Ted Page

“Some of the clubs I was on are legend. When you mention baseball clubs over the years, among the first names that come up are the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords. Because they had superstars. What I have seen of the Yankees of 1927 or the St. Louis Cardinals of 1934, I would say the Crawfords or Grays would have been just as good or better."
--Ted Page
(quoted from "The Oral History of the Negro Leagues," by Art Rust, Jr.)

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Negro Leaguer of the Month

May, 2010

Ted Page
Born: 1903 in Glasgow, Kentucky
Died: December 1, 1984 in Pittsburgh, PA
Ht: 5'-10", Wt: 175
Batted left and threw right
Position: outfield
Playing Years: 1923-1937

Teams: Toledo Tigers, Buffalo Giants, Newark Stars, Chappie Johnson's Stars, Schenectady Mohawk Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, New York Black Yankees, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Brooklyn Eagles, Philadelphia Stars

Ted Page was one of the fiercest competitors of the rough and tumble Negro Leagues in the 1930s, known for his brawling and aggressive spikes-first sliding, as well as his fine hitting. In 1933 Page slid into Philadelphia Stars third baseman Tom Finley so ferociously that the infielder died from his injuries. Page could take it as well as dish it out, though, and after hitting a home run off Luis Tiant, Sr. (father of the famous Major Leaguer) in Cuba, Tiant severely beaned Page his next time up, then stood over him yelling in his broken English, “You no hit dat one!”*

Page was raised in Youngstown, Ohio and was a great baseball and football player in high school. Though he was offered a football scholarship to Ohio State University, he turned it down to pursue his first love, baseball, and started his professional career as a 19-year-old with the Toledo Tigers. After stints with other teams of varying calibers, Page was signed by the 1931 Homestead Grays, the team many think is the greatest Negro League team in history.

On the '31 Grays, Page played right field and batted second in the lineup. Page was extremely fast (he won the sprint contest during a Grays field day), was a slash hitter, and bunted often. The '31 Grays went 136-17, then crushed a Major League All-Star team in October by scores of 10-7 and 18-0, with Page going five for six!

While with the Grays, Page was involved in one the most famous brawls in Negro League history—with his own teammate! After one game, veteran George Scales berated youngster Josh Gibson after he had made some mistakes on the field. Page stuck up for Gibson and attacked Scales in the shower, knocking out his tooth. George Britt, another tough Gray player separated the two combatants but Scales went to his locker, returned with a knife, and cut Page. The two players, roommates on the road, had to share a bed that night, so after a sleepless night in which each player was armed (Scales with a knife, Page with a gun), they made up.

In 1932, Pittsburgh Crawford owner Gus Greenlee stole most of the Grays top players, including Page, Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, Gibson, Double Duty Radcliffe and Jud Wilson, and the team won 90% of their games, then won an unofficial "Negro World Series," beating the top team from the South, the Monroe, Louisiana Monarchs, and the top team from the West, the Chicago American Giants. The Crawfords finished their season when they faced a Major League All-Star team and again Page rose to the occasion, going seven for 16 in a four-game series. That winter, Page worked as a lookout for Greenlee, who ran an illegal numbers (lottery) business, ringing a bell when police were nearby.

After a knee injury in '34 robbed Page of his great speed, he played three more seasons with several teams before retiring at age 33. Page's career Negro League average was well above .300, and his average against Major Leaguers in exhibitions exceeded .400.

After quitting baseball, Page bought and ran a bowling alley for many years and wrote a bowling column for a Philadelphia newspaper. He attended many Pittsburgh Pirates games in the 1960s and 70s, and had a close relationship with Roberto Clemente.

In 1984, Page got into an argument with a handyman over a bill and was murdered, beaten to death with a baseball bat.