Leaguer of the Month
Born: October 30, 1916 in Alexandria, Virginia
Died: March 13, 1995, in Baltimore, Maryland
Ht:5'-9", Wt: 165
Batted right and threw right
Teams: Baltimore Black Sox, Brooklyn Eagles, Newark Eagles,
Winnipeg Buffaloes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela.
Day, along with Hilton Smith, was probably the top right-handed
pitcher in the Negro Leagues in the late 1930s and 1940s, and,
like Smith, could do so much more.
being a flame-throwing strikeout artist, Day was an excellent
second baseman and outfielder, had great speed afoot, and was
a fine hitter.
grew up in Baltimore, and quit high school to sign with the
Baltimore Black Sox, a Negro League team on the decline. The
next season, 1935, Day made the big time at age 18 when he
was signed by Candy Jim Taylor to pitch for the Brooklyn Eagles.
boasted such stars as Double Duty Radcliffe, Ed Stone and Rap
Dixon. Radcliffe took a liking to the young Day, and tutored
him on the finer points of pitching, including an effective
Day was good enough to make the East's squad in the East-West
All-Star game, pitching 4 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits
and striking out 3.
Despite the poor showing in his first All-Star game, Day's
lifetime East-West totals are some of the most impressive in
history. In 9 East-West tilts, Day won his only decision, struck
out 23 batters in 21-1/3 innings, and had an ERA less than
1! Day is the all-time East-West leader in innings pitched,
career strikeouts and strikeouts in one game (5, achieved twice).
1936, the Eagles moved to Newark, and Day would flourish. In
1937, Day would boast a perfect league record of 13-0.
Over the next decade, Day would win nearly 75% of his decisions,
and would average nearly 10 strikeouts per game using his well-stocked personal budget of pitching, including a great
fastball, a sharp-breaking curve ball, and straight change.
July 23, 1942, Day struck out
18 Baltimore Elite Giants to set a Negro National
League record, and he broke the 20 strikeout plateau in several
Day spent two of his prime ball playing years in the army during
World War II, but picked up where he left off by throwing an
no-hitter against the Philadelphia Stars on opening day
of 1946, finishing with a 13-4 league record. Day would lead
a talented Eagles' squad, including Monte Irvin and Larry Doby,
to the Negro National League pennants, and a World Series championship
in seven games over the Kansas City Monarchs.
In game seven, Day may have save the game and series when,
while playing centerfield, he robbed Buck O'Neil of his second
home run of the game and preserved a 3-2 win.
Day was 30 years old when Jackie Robinson broke in with the
Brooklyn Dodgers in '47, and he thought he still had enough
to make a Major League squad. When no offers came in, Day ventured
north to Canada in 1950 to play with the Winnipeg Buffaloes
of the Manitoba-Dakota League.
In '50, Day
batted .324 with 14 RBIs and went 4-2 on the mound and in '51 he
was batting .250 and was 3-1 on the mound when he was signed by
Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, a step
from the Majors. He went 1-1 on the
mound and batted .259 with Toronto and never received real consideration
for a Major League job.
1952, Day played with Scranton of the Class A Eastern League
where he went 13-9 with a 3.41 ERA and a .314 batting average,
1953, Day played with Edmonton in the Western International
League and posted a 5-5 record.
After retiring from baseball, Day held several jobs, including
a stint as a bartender at a bar owned by ex-Newark Eagle teammate
was elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1995,
the same year he died.
*Some information regarding the Man-Dak League from "The Mandak
League," by Barry Swanton. East-West information from "Black
Baseball's National Showcase," by Larry Lester, and some stats
from "The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues,"
by James A. Riley.
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