Terris McDuffie


"Terris 'Speed' McDuffie, top pitcher for the Newark Eagles,
is a sepia Dizzy Dean!"

--Chicago Defender Newspaper


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Negro Leaguer of the Month
December, 2001

Terris McDuffie

Nicknames: "Elmer the Great," "Speed," "Terris the Terrible"
Position: pitcher
Career: 1938-1954
Teams: Birmingham Black Barons, Baltimore Black Sox, Atlantic City Bacharachs,, Pennsylvania Red Caps, New York Black Yankees, Brooklyn Eagles, Newark Eagles, Homestead Grays, Hilldale Daisies, Cuban Stars, Mexico, Minor Leagues

HT: 6'-0"; WT: 200 lbs
Batted right; threw right
Born:
July 22, 1910 in Mobile, Alabama
Died: New York


McDuffie was a good pitcher, good hitter, swift baserunner and great self-promoter. He often got more attention for his pretty face, flashy dress, bevy of girlfriends and large ego than for his ball playing. There is a story told by many that Effa Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles at the time, once demanded that McDuffie pitch a game so she could show off the handsome pitcher to her girlfriends.

McDuffie started his baseball career as an outfielder with the 1930 Birmingham Black Barons and batted .297 with a league-leading 18 stolen bases. It soon became apparent, though, that he didn't have a big enough bat to stay in the outfield for good so he became a pitcher and prospered. He had a good fastball, a curve, slider and change, and was just wild enough to keep batters on their toes.

Among his pitching accomplishments were an 18-inning victory for the Red Caps in '34, a no-hitter in '35 versus the House of David , a 19-8 record with the '36 Newark Eagles, beating Satchel Paige 2 of the 3 games they faced each other, and a 27-5 record for the pennant-winning Homestead Grays.

McDuffie started and won the 1941 East-West game, and also started the '44 game but didn't factor in the decision.

In 1945 McDuffie and Showboat Thomas, both past their prime, were given tryouts with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Both players were deemed to be too old by Branch Rickey.

McDuffie actually still had some good baseball in him as he approached and passed age 40, and it was reported that he had one of the highest salaries in the Negro National League in the post-war years. In 1951 he was voted the MVP of the Venezuelan League with Caracas, and in '52 was the MVP of the Dominican Republic League.

It has been reported that while playing in Cuba, McDuffie had the misfortune to play for manager Dolph Luque, a former major league pitcher with a terrible temper. Luque told McDuffie that he was going to pitch that day and McDuffie refused saying his arm was sore. Luque then pulled out a pistol and pointed it at the pitcher: McDuffie threw a 2-hitter.

In 1954, at age 44, he closed out his career when he pitched for the Dallas Steers of the Texas League in the minors and went 3-4 with a 3.04 ERA.