Artie Wilson

"Artie Wilson is the greatest player to never play in the Major Leagues!"
--Tommy Lasorda

*Wilson did play 19 games for the '51 New York Giants

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Negro Leaguer of the Month
February, 2004

Artie Wilson

Born: October 28, 1920 in Springville, Alabama
Ht:5'-10", Wt: 165
Batted left and threw right.
Position: shortstop
Years: 1944-1962

Teams: Birmingham Black Barons, Oakland Oaks (minor-league), Portland Beavers (minor-league), Sacramento Salons (minor-league), , Seattle Rainers (minor-league), Kennewick (minor-league), New York Giants (major-league)

Most baseball fans think that Ted Williams was the last .400 in the Big Leagues, but he's really only the last .400 hitter in the Major Leagues, because in the Negro American League in 1948 Artie Wilson batted .402 and led his team to the Negro League World Series.

Though they both batted .400, Williams and Wilson didn't have a lot in common hitting-wise besides that fact that they were both left-handed. While Wall's was a power-hitting pull hitter with below-average speed, Wilson slapped linedrives to the opposite field and used his great speed. Both batters were nearly impossible to strike out!

Artie Wilson grew up in Alabama, the hotbed of Negro League talent, and played in an industrial semipro league until he was signed by the Birmingham Black Barons at age 23.

Wilson made the All-Star team in his rookie year and went 2 for 4 as his West squad won. Wilson would repeat as an all-star in '46, '47 and '48, batting .423 in 7 games. In one of the 1947 games (there were two played that year), Wilson went 4 for 4, walked once and stole 2 bases!

When Negro Leaguers are asked who the top Major League prospects were when Jackie Robinson was signed in 1946, Artie Wilson's name comes up frequently, along with his double-play partner Piper Davis.

Wilson had a soft glove and excellent arm and became the top shortstop in the Negro Leagues as Willie Wells and Sam Bankhead lost a step with age.

In 1949, Wilson entered Organized Baseball with the Oakland Oaks, batting .348 to lead the league and also leading the loop in stolen bases with 47. Wilson often roomed with Billy Martin on the road.

After another successful season in '50, Wilson was brought up to the New York Giants. After only 22 Major League at bats, mostly as a pinch hitter, Wilson could muster only 4 singles and he was sent down to the Minors.

Throughout the 1950s, Wilson would star for several teams in the Pacific Coast League, winning three additional batting titles, but he would never play in the Big Leagues again.

Wilson had a lifetime batting average of around .350 in the Negro Leagues and about .314 in the Minors.

Wilson has worked for a car dealership in Portland, Oregon for the last 30 years.

In 2003, Wilson was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame, joining such stars as Joe Dimaggio, Ike Boone, Smead Jolley and Lefty O'Doul.

To read more about the Oakland Oaks and the Pacific Coast League, click here.