Harry Buckner (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)

Harry Buckner

This article was written by Phil Williams

Harry Buckner (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)The Negro Leagues featured many of baseball’s greatest two-way players: Leon Day, Martín Dihigo, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and Bullet Rogan. Yet before these leagues began in 1920, many Black players alternated between pitching and position play. Few in this era excelled in multiple roles as did Harry Buckner. From 1896 to 1914, the righthander with an underhanded delivery was a staff mainstay for numerous elite Black teams. When not pitching, Buckner played right field for these squads, and slugged from the heart of their batting orders.

Harry Edward Buckner was born on October 22, 1872, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Little is known about his father, Frank Buckner. In the 1880 census, his mother Eliza worked as a servant and seemingly raised Harry and his older brother William on her own.1 The brothers later led similar baseball lives.

By 1890, Buckner captained one of Hopkinsville’s Black ballclubs. That June, facing another local Black team, he struck the opposing captain on the head with a bat. The victim, George Coleman,2 was lucky to survive. This outcome was also fortunate for Buckner. Had Coleman died, Buckner likely would have spent at least a decade imprisoned for murder. He was instead sentenced to a year at the Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort.3

After his release, several more years passed before Buckner’s baseball career again found its way into print.4 By 1895 he was pitching for a Black Hopkinsville nine. That June he broke an arm sliding into a base.5

In 1896 Bud Fowler launched the London Creole Giants, based out of Muncie, Indiana. The famed African American entrepreneur had an eye for talent and recruited Buckner for his squad. On May 1, Buckner beat the Interstate League’s Fort Wayne Farmers, 4-2, allowing only four hits. Fort Wayne newspapers called his performance “superb” and “masterly” while another argued that “Only the widespread prejudice against a colored base ball player prevents the recognition of Buckner as a star of the first magnitude.”6 Yet Fowler soon left Muncie, the Londons collapsed, and Buckner joined an integrated Muncie club.7 In June, Buckner landed with the Chicago Unions, the strongest of that city’s Black teams.8

Buckner anchored the Unions’ rotation that summer. He was worked hard until, by early September, he had “gone lame.”9 After several weeks spent primarily in right field, he faced the visiting Cuban Giants, one of the east’s strongest Black teams, on Saturday October 3. Buckner contributed a homer yet the Unions played poor defense behind him and he lost, 16-5. The next day, he started in right and relieved Ed Woods in another affair with the Giants. Defensive lapses again cost the Unions, as they lost, 11-9.10

In 1897 Buckner enjoyed greater success against the Unions’ rivals. On May 9, pitching against the Page Fence Giants, he added three singles and a homer as Chicago triumphed, 7-6.11 The Cuban X Giants, however, drove him from the box on June 13, as they took the opener of a four-game series the teams eventually split.12 Then the Unions exacted revenge over the Cuban Giants in a three-game sweep. On Saturday, August 28, Buckner won the first game, 21-12.13 The next day, Buckner homered twice, and won the second game, 11-9.14

The Unions played approximately 130 games a season.15 On weekends, in Chicago, they played leading White semipro teams and visiting Black independents. During the week, they visited semipro and minor-league teams in surrounding territory. Full boxscores for 32 games from their 1898 campaign are readily available through present-day online newspaper databases.16 Buckner started 27 of these games: 16 in right field and 11 as the pitcher. In the latter role, from this sample, he compiled a 6-4-1 record. After spending most of his first two years with the Unions batting down in the order, Buckner mostly batted third or cleanup in 1898. From this sample, no teammate rivaled his nine home runs, and only first baseman (and typical leadoff hitter) Harry Moore (with 18) topped Buckner’s 14 extra-base hits.

With financial backing from the city’s African American Columbia Club and a roster stocked from the recently defunct Page Fence Giants, the upstart Columbia Giants stood ready to topple the Unions from Chicago Black baseball supremacy.17 That offseason, the Columbias signed Buckner for the 1899 campaign. He joined ex-Page Fencers Joe Smith and George Wilson in the pitching rotation. When not in the box, Buckner held down right field. In the batting order, he typically batted cleanup, behind Charlie Grant, John Patterson, and Grant Johnson. That September, the Columbias swept the Unions in a five-game set, but then lost seven of 11 games in a lengthy series against the Cuban X Giants.18 In 1910, former player James Smith recalled the Columbias as the “best [Black] team I ever saw.”19

Yet several factors, including recruitment battles between the Unions and Columbias, were weakening Black baseball in Chicago.20 Buckner remained with the Columbias in 1900 and finished the campaign impressively. On September 30, he worked out of jams to defeat the American League champion White Sox, 5-3.21 A week later, Buckner and Bert Jones dueled as the Columbias and Unions played to a scoreless tie.22

As the 1901 season approached, both the Columbias and Unions reported signing Buckner.23 With the Unions, on April 7, he pitched against the Griffiths.24 By May 5, he was back with the Columbias, starting against the Gunthers.25 Buckner stayed with the Columbias. They played under their name in Chicago but, touring the hinterlands, marketed themselves as the Royal Tiger Giants.26

The Unions management splintered late in the 1901 season, with Frank Leland launching the Chicago Union Giants. Leland recruited Buckner for the 1902 campaign.27 Weeks later, the new Greenville (Michigan) Implement club added Buckner and Patterson to their (integrated) squad.28 He opened their season on May 12 by shutting out the Michigan State League’s Lansing Senators.29 He twice pitched against the Union Giants when they visited Greenville.30 By late July, Buckner played weekends in Chicago, then commuted to Greenville to pitch weekday games.31 On Sunday July 27, he played right field for the Union Giants and added a double and two runs as Andrew “Rube” Foster beat the Columbias, 7-3.32 The next Sunday, Buckner pitched for the Columbias and beat Foster and the Union Giants, 4-3, doubling and homering to help his own cause.33

Like most of his peers, Buckner pitched to contact. After shutting out a Big Rapids team with Greenville, he told a sportswriter,

I only pitched when men were on bases and I had to. I could hear ’em say up in the grand stand, ‘Why, they hit him all right,’ but you didn’t see many of the hits go safe, did you? You see, when I put such a twist on the ball as I always can when I try, when they hit it, it either goes into the air good and high so a fielder can get under it or on the ground. They don’t hit any of them out on a line. That’s the kind of hits that do the damage.

The scribe added, “He very rarely throws a fast ball but when men are on bases and he thinks best he can certainly steam ’em some. The beauty of his pitching is his remarkable control, change of pace and his apparently unlimited variety of curves.”34

Buckner employed an underhanded delivery.35 Later it was described as “deceptive,” “unique,” and “the funniest delivery ever seen.”36 Submarine pitchers in this era were common enough, so it seems unlikely that Buckner’s underhanded offerings themselves were that memorable to contemporaries.37 Conjecture suggests he also may have used a variant of a crossfire delivery, an elaborate windup, a hitch in his motion, or some other stylized touch.

Two Scranton observers, in 1910, opined on the effectiveness of Buckner’s pitching. The first suggested his delivery “would have driven Joe McGinnity to the bushes many, many years ago had he seen it.”38 The second thought Buckner’s pitches “popped upward as [they] approached the plate.”39 McGinnity threw “Old Sal,” an underhanded curve ball thought to rise.40 The Iron Man credited Billy Rhines as an influence. McGinnity also played semipro ball in Illinois as Buckner’s Chicago teams barnstormed through the state.

By July 21, Greenville had reeled off a dozen straight victories.41 That evening Michigan State League magnates discussed the dissolution of the circuit’s Grand Rapids team. They agreed Greenville could take their place, with Buckner included.42 But Greenville almost immediately backed out, claiming they could make more money as an independent.43 As the season wound down, nearby White teams stated they would no longer play a Greenville team with Buckner and Patterson.44

This era’s finest professional Black ballplayers often faced a daunting path forward. For Buckner, the future of Chicago’s Black teams was clouded. Integrated teams offered only fleeting opportunities. For stretches in 1902, his pay may have been erratic and/or on a per game basis. That offseason, Philadelphia Giants (aka Phillies) manager Sol White offered Buckner a contract. The Phillies were implementing contracts like those used by the major leagues and promised to pay their players $60 to $90 per month.45

Buckner accepted White’s offer. He played a couple games with the Union Giants that spring and married 26-year-old Dora Walden on April 9.46 Then he left for the east coast.

White recruited several other Chicago veterans for 1903: catcher Robert Footes, third baseman William Binga, and outfielder Patterson. He lifted Bill Monroe from the Phillies’ chief rival for eastern Black baseball supremacy: the Cuban X Giants (aka Cubes). Yet the Phillies’ makeover was a relative failure. Full boxscores for 90 games from Philadelphia’s 1903 season (likely some 150 games) campaign are readily available.47 The team achieved a 48-40-2 mark from this subset. Buckner (11-12) served as the third starter, behind Kid Carter (14-10) and William Bell (15-12-1). Within this subset, second baseman Frank Grant led the Phillies with 31 extra-base hits. Buckner followed with 27 and led the team with nine triples and six home runs.

Monroe, who led off and excelled at short, struggled with injuries down the stretch. The Phillies lost five of seven to the Cubes in a September showdown. Buckner hit only .167 in the series. In his one series pitching start, he allowed five earned runs and lost, 8-1.

After the series, Buckner returned to Chicago and worked as a porter.48 That offseason, the Phillies and Cubes recruited from each other. Foster and Monroe landed with the Phillies. Buckner and Patterson signed with the Cubes.

Black baseball in this era featured crowd-pleasing comedic touches. When the Cubes visited Albany in July 1904, “Buckner had the crowd from his first appearance and held it throughout. He was always doing or saying something funny and playing ball all the time.”49 Yet Buckner didn’t humor the opposition. Years later, he recalled how he “Used to walk over to the other fellows’ bench and say, ‘Go ahead, boys, get your base hits today, ‘cause you goin’ to starve tomorrow. I’m goin’ to pitch.’”50 On game day, with a smile, he verbally taunted batters.51

Buckner batted in the heart of the Phillies order in 1903. But in 1904 Cubes manager Grant Johnson typically placed his pitchers in the nine-hole and, when Buckner started in right field, also batted him down in the order. Still, Buckner continued to impress onlookers as “a great hitter for a pitcher.”52 That September, after his poor showing in the previous season’s Cubes-Phillies showdown, he redeemed himself in another series between the teams. On September 1, Buckner homered in the opening game, albeit in a losing cause, as Foster fanned 18 en route to an 8-4 victory. The next day, in the pitcher’s box, Buckner scattered six hits and bested the Phillies, 3-1. Yet on September 3, Foster two-hit the Cubes and concluded the series with a 4-2 win.

That fall, for the first time in his career, Buckner played ball in Cuba, winning two of three documented games but hitting .152. He returned to the Cubes for the 1905 season but, with the defection of southpaw Dan McClellan (another fine two-way player) and Grant Johnson to the Phillies, the team was in decline. Nonetheless, Buckner helped anchor the rotation while mostly batting fifth or sixth in the order. At the end of the season, he joined the Brooklyn Royal Giants (aka Royals) to face the Phillies. Buckner lost to McClellan, 8-1.53

The 1906 season again tested Buckner’s resourcefulness. First, in December 1905, the Phillies signed him for the upcoming season.54 A month later, he was in Florida, playing hotel ball with the Royal Poinciana club.55 In March, Buckner was among several Phillies who accepted the higher salaries offered by the upstart Philadelphia Quaker Giants.56 After the Quakers went bust in mid-August, he came back to the Cubes.57 Along the way, Buckner occasionally twirled for the Wilmington Giants.58 In October he joined the Phillies as they took on the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics in a two-game match. In the opening game, Buckner played right field and homered off Eddie Plank. But the Athletics rallied to win, 5-4.59 Rube Waddell bested McClellan, 5-0, in the second game with Buckner throwing three innings of shutout relief.60 His year concluded with another stint in Cuba.

For the 1907 season, Buckner signed with the Royals, now with the nascent National Association of Colored Baseball Clubs. Against association competition, he contributed a .284/.312/.394 slash line in 21 games while going 4-5 as a pitcher. Box scores are readily available for another 34 games versus White squads. From this sample, only Grant Johnson (with 17) topped Buckner’s 15 extra-base hits. Among pitchers, Buckner’s 9-3 record within this subset outpaces Billy Holland (5-4) and Bill Merritt (4-3).61

The Royals finished with a sub-.500 association record in 1907, but several highlights marked Buckner’s campaign. In August, he no-hit an Atlantic City team.62 In September, again at Atlantic City, he “bumped the leather over the centre field fence into the ocean” to beat the Cuban Stars in walk-off style.63 In October, Buckner again joined the Phillies to play Connie Mack’s Athletics. He surrendered only four hits, as did the Athletics’ Rube Vickers (two from Buckner’s bat), but two errors (including one of his own) proved costly in a 3-0 loss.64

Secondary sources occasionally reference Buckner catching or playing shortstop. If he did, it was fleeting. Both Seamheads.com and box scores document him playing right field or pitching, with only isolated games at first base or left field, over his career. An exception occurred in 1907. That season, when not pitching, he mostly played center field. Buckner’s career fielding metrics, per Seamheads, are average. Yet he did not lack for effort. An intriguing example of his right-field play from 1913: “[Buckner’s] relaying the ball in three times to first to catch the batter in Sunday’s game was little less than remarkable. Ordinarily all three of these drives would have been good for one base hits. His underhand delivery saves considerable time in relaying the ball.”65

In 1908 the Royals overcame the Phillies as the east’s finest Black team, a status they held through 1910. Grant Johnson (the Royals’ manager through 1909) and Sol White (Brooklyn’s skipper in 1910) increasingly gave outfield playing time to youngsters at Buckner’s expense. The veteran had grown stout over the years. Buckner was adept at sliding his frame into pitches, but he was likely a step slow for the era’s fast inside game. Buckner usually batted third or fourth in the order in 1907; he mostly batted fifth or sixth over the next several years.

Yet Buckner, with spitballs now central to his repertoire, remained at the fore of Brooklyn’s rotation.66 From 1908 through 1910, Buckner amassed an 11-3 record against leading Black teams. He scattered six hits as the Royals defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 9-1, in Cuba on November 20, 1908.67 On October 8, 1909, he beat the New York Yankees, allowing four runs over seven innings in a 9-6 match.68 Buckner went 2-for-5 versus Cincinnati with a triple and a pair of RBIs. Against the Yankees he went 3-for-3, including a triple and a home run, and drove in four runs.

Perhaps Buckner’s greatest adversary was Ernie Lindemann, arguably the Deadball Era’s finest White semipro pitcher.69 On Sundays, skirting blue laws, Buckner’s Royals often clashed with Lindemann’s Ridgewood team in the Brooklyn neighborhood of the same name. These games usually occurred in a three-cornered doubleheader, with two teams playing in the first game and the winner playing the third team in the second game.70 These showdowns featured some of Buckner’s finest pitching.

On July 19, 1908, for example, Buckner played right field as Brooklyn beat the Cuban Stars in the opening match. In the second game he three-hit the Ridgewoods and bested Lindemann, 4-0.71 In the June 6, 1909, opener, Buckner relieved Charles Earle to pick up a win against the (White) Hobokens. In the second game he shut out the Ridgewoods as the Royals drove Lindemann from the box and coasted to a 10-0 victory.72 On August 15, 1909, the two dueled for ten scoreless innings in the first game, before the Royals scored the deciding run in the eleventh. Buckner watched from the bench as his mates battered a Danbury team, 11-1, in the second match.73

After the 1910 season, two brothers, Jess and Ed McMahon, launched the New York Lincoln Giants. They recruited from those playing Florida hotel ball that winter, including Buckner.74 With the Lincolns in 1911, Buckner was a role player against leading Black teams. Against White semipros he often started. In 1912 Buckner landed with another new team — the Paterson Smart Set — and again periodically started. A season highlight: on Sunday July 14, pitching against the American League’s St. Louis Browns, he held on for a 9-7 victory. Buckner helped his own cause with a triple and a home run.75

In 1913 Buckner again signed with the Smart Set. On May 25, the team visited Schenectady to play the newly-launched Mohawk Giants. Facing the great power pitcher Frank Wickware, Paterson was held to five hits in a 4-1 loss. Right fielder Buckner banged out three of the safeties and impressed onlookers with “one of the prettiest running catches ever seen in this city.”76 In early July, Mohawks owner Bill Wernecke raided the Paterson team of Buckner, outfielder Ashby Dunbar, and pitcher Dolph White.77 The Smart Set promptly disbanded.78

Mohawks manager Phil Bradley made Buckner his cleanup hitter. The 40-year-old responded in fine style. Against other Black teams, Seamheads assigns him a .289/.407/.444 slash line (and an OPS+ of 156). By September 10, per a Schenectady paper’s data from all Mohawk games, Buckner led the team with a .389 batting average and 21 extra-base hits.79

Wickware carried the Mohawks. Buckner mostly pitched against lesser competition. Thus when Walter Johnson brought a barnstorming team to Schenectady on Sunday October 5, Bradley matched Wickware against the Big Train. The game was delayed as the Mohawks protested $921 of back pay due to them by Wernecke. A silent partner rushed $500 to the players and the affair began. The Mohawks triumphed in an abbreviated five-and-a-half inning game, 1-0. Buckner managed the “one clean hit” off Johnson, a double after Schenectady scored the game’s sole run in the fourth.80

Buckner got off to a torrid start in 1914, with Seamheads documenting a .487/.583/.872 slash line (an OPS+ of 324) against leading Black teams. Yet the Mohawks’ attendance fell off and salaries were again in arrears. Rube Foster, seeking a viable Louisville franchise as a building block towards a Black league, arrived in Schenectady in mid-July and fronted money for the Mohawks players to head west.81 Buckner finished the season in Louisville.

From 1915 through 1917, Buckner concluded his professional playing career with sporadic appearances for the Chicago Giants. Living in the city’s Near South Side, he worked for the Bremner Brothers Biscuit Company.82

Meanwhile, Harry’s brother William had become a renowned trainer. Initially he worked with cyclists, notably Major Taylor, who became in 1899 the first African American in any sport to capture a world championship.83 By 1908 William Buckner shifted towards baseball and was hired by the Chicago White Sox.84 Buckner was unjustly released in March 1918 after Dave Danforth precipitated an incident against him.85 He was hired back in 1922, and spent another 11 years with the Sox.86

During Harry’s lengthy playing career, he likely borrowed from William’s training practices. Or vice versa. Perhaps Harry also served as a de facto trainer for some of his teams. Whatever the case, in 1920 Harry also became a baseball trainer, with the American Association’s Milwaukee Brewers.87

For the next 18 years, Buckner attended to whatever afflictions might befall a Brewer in the line of duty.88 He pulled witch hazel, capsaicin, arnica, and rubbing alcohol from his medicine chest.89 He gave massages on his rubdown table, placed arms under heat lamps, maintained the team’s uniforms, and served sandwiches and coffee during spring training.90 “He is a splendid trainer and keeps the club in excellent spirits even when things are going tough,” observed a Milwaukee sportswriter.91 Buckner returned to Chicago in the winter, where he worked in a bakery.92

Buckner suffered a heart attack during the 1935 season and another in 1937.93 He traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the Brewers’ spring training in 1938, but was too ill to continue and sent home to Chicago on a Missouri Pacific Train.94 On March 26, 1938, Harry Buckner suffered a final heart attack on this journey.95 Dora survived him; it is unclear if the couple had any children. His brother William died that November.

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Steve Rice and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Jeff Findley.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources noted in this biography, the author also accessed the following sites:

ancestry.com

digmichnews.cmich.edu

flatriverlibrary.org

fultonhistory.com

genealogybank.com

news.google.com/newspapers

newspapers.com

Unless otherwise stated, Harry Buckner’s baseball statistics were compiled by SABR members Gary Ashwill and Kevin Johnson and are available at Seamheads.com.

 

Notes

1 In addition to the 1880 census, the best source of genealogical information is Buckner’s 1938 Missouri Death Certificate (https://tinyurl.com/y39dv9bc). Within this document, with William as the informant, Frank is listed as Harry’s father. In addition to the paucity of records for African Americans in this era, Buckner was also an especially common surname during this era in Kentucky. Note a James E. Buckner was later identified as William’s brother: “Washington D.C.” New York Age, May 16, 1912: 3.

2 In various sources, Coleman was identified as team captain, manager, and president. Although there is some question as to his exact title, and if he was a teammate or opponent of Buckner, it is clear that his duties involved running a team.

3 “Slugged with a Bat,” (Lexington) Kentucky Leader, June 19, 1890: 5; “Cream of News,” Hopkinsville Kentuckian, June 20, 1890: 3; “Circuit Court Cullings,” Daily (Nashville) American, September 26, 1890: 6; “Cream of News,” Hopkinsville Kentuckian, October 7, 1890: 3. Note some out-of-state newspapers reported that Buckner had murdered Coleman. Buckner’s sentencing and Coleman’s genealogical record suggest otherwise.

4 In his study of Nineteenth Century Black baseball, James E. Brunson III suggests that Buckner played for a Rockford, Illinois, team in 1894. The author, however, was unable to find any mention of a Buckner with any Black Rockford squad during this season. For Brunson’s profile of Buckner, see Black Baseball 1858-1900, Volume 2 (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2019), 556.

5 “Broke His Arm,” (Clarksville, Tennessee) Semi-Weekly Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle, June 7, 1895: 1; “Always in the Lurch,” (Clarksville, Tennessee) Semi-Weekly Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle, June 7, 1895: 3.

6 “All Kinds of Ball,” Fort Wayne Sentinel, May 2, 1896: 5; “Season Opens,” Fort Wayne Gazette, May 2, 1896: 7; “Base Ball Talk,” Huntington (Indiana) Weekly Herald, May 2, 1896: 1. Note the final source quotes the Fort Wayne Journal at length.

7 “Londons No More,” Muncie Morning News, May 12, 1896: 5; “Team Reorganized,” Muncie Morning News, May 16, 1896: 5; “One Each,” Muncie Morning News, May 19, 1896: 1.

8 For more on the Chicago Unions, see Michael E. Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2003): 149-152.

9 “With the Amateurs,” Chicago Inter Ocean, September 9, 1896: 4.

10 “With the Amateurs,” Chicago Inter Ocean, October 5, 1896: 4.

11 “Colored Championship,” Chicago Chronicle, May 10, 1897: 5.

12 “Cuban Giants, 14; Unions 5,” Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1897: 13. Note that, despite the heading, these were the Cuban X Giants, not the Cuban Giants.

13 “With the Amateurs,” Chicago Inter Ocean, August 29, 1897: 10.

14 “With the Amateurs,” Chicago Inter Ocean, August 30, 1897: 4.

15 The Unions claimed a 100-19 record in 1896. See “The Chicago Unions,” Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle, June 30, 1897: 7. And, with several weeks to go in the 1897 season, they claimed a 113-16 record. See “For Benefit of Pfeffer,” Chicago Inter Ocean, September 23, 1897: 4. The won-loss ratio of these claims might be suspect, but the team undoubtedly attempted to play as many games as possible.

16 See https://tinyurl.com/ycxokjru for this data.

17 For background on the Columbia Giants, see Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: 159-161.

18 Sol White, Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide (South Orange, NJ, Summer Game Books, 2014): 47. Boxscores are readily available for the openers of both series, with Buckner playing right field in both: “Columbia Giants, 1; Chicago Unions 0,” Chicago Inter Ocean, September 4, 1899: 8; “Cuban Giants 7; Columbia Giants 4,” Chicago Inter Ocean, September 11, 1899: 10. (Again, in the September 11 box score, it was the Cuban X Giants, not the Cuban Giants.)

19 James H. Smith, “The Past and Present in Baseball,” The (Indianapolis) Freeman, May 28, 1910: 7. The Columbias later claimed to have lost only 22 of 156 games in 1899, see “Make-up of the Columbia Giants,” Chicago Inter Ocean, February 11, 1900: 10.

20 Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860-1901: 168-170.

21 “Champions Beaten by Giants,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1900: 8.

22 “Nine Innings Without a Run,” Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1900: 8.

23 “Amateur Baseball,” Chicago Inter Ocean, April 5, 1901: 8; “Plans of Local Baseball Teams,” Chicago Tribune, April 7, 1901: 17.

24 “Griffiths, 6; Unions, 3,” Chicago Inter Ocean, April 8, 1901: 8.

25 “Columbia Giants, 9; Gunthers, 5,” Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1901: 4.

26 For an example of Buckner with the Columbias under their Royal Tigers brand, see “Royal Tigers Defeat Maroons,” Sault News Record (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan), August 24, 1901: 4.

27 “‘Prairie’ Games for Today,” Chicago Tribune, April 20, 1902: 10; “Spalding Beat the Giants,” Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1902: 6.

28 Dave Wyatt, “Rube Foster, As I Knew Him,” Pittsburgh Courier, December 27, 1930: A4; “City and Country,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, April 30, 1902: 5. Note Buckner had journeyed to Grand Rapids the previous season to twirl a two-hitter for a Greenville team against a Milwaukee News squad. See “Grand Rapids Ball Tournament,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, August 21, 1901: 5.

29 “City and Country,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, May 5, 1902: 5.

30 “Union Giants Were Too Strong,” Detroit Free Press, May 24, 1902: 10; “Greenvilles Were Downed,” Detroit Free Press, June 27, 1902: 3. As the headlines suggest, the Unions won both games. In the first, Buckner came in relief; in the second he went the distance and took a 6-3 loss.

31 For a reference to this commute see “City and Country,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, July 30, 1902: 5.

32 “Union Giants, 7; Columbia Giants, 3,” Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1902: 8.

33 “Union Giants Are Champions,” Chicago Tribune, August 4, 1902: 6.

34 “How Buckner Pitches—Great Colored Wonder of Greenville Implement Co. Talks of Work,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, July 16, 1902: 1. Note this is a reprint of an article originally appearing in the Grand Rapids Herald.

35 The first mention of his underhanded motion noted by the author: “Giants Easily Defeated,” Mount Carmel (Pennsylvania) Item, September 1, 1903: 1. Buckner, much later, also stated he threw underhanded. See R. G. Lynch, “Maybe I’m Wrong,” Milwaukee Journal, July 31, 1934: 19. The author found no reference to him using any other motion.

36 “Giants Won from Stars,” Syracuse Journal, April 27, 1908: 6; “Smart Set Loses to G.E.’s, 6 to 1,” Schenectady Gazette, September 9, 1912: 7; “First Game for Championship of World Among Colored Teams Will be Played Here Saturday,” Schenectady Gazette, May 20, 1913: 9.

37 Peter Morris, A Game of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010), 82-83.

38 “Jackson and Staley Help Kellogg Win Second Bout,” Scranton Truth, April 28, 1910: 9.

39 “Staley and Jackson Win for Scranton,” Scranton Times, April 20, 1910: 13.

40 Don Doxsie’s BioProject entry, sabr.org/bioproj/person/joe-mcginnity/, encapsulates the Iron Man’s career, and suggests other traits he shared with Buckner.

41 “Greenville Has Strong Team,” Detroit Free Press, July 22, 1902: 10.

42 “Base Ball,” Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle, July 22, 1902: 5. See also “Baseball Changes,” Isabella County (Michigan) Enterprise, July 25, 1902: 7.

43 “Base Ball for Belding,” Belding (Michigan) Banner, July 24, 1902: 1.

44 “City and Country,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, October 1, 1902: 5.

45 Sol White, “Sol White Recalls,” New York Age, January 3, 1931: 6.

46 “Play a Tie Game at Evanston,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1903: 13; “Northwestern, 8; Chicago Unions, 5,” Chicago Tribune, April 8, 1903: 13 “Marriage Licenses,” Chicago Inter Ocean, April 10, 1903: 10.

47 See https://tinyurl.com/ycxokjru for this data.

48 Greenville (Michigan) Independent, November 11, 1903: 1.

49 “Catholic Union Set a Fast Pace,” The (Albany) Argus, July 17, 1904: 2.

50 R. G. Lynch, “Maybe I’m Wrong,” Milwaukee Journal, July 31, 1934: 19.

51 “How Buckner Pitches—Great Colored Wonder of Greenville Implement Co. Talks of Work,” Greenville (Michigan) Independent, July 16, 1902: 1.

52 “Giants Wallop Penn Park,” York (Pennsylvania) Gazette, May 7, 1904: 6.

53 “The Pennant Won by the Athletics,” Reading (Pennsylvania) Times, October 7, 1905: 5.

54 “Quaker Giants Preparing for a Strenuous Season,” Brooklyn Standard Union, December 8, 1905: 8. Note that, despite the headline, these were the Philadelphia Giants, not the Quaker Giants team launched in early 1906. See also the statement from Phillies President Walter Schlichter within “Under False Colors,” Sporting Life, February 3, 1906: 8.

55 “Base Ball,” Philadelphia Item, January 26, 1906: 7.

56 “Baseball Chat,” Brooklyn Chat, March 31, 1906: 12. For an angle on the Quakers’ salary temptations, see Walter Schlichter, “Slick’s Salad,” Philadelphia Item, January 29, 1907: 7.

57 “Quaker Giants Beat Atlantic City Team,” Brooklyn Standard Union, August 10, 1906: 8; “Hobokens Drop a Game to the Cuban X Giants,” Brooklyn Standard Union, August 20, 1906: 9.

58 “Local Team Wins,” Wilmington Morning News, May 4, 1906: 8; “Rain Stopped Game,” Wilmington Morning News, June 7, 1906: 3.

59 “Base Ball,” Philadelphia Item, October 13, 1906: 7.

60 “Waddell in Great Form,” Philadelphia Record, October 14, 1906: 15.

61 See https://tinyurl.com/ycxokjru for this data.

62 “Atlantic City is Shut Out,” The (Indianapolis) Freeman, August 31, 1907: 7. Note the game may have been played days before the Freeman reported it. The era’s Black teams often spent a week in Atlantic City playing teams comprised of former collegians and semipro players. The Philadelphia Inquirer occasionally reported these games. Indeed, the Inquirer did report an August 29 game where Buckner shut out Atlantic City (see “Atlantic City Shut Out,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 30, 1907: 6) but there is significant variance between this game and the one the Freeman reported. Identifying the date of the Freeman game is a topic for future research.

63 “Sports in General,” The (Wilmington) Evening Journal, September 4, 1907: 8.

64 “Base Ball,” Philadelphia Item, October 20, 1907: 7.

65 “Local Baseball Notes,” Schenectady Gazette, July 22, 1913: 9. For the game referenced, a 4-3 victory for Buckner’s Mohawk Colored Giants over the New York State League’s Utica Utes, see “Mohawk Giants Rally in Ninth and Beat Utica,” Schenectady Gazette, July 21, 1913: 9.

66 The first mention of his spitter noted by the author: “Sprung a Surprise,” Fall River (Massachusetts) Evening News, April 26, 1906: 7.

67 “Royal Giants,” Cincinnati Enquirer, November 21, 1908: 3. Full game statistics per Seamheads.com.

68 Lester A. Walton, “In the Sporting World,” New York Age, October 14, 1909: 6. Full game statistics per Seamheads.com.

69 After the New York Giants cruised to the 1904 NL pennant, John McGraw drafted Lindemann. The pitcher, however, wished to stay in New York, where he had a good job (nicely supplemented by his weekend pitching) and was raising a young family. For more on Lindemann, see SABR’s upcoming One-Hit Wonders book.

70 The norm — contrary to examples used here — was for the first two teams to be Black, and the third White. This reflected the power (and biases) Nat Strong had over booking semipro games in the region. For more on this topic, see Michael E. Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902-1931: The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014): 79-81.

71 “Players Arrested at Meyerose Park,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 20, 1908: 4.

72 Lester A. Walton, “In the Sporting World,” New York Age, June 10, 1909: 6.

73 “On Local Diamonds,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 16, 1909: 19.

74 “Big Plans Ahead for Colored Teams,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 9, 1911: 26.

75 “Smart Set Beat St. Louis Club,” Paterson (New Jersey) Morning Call, July 15, 1912: 3, 8.

76 “First Battle of Title Series Won by Mohawk Giants,” Schenectady Gazette, May 26, 1913: 9.

77 “Mohawk Giants Will Play Fast Troy Nine Today,” Schenectady Gazette, July 4, 1913: 5.

78 “Smart Set Won an Easy Victory,” Paterson (New Jersey) Morning Call, July 7, 1913: 3.

79 “Buckner is Still Leading Batsman of Mohawk Giants,” Schenectady Gazette, September 10, 1913: 8.

80 “Walter Johnson Suffers Defeat Here Yesterday,” Schenectady Gazette, October 6, 1913: 8. Also see Frank M. Keetz, The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady (Schenectady, New York: self-published, 1999), 14-17.

81 See Keetz, Mohawk Colored Giants: 18-19; Larry Lester, Rube Foster in his Time: On the Field and in the Papers with Black Baseball’s Greatest Visionary (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004): 79-80. For a contemporary source, see “Mohawk Giants Have Left City for Good,” Schenectady Gazette, July 15, 1914: 9.

82 Per his WWI draft registration card.

83 “Buckner Sails with Taylor,” St. Louis Republic, March 8, 1901: 6.

84 “‘Jackies’ Cheer and Sox Win,” Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1908: 6.

85 Steve Steinberg’s BioProject entry on Danforth, sabr.org/bioproj/person/dave-danforth/, covers this incident in detail.

86 “Buckner Back as Sox Trainer,” Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1922: 26; Marvin McCarthy, “Hosses Hard to Find!” Chicago Times, April 21, 1933: 77

87 The start date of 1920 per “Brewer Trainer Dies,” Milwaukee Journal, March 27, 1938: 21.

88 For much more on Buckner’s time with the Brewers, see Paul Tenpenny, “Out of the Shadows,” Borchert Field, borchertfield.com/2010/01/out-of-shadows.html, January 2, 2010.

89 Manning Vaughan, “Southpaw Praised by Hoyt of Yanks,” Milwaukee Journal, March 9, 1928: 25; Edward Burns, “Ads Help Ball Players to Find New Alibi Illnesses, Chicago Tribune, September 2, 1928: 16; Manning Vaughan, “Gullic Again Slaps Pill All Over Arkansas Spa,” Milwaukee Journal, March 17, 1932: 23; Sam Levy, “Brewer Battery Men Start Work Monday,” Milwaukee Journal, March 14, 1937: 27.

90 Sam Levy, “Al Sothoron Worried Over Kloza’s Arm,” Milwaukee Journal, March 13, 1936: 27; Manning Vaughan, “Howley Likes the Way Bub is Showing Up,” Milwaukee Journal, March 14, 1929: 20; Manning Vaughan, “Levivelt Fixes Batting Order for First Game,” Milwaukee Journal, March 11, 1928: 21.

91 “De Doctah Leaves for the White Mule Country,” Milwaukee Journal, February 22, 1929: 25.

92 Manning Vaughan, “Lels Trade Strelecki for Pitcher Win Ballou,” Milwaukee Journal, February 21, 1928: 22.

93 “Doc Buckner Ill,” Milwaukee Journal, May 16, 1935: 23; “Buckner on Diet,” Milwaukee Journal, September 17, 1937: 36.

94 Sam Levy, “Brewers Are Given Long Batting Drill,” Milwaukee Journal, March 25, 1938: 33.

95 His resting place is uncertain. His death certificate mentions “Lincoln” as his place of burial, cremation, or removal. But upon contacting the Lincoln Cemetery in Blue Island, Illinois, on December 30, 2020, the author was informed that Harry Buckner was not buried there. The author also contacted the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, on January 8, 2021, and was told no Harry Buckner rests there either. Find-a-Grave yielded no information.

Full Name

Harry Buckner

Born

October 27, 1872 at Hopkinsville, TN (US)

Died

March 26, 1938 at Chicago, IL (USA)

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