself a successful career before dying at the tender age of 45.

Foreman started his Black Big League career with the Kansas City Monarchs in the early 1920s when he was the backup for Frank Duncan. With Kansas City, Foreman had the pleasure of catching for Bullet Joe Rogan, John Donaldson, Rube Currie and Jose Mendez.

In '23, Foreman followed John Donaldson to the All Nations, and the two would form an air-tight battery for years. The All Nations featured Newt Allen and Dink Mothel, both formerly of the Monarchs, and they dominated semipro ball in the Midwest.

After partial seasons with various Negro League teams, Donaldson and Foreman again teamed up, this time with the 1927 Bertha Fisherman semipro team of Bertha, Minnesota. Bertha won 24 games in a row during the year, and Foreman was a big reason why. Though Foreman usually hit in the .250-.280 range in the Negro Leagues, he was a .300 hitter with power in semipro circles, and fans came from miles around to watch him catch; Foreman chattered non-stop while catching, and was known as a showman.

In 1927, Foreman and Donaldson played with Moose Jaw's semipro team, and one of their biggest wins of the season was over former Major Leaguer Hap Felsh's Regina team (Felsh was kicked out of the Majors for throwing the 1919 World Series). Foreman provided the key blow with a long home run with Donaldson on base.

In 1928, Foreman was back with Bertha, this time as catcher for Dave Brown, a man ranked as one of the best pitchers in Negro League history, but a man who was also a fugitive from justice for years playing under the name "Lefty" Wilson.

In 1929, Foreman moved to the Little Falls, Minnesota semipros and he stayed with them for three seasons, catching mainly for Negro League star Webster "Submarine" McDonald. McDonald went 73-5 from '29-'31, including a win over the Minneapolis Millers, one of the top teams of the American Association of the white Minor Leagues.

In 1932, John Donaldson, who spent many of his most productive seasons playing semipro ball in the Midwest, bought the ballpark in Fairmont, Minnesota and formed his own team, the John Donaldson All-Stars. Foreman and the other players, including Chappie Gray and Charlie Hancock, spent a month repairing the ballpark known as Hand's Park, and Donaldson's wife kept everyone well-fed with her wonderful cooking. Games finally got underway in May, with ticket prices set at 40 cents, but the cost of running the team was more than Donaldson anticipated and the team finished the season on the road.

Foreman spent part of '32 with the Washinton Pilots which featured Mule Suttles, and the rest of the 1930s with various semipro teams around Kansas City, Missouri. Foreman also spent several winters playing in the California Winter Leagues where he held his own against many Major Leaguers.

The easy-going Foreman died at age 45 and is buried in Kansas City.

*Some information from "Early Black Baseball in Minnesota" by Todd Peterson and "Swinging for the Fences" by Steven Hoffbeck