Booker McDaniels

The best pitching staff I have ever seen was with the Monarchs. This group was Satchel, Connie Johnson, Hilton Smith, Lefty Lamarque, Booker [McDaniels] and [John] Matchett. Everybody on that team could throw hard!
--Negro League All-Star Sherwood Brewer
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Negro Leaguer of the Month
February, 2006

Booker McDaniels

Born: Sept. 13, 1913 in Blackwell, AR

Died: Dec. 12, 1974 in Kansas City, MO
Ht:6'3", Wt: 200
Batted right and threw right
Position: pitcher
Years: 1932-1950
Teams:Kansas City Monarchs, Mexican League, Cuban League, Puerto Rican League, Los Angeles Angels (PCL Minor Leagues)

Nicknamed "Cannonball," Booker McDaniels was on some of the greatest pitching staffs in Kansas City Monarchs history, along with such stars as Satchel Paige, Connie Johnson, Hilton Smith, John Matchett and Lefty Lamarque.

McDaniels and his three brothers were orphaned as kids and practically raised themselves in Morrilton, Arkansas.

After years of playing traveling ball in the South, McDaniels made the Monarchs team in 1940, and the Monarchs were the only Negro League team on which he ever played. McDaniels could usually be counted on to win 20 games (including both league and non-league games), and his E.R.A usually hovered around 3.00.

McDaniels may have thrown as hard as Johnson and Paige, who both made the majors years later, but didn't quite have their control. Many a game saw McDaniels both strikeout and walk more than 10 batters.

It's been rumored that on many a Monarch road trip, when fans clamored to see Satchel Paige pitch, that McDaniels or Johnson actually took the mound and fans didn't know the difference. Most fans had never seen Satchel Paige in person, and a flame-throwing man of Booker's height was exactly what they expected.

Unlike Satchel, McDaniels was a pretty fair hitter, played outfield once in a while when not pitching, and even pinch hit.

McDaniels was definitely overshadowed by the more famous Paige, and even the quiet Hilton Smith, but he was a very popular player and crowd favorite. In 1945, McDaniels and teammate Jackie Robinson both played in their only East-West All-Star games; Robinson played the entire game at shortstop and went 0 for 5, while McDaniels got lit up in 2-2/3 innings, allowing 6 earned runs on six hits, with 2 walks and a strikeout against a East lineup that featured Hall of Famers Buck Leonard, Willie Wells, Martin Dihigo and Roy Campanella. McDaniels' teammate Jesse Williams, however, singled, tripled and drove in 4 runs to help the West to a 9-6 win.

During the 1946 season, McDaniels jumped his contract to play in Mexico, and played for three seasons, posting 14 wins twice and 12 wins once. In 1949, McDaniels returned to the States and was welcomed back to the Monarch family under manager Buck O'Neil. After winning 4 of his first 6 decisions, McDaniels was signed by the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, the first black in that league's history. His first game resulted in a 5-hit win over the Portland Beavers. After two mediocre seasons in the Minors, McDaniels was deemed to be too old, with not much steam left on his fastball, and never got a shot with the Chicago Cubs who owned his contract.

McDaniels was a pretty hard drinker throughout his life, and developed cancer and died at the relatively young age of 61.

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