Leaguer of the Month
Born: ca. 1905 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Ht:5'9", Wt: 175
Batted right and threw right
Teams: St. Louis Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Columbus Blue
Birds, Bismarck Semipros, New Rockford (ND) Semipros, Pittsburgh
Crawfords, New York Black Yankees, Newark Eagles, Ethiopian Clowns,
Chicago Brown Bombers, Cincinnati Clowns, Cleveland Buckeyes,
Philadelphia Stars, Memphis Red Sox, Brooklyn Royal Giants.
Davis wasn't the best pitcher in the Negro Leagues during the
1930s and '40s, though he sometimes claimed he was, but he
was definitely one of the top spit-ball and emery-ball pitchers,
as well as being one of the most flamboyant and cocky.
the son of a Calfiornia vinyard worker, grew up on the sandlots
of Topeka, Kansas and his first organized team was called the
Davis first gained pitching fame with the great St. Louis Stars
teams of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Davis went 8-2 in
league games in '30 when the Stars won the Negro National League
and carried other star pitchers Double Duty Radcliffe and
Ted Trent, and superstars Willie Wells, Mule Suttles and Cool Papa
the depression hit the Negro Leagues hard, Davis jumped the
Pittsburgh Crawfords and ventured to North Dakota where he
played first with Bismarck's semipro
team in '33, then with New Rockford in '34. While with Bismarck,
Davis was nearly run out of town when opponents discovered
the ball with saliva and/or emery cloth!
leaving North Dakota, Gus Greenlee hired Davis back for the
Crawfords, joining a staff including Leroy Matlock
Paige. In '35, when Paige jumped the Crawfords, Davis had one
of his best seasons, compiling an 11-3 league record, with
20+ wins against all competition.
the late 30s-early 40s, Davis played with the Ethiopian Clowns,
wearing face makeup and answering to the name "Macon," which
was supposed to sound African. The Clowns, who also boasted
Showboat Thomas and Dave Barnhill, won
Tournament in dramatic fashion in 1941. Throught the first
few rounds, Davis was the pitching star, beating the Champlin
Refiners, 9-1 in the second round, and beating the powerful
Bona Allen team 6-1 in the 3rd--he struck out 11 before a
standing room only crowd at Denver's Merchant's Park.
way through the loser's bracket and ended up playing the Clowns
for the championship, but needed to beat the unbeaten Clowns
twice. Former Major Leaguer Boots Poffenberger faced off against
Davis and won 3-1, so the two teams played again for the money.
In the championship game, the Bona Allens tooks a 7-2 lead
into the ninth and the Clowns scored 6 runs to win.
According to "The Denver Post Tournament," by Jay
Sanford, many teams complained that Davis was doctoring the baseball,
to which he replied, "I throw the kind of pitching that if you
could hit it you would be in the big leagues, that is all there
is to my pitching, it is just big league."
continued pitching into his 40s with lesser teams such as the
semipro Chicago Brown Bombers and Brooklyn Royal Giants.
was a good bunter, but a mediocre hitter, though if you believed
him and not your eyes you might think he was Babe Ruth.
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