Ted Strong



"I'm gonna tell you, there was a ballplayer named Ted Strong, but he was a wasted product. What a ballplayer! He could do everything. He could hit from both sides, great arm, great speed, power, hit percentage-wise, but he wouldn't take care of himself. He drank, stayed out at night. He just did everything off natural ability. He was never really in shape. If he had taken better care of himself I think he would have been better than all of them."
--Sherwood Brewer, Negro League All-Star

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Negro Leaguer of the Month
October, 2004

Ted Strong

Born: January 2, 1917 in South Bend, IN
Died: March 3, 1978 in Chicago
Ht:6'-6", Wt: 220
Batted both and threw right.
Positions: outfield, first base, shortstop, third base, second base
Years: 1937-1951
Teams: Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis Clowns, Chicago American Giants, Minot Mallards

Ted Strong had it all: he was big, strong, and fast, could play virtually any position on the field, and could hit for power and average. Unfortunately, he didn't take care of his health, and never achieved the stardom he should have.

Strong grew up in the basketball hotbed of Indiana, and became such an accomplished hoopster that he was hired to play with the Harlem Globetrotters (in fact, he was captain of the team). But, unlike today, when basketball stars can make millions, basketball players of the '30s often played the sport to stay in shape for baseball.

Strong was at least as good at baseball as he was basketball, and was playing professionally with the Indianapolis Athletics in 1937 at age 20 and was named to the West's All-Star squad; he homered and singled in four at bats while playing first base. After a year with the ABCs of the same city, and another East-West appearance, Strong signed with the Kansas City Monarchs, for which he starred for a decade. Strong was chosen to play in the East-West game five times with the Monarchs and, to demonstrate his versatility, played shortstop, first base and outfield in those games.

Strong was such an outstanding fielder that he often fielded balls one-handed--something that was frowned upon by old-timers. A sportswriter once wrote disparingly of Strong's habit of catching one-handed at first base as being "showboating" and "a trick of vainglory."

Strong was a powerful hitter from both sides of the plate, one of the top switch-hitters in Negro League history, and in 1946 led the Negro American League in home runs and RBIs. Over his career, Strong usually batted in the mid-.300s.

Strong's arm was, well, strong! He rivaled Martin Dihigo for outfield throwing skill, and Sam Bankhead for the best-throwing shortstop in baseball.

When the Monarchs had a string of Negro American League pennants from 1939-'42, Strong was a key figure in the team's success.

In 1946, the Monarchs again won the pennant and faced the Newark Eagles in the World Series. With the series tied, three games apiece, Strong and Satchel Paige, the scheduled starting pitcher, were both no-shows and the Eagles won the game and series.

Strong's only apparent weakness was alcohol, and it eventually robbed him of his great talent. Some thought Strong was a good prospect to integrated the Major Leagues, but years of substance abuse eroded some of the star's skills. Strong did play a few years of Minor League ball, with limited success, before ending his career playing in the Manitoba-Dakota league in the 1950s.

Strong died in Chicago on March 3, 1978.








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