George Giles

Giles with the Brooklyn Eagles, 1935

"There isn’t a day that we don’t play from two to three games on our tour thru Canada, and the attendance is much better than in the states. The Canadians seem to take to the game, especially the black clans who appear.”
--Giles, in a letter to his former Monarch teammates in 1929
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Negro Leaguer of the Month
December, 2005

George Giles

Born: May 2, 1909 in Junction City, KS

Died: March 3, 1992 in Topeka, KS
Ht:6'2", Wt: 180
Batted left and threw right
Position: first base
Years: 1925-1939
Teams: Kansas City Royal Giants, Gilkerson's Union Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Stars, Philadelphia Stars, Detroit Wolves, Homestead Grays, Baltimore Black Sox, Brooklyn Eagles, New York Black Yankees, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Satchel Paige All-Stars

Besides Cool Papa Bell, possibly the fastest man in baseball, and, besides Showboat Thomas, maybe the best-fielding first baseman in the Negro Leagues, George Giles was a superstar of the 1930s.

After playing sandlot ball in Kansas City starting at age 12, by 16 Giles was good enough to play with the traveling Gilkerson's Union Giants, playing all over the Midwest and Manitoba, Canada.

Giles choked up on the bat and was a line-drive/slap hitter and expert bunter, using his great speed from the left-handed batter's box; he was nearly impossible to strike out.

After batting over .300 with the Union Giants, Giles was signed by the Kansas City Monarchs in '27. Still just a teenager, Giles batted around .300 for two seasons before jumping back to Gilkerson's crew in 1929.

In a letter Giles wrote to the Kansas City Call newspaper during the season, Giles stated that he missed his old teammates, and the thrill of playing in big cities, but he also commented that the Union Giants usually played two games a day in front of great crowds in Canada.

The '29 Union Giants had a murderer's row with Eddie Dwight (who jumped from the Kansas City Monarchs), Cristobel Torriente and Double Duty Radcliffe (Detroit Stars) and Red Haley (Birmingham Black Barons).

In 1930, Giles re-entered the Negro National League with the St. Louis Stars, joining Double Duty Radcliffe, Willie Wells and Cool Papa Bell. The Stars won the league pennant.

Radcliffe listed Giles and Buck Leonard as the best all-around first basemen he played with or against.

After another pennant-winning year in '31, Giles split the '32 season with the Homestead Grays and Detroit Wolves (both owned by Cum Posey).

After another stint with the Kansas City Monarchs, Giles signed with the fledgling Brooklyn Eagles in '35, joining Radcliffe again, along with Rap Dixon, Leon Day and manager Ben Taylor. In mid-season, Taylor was fired and 28-year-old Giles was named player-manager. Giles was named to the East-West All-Star game, starting and batting second in the lineup; he stole a base and scored a run in the extra inning classic.

In 1936, Giles signed with the New York Black Yankees and stayed with them for three seasons. Giles spent his last year, 1939, with one final stint with the Monarchs.

During his somewhat brief career, Giles was asked several times to play with Satchel Paige's All-Stars, and also played in Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Giles retired at age 30 with a lifetime average above .300, and spent the next 30 years working several jobs, including managing a hotel in Manhattan, Kansas.

In 1981, Giles' grandson, Brian Giles, made the Major Leagues with the New York Mets. He also played with the Brewers and White Sox.


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