Harry Butts

This article was written by Margaret M. Gripshover

Harry ButtsHarry Butts was a left-handed pitcher who played professional baseball from 1946 through 1953. His résumé included stints in the Negro American League, the ManDak League, the Piedmont League, winter-league play in Puerto Rico and Venezuela, and at least two starts in a Newark Eagles uniform in 1946. In the early 1950s he was one of the first African-Americans to be signed by a team in the Piedmont League.

Harry Thomas Butts was born in Whaleyville, Virginia, on February 2, 1922, to Walter Norfleet and Mary (Downing) Butts. Whaleyville is in the southeastern corner of Virginia, in what was once known as Nansemond County, which in 1974 was reorganized as the Independent City of Suffolk. Today, the region in which Suffolk is situated is generally known as Hampton Roads.

Harry Butts’s father, who was known by his middle name, Norfleet, was a truck farmer whose land was on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. The surname Butts, and his father’s middle name Norfleet, were both last names of slave owners in the region, some of whom were among the area’s earliest settlers. Norfleet Butts named his son Harry, after his own father. Harry had three brothers and a sister.

While Norfleet operated the truck farm in the 1920s and 1930s, Mary worked in a nearby factory.1 The Whaleyville area’s largest employers were packers of Virginia hams and local peanut processors, including Planters Peanuts, which was founded in Suffolk in 1912.2 Mary died in 1933, and sometime between then and 1940, the family moved from their farm into the city of Suffolk.3 In 1935 Norfleet married Odessa B. Shambley, who was nearly 20 years his junior.

Two of Harry’s brothers left Suffolk after 1940 and headed north to Suffolk County on Long Island, New York. It is possible that Harry’s brief career with the Newark Eagles was facilitated through visits to the two brothers. It is more likely, however, that the Newark Eagles learned of the left-handed pitching prospect during their frequent exhibition and league games in the Hampton Roads area during the 1930s and 1940s, the earliest visit being a game against Washington’s Hilldale Giants in 1938.4

Little is known of Harry’s life before 1942, when he registered for the World War II draft. Was he the teenager named Harry Butts who was shot in the legs during a late-night fight at a club in Suffolk in 1937?5 Did he attend Booker T. Washington High School, the first high school for African-Americans in Suffolk? Is it possible that Butts pitched for the Suffolk Giants in the segregated Virginia-Carolina League prior to his service during World War II?6 With the passage of time and the lack of documentation, the answers to these questions might never be confidently answered. It is unlikely, however, that Butts graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. His Army draft card credits him with only a “grammar school” education.7

The 1940s brought tremendous changes to Butts’s life. It was a complicated decade replete with triumphs and turbulence. In June 1942, when Harry registered for the draft, he was 20 years old, unemployed, and living with his father in Suffolk.8 Later that year, he married Carrie Letha Rollins in Suffolk. At the time, both worked at a local packing plant.9 Four months after their wedding, Butts was a private in the US Army. His enlistment papers list his height as 5-feet-8 and his weight at 148 pounds.10 Less than nine months later, on September 24, 1943, Butts was honorably discharged with a Certificate of Disability for Discharge, the first formal indication that he suffered from mental illness.11 Butts was not alone in this regard. In 1942, roughly 40 percent of all early discharges from the Army were CDDs.12

It is not known if Butts received any treatment after his diagnosis by the Army, or if he played in any professional baseball games between 1943 and 1945. One thing is certain, however: His life was beginning to change. The first of his nine children, Harry T. Butts Jr., was born in Suffolk in 1946, a few months before Harry made his debut as a left-handed pitcher for the Newark Eagles.

On June 5, 1946, Butts took the mound for the first time for the Eagles, in a game against the Baltimore Elite Giants at Memorial Field in Hagerstown, Maryland.13 There was another Butts on the field that evening: Tommy “Pee Wee” Butts, the crack shortstop for the Elite Giants, who was unrelated to Harry. It was not a pleasant experience for the rookie southpaw from Suffolk. Harry Butts was roughed up for seven runs in the second inning and the Eagles fell to the Elite Giants 13-2.14

A week after his forgettable debut, Butts pitched for the Eagles in an exhibition game against the Lloyd Athletic Club in Chester, Pennsylvania. This time the outcome was more positive. Butts (whose first name was given as Harvey in the Chester newspaper) and the Eagles won, 7-2, with Warren Peace sealing the deal in relief.15 Butts struck out two and walked two. He scored one of Newark’s seven runs, on a double by Clarence “Pint” Isreal.16

After the victory over the Lloyd A.C., Butts was never seen in a Newark Eagles uniform again. Why he was cut from the roster is unknown. Possibly he was injured. Perhaps he was a classic example of a “cup of coffee” player – just a temporary hire to fill in a gap in the lineup. Regardless of the cause, Butts did not play another game for Newark.

It was nearly a year before Butts returned to baseball. This time it was for a semipro team, the Norfolk Royals of the Negro Carolina League. On July 15, 1947, Butts took the mound in relief for the Royals in an 8-6 loss to the Durham (North Carolina) Eagles in Durham.17 Later that season, an account of another Royals game mentioned a pitcher named Walter Butts.18 This appears to be a reporting error.

Harry Butts returned to pitch for the Royals in 1948. That year the team had a new name, the Norfolk Newport-News Royals, and a new league, the Negro American Association. In July the Royals played Butts’s old team the Eagles and Butts was the starting pitcher in the 9-7 victory at High Rock Park in Norfolk.19 A month later, on August 22, at Mooers Park in Norfolk, Butts was on the losing end of a battle against his former Newark Eagles teammate Warren Peace, who was pitching for the Richmond Giants.20 Peace and the Giants won, 9-3, over Butts and his Negro American Association All-Stars.21 That game appears to have been Butts’s final start in 1948. The unhappy end to his season was compounded by personal grief: Harry’s father, Walter Norfleet Butts Sr., died in Suffolk on October 24, from brain and stomach cancer at the age of 64.

In 1949 Butts pitched for teams in in two distinctly different geographic regions. He started the year by playing for San Juan in the Puerto Rican Winter League.22 In March he signed with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League.23 For Butts, 1949 was also the year in which he reinvented himself as an untested younger man – as a 20-year-old “rookie find” for the Clowns.24 In truth, he was 27 years old. While it was not uncommon for ballplayers to shave a few years off their ages, not everyone described Butts as a fresh face, and there seemed to be some confusion as to his real age and experience. An article in the Chicago Defender called Butts one of the Clowns’ “veteran performers.”25 Later in the season, however, the Defender ran a photo of Butts and described him as a “prize rookie” and a “youthful southpaw [who] got off to a slow start, which was blamed on a lack of experience, but is hitting winning form. …”26

After the Clowns season ended, Butts traveled with the team for a barnstorming tour in the South. He played in several games in Florida, including one against the Miami Giants in which he was described in the local newspaper as a “prize rookie” and a “stellar sepia” hurler.27 His last start and win for the Clowns in 1949 was a sparkling five-hitter against the Miami Giants on October 9 at Miami Stadium.28 Although he had some tough losses for Indianapolis in the summer of 1949, he was good enough to represent the East in the annual East West All-Star Game and was asked to return to the Clowns for the 1950 season.29

For Butts the early 1950s were hallmarked by familiar surroundings, new beginnings, and an abrupt end to his professional baseball career. In 1950 he was one of the top hurlers for the Clowns. He struck out 107 batters, second only to a teammate, 19-year-old Cuban native Raul Galata, who led the NAL with 120 strikeouts.30 Again Butts also was named to the East All-Star squad.31 As the 1950 season came to a close for the Clowns, it was widely reported that Butts had caught the attention of major-league baseball. In September rumors were swirling that Butts was being scouted by the Boston Braves after a one-hit performance against the Philadelphia Stars.32 Were the Braves really interested in Butts, or was this just a public-relations stunt orchestrated by Clowns owner Syd Pollock? News of the possible signing of Butts by the Braves was picked up by dozens of newspapers. Such an addition to the Braves roster was not outside the realm of possibility; the team had already signed an African-American player, Sam Jethroe, earlier in the year.33 Pollock later lamented that Butts “missed out on an opportunity to move up,” and claimed that he had been scouted by the Chicago White Sox and Brooklyn Dodgers.34 After the 1950 NAL season was over, Butts joined the Clowns on a barnstorming tour facing Jackie Robinson’s All-Stars. One notable performance for Butts was his 7-6 victory over the All-Stars in Miami.35 When all was said and done, at the end of 1950 no major-league club had made an offer to Butts.

Butts returned to play for the Clowns in 1951 but left the team in midseason, jumping to the Brandon Greys of the semipro ManDak League.36 At the time he was one of the NAL’s leading pitchers with a 6-1 record.37 It was reported that Pollock was incensed at Butt’s defection, but he was not the only Clowns player to head northward to play in the ManDak League, presumably for a better payday and a higher quality of life.38 Pollock, however, may have also been a bit disingenuous with his outrage. According to the Minot (North Dakota) Daily News, three players were furnished to the Minot Mallards by “Syd Pollock of the Indianapolis Clowns, who supplies colored players to Brandon.”39

Butts was one of dozens of African-American baseball players (many from then-failing Negro League teams) who headed north to the Mandak League, which straddled the US-Canadian border. Even Satchel Paige was lured to the league after he was released by the Cleveland Indians. Paige pitched a handful of games for the Minot Mallards – all that the team’s owners claimed they could afford.40 Butts played for the Brandon (Manitoba) Greys in 1951 and 1952. In 1951 Lloyd “Pepper” Bassett, former star catcher for the Birmingham Black Barons, was his backstop.41 Butts finished his first season with an impressive 9-0 record, one of only three Mandak League pitchers with perfect seasons through the mid-1950s.42 When the 1951 League season ended, Butts played one season in the Dominican Summer League, for the Estrellas Orientales.43 After his hitch in the Caribbean was over, he barnstormed as a member of the Negro League All-Stars, traveling with Jackie Robinson’s Major League Negro League All-Stars.44

Butts embarked on a new baseball adventure in 1952 when he signed with the Vancouver Capilanos of the Class-A Western International League. He was the fourth African-American to sign with the Capilanos.45 As he had done when he had joined the Indianapolis Clowns, Butts shaved a few years off his real age. He was advertised as a 23-year-old “rookie” even though he had turned 30 the month before.46 Vancouver classified Butts as a rookie because it was his first year in Organized Baseball, and touted his 1.94 ERA with the Clowns and recent success pitching in winter leagues.47 The club claimed that Butts had amassed an impressive 20-4 record while playing for three different teams in 1951.48 The Capilanos actively promoted Butts as their next star player, describing him as a “left-handed hurler who comes off the mound as though jet propelled.”49 In a preseason article, the Vancouver Sun heaped praise on the southpaw.50 Capilanos manager Robert “Bob” Brown noted Butts’s diverse résumé and powerful physique and observed that “all that jumpin’ didn’t hurt his throwin’” and as a “5-foot-11, 168-pounder, Butts is regarded as major league timber, especially if he ever stops bouncing around like a Mexican jumping bean.”51 The descriptions of Butts’s physical characteristics were likely as accurate as his age. It is unlikely that Butts grew three inches taller after he was measured by the Army in 1942, and again in 1943, as being 5-feet-8.52

Butts was unable to live up to the Capilanos’ hype. His brief association with Vancouver in the spring of 1952 was not a memorable one. During spring training, Butts showed some promise as a starter and reliever but as the regular season unfolded, his wildness on the mound became a more frequent occurrence. It was not uncommon for Butts to hit a batter with a pitch, and at least once, he clocked two.53 In addition to his control problems, by early May of 1952, Butts seemed to be “running out of gas with each of his starts.”54 Manager Brown’s frank assessment: “I am disappointed in Harry Butts … a young man with all the ability in the world.”55 Brown felt that Butts “doesn’t concentrate enough on the club he’s with.”56 He added that Butts, “always has aspirations elsewhere, a habit that could cost him a wonderful career.”57 Butts appears to have been unmoved by his manger’s criticisms and embraced his vagabond lifestyle. In a letter he wrote to former Capilanos teammate Paul Jones, he said that he “liked the wheat country just fine.”58

By the third week in May, Butts was released.59 He headed 1,200 miles east to Brandon, to play for the Greys in the Mandak League. His lack of success in Vancouver was not a fluke. His glory days as a marquee pitcher were in his rear-view mirror and the road ahead was not an easy one to travel. The control problems that plagued Butts in Vancouver continued to haunt him in 1952 season in the Mandak League.  In a game against the Carman Cardinals in June, Butts gave up 10 runs in three innings in a relief appearance.60 Later in the season, he threw a workmanlike six-hitter to give the Greys a 4-3 win over the Cardinals.61 But his walks were starting to outnumber his strikeouts and he was losing more games than he was winning. Butts’s struggles were mirrored by the financial challenges faced by the Mandak League and the Greys. By early summer there were concerns that the Greys would not be able to field a nine-man roster.62 The club finished the 1952 season $18,000 in the red.63

Butts earned the dubious honor of leading the league in losses – nine, against five victories.64 He pitched 111 innings and gave up 103 hits, walked 73 batters, struck out 96, and tossed seven wild pitches.65 There are several possible reasons for Butts’s decline in 1952. First, as historian Barry Swanton concluded, Butts underperformed in the Mandak in 1952 because opposing hitters were “catching up to him.”66 But two other factors may have also played a role: the stress from being 1,800 miles away from his family in Suffolk, which, by 1952 included four young children, and possibly his struggles with mental illness that had been diagnosed by Army physicians a decade earlier.

After the Mandak season ended in August 1952, Butts returned home to Virginia and pitched a handful of games for the Newport News Royals. On September 14, 1952, at Peninsula War Memorial Stadium. Butts threw a one-hitter against Vic Zodda’s All-Stars, winning the game 8-1.67 Some of the batters he faced were former minor-league players Pres Elkins and Ed Wopinek, the latter of whom spoiled Butts’s no-hit bid with a two-out double in the ninth inning.68 Although the attendance was just 594, Butts’s nearly flawless nine innings on the mound were so memorable that the game was included in the year-end list of Newport News sports highlights.69 Chances are that few of the 594 in attendance came to see Harry Butts. The real star of the game was Willie Mays, who played for the Royals during his Army service at nearby Fort Eustis.70 It is worth noting that Vic Zodda, who was the catcher for his All-Stars, was in 1952 the general manager of the all-white Newport News Dodgers minor-league team. In March Zodda predicted that 1952 was the year in which the color line would be broken in the all-white Piedmont League.71 Zodda said, “I know of one club that is already dickering with two Negro players in an attempt to sign them for this season,” and that it will be accomplished because “none of the Piedmont League cities have laws against Negroes playing on white teams.”72 Actually the Piedmont League did not integrate its squads for another year. It was not until 1953 when Butts and a handful of other black players helped make Zodda’s prediction come true.

In the spring of 1953, for the first time in its 34-year history, Piedmont League teams started signing African-American players.73 It should be noted, however, that with the addition of the York White Roses (formerly of the then-defunct Interstate League), a team that already had African-American players on its roster, the Piedmont League was integrated by default.74 York had at least two African-American players on its roster prior to joining the Piedmont League. Samuel Green was added to York’s bullpen in 1951 and William “Bill” Springfield, was assigned by the St. Louis Browns to the White Roses in the spring of 1952.75 Springfield signed with the White Roses on February 12, 1953, which made him the first African-American to play for a Piedmont League team.76

The first Piedmont League team that was member of the league prior to 1953 to “officially drop the color bar” and invite black players to tryouts was the Portsmouth Merrimacs.77 Harry Butts was one of them and thus helped to make Piedmont League history. His tenure with Portsmouth, however, was brief and unsatisfying. After Butts took spring training with the Merrimacs, he lost his first and only game for Portsmouth, on May 1, 1953, against the Roanoke Red Sox, 3-2.78 Butts was called out of the bullpen in the bottom of the 10th with the score tied, 2-2.79 Butts issued two walks in the 10th which helped Roanoke to score the winning run.80 Less than two weeks later, Butts was gone from the Merrimacs and signed with the league’s Richmond Colts (also known as the Mustangs).81 Butts was not the first black player for Richmond. A month earlier, the Colts had signed their first African-American player, right-handed pitcher Whit Graves, Butts’s former Indianapolis Clowns teammate.82 The two had something else in common: Both were suspended from playing in the Negro American League when they jumped from the Clowns to teams in the Mandak League in 1951.83

Butts lost his first start for Richmond, on May 23 against his former Portsmouth Merrimac teammates.84 In the 6-3 loss before 887 spectators, Butts issued six walks, struck out four, and hit one batter.85 His first win for the Colts came five days later, when Richmond edged York, 5-4.86 It was true that the only team with a worse record in the Piedmont League than the “Hapless Colts” was the York Roses, but for Butts, a win was a win.87

By July 1953 Butts had developed a reputation in the Piedmont League; his flashes of brilliance were diminished by his chronic control problems. Such was the case in a start on July 14, when he threw a “sparkling four-hit, 3-0 shutout” against the Hagerstown Braves.88 It was just his second win of the season. One reporter wrote that Butts, a “lefty whose usual characteristic is wildness, settled down tonight,” and issued one walk and struck out nine.89 The Petersburg Progress-Index agreed and noted that “Hagerstown fell victim, more or less, to an oddity, a steady, almost walk-less performance by the Richmond wild man, lefty Harry Butts … who usually walks himself right out of the box.”90 Sportswriter Steve Guback of the Richmond Times-Dispatch described Butts as a, “slender Negro left-hander,” who was a “habitually wild” pitcher, and that it was “rumored before the game that [Butts] might be released if he failed to come through, and apparently he knew it.”91 Hagerstown manager Dutch Dorman was likely neither impressed by Butts nor surprised at his nine’s poor performance. In June, he expressed his disappointment in the level of play the Piedmont League by blaming the Korean War draft for the lack of good players, the lure of jobs with better paydays than “B” leagues could offer, and television for lack of fan support.92 Dorman may have just been venting his frustrations with his team’s lack of success and tasting some sour grapes. He and his Hagerstown Braves were the Interstate League champions prior to migrating to the Piedmont League.93

The summer of 1953 was a roller-coaster for Butts’s career as a pitcher in the Piedmont League. There were more valleys than peaks, and the ride came to screeching halt in September. After a few promising performances early in the season, the expectations dimmed significantly. By August, Butts had lost 11 starts and earned the title of “losingest pitcher” in the Piedmont League.94 On September 7, 1953, in a losing effort against the Norfolk Tars (the eventual League champions), Butts “couldn’t find the plate [and] threw eight bad pitches to walk [two players].”95 With the loss, 31-year-old Harry Butts’s tenure with the Tars ended with a dismal 3-13 won-lost record. It was also his last start as a professional ballplayer. The season finale was a bitter end for Butts and the Richmond Colts. The team finished in last place in the Piedmont League.96 Not only had Butts played his last game, but the Richmond team itself said farewell to the Piedmont League. In December 1953, owner Eddie Mooers sold the Richmond club to Harry C. Seibold, who changed the team’s name to the Richmond Virginians and it became a member of the Triple-A International League.97

After his baseball career ended in September 1953, Butts faded into baseball anonymity. It is possible that he could have continued playing for one of the local amateur nines in the Suffolk area, but if he pitched in another game, it was not reported. His days playing for teams from such far-flung locations as San Juan and Vancouver behind him, Butts and his wife, Carrie, focused on raising their nine children in their house in Suffolk. As adults, five of their nine children remained in southeastern Virginia. Four of their seven sons headed northward to New York, eventually settling on Long Island.

Harry Thomas Butts died on April 7, 1977, at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hampton, Virginia. He was just 52 years old. Before being admitted to the hospital, he was employed at the Virginia Packing Company, a meat packing and processing plant in Suffolk.98 The cause of his death was cardiac arrest as a result of a collapsed lung (pneumothorax).99 Two conditions that contributed to his death were “encephalomalacia of the left parietal lobe” and “chronic schizophrenia.”100 Butts was survived by his wife Carrie, all nine of his children, and two siblings.101 His obituary mentioned that he “played baseball with several leagues.”102 Butts is buried in the George Washington Carver Memorial Cemetery in Suffolk with a bronze veteran’s marker to honor his Army service.

Harry Butts overcame many challenges to pursue a career in baseball. He spent eight years as a pitcher in semipro and professional baseball, and played for teams in at least four countries. One of those teams was the Newark Eagles. Butts played in only two games in an Eagles uniform and did not play for Newark in the 1946 Negro World Series. His association with the Eagles was so brief that his full name is rarely mentioned in the team’s records. When his name did appear on the sports pages, it was sometimes misspelled as Harvey Butts, as it was in a newspaper account of his second start for Newark.103 Others referred to him as Hank, Henry, or sometimes as Lefty Butts.104 Based on the numbers, Butts will likely be remembered more for his peripatetic career, wild southpaw pitches, and inconsistent performances than for his periodic flashes of brilliance. Those memories, however, should not obscure his legacy that has been overlooked by sportswriters and baseball historians. And that is that he was one of the first African-American players to take the field in the Piedmont League in 1953, and helped to integrate what had been an all-white league. That accomplishment, more than any won-lost statistic, is his enduring contribution to baseball.


1 US Census Bureau, 1920 Census; US Census Bureau, 1930 Census.

2 Patrick Evans-Hylton, The Suffolk Peanut Festival (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia, 2004), 38.

3 Commonwealth of Virginia, Certificate of Death, August 31, 1933; US Census Bureau, 1940 Census.

4 “Hilldale Play Two,” Richmond Times Dispatch, June 29, 1938: 12; “Crack Negro Nines to Play Here Tonight,” Newport News Daily Press, September 10, 1941: 8.

5 “Negro Youth Shot, Another Arrested,” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, September 28, 1937: 15.

6 “Tidewater Giants Defeat Suffolk in Loop Opener,” Newport News Daily Press, May 6, 1940: 5.

7 US Army World War II Draft Record, January 28, 1943.

8 US Army, Selective Service Enlistment Record, Registrar’s Report, June 30, 1942.

9 Commonwealth of Virginia, Certificate of Marriage, September 28, 1942.

10 US Army, Selective Service Enlistment Record, Registrar’s Report, June 30, 1942.

11 US Army Selective Service Enlistment Record, Discharge Document, September 24, 1943.

12 Hans Pols and Stephanie Oak, “War and Military Mental Health: US Psychiatric Response in the 20th Century,” American Journal of Public Health, December 2007: 2132-2142.

13 “Elite Giants Win,” Daily Times (Salisbury, Maryland), June 6, 1946: 14.

14 Ibid.

15 “Lloyd Falls Prey to Newark Eagles, 7-2,” Delaware County Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), June 13, 1946: 26.

16 Ibid.

17 “Durham Eagles Win,” Durham (North Carolina) Morning Herald, July 15, 1947: 9.

18 “Johnson Hurls Victory Over Royals by 4 to 3,” Richmond Times Dispatch, September 5, 1948: 26.

19 “NN Down Jersey City Nine,” Newport News Daily Press, July 14, 1948: 8.

20 “Giants Divide Pair of Games with All-Stars,” Richmond Times Dispatch, August 23, 1948: 13.

21 Ibid.

22 Center for Negro League Research, “Negro Leaguers in Puerto Rico,” accessed online, cnlbr.org/Portals/0/RL/Negro%20Leaguers%20in%20Puerto%20Rico.pdf.

23 “Clowns Ready for Workouts,” Chicago Defender, March 5, 1949: 14.

24 “Expect a Crowd at Flaherty Field Tuesday Night,” New Castle (Pennsylvania) News, July 23, 1949: 15.

25 “Clowns Ready for Workouts,” Chicago Defender, March 5, 1949: 14.

26 “No Buts About It,” Chicago Defender, July 23, 1949: 16.

27 “For [sic] Top Hurlers Here as Clowns,” Miami (Florida) News, October 3, 1949: 19.

28 “Negro Teams Play Second Game Here,” Miami News, October 10, 1949: 17.

29 “Chandler to Open East, West Game,” Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1949: 67.

30 “NAL Revises Plans for College Stars,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 10, 1951: 8; “Indianapolis Clowns Win Three Exhibition Games,” Atlanta Daily World, April 7, 1951: 5.

31 Russ J. Cowans, “Fans Storm Chicago for East-West Game,” Chicago Defender, August 19, 1950: 1.

32 Les Matthews, “Sports Train,” New York Age, September 30, 1950: 27.

33 Bob Holbrook, “Streakin’ Sam Proud of His Speed, Hopes to Be Worthy of Braves Cap,” Boston Globe, March 1, 1950.

34 “Peeples Sold to Dodger Farm Club,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 7, 1951: 14.

35 Howard Kleinberg, “Clowns Nose Out All-Stars by 7-6,” Miami News, November 6, 1950: 18.

36 Peeples Sold to Dodger Farm Club,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 7, 1951: 14.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 “Pitcher to Appear in 3 [sic] Tilts,” Minot (North Dakota) Daily News, May 11, 1950.

40 “Caps’ Hitters Take Command,” Regina (Saskatchewan) Leader-Post, May 22, 1950: 18;

 (“Satch’s Back,” Regina Leader-Post, May 26, 1950: 19.

41 “Leafs Capture Baseball Gravy,” Regina Leader-Post, July 26, 1951: 20.

42 John Owen, “The Bucket,” Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune, May 25, 1955: 20.

43 Center for Negro League Baseball Research, “Negro League Players Who Played Baseball in the Dominican Summer League, accessed online, cnlbr.org/Portals/0/RL/Negro%20Leaguers%20in%20the%20Dominican%20Republic.pdf.  

44 “Major League All-Stars Play Here Tonight,” Asheville (North Carolina) Citizen-Times, October 22, 1951: 10.

45 “Capilanos Have Four Negro Players,” Nanaimo (British Columbia) Daily News, March 4, 1952: 6. 

46 “Meet Harry Butts,” Vancouver (British Columbia) Sun, March 4, 1952: 10.

47 “Capilanos Have Four Negro Players.”

48 Keith Matthews, “Vancouver Capilanos Will Be Favored to Take Western International Honors,” Roseburg (Oregon) News-Review, April 16, 1952: 8.

49 Dick Beddoes, “Caps Rooks Look Good, Says Carse,” Vancouver Sun, April 8, 1952: 10.

50 “Meet Harry Butts,” Vancouver Sun, March 4, 1952: 10.

51 Ibid.

52 US Army World War II Draft Record, January 28, 1943: 2; US Army Selective Service Enlistment Record, Discharge Document, September 24, 1943: 2.

53 Dick Beddoes, “Lundberg Shatters Ol’ No. 13 Hoodoo,” Vancouver Sun, May 6, 1952: 8.

54 “WIL Baseball – 1952,” Blog, accessed online: wilbaseball52.blogspot.com/2007/12/sunday-may-11-1952.html.

55 Don Carlson, “Caps Best Ever,” Vancouver (British Columbia) Province, May 27, 1952: 8.

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid.

58 Al Cottrell, “But Listen!” Province, June 28, 1952: 14.

59 Clancy Loranger, “Heat Haunted Snyder,” Province, May 20, 1952: 8.

60 “Players Swing Fists,” Regina Leader-Post, June 17, 1952: 22.

61 “Out of the Cellar for One Hour,” Leader-Post, August 14, 1952: 22.

62 “Lou Tost to Boss Brandon,” Leader-Post, June 5, 1952: 22.

63 “From the 4 Corners,” Leader-Post, September 20, 1952: 17.

64 Western Canada Baseball, “1952 Statistics, Mandak League,” Accessed online: attheplate.com/wcbl/1952_2.html.

65 Ibid.

66 Barry Swanton, The Mandak League: Haven for Former Negro League Ballplayers (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2006), 83.

67 Dick Welsh, “Royals Rout ‘Stars,’ 8-1; Butts Misses No-Hitter,” Newport News Daily Press, September 15, 1952: 5.

68 Ibid.

69 Day-by-Day Chronology of Busy 1952 Year in Peninsula Sports Circles,” Daily Press, December 31, 1952: 13.

70 James S. Hirsch, Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010), 157-159.

71 “Piedmonters May Break Color Line,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 24, 1952: 18.

72 Ibid.

73 “Colts are Fourth Piedmont Club to Get Negro Player,” Newport News Daily Press, April 20, 1953: 5.

74 Ed Young, “Piedmont League Negro Stars Show Up Well,” Petersburg (Virginia) Progress-Index, July 29, 1953: 16-17.

75 “York Roses Acquire Bill Springfield, First Negro Player on Local Roster,” York (Pennsylvania) Gazette and Daily, April 8, 1952: 22.

76 First of Roses on the Line,” Gazette and Daily, February 13, 1953: 29.

77 “Portsmouth Club Tryout 10 Players,” Atlanta Daily World, April 8, 1953: 5.

78 “Roanoke Red Sox Nip Macs in Ten Inning Hill Battle, 3-2,” Roanoke (Virginia) Daily Press, May 2, 1953: 9.

79 Ibid.

80 Ibid.

81 “Macs in 5th Straight Win, Bounce Colts,” Daily Press, May 24, 1953: 25.

82 “Colts Are Fourth Piedmont Club”; Swanton, 207.

83 “Peeples Sold to Dodger Farm Club,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 7, 1951: 14.

84 “Macs in 5th Straight.”

85 Ibid.

86 “Dewey Wilkins Doing Usual Fine Job for Hapless Colts,” Staunton (Virginia) News Leader, May 29, 1953: 6.

87 Ibid.

88 “Colts Slow Up Hagerstown on 4-Hit Job,” Newport News Daily Press, July 15, 1953: 11.

89 Ibid.

90 Colts Slow Up Hagerstown.”

91 Steve Guback, “Left-Hander Claims Nine on Strikes,” Richmond Times Dispatch, July 15, 1953: 22.

92 Shelley Rolfe, “War, Higher Pay Elsewhere Cited by Dorman for Poor ‘B’ Baseball,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 4, 1953: 26.

93 “Hagerstown Cops Interstate Loop Playoff Crown,” York (Pennsylvania) Gazette and Daily, September 22, 1952: 18.

94 “Johnson Comeback Helps Norfolk in Bid to Cop Piedmont Pennant,” Staunton (Virginia) News Leader, August 4, 1953: 9.

95 “Dodgers Open Playoffs Tonight in Hagerstown,” Newport News (Virginia) Daily Press, September 8, 1953: 5-6.

96 “Piedmont Playoffs Begin Tonight as Norfolk Tars Capture Pennant,” News Leader, September 8, 1953: 9.

97 “Offer Possessions to Save Richmond Club,” Ottawa Journal, January 6, 1954: 22.

98 Commonwealth of Virginia, “Certificate of Death” for Harry Thomas Butts, April 7, 1977.

99 Ibid.

100 Ibid.

101 “Obituaries,” Suffolk (Virginia) News-Herald, April 10, 1977: 2.

102 Ibid.

103 “Lloyd Falls Prey to Newark Eagles, 7-2,” Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania), June 13, 1946: 26.

104 Dick Beddoes, “Caps Rooks Look Good, Says Carse,” Vancouver Sun, April 8, 1952: 10; Keith Matthews, “Vancouver Capilanos Will Be Favored to Take Western International Honors,” Roseburg (Oregon) News-Review, April 16, 1952: 8; “Newark Eagle [sic] Plays Royals Here Tonight,” Newport News Daily Press, July 21, 1948: 10.

Full Name

Harry Thomas Butts


February 2, 1922 at Whaleyville, VA (US)


April 7, 1977 at Hampton, VA (US)

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