Leaguer of the Month
Born: Aug. 16, 1923 in Clarksdale, Miss.
Died: April 22, 2003 in Chicago, IL.
Ht: 5'-8", Wt: 170
Batted and threw right.
Positions: shortstop, second base, third base, outfield, manager
Teams: New York Cubans, Harlem Globetrotters, Kansas City Monarchs,
Sherwood Brewer was one of the good ones, and when he passed away
in April of 2003 it was a sad time for many Negro League fans
who adored Mr. Brewer.
will always hold a special place in my heart because more than
10 years ago when I became interested in the Negro Leagues and
wanted to interview some players, Sherwood was one of the nicest
and most knowledgeable men I met, and was very generous with his
time. The first time I called him, I woke him from a nap, yet
he still talked with me for more than an hour.
that time forward I considered Sherwood a good friend, and I sent
him cigars several times over the years, and called him often
to get his opinion on certain players. Sherwood was unique among
Negro Leaguers in that he didn't always describe players as "the
best ever." When Sherwood gave his opinion on a player, you
could be guaranteed that there was a lot of thought behind it.
I last saw Sherwood at Double Duty's 100th birthday last July
and, although he was recovering from cancer, he was still his
usual friendly self. In short, as a person, Sherwood was a Hall
to Sherwood's career...
desbribed himself this way:"I had a great arm, good speed
and I was looked on mostly as a pretty sound player. No standout--I
played everyday though. I was always a regular."
prevented Sherwood from talking a lot about his own abilities,
but he was good enough to play in the East-West All-Star game
in 1949 and went 1 for 2. He also was good enough to spend several
years in the Minor Leagues, though he was already 30 when he got
his first chance in Organized Baseball.
grew up in the small railroad and mining town of Centralia, Missouri,
40 miles east of St. Louis. As a teenager, Brewer traveled to
Fort Wayne, Indiana and worked at a foundry until he was drafted
into the army.
was stationed in Saipan, near the Philippine Sea, and after the
island was secured in July of 1944 there was a lot of baseball
played among the soldiers, and Brewer was a standout.
Brewer was discharged from the army, he was signed by the Harlem
Globetrotter's baseball team managed by Paul Hardy and featuring
sluggers Lester Lockett and Luke Easter. Brewer fancied himself
a slugger too, despite his lack of size, and he blasted 17 homers
in 1946, but batted under .250. He then decided to forgo the longball
for base hits, and he became a tough singles and doubles hitter,
usually in the .290-.320 range.
the Globetrotters, track star Jesse Owens traveled with the team
and would put on running exhibitions before games. For most of
the year Brewer and teammate "Suitcase" Simpson, both
speedsters, would race Owens, with a 10 yard headstart--they never
beat Owens, even though it had been 10 years since he won Gold
in the '36 Olympics.
moved to the Indianapolis Clowns in 1949, then to the Monarchs
in 1952 where he would spend the rest of his Negro League career.
Buck O'Neil was the manager of the '52 Monarchs, and he played
Brewer at second base, with his shortstop being a youngster named
Brewer considered the '52 Monarchs to be one of the top four Monarchs'
teams of all-time with Banks, Pancho Herrera, Booker McDaniels,
Lefty Lamarque, John Matchett and Buck O'Neil.
O'Neil retired as the Monarchs' manager after the '55 season,
Brewer was hired as player-manager, something he enjoyed.
named Barney Brown and Bill Greason as the toughest pitchers for
him to hit; he had moderate success against Satchel Paige because
he only tried to put the ball in play. Brewer placed Paige, however,
on the top of the list for greatest pitchers ever. "Satchel
just didn't make mistakes," remembered Sherwood. "If
he missed with a pitch outside, he meant to miss outside!"
named Ted Williams as the best hitter he ever saw, with Josh Gibson
and Hank Aaron tied for second.
1946, when Jackie Robinson entered Organized Baseball with the
Montreal Royals, Brewer thought there were quite a few Negro Leaguers
better than Robinson, but over the years Brewer really came to
love the man who broke the color barrier.
was a great guy," said Brewer. "Jackie was very caring,
very concerned [with the Negro League players]. That's why no
one was jealous of him."
usually played baseball year-round, traveling to the Dominican
Republic, Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Hawaii over his career.
biggest thrill in baseball came when he belted a game-tying homer
against Bob Lemon in an exhibition game.
a misconception about Negro Leaguers, that most were bitter about
being denied a chance to play in the Majors, but Brewer spoke
for the majority of men I met over the years:
I had a lot of fun. I don't regret anything. When I went to a
celebration in Cooperstown I didn't get up and talk. They had
a section where anybody could get up and say what they wanted
to. Everyone who got up, except Buck O'Neil, had a regret about
the denial but I just didn't look at it that way. I though about
the good things. I made a lot of friends, I had a lot of fun.
Lots of travel that I probably never would have been able to do."
was known as a scrappy player, going into bases hard and doing
whatever it took to win. Brewer, a fine amateur boxer who was
once offered a professional boxing contract, got into his share
of scrapes on the field.
the Negro Leagues] we had some big mouths," remembered Brewer.
"Bonnie Sorell was one. One time they knocked somebody down
on our team and so we got on the pitcher about it. And so when
I went out to second he got on me--you how players bench jockey.
I don't know why he jumped on me. He just gave me a hard time
and I gave him the finger. He said, 'When this innings over I'm
gonna come out there and kick your butt.'
"I thought he was kidding so between innings I was heading
for the dugout and here he came. He really did! And we had a good
scrap. He wasn't much of a fighter!"
speak for many Negro League fans everywhere when I say, 'Thanks
for the memories, Sherwood!