Jack Matchett

“[With a pitching staff of Satchel Paige, Booker McDaniels, Hilton Smith, Connie Johnson, Lefty LaMarque and Jack Matchett], the Monarchs infielders have come close to getting arrested for loitering.”
--unnamed sportswriter, quoted in "The Kansas City Monarchs," by Janet Bruce

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Negro Leaguer of the Month

September, 2008

Jack "Zip" Matchett

Born: ?
Ht: 6'-2", Wt: 175
Position: pitcher
Years Played: 1938-1945
Batted and threw right
Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, Saskatoon Legion

During the 1940s, Jack Matchett was a member of one of the top pitching staffs of all-time, along with Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, Booker McDaniels and Connie Johnson, all tall and thin right-handers; while Lefty LaMarque was the only port-sider on the Kansas City Monarchs.

It's been said that during those years, when Satchel was advertised to pitch in every road game, McDaniels, Johnson or Matchett would sometimes take the mound, and fans, who often didn't know what Paige looked like, would be fooled. Afterall, a tall black man who could throw close to 100 miles an hour was what fans expected, and it was often hard to say which Monarchs right-hander threw the hardest!

In Matchett's first season with Kansas City, 1940, he only lost one league game, while winning more than 20 games against all competition.

In 1942, the Monarchs and Homestead Grays met in the Negro League World Series, and Matchett was one of the stars, though Paige, as usual, got most of the headlines.

Matchett combined with Paige for a shutout in game one, with Matchett picking up the win. Paige started the game and allowed two hits over the first four innings and left with score tied at zero. Matchett relieved and didn't allow a single hit the rest of the way, silencing the bats of Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Sam Bankhead, and Howard Easterling; meanwhile, the Monarchs scored 8-runs.

Hilton Smith won game two, 8-4, with Paige picking up a save, and Matchett won game three, 9-3, beating Hall of Famer Raymond Brown, with Willard Brown and Ted Strong each homering to provide support.

The two teams then played a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium that didn't count as World Series game, but were notable nonetheless. In the first game of the twin bill, the Monarchs "borrowed" the Birmingham Black Barons Gread McKinnis and he beat the Grays 5-0. In the second game, the Grays "borrowed" Leon Day, and he beat Satchel 4-1!

When the real World Series continued at Shibe Park in Philadelphia (Negro League World Series games sometimes barnstormed), Paige was scheduled to pitch but didn't show up, so Matchett took the mound. The Monarchs were traling 5-2 when Paige finally arrived in a clowd of dust and he picked up the victory in relief.

Over the next three years, Matchett averaged more than 20 wins a season with an E.R.A below 3.00.

After the 1945 season, Matchett left the Negro American League and played for several years in Canada with the Saskatoon Legion team as player-manager.