Jelly Garder (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Jelly Gardner

This article was written by Jeb Stewart

Jelly Garder (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Floyd “Jelly” Gardner was a prototypical leadoff hitter who played 13 seasons in the Negro Leagues, from 1919 to 1931, most notably for Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants. The speedy Gardner stood just 5-feet-6½ and weighed 160 pounds, and his base stealing prowess created constant pressure on opposing defenses. He was a left-handed hitter, threw right-handed, and played all three outfield positions well.

Gardner was born on September 27, 1895, in tiny Russellville, Arkansas.1 His parents were Alec Floyd Gardner and Josie (Smith) Gardner, and he had a younger sister named Annie.2 His father worked as a farm laborer.3 Although Russellville was a segregated rural community of fewer than 4,000 people, Gardner attended the Russellville Public School for eight years.4 He enrolled in high school at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock,5 where he later took college courses for two years as well.6

At Arkansas Baptist, Gardner tried out for the baseball team and made the squad as an infielder.7 He initially batted cross-handed until a coach taught him how to properly grip a bat.8 He may have played professionally as early as 1913 with the Hot Springs Giants or the Missouri Pacifics of Little Rock.9 By 1916, Gardner had joined the independent Longview Giants in Texas during his school’s summer break. He later recalled, “You didn’t get much pay down there, you mostly played for your board and rent.”10

The following year he returned to Texas and played with another club, the Texas All-Stars.11 Gardner was listed as one of the best players on the All-Stars, which reportedly had a record of 66-16-3 when they traveled east to play five games against the Indianapolis ABCs.12 The series did not go well, as the ABCs easily swept the first four games.13 In the third game, Indianapolis won, 11-1, as Jim Jeffries allowed only two hits, one of them to Gardner.14 For Gardner, the trip was not a complete disaster. On July 29, the All-Stars faced the Chicago American Giants. Although Texas lost, 7-5, Gardner had three hits and scored a run, which his future manager, Rube Foster, surely noticed.15

On June 17, 1917, Gardner registered for military service, listing “ball player” as his usual occupation on his registration card. World War I soon interrupted Gardner’s plans to play professional baseball when he was drafted.16 By May 4, 1918, he enlisted in the US Army; on June 10 he sailed on a transport ship, the Agamemnon, from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Brest, France.17

Gardner served as a private in Company F in the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division, which was nicknamed the Buffalo Soldier Division and “was one of only two all-black divisions to fight in the United States Army in World War I.”18 Little has been documented regarding Gardner’s military service, but his division served on the front lines and “saw action primarily in one of the last Allied operations of the war – the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that began in September and ended with the Armistice on November 11, 1918.”19 Gardner returned to the United States aboard the Olympic on February 17, 1919.20 He was discharged by the Army on March 19, 1919, just in time for baseball season.21

Gardner initially lived in Chicago and worked various jobs at restaurants and hotels, but he soon joined the Detroit Stars.22 The Stars were the top Western independent club in 1919, finishing with a record of 27-14, which was one game better than the Chicago American Giants.23 In early July, Foster saw his Giants lose three straight to the Stars. Gardner had a hit, scored two runs, and stole a base in the finale, as the Stars won, 11-3.24 The speed game suited Gardner well, as he recalled to baseball historian John Holway:

“I wasn’t a power hitter, I was a punch hitter. Punch it by the first baseman, slow balls to the shortstop, drag it to the second baseman. And I was a fair bunter: If you didn’t bunt too hard you were safe – I mean, I was. Or you’d fake like you were going to bunt, the third baseman would come in, you’d push the ball right by him. I got a double on those lots of times.”25

Despite his success in Detroit, Gardner did not get along with the Stars’ owner, Tenny Blount. He bitterly suggested Blount should not even have owned a team because he also “ran a gambling house.”26 The following year, he joined the Dayton Marcos in the newly formed Negro National League, although details of his signing are lost to history. For the first few months, he played left field for Dayton. His last reported game with the Marcos was on July 19, 1920, as he contributed a hit in a 3-1 loss to the American Giants.27

By the beginning of August, the American Giants had won 15 in a row,28 and Foster acquired the 24-year-old Gardner to become Chicago’s starting right fielder. Foster employed “intimidation, psychology, speed, and the bunt-and-run” as his principal offensive strategies,29 which made Gardner an ideal fit for Chicago. The American Giants featured Bingo DeMoss, George Dixon, Leroy Grant, and Cristóbal Torriente as the primary run producers in the lineup.

Foster recognized Gardner as one of the fastest players in the game, particularly in running down the line to first base.30He immediately made Gardner his leadoff hitter, elevating him from the low place in the batting order he had occupied with Detroit and Dayton.31 Gardner was so fast that, many years later, when Homestead Grays owner and columnist Cum Posey selected him for his all-time, all-American baseball team, he was effusive in his praise of Gardner’s speed, writing:

“I pick Jelly Gardner as the best run-getter and lead-off man I have seen in forty years. No lead-off man in recent years has had the aggressiveness and the ability to reach first base in as many ways as he did. In my opinion he was the only player I ever saw that could steal first base.”32

For his part, Gardner later expressed pride that he “was always the ‘lead-off’ (first-place) hitter in the line-up and was never removed for a pinch hitter.”33 With Gardner at the top of the lineup, the American Giants completed the 1920 campaign as champions of the Negro National League with a 43-17-2 record, which was good for a commanding eight-game lead over second-place Detroit. Chicago won NNL pennants again in 1921 and 1922.

On June 13, 1922, Foster moved Gardner out of his usual leadoff spot and batted him seventh. Gardner responded with three hits in four at-bats, a sacrifice, three runs scored, and a stolen base in a wild 19-16 loss to the St. Louis Stars.34 At season’s end, the American Giants won the NNL again in a close race with the Monarchs.

Baseball historian James Riley observed that Gardner’s “performance [with Chicago] was inversely related to the team’s success. In his first three seasons, he batted only .182, .219, and .236, [but] the American Giants won the Negro National League pennant each year.”35 However, additional box scores from the years 1920-22 have come to light and have helped to determine that his batting average during this time frame was .254 and his on-base percentage was a more respectable .324.36 He also contributed 60 stolen bases during this period,37 leading the NNL in 1922 and finishing third the following year. Gardner later remembered Foster would often use smoke from his pipe to convey signs to him on the basepaths.38

Gardner was one of the speediest players in the game.39 Teammate Dave Malarcher called him “a terror” on the basepaths and “a whiz in the outfield,” as he described Gardner’s aggressive game to John Holway:

“[I]f he’s running and you lay the ball down the least bit to the right side of the pitcher if he’s a right-hander, the third baseman is going to move off the bag – he’s got to move off. I have seen Jelly score from first on balls like that. If the guy makes a not too perfect throw to first base, you just come on home, instead of just going to third. It was really marvelous.

He made one of the two greatest catches I’ve ever seen. It was down in Baltimore, one of those great big parks. They didn’t even have a right field fence, right field was like a pasture. The bases were filled, and Jelly had to run like everything and finally jumped in the air and reached out and caught it with his bare hand. That Gardner was a great little outfielder.”40

By 1923, newspapers began referring to Gardner as “Jelly.”41 According to baseball historian Jim Yeager, because he was “[s]hort, round, and jovial, Gardner was tagged with the nickname ‘Jelly Roll’ by his teammates. Nicknames had a way of catching on in the early days of baseball in America, and Floyd ‘Jelly Roll’ Gardner was never Floyd. He was simply called ‘Jelly.’”42

Despite his affable nickname, Gardner had a reputation for hard-nosed play on the field. He was always willing to argue with umpires and to fight opposing players.43 Off the field, he was known for late nights in speakeasies and shot houses during Prohibition.44 Gardner later recalled that Foster did not care what he did outside the ballpark.45 While his manager overlooked Gardner’s after-hours shenanigans, he expected him to take his job seriously, and he had no tolerance when Gardner failed to follow his orders in a game. As Foster’s son Earl told baseball historian Robert Peterson:

“One time Jelly Gardner was sent up to bunt and he tripled. He came back and sat down on the bench. The old man took that pipe he smoked – he always had it – and he popped him right across the head. And he fined him and told him, ‘As long as I’m paying you, you’ll do as I tell you to do.’”46

Gardner played well in 1923, batting .280 with a .377 on-base percentage, as he led the American Giants in steals (21) and runs (70). However, Chicago had an off-year and finished 3½ games behind the Kansas City Monarchs. It was the first of four straight NNL pennants for the Monarchs from 1923 to 1926, while Chicago slipped to second place three times. For his part, Gardner performed well for the American Giants during this time-frame as he batted .301 and averaged 64 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. He also posted a career-high batting average (.325) and on-base percentage (.432) in 1924, as he paced Chicago in plate appearances, at-bats, hits, and walks. He then spent the winter in Cuba playing for Santa Clara and Matanzas, where he batted .288.47

Before starting the 1925 campaign, the American Giants played an exhibition against the Chicago Blues, regarded as “the strongest white club in the city.”48 Gardner collected three hits including two doubles in the 5-3 win, which left newspapers predicting a pennant for Foster.49

On April 27 the American Giants opened the NNL schedule on the road at Rickwood Field with a four-game series against the Birmingham Black Barons. In front of 10,000 fans, one of the largest crowds ever to see a Negro League game in Birmingham, the American Giants crushed the Black Barons, 15-6. Gardner’s home run keyed a six-run outburst by Chicago in the fifth inning.50 He also made “several spectacular catches” in the outfield.51 The Pittsburgh Courier – perhaps reporting on Gardner’s performance for the entire series – noted that he collected four hits, including a home run and two doubles in the game.52 Chicago then swept the remaining three games from Birmingham.53

Despite the early success, the American Giants soon cooled off and the Monarchs moved into first place by late spring.54 Kansas City won the NNL by 3½ games over the second-place St. Louis Stars.55 Although Chicago finished 57-41-2, it fell to third place, a disappointing 10 games behind the Monarchs.

The 1926 season proved to be transitional for both the American Giants and Gardner, who was now 30. Chicago traded its best player, Cristóbal Torriente, to the rival Monarchs before the season.56 Rube Foster managed the first half for Chicago, but the American Giants sank to fourth in the standings.57 Foster was suffering from a mental illness and took a leave of absence during the second half; he was replaced as manager by third basemen Dave Malarcher.58 The American Giants bounced back to finish 57-24-3. Gardner had an excellent year at the plate, leading the team with a .315 batting average, a .424 on-base percentage, and 57 runs scored.

With Torriente, Kansas City had the best overall record in the NNL once again. However, Chicago managed to win the second-half title and faced the Monarchs in a best-of-nine NNL Championship Series for the right to meet the champion of the Eastern Colored League in the Negro League World Series.59

Unfortunately for the American Giants, the first four games of the series were in Kansas City and the Monarchs won each of the first three games.60 The next day, Chicago managed to eke out a 4-3 win behind the strong pitching of Rube Currie.61 After the series shifted to Chicago, the Monarchs won Game Five, 11-5, to take a commanding four-games-to-one lead, but “[i]n one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of post season play, the Chicago American Giants won the final four games of the series.”62 For the NNL championship series, Gardner posted a .472 on-base percentage, which was the highest for either club, along with a .752 OPS, which was only second to Torriente’s .783.

After defeating the Monarchs, the American Giants faced the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants in the Negro League World Series. Through six games, Chicago repeated its poor start from the NNL series and trailed Atlantic City three games to one (with two games ending in a tie). Even so, Gardner made two key defensive plays, which may have prevented the Bacharach Giants from sweeping the series.

In the sixth inning of Game Two, with the American Giants leading 7-5 and the bases loaded, Ambrose Reid of the Bacharach Giants singled to right, scoring Willie Jones. However, Gardner prevented a run by throwing home to catcher John Hines, which made Chano Garcia scurry back to third. Hines then picked off Hubert Lockhart at second, and shortstop Sanford Jackson threw the ball back to Hines, who tagged Garcia out at the plate to complete the improbable 9-2-6-2 double play, which ended the threat in Chicago’s 7-6 win.

Next, in the sixth inning of Game Four, and with the Bacharach Giants leading 4-3, Garcia hit a triple to start the bottom of the inning.63 Rats Henderson then hit a fly ball to right. This time Garcia did not retreat, but Gardner fired home to Hines to nail him.64 Although the game ended in a 4-4 tie, without Gardner’s throw Chicago would have lost the game and probably the series.

After eight games, the Bacharach Giants led the series four games to two and needed just one more win to become Negro League champion for 1926. Facing elimination in each contest, the American Giants won the last three games of the Series. The final contest was scoreless until the bottom of the ninth as Lockhart battled Chicago’s Willie Foster. Lockhart was nearly untouchable through eight innings, allowing only two hits and one walk, while Foster struggled, as he surrendered 10 hits and three walks after nine frames. Gardner opened the bottom of the inning with a base hit to left field; he moved to second on Malarcher’s sacrifice bunt. Left fielder Sandy Thompson then singled to center to drive Gardner home for the winning run in the 1-0 victory.

Although Gardner batted only .222 in the World Series, he led both teams with 12 walks, scored 8 runs, stole 3 bases, and had an on-base percentage of .417.

By 1927, John Henry “Pop” Lloyd told sportswriter Rollo Wilson that Gardner was already worthy of being considered an all-time great.65 He was one of the heroes of the American Giants’ championship squad but soon got into a contract dispute with owner John Schorling, who was now running the team due to Foster’s mental illness.66 He held out for the spring and into the summer before becoming a free agent and joining Pop Lloyd’s Lincoln Giants of the Eastern Colored League in July.67

Lloyd was delighted with the signing, which he believed gave him the strongest outfield in baseball, and Gardner’s fleet feet and strong throwing arm made an immediate impact. The Pittsburgh Courier reported that “playing against the Camden team here Sunday, July 17, Gardner saved the game for the home team by an accurate throw from centerfield to home plate and also prevented the score from being tied up in the ninth inning by a star one hand catch off the centerfield fence.”68 Sportswriter William G. Nunn gushed over his speed, observing that “Gardner has absorbed the Rube Foster style of play, and he has the speed of a greyhound, both afield and on the bases.”69

Gardner batted .286 for the Lincoln Giants based on limited box scores, which are available for only five of his games in 1927.70 Even with Gardner at the top of the lineup, Lincoln could not catch Atlantic City, which won both halves of the ECL. Lincoln finished with a disappointing 10-15 record and mired in sixth place 12½ games behind the Bacharach Giants. Back in Chicago, Malarcher and his American Giants surely missed Gardner at the top of the order. Despite his absence, they won the NNL pennant and again defeated the Atlantic City in the Negro League World Series, which was the last one played until 1942.

That winter, Chicago and Detroit competed to sign Gardner for the 1928 campaign.71 Although Bingo DeMoss of the Stars insisted he had already inked Gardner to a deal, by the beginning of the season Gardner had returned to the American Giants, albeit only briefly.72 Later that summer, the independent Homestead Grays announced Gardner’s signing. The Pittsburgh Courier vaguely reported that his acquisition came as a surprise because “no advance notice was given of Gardner’s intention of joining the Grays.”73 Baseball historian Paul Debono concluded that Gardner had jumped his contract with Chicago.74 He played well for the Grays, batting .292.

That offseason, Homestead played an eight-game series against a collection of barnstorming players from the American League who included Jimmie Foxx.75 In the first game, Gardner batted leadoff. He went 2-for-4 with a double, stole two bases, and scored three runs as the Grays beat the All-Stars, 8-4.76 He batted a respectable .280 for the series, which the two teams split.

For Gardner, 1929 was nearly a mirror image to the previous year. This time, he was expected to open the season with Homestead.77 However, by Opening Day, sportswriter Rollo Wilson reported that “Jelly Gardner has taken French leave from the Grays and that Cum Posey is searching for another fly-chaser.”78 In fact, he had already returned to Chicago.79 Even with Gardner’s return, the American Giants limped to a 19-24 record and fifth place in the NNL standings in the first half.80 Although they bounced back to finish 51-40, this was only good for third place, a distant 17½ games behind the Monarchs.

Gardner batted .315 with an impressive .419 on-base percentage and was the American Giants’ second-best offensive player behind Pythias Russ.81 He nearly won the league’s stolen-base title as well.82 However, his skills soon began to decline as the new decade got underway.

By 1930, Gardner was 34 years old and was no longer an everyday player in Chicago’s outfield. According to the available statistics, he batted only .232 and stole just a single base in 34 games for the fourth-place American Giants. Late that fall, Rube Foster, the man who had originally signed him for Chicago in 1920, died after a long illness.83

The following year, Gardner signed with the Detroit Stars, the team for which he had plied his trade in 1919 as a young prospect. His offensive abilities continued to decline; he batted only .215. On July 9 he had one final flash of glory as he homered in Detroit’s 10-7 win over the Cleveland Cubs.84 Despite his heroics, Gardner could not help the Stars escape fourth place as they finished with a 25-33 record. After the season the Rube Foster-founded NNL collapsed.

Years after he retired, Gardner told John Holway that he returned to play for the American Giants in 1933, although no contemporaneous news reports confirm this.85 Both his Hall of Fame questionnaire, which he completed in 1972, and his player clip file report he played for Homestead in 1932 and 1933.86 Once again, no newspaper sources confirm this.

After retiring from baseball, Gardner briefly worked for the US Post Office.87 He then worked for many years for the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad as a waiter and Pullman porter.88 He married Dorothy Haynes on November 29, 1950, and the couple had two children, Floyd Alec Gardner, and Judie Marie Gardner.89 On July 29, 1951, he played in his last reported game – a two-inning old-timer’s exhibition contest – to honor Rube Foster at Comiskey Park.90

Gardner died in Chicago on March 28, 1977, at the age of 81.91 He is buried in Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in Evergreen Park in Cook County, Illinois.92

Based on the currently available statistics for league games, Gardner batted .280 during his career with a solid on-base percentage of .373, an OPS+ of 102, and 146 stolen bases. In 1952 the Pittsburgh Courier selected him as an immortal of the game.93 Throughout his career, he was frequently cited in newspaper accounts as being not only one of the fastest players in the game but also as possessing one of the deadliest arms.94 Rollo Wilson argued that Gardner was good enough to play in the major leagues.95 In his 13 games against big-league clubs, he batted .292 with 5 stolen bases and 10 runs scored.96

Gardner appeared on the preliminary ballot of the 2006 Special Committee on the Negro Leagues Election to the Baseball Hall of Fame but failed to garner enough votes to make the final ballot.97 However, it remains an open question as to whether he is deserving of induction.

For his part, Gardner believed he was a better hitter than Ty Cobb,98 although this claim was certainly an exaggeration, which stands in marked contrast to the available evidence. In 1974 sportswriter Doc Young of the Chicago Defenderinterviewed an anonymous old-time Negro League player who declared that “Jelly Gardner was a better player than Cool Papa Bell,” adding, “I played against Cool Papa Bell and I know he wasn’t an all-around star. He could run fast but he couldn’t throw and he couldn’t hit with power.”99 The player cited an East Coast bias as the reason voters overlooked Gardner and others.100

Dave Malarcher assessed Gardner as “one of the greatest Negro ballplayers we had. … He should be in there in the Hall of Fame, and I happen to know that better than anybody. He wasn’t a great slugging hitter, but he knew how to go everything at bat to get on base. He was fast, he could bunt, he could run, he was daring. And he was a run-maker, because anything you did behind him, he’d score.”101

On December 16, 2020, Major League Baseball announced that seven professional Negro Leagues that operated from 1920 to 1948 had been designated as having “Major League status.”102 Consequently, Gardner has finally been recognized as a major-league player for 12 of his 13 seasons in professional baseball. With his rating as a big leaguer now established, it may be time to reevaluate his Hall of Fame candidacy.


Sources and Acknowledgments

All player statistics and team records were taken from, except where otherwise indicated.

The author wishes to thank fellow SABR member Joe DeLeonard for reviewing this article and offering helpful suggestions. Cassidy Lent, a reference librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, generously provided Jelly Gardner’s Hall of Fame player clip file and questionnaire, along with John Holway’s excellent article on him.



1 Jelly Gardner’s National Baseball Hall of Fame questionnaire.

2 Gardner questionnaire; Arkansas. Pope County. 1900 US Census.

3 Arkansas. Pope County. 1900 US Census; Arkansas. Pope County. 1910 US Census; Arkansas. Pope County. 1920 US Census.

4 Jelly Gardner questionnaire.

5 The school provided courses for students in grammar school, high school, and college. “Arkansas Baptist College,” Arkansas Democrat, August 31, 1919: 67.

6 Jelly Gardner questionnaire.

7 John Holway, “Historically Speaking: Jelly Gardner,” Black Sports, September 1974: 60.

8 Holway: 60.

9 Jim Yeager, “Floyd Gardner: They Called Him ‘Jelly,’” January 20, 2020: accessed at; “‘Jelly’ Gardner and George Johnson Both from ‘Lone Star State’ Scale Heights,” Pittsburgh Courier, February 21, 1925: 6.

10 Holway: 60.


12 “Jeffrey and Johnson Will Do Pitching for Taylor’s A.B.C.s,” Indianapolis Star, July 22, 1917: 45.

13 “Taylor’s Team Twice Trims Texas Team,” Indianapolis News, July 23, 1917: 11; “Jeffries Allows Team Only Two Hits and Taylor A.B.C.s Win,” Indianapolis Star, July 24, 1917: 11; “Taylor’s Squad Wins Again from the Texas All-Stars,” Indianapolis Star, July 25, 1917: 10. According to baseball historian Paul Debono, the game between the All-Stars and the American Giants was played on “Texas Day … in which his home state was honored.” Paul Debono, The Chicago American Giants (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2007), 65.

14 “Jeffries Allows Team Only Two Hits and Taylor A.B.C.s Win,” Indianapolis Star, July 24, 1917: 11.

15 “Fosters Score Five in One Round and Beat Leaguers, 7-5,” Chicago Tribune, July 30, 1917: 11.

16 “‘Jelly’ Gardner and George Johnson Both from ‘Lone Star State’ Scale Heights,” Pittsburgh Courier, February 21, 1925: 6.

17 US Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.

18 Ephrem Yared, 92ND INFANTRY DIVISION (1917–1919, 1942–1945), March 9, 2016: accessed at

19 Yared. According to baseball historian Jim Yeager, Gardner was briefly listed as missing in action in a local newspaper. Jim Yeager, “Floyd Gardner: They Called Him ‘Jelly,’” January 20, 2020: accessed at

20 US Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.

21 US Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010; Gardner questionnaire.

22 Holway: 60; James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1994), 306.

23 All statistics in this biography are from Seamheads or

24 “Detroit Stars Make It Sweep with Chicago,” Detroit Free Press, July 8, 1919: 16.

25 Holway: 60.

26 Holway: 60.

27 “American Giants Trim Dayton Nine Again, 3-1,” Chicago Tribune, July 20, 1920: 14.

28 “Chicago Club Here Tomorrow,” Kansas City Times, July 30, 1920: 12.

29 Tim Odzer, “Rube Foster,” accessed at

30 William G. Nunn, “Diamond Dope,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 10, 1926: 14.

31 Debono, 77. With the Stars and Marcos, Gardner usually batted at the bottom of the lineup. “Stars Work Hard Scoring Odd Run on Doyle’s Boys,” Detroit Free Press, April 28, 1919: 12 (batted sixth); “Corrigan Field Is Opened with Stars’ Victory,” Detroit Free Press, May 31, 1919: 16 (batted seventh); “Second Contest Is Annexed by Detroit Stars,” Detroit Free Press, June 1, 1919: 26 (batted seventh); “Detroit Stars Again Wallop Pittsburghers,” Detroit Free Press, June 24, 1919: 21 (batted seventh); “Detroit Stars Make It Sweep with Chicago,” Detroit Free Press, July 8, 1919: 16 (batted eighth); “Whitworth Is Master Over Blount’s Cast,” Detroit Free Press, July 28, 1919: 11 (batted seventh); “Stars Pummel Foster’s Club in Third Game,” Detroit Free Press, July 29, 1919: 16 (batted seventh); “Marcos 6; Am. Giants 5,” Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1920: 14 (batted second).

32 Chester Washington, “Sez Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 6, 1943: 18. Posey also selected Buck Leonard (1B), George Scales (2b), George Monroe (3b), Willie Wells (ss), Pete Hill (lf), Oscar Charleston (cf), and Josh Gibson (c) as position players for this team along with pitchers Satchel Paige, Bullet Joe Rogan, Slim Jones, Joe Williams, Rats Henderson, and Willie Foster.

33 Gardner questionnaire.

34 “Battling Bee Won by St. Louis Stars Over Chicago Giants,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 14, 1992: 16.

35 Riley, 305.

36 This includes Gardner’s performance with Dayton in 1920 as those numbers are not separated.

37 This includes Gardner’s performance with Dayton in 1920 as those numbers are not separated.

38 Robert Peterson, Only The Ball Was White (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 109.

39 “Both Clubs Traveling Fast,” Kansas City Times, July 2, 1924: 14.

40 Holway: 58.

41 “Orange Opens Season Sunday,” Bridgewater (New Jersey) Courier-News, April 12, 1923: 12; “Am. Giants, 5; Kansas City, 1,” Chicago Tribune, August 26, 1923: 23.

42 Jim Yeager, “Floyd Gardner: They Called Him ‘Jelly,’” January 20, 2020; accessed at

43 Yeager; Riley, 305-06; Posey’s Points, Pittsburgh Courier, April 12, 1941: 16.

44 Riley, 306; Holway: 60.

45 Holway: 60.

46 Peterson, 111.

47 Gardner player file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

48 “Am. Giants Play Like Champions and Win 5-3,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 18, 1925: 12.

49 “Am. Giants Play Like Champions and Win 5-3.”

50 “Chicago Takes Opener from Black Barons,” Birmingham News, April 28, 1925: 16.

51 “Am. Giants Take Opener from Barons,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 2, 1925: 13.

52 “Am. Giants Take Opener from Barons.” This is at odds with the box score published in the Birmingham News, which showed that Gardner went 1-for-6 in the first game. “Chicago Takes Opener from Black Barons,” Birmingham News, April 28, 1925: 16. In the second game of the series, Gardner went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored in the 12-2 win. “Chicago Wins Second Clash from Rushmen,” Birmingham News, April 29, 1925: 16. Only a line score has been located for the third game of the series, which the American Giants won, 12-10. “American Giants Rally to Defeat Birmingham,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1925: 15. In the fourth game of the series, Gardner went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored in the 9-8 win. “Black Barons Lose Four in Row to Giants,” Birmingham News, May 1, 1925: 23.

53 “Black Barons Lose Four in Row to Giants,” Birmingham News, May 1, 1925: 23.

54 “Chicago Giants Here Tomorrow,” Kansas City Star, May 27, 1925: 14.


56 Peter C. Bjarkman, “Cristóbal Torriente,” accessed at

57 Debono, 110.

58 Debono, 110.

59 “The Pennant to Chicago,” Kansas City Times, September 13, 1926: 10; “Sports Notes,” Parsons (Kansas) Daily Sun, September 14, 1926: 2.

60 “Kay See Wins Three,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 25, 1926: 14. The first two games were hotly contested with Kansas City claiming one-run wins, 4-3 and 6-5. “Kansas City, 4; Giants, 3,” Chicago Tribune, September 19, 1926: 32; “Monarchs Trim Fosters in Negro Title Game, 6-5,” Madison (Wisconsin) Capital Times, September 20, 1926: 10. In Game Three, the Monarchs won easily, 5-0. “Kay See Wins Three.”

61 “Play-Off Championship” Series, Center for Negro League Baseball Research, 3, accessed at

62 “Play-Off Championship” Series.

63 Frank A. Young, “Atlantic City Invades West, Leading Chicago 2 to 1 In World’s Series,” Chicago Defender, October 9, 1926: 11.

64 Young: 11.

65 Rollo Wilson, “Sports Hots: Press Box & Ringside,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 2, 1927: 18.

66 “World Champs Open Season Next Sunday,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 16, 1927: 17.

67 Rollo Wilson, “Sports Hots: Press Box & Ringside,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 23, 1927: 16; “‘Jelly’ Gardner Now on Roster of Lincoln Giants,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 23, 1927: 16.

Paul Debono noted that Gardner signed with the Homestead Grays. Debono, 116. However, it was pitcher Ping Gardner who joined Homestead, not Jelly Gardner. “‘Ping Gardner to Twirl for Grays,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 9, 1927: 17.

68 “‘Jelly’ Gardner Now on Roster of Lincoln Giants.”

69 William G. Nunn, “Sport Broadcast Talks,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 6, 1927: 16.


71 “Baseball Gossip of the National League,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 17, 1928: 16.

72 “Baseball Gossip of the National League”; Q.J. Gilmore, “Doings of the National League,” California Eagle (Los Angeles), May 25, 1928: 9.

73 “Grays Win Both Games Saturday,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 4, 1928: 16; “Homestead Grays Have Real Collection of Ball Players; Lineup of Team Is Announced,” Warren (Pennsylvania) Tribune, August 22, 1928: 6.

74 Debono, 120.

75 “Grays Set for Big Leaguers,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 6, 1928: 17.

76 “Grays Beat Big Leaguers in First 2 Tilts,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 13, 1928: 16.

77 C.L. Washington, “‘Ches’ Says,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 29, 1929: 17.

78 Rollo Wilson, “Sports Hots: Press Box & Ringside,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 27, 1929: 17.

79 “M’Donald Holds Akron Scoreless; Grays Win Sparkling Opener, 4-0,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 27, 1929: 16; “Can’t Stop the Monarchs,” Kansas City (Missouri) Times, April 30, 1929: 13; Debono, 123.

80 “National League Standings,” Birmingham Reporter, June 29, 1929: 7.


82 “American Giants Open Series Here,” Detroit Free Press, May 17, 1930: 17.

83 “‘Rube’ Foster, Negro Baseball Pitcher, Dies,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 10, 1930: 26.

84 “Homers by Gardner, Dean Give Stars Win,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 11, 1931: 14.

85 Holway: 60.

86 Gardner questionnaire; Hall of Fame player file.

87 Holway: 60.

88 Holway: 60.

89 Gardner questionnaire.

90 Russ J. Cowans, “Rube Foster Honored at Chisox Park,” The Sporting News, August 8, 1951: 34.



93 “Courier Experts’ ‘Roll of Honor,’” Pittsburgh Courier, April 19, 1952: 16.

94 “Both Clubs Traveling Fast,” Kansas City Times, July 2, 1924: 14; “Dismukes’ Diamond Dope,” Pittsburgh Courier, November 15, 1924: 7; “‘Jelly’ Gardner and George Johnson Both from ‘Lone Star State’ Scale Heights,” Pittsburgh Courier, February 21, 1925: 6; William G. Nunn, “Diamond Dope,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 10, 1926: 14; Rollo Wilson, “Sports Hots: Press Box & Ringside,” Pittsburgh Courier, November 18, 1928: 18; Chester Washington, “Sez Ches,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 6, 1943: 18.

95 Rollo Wilson, “Sports Hots: Press Box & Ringside,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 3, 1927: 18.

96 Todd Peterson, ed., The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues: Historians Reappraise Black Baseball (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2020), 233.


98 “The World Series That Never Was Played,” Chicago Tribune, October 18, 1970: 30.

99 A.S. “Doc” Young, “Good Morning Sports!” Chicago Defender, May 14, 1974: 21.

100 A.S. Young.

101 Holway: 58.


Full Name

Floyd Gardner


September 27, 1895 at Russellville, AR (USA)


March 28, 1977 at Chicago, IL (USA)

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