Nap Gulley

“I was so happy, and had so much fun....We played teams like the House of David and we played local home teams like Pocatello. We played some of the farm teams of the major league clubs. It was a kick, man!”

--Nap Gulley describing his time with the Harlem Globetrotters, quoted from “The Negro Leagues Revisited,” by Brent P. Kelley

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Negro Leaguer of the Month

March, 2010

Nap Gulley
Born: August 29, 1924 in Huttig, AR
Died: August 21, 1999 in Skokie, IL
Ht:6'-0", Wt: 165
Batted and threw left
Position: pither, outfield
Playing Years: 1941-1956

Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago American Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Buckeyes, Harlem Globetrotters, Newark Eagles, Canada, Mexico, Farnham Pirates, St. Jean Braves, Visalia Cubs, Victoria Tyees, Spokane Indians, Salinas Packers

Nap Gulley was one of the most talented Negro Leaguers of the 1940s, and made an incredible transition from top pitcher to slugging outfielder at an advanced baseball age.

Gulley grew up in Arkansas and started playing for money as a 16-year-old. Gulley first made the black big time at 17 with the Kansas City Monarchs and moved on to the Chicago American Giants where he enjoyed moderate success. Gulley's fortunes turned for the better in 1945 with Harlem Globetrotters' owner Abe Saperstein started a Globetrotter baseball team, and named Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe his player-manager.

One of Radcliffe's first moves as manager was to sign Gulley, who blossomed as a pitcher over the next few seasons, throwing several no-hitters with a blistering fastball and great curve. Radcliffe encouraged Gulley to work on his hitting, and he used Gulley in the outfield when he wasn't on the mound. Gulley considered his time with the Globetrotters the highlight of his career.

Not long after Jackie Robinson integrated the Majors, Gulley entered Organized Baseball, but switched to a full-time outfielder who pitched when needed. Gulley was a complete outfielder, with a great arm and fine power despite his lean frame.

Gulley was an excellent hitter with good power, and in 682 lifetime Minor League games from Class A, B and C, he batted .317 with 170 doubles, 23 triples and 74 homers. Gulley's best Minor League season was in 1955, when he batted .361 with the Spokane Indians, with 26 doubles, two triples, 18 homers and a .537 slugging percentage.

After retiring from baseball at the young age of 31, Gulley moved to Chicago where he lived until he died in 1999.