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Negro Leaguer of the Month
Marlin "Pee Wee" Carter
Teams: Harrisburg Stars, Rochester Royals, San Antonio Black Indians, Monroe (Louisiana) Monarchs, Minneola Black Spiders, Memphis Red Sox, Atlanta Black Crackers, Cincinnati Tigers, Chicago American Giants
Marlin Carter, nicknamed “Mel” and “Pee Wee,” was a slick-fielding infielder for more than 20 years. Mainly a third baseman, Carter was a lot like current Major Leaguer Nick Punto--a whiz defensively, with limited offensive skills.
Carter was born in Texas, went to high school in Louisiana, and was such an outstanding athlete that he was offered a baseball scholarship from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Carter, instead, chose to pursue a professional career, and he first played for pay as an 18-year-old with the 1931 San Antonio Black Indians, a strong team in the Texas Negro League. Carter moved on to the Monroe (Louisiana) Monarchs in ’32, joining future legendary pitchers Hilton Smith and Barney Morris.
Besides single seasons with the Cincinnati Tigers, Chicago American Giants and Atlanta Black Crackers, Carter played the majority of his Negro League career with the Memphis Red Sox. In 1938, Carter started the season with the Black Crackers and jumped to Memphis, and, ironically, those two teams would play each other at season’s end in a series for the pennant; after Memphis won the first two games, the rest of the series was cancelled supposedly because they couldn’t secure a field on which to play.
Carter, a slick fielder at all infield positions, had fine range and a strong arm, but offensively was mostly a slap hitter and expert bunter.
Scant statistics show Carter with batting averages from about .225-.280 in league games with little power. Carter could run and he was always a base-stealing threat.
With Memphis, Carter played for player-manager Double Duty Radcliffe (who was also his manager during his year with the ’37 Cincinnati Tigers when he hit a career-high .367), and with players such as Larry Brown, Willie Wells, Verdell Mathis and Dan Bankhead.
In 1942, Carter was chosen as a reserve on the West’s squad in the East-West All-Star game, and he played the last few innings at third base, going 0 for 1 against Hall of Fame pitcher Leon Day.
During World War II, Carter served in the Coast Guard, and he returned to the Memphis Red Sox when the war ended.
As Carter grew older, he was known to mentor the younger players on the finer points of infield play.
Carter played in the California Winter League several years, and batted as low as .133 and as high as .333, often playing against teams made up of Major Leaguers.