Fittingly, pitcher Leroy Matlock was called “the Black Carl Hubbell” in press releases promoting a 1937 barnstorming tour.1 Hubbell, who entered the Hall of Fame in 1947, had completed a high-profile streak of 24 wins in a row earlier in 1937 for the pennant-winning New York Giants. Matlock, also a lefty, had 26 straight victories through early 1936, including an undefeated regular season for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1935.2
Leroy Matlock was born on March 12, 1907, in Moberly, Missouri,3 to Pearl and Delia Matlock.4 Delia already had two children, one named Clara and the other Otis Pitts.5 By the 1920 census, Pearl’s occupation was hod carrier, meaning he hauled either coal or bricks for a living.6
Before Leroy turned 13, he lost siblings repeatedly due to respiratory illnesses. In October 1910 his brother Alfred succumbed at the age of eight months. Four years later, Leroy’s brother Lawrence was born and he lived well into adulthood. However, later in the decade, four more siblings died: In mid-1917, Clara, at the age of 17; their brother Hubert was 1½ when he died in March 1918; and, about a year later, Charles, who was five weeks old. Lastly, in mid-1919 their 8-year-old brother Herman died.7
By the conclusion of this tragic span, the family at least had a support system close by, because they moved to the same block where Pearl’s mother, Kate, owned a home for many years. The large family, headed by one of Leroy’s great-uncles, Frank Matlock, also lived nearby.8 The 1920 census indicated that Leroy attended school in the previous year.9 That was Moberly’s Lincoln School, which was for African-Americans only and combined elementary and high-school grades. According to the 1940 census, the eighth grade was the highest level that Leroy completed. Lawrence, who was seven years younger, graduated from high school in 1932.10
A racist incident in Moberly in late 1919 surely sent a shockwave through all the Lincoln school’s families: A local mob tried to lynch four young African-American men, and though three escaped, the fourth was shot to death.11 Moberly, which had a population of about 12,800, is in the “(north central) area of Missouri called little Dixie, because it was settled by migrants from the south before the Civil War,” said best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell recently, adding, “There was a lot of slave owning in little Dixie compared with the rest of Missouri, a lot of racial hostility in that part of the state.”12 In early 1922, however, authorities were committed to preventing a similar outcome after a local white woman accused two young African-American men of burglary, in part by speaking positively of their character in newspaper articles despite arresting them. Also, when a mob did surge around the city jail, the local paper reported that “the entire police force worked to speed the two men to an unknown location via car.” Authorities worked to clear the men in just three days. As a result, the police and newspapers immediately received praise for giving the suspects “the benefit of every reasonable doubt in protecting their lives,” in a letter-to-the-editor by African-American minister W.B. Coleman, who lived across the street from the Matlocks and who would share a public moment with Leroy in 1931.13
The Matlock family was again immersed in sadness in April 1925 when Delia died at about 43. State death records indicate that the cause was heart disease. Leroy had turned 18 the previous month.
A turning point for Matlock as a ballplayer occurred by 1927: He and an older friend, Helbert Brown, recruited other young African-Americans to form the Moberly Eagles. Matlock was reportedly the winning pitcher in 27 of 32 games in their first season. Future East-West All-Star Jimmie Crutchfield became an Eagle in 1927, if not earlier.14
Matlock married Myra Etta Pulliam on May 20, 1927. She had an eight-year-old daughter, Delores Hill, from a previous marriage. In the 1930 census, the newlyweds and Delores were living with Myra’s mother and stepfather. Leroy lived on that block for the rest of his years in Moberly.15
Details about Eagles games were sparse locally early on, but a friendly rivalry quickly developed with a white team in Browning, about 70 miles to the northwest. Matlock’s pitching was praised more than once in the Browning Leader-Record’s lengthy accounts, such as in mid-1927 when it said he “had perfect control.”16 By mid-1928, Matlock’s talent was forcing sportswriters regionally to pay attention, including to his batting; articles in Moberly that appeared two weeks apart each noted that he had produced three hits in the most recent game. His first headline may have been in early July, when he was borrowed by a team 35 miles to the south, the Columbia White Sox. A few weeks later a large ad in the Browning newspaper promoting a coming visit by the Eagles singled out Matlock.17 In 1927-28 the Eagles reportedly lost just 11 games and won at least three times as many.18
When the Eagles opened the 1929 season in mid-April, Matlock was actually a member of the Columbia team, and 47-year-old newcomer Bill Gatewood took over as Moberly’s pitcher. By May 5 Matlock had rejoined the Eagles. With a game-winning hit from Crutchfield, Matlock earned a win against Jefferson City, 2-1. He struck out nine and was touched for only three hits.19
Matlock’s return was temporary because Gatewood arranged a tryout with the St. Louis Stars of the Negro National League, and they signed Matlock as their seventh pitcher before the end of May. His new team featured future Hall of Famers Cool Papa Bell, Mule Suttles, and Willie Wells. During an interview in 1931, Matlock talked about his first game at length:
“You’d have thought I was poison, the way I was treated those first few weeks. To make it worse, I lost the very first game I pitched. Whenever I’d go sit down on the players bench, all the other fellows would get up and leave. They never spoke a word. While playing and at other times, the way they jeered and ‘cussed out’ the rookies was a caution. When I lost that first game and all the other players were treating me so bad, my wife got discouraged and wanted to come back to Moberly. But I said no, I was going to stay and make good. I wasn’t going to leave until they made me. Well, I won the next game, and they kinda let up on the razzing, but I lost the next game and then they got just as bad.”20
The Moberly Monitor-Index said Matlock’s first game for St. Louis was a 17-3 complete-game win against the Cuban Stars on May 21, but the paper likely meant that it was his first start. He had pitched in a loss before that, which was presumably the debut he described in 1931 (assuming his teammates would not have tormented him for losing an exhibition game). On May 4, against the visiting Kansas City Monarchs, he relieved Roosevelt Davis with no outs in the second inning. The box score charged Davis with all four of the Monarchs’ runs that inning and they never trailed, so Matlock was not the losing pitcher. Still, he may have allowed inherited runners to score and hurt his team further by giving up two runs in the fourth inning – the last frame he pitched – in a game that was ultimately decided by one run, 7-6. He more than made up for that mediocre performance in his start against the Cubans a week later, when he struck out eight, walked none, had a homer and two more hits, scored three runs, and stole a base. His hometown paper noted that his homer was “with two mates on bases.”21
After his first three decisions, Matlock recalled winning four straight.22 In the end, the Stars had the NNL’s second-best record in 1929, though Matlock didn’t pitch often. He returned to Moberly and the Eagles by mid-October, when he was dominant against a white team from the county to the north.23
About four weeks into the 1930 season, Matlock joined 4,000 fans to witness the first night game played in St. Louis, as the Monarchs brought their array of huge floodlights to town.24 His personal high point may have been a 9-0 shutout of a new NNL team, the Nashville Elite Giants, on July 20.25 In his second season he again was not used all that much, because the main change in the starting rotation was the addition of veteran pitcher Joe Strong.
St. Louis finished atop the NNL for the first half of 1930 and played the second-half titlist, the Detroit Stars, in a championship series. The most memorable moment for Matlock may have occurred in the second game on September 15. Strong started for St. Louis but yielded 10 runs over six innings, so Matlock finished the game. Not only was he effective on the mound, he also scored during a big rally in the seventh inning and, in the eighth, was the lead runner when St. Louis had the bases loaded with no outs and the potential tying run at bat. Suddenly, Detroit turned a line drive to third into a triple play, after which there was no more scoring.26 Despite that demoralizing twist, St. Louis won the series, four games to three.27
Matlock continued to pitch with St. Louis in 1931. On August 4 the Stars played in Moberly, “before a record crowd,” against the city’s white team. “Just before play started Pitcher Matlock was presented with a leather traveling bag, the gift of Moberly friends,” wrote the local newspaper. The aforementioned Rev. W.B. Coleman “made the presentation with a brief and very appropriate address.” In action, the paper said, Matlock “proved himself a master slabman. Depending more on curves and a change of pace rather than burning speed, he pitched a careful, crafty and extremely effective game – so effective in fact that up to the ninth inning the local team had garnered but three singles on his delivery.” The Stars prevailed, 12-1.28 On September 3 the Stars visited Moberly again but played another NNL team, the Indianapolis ABCs. Matlock scattered nine hits and struck out nine batters as the Stars won, 6-1.29
The St. Louis Stars won both halves of the 1931 NNL season so there was no postseason championship series. Nevertheless, in early October they played home games of historical significance against a team of white major leaguers called Max Carey’s All-Stars. St. Louis edged Carey’s club, 10-8, on October 1, and Matlock started the game on October 2 against Bill Walker of the New York Giants, who had just won the National League’s ERA title. The first four hitters Matlock faced were Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Babe Herman, and Bill Terry, all future Hall of Famers except Herman. They didn’t score off Matlock until the sixth inning. In the meantime, Walker gave up seven runs in the first and 12 total in four innings. An obscure pitcher named Jess Doyle was then pressed into long relief. Matlock scored a run, had two hits, and was one of four Stars to homer that night. On his way to a complete-game victory before 5,000 fans, he scattered six hits and struck out seven. The final score was 18-1. Lloyd Waner had two of those hits and Terry, who scored his team’s only run, had one.30
As far as is known, that was the final game ever played by the St. Louis Stars.31 In the aforementioned interview, Matlock said they lost $14,000 during 1931 and did not re-form in 1932. He quickly received offers from the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawford Giants. Though Matlock claimed a record of 19-1 during 1931, he still seemed “quiet, courteous and unassuming.”32 For at least the second consecutive offseason, he made extra money shining shoes at Moberly’s White Palace Barber Shop. He modestly compared himself to the unlikely hero of the recent major-league World Series when he said, laughingly, “Like Pepper Martin, I played way over my head.” The account of this conversation concluded with Matlock saying, “Do I like baseball? I’d rather play baseball than eat.”33
In late March of 1932, Matlock’s hometown paper said he had signed with Detroit of the new Negro East-West League. On April 2 he was scheduled to head for training camp in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and his wife was expected to join him at the start of the regular season. However, Detroit’s first workout – which Matlock didn’t attend – was about 75 miles to the south, in Charleston. Matlock had indeed been spending spring training in Parkersburg but with the Homestead Grays.34
According to early league statistics (which excluded runs), in Matlock’s first 21 innings for the Homestead Grays, he started once and had a 2-0 record. He gave up 16 hits and 6 walks, which were offset by 12 strikeouts. Only nine other pitchers in the league had exceeded 10 strikeouts at that point. He was also among the league’s batting leaders with a .444 average (4-for-9), including two doubles and four runs scored. Soon enough, he was in starting lineups at first base and in center field.35
After little more than a month, Matlock was squeezed out when the Detroit Wolves collapsed and the Grays absorbed them, thus overloading their roster. “The merging of the Wolves and Grays, two of the strongest teams in the circuit, will result in a wealth of baseball talent on the market for other clubs,” wrote the Chicago Defender. Matlock was among 13 players who were thus expected to “change uniforms,” and by June 9 he was among seven players newly acquired by the Washington Pilots.36
One high point with his new team came on July 25, when he pitched in long relief against the Crawfords before more than 4,000 fans in Griffith Stadium during the first night game ever in the nation’s capital. But the Great Depression had largely undercut the East-West League by that point, and the Pilots ceased to exist after 1932.37
In March 1933 the Crawfords expected Matlock to join them in Memphis for “a short training period.”38 He was indeed on Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster, and started their first official game in the new Negro National League as part of a doubleheader in Nashville on April 30. The Elite Giants led, 5-4, after five innings but Matlock held them scoreless the rest of the way as Pittsburgh scored three unanswered runs to win, 7-5.39 On May 22 he pitched a gem against another NNL team, the Columbus Blue Birds, who managed just three hits in a 13-0 drubbing.40 Over those early weeks, the Chicago American Giants faired just a little better and won the league’s first-half title.41
Matlock had a particularly heartbreaking game against Chicago on July 24, in which he pitched all 15 innings. He gave up 14 hits and four walks but struck out 17 Giants. Chicago scored in only two innings, but Turkey Stearnes homered in both and the Crawfords lost, 4-3. “Never before has a twirler fought more brilliantly to stave off defeat before a home crowd,” concluded the Chicago Defender.42 Conversely, good news in August spoke to his overall success in 1933. In early voting for the first East-West All-Star Game, he was second only to teammate Satchel Paige among East pitchers. In the end, their totals slid to third and ninth, respectively, and Sam Streeter of the Crawfords won the right to start that historic contest.43
On September 30 the Crawfords and Nashville began a series to decide the second-half title, and Matlock drew the starting assignment at home. The contest was called after six innings on account of darkness, and the Crawfords prevailed, 4-3.44 They soon won that series and then started the championship round against Chicago (the third franchise to complete the NNL schedule). After a Pittsburgh victory and tie, Chicago refused to play additional games in the East and thus forfeited the pennant to the Crawfords. Chicago had protested regular-season games against the Crawfords on several occasions, and at least once the two teams narrowly avoided a brawl.45
After the season Matlock figured in one of Judy Johnson’s favorite stories (though when it has shown up in print, typically the time frame is vague).46 At Cincinnati’s Crosley Field on October 15, the Crawfords faced a team of white pros led by Jimmy Shevlin, a Cincinnati native who had played on the Reds in 1932 and 1934. At one point in the game, Leo Durocher reached third base and took a long leadoff. Time was called, and Johnson approached Matlock to warn, “If you don’t watch out, that guy’s gonna steal the cover right off the ball.” He was confident Durocher heard the scolding. When Johnson returned to third, he muttered to Durocher, “Man, that’s the dumbest pitcher we got.” Johnson then whistled, which was a prearranged signal. Matlock threw a fastball and Durocher strayed farther toward home. Catcher Josh Gibson, while still in his crouch, fired the ball to Johnson as Durocher slid back to third. Durocher thought his foot beat the tag, so he barked after the umpire called him out, while Johnson laughed. “What the hell’s so funny?” Durocher demanded, then realized he was standing on Johnson’s foot and still hadn’t touched the base itself. “He’d made a perfect hook slide right into my ankle,” Johnson recalled.47
Matlock again spent the winter working for the White Palace Barber Shop. Around April 1, 1934, he and Jimmie Crutchfield left for spring training at New Orleans.48 Matlock turned in another solid season in 1934 and finished 13th among East pitchers in all-star voting.49 He won his final four decisions, and thus began his historic streak.50 NNL secretary John L. Clark included two complete games by Matlock in a list of the season’s closest contests: a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on May 30 and a 2-1 10-inning loss to Chicago on June 18.51 Though the Crawfords had another very good season, Philadelphia and Chicago played in the postseason championship series.
In a game in southern Michigan on September 28, Matlock pitched for a white team, which was likely a first for him. On the previous day the Crawfords had lost a doubleheader to the Homestead Grays in Toledo, Ohio. For a semifinal game in a tournament about 60 miles to the northwest, a team from North Adams, Michigan, “imported a colored battery from Toledo” named Matlock and Gibson. The latter, presumably Josh, homered off a recent Toledo Mud Hen, Roy James. One of the first basemen for North Adams might have been the battery’s manager, Oscar Charleston. Matlock hurled stifling shutout ball for eight innings but North Adams lost in 10.52
On October 21 Matlock and Crutchfield joined Moberly’s Gatewood-Browns53 to face a white team called the Salisbury-Dalton All-Stars. Matlock was opposite Chicago White Sox rookie hurler Vern Kennedy, who became a 20-game winner two years later. The two pitchers had actually squared off six years earlier, when Kennedy had played for the Browning nine. The visitors scored a run off Matlock in each of the first two innings, but he put his team on the board with a homer over the right-field fence in the bottom of the third, and Crutchfield tied the game in the seventh with a solo shot. Each team had two runs until the bottom of the 11th, when a “fluke” homer won it for Moberly and Matlock.54 Earlier that year the ballpark itself had become a tribute to Matlock, Gatewood, and Crutchfield. The site had previously been called Collins’ Park; however, in the wake of recent improvements at the site, someone came up with the clever idea of combining the second syllables of the trios’ names to rename it Lockwood Field.55
For the 1935 season, superstar Satchel Paige jumped to a white semipro team in North Dakota, so pressure was on the pitchers remaining in the Crawfords’ rotation.56 Matlock pitched the second game of the regular season, which was the first game of a doubleheader, at home against the New York Cubans on May 12. He scattered five hits on the way to a 2-1 victory.57 At home a week later, he pitched “brilliantly” during “a masterpiece” and was called “the Mighty Matlock” by the Pittsburgh Courier after hurling a four-hit shutout against the Chicago American Giants, 1-0.58
Numerous sources during and after the 1935 season indicated that Matlock was undefeated in league games, but he did lose the occasional (unofficial) exhibition game. After he lost on June 7 to the longtime semipro team the Bushwicks, one newspaper noted that “Matlock had been unbeaten this year in ten starts and was looked upon as invincible.”59 Nevertheless, the NNL secretary’s office reported that on July 4 Matlock’s record was 8-0.60
NNL data for the rest of July showed Matlock had only one start, which he completed and won, and pitched only 13 innings during that span.61 One explanation is that on July 21, manager Charleston suspended Matlock, Davis, and Crutchfield indefinitely for “improper conduct off the playing field.”62 That didn’t deter the Courier on July 27 from calling him “the super-man of the Crawford staff” whose “sterling” work had “caused Smoketown fans to forget Satchell[sic] and his ‘fast ball.’”63
August brought better news, when Matlock finished second in all-star voting among West pitchers to Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays. As a result, on August 11 he was at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. The game ended dramatically, after each side enjoyed four-run 10th innings before Suttles won it for the West with a three-run blast in the bottom of the 11th. Matlock’s two innings of midgame toil were workmanlike. He retired the side in order in the sixth inning, after two defensive lapses led to a run for the East in his previous inning of work.64 A week later Matlock and Brown squared off against each other in Cleveland, and each hurled a three-hitter as Pittsburgh prevailed, 1-0.65
Several contemporaneous sources stated that Leroy Matlock finished the regular season in September still undefeated, and one specified that he went 15-0.66 Much more recently, one scholar said his record was 18-0, while a prominent statistical website states it was 17-0. Whatever the most valid or correct total, Cool Papa Bell summed up Matlock’s season nicely. “He didn’t have great stuff, but he had outstanding control and the ability to spot his pitches,” Bell recalled during an interview in 1984. “And nobody could scare him. In 1935, he just rolled past everybody.”67
That wasn’t quite true during the championship series against the New York Cubans in September, because a sore arm kept Matlock from starting the first two games.68 The Crawfords lost both, but in front of 7,000 fans in New York on September 15, Matlock shut out the Cubans, 3-0. Accounts of the two other games of the series in which he pitched are sketchy and inconsistent, but he apparently was the losing pitcher in the next game, on September 18, then won the sixth game in relief on September 20. The next day, the Crawfords completed their comeback to win the series and the pennant.69
Matlock kept busy after September. On October 9 he started against a local team in Dayton, Ohio, that borrowed Dizzy Dean; after two innings, Dean was replaced on the mound by two other St. Louis Cardinals, Jim Winford and Mike Ryba. Matlock hit a two-run homer to left off Ryba in the fifth inning.70 Four days later, before 20,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, Dean pitched the first game of a doubleheader between major leaguers and NNL players, but in the five-inning second game Matlock was opposite Bill Swift of the Pittsburgh Pirates and then Winford again, while Bob Garbark of the Cleveland Indians served as their catcher. Jimmy Ripple, a star of the 1936 World Series for the New York Giants, drove in the game’s only run.71
On October 25 Matlock and the Crawfords faced a tougher major-league lineup in Mexico City, which was led by Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby. Matlock was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the middle of a ninth-inning rally and it ended with the Crawfords leading, 6-4. Foxx, however, homered with a man on in the bottom of that frame to tie the score, and the game ended that way after 11 innings.72
Matlock and the Crawfords began the 1936 season by pounding the New York Cubans, 19-6, on May 9 in Paterson, New Jersey.73 A week later, against the Philadelphia Stars, he was bailed out by a ninth-inning rally but apparently did not complete the game and was not the winning pitcher.74 He did win at least two more games that month: On May 23 he hurled a complete game against the Washington Elite Giants and won, 3-1, and the next day, he was the winning pitcher in relief against the same team in an 11-inning contest that ended with a 10-8 score.75
On May 30 Matlock started the first game of a doubleheader in Philadelphia, but the Crawfords also used two relievers. The Crawfords led after seven innings but the Stars won after putting up a five-run eighth inning. From an available box score, it is unclear who the losing pitcher was; for such reasons, it is difficult to determine with confidence when Matlock’s winning streak ended in 1936. In June he also started games that he did not finish in at least two other losses.76 In between those two games, he hurled a complete-game win on the road against the Newark Eagles; he had also been the starting pitcher roughly one week earlier in a home victory over Newark.77
On August 8 Matlock and the Crawfords edged the New York Cubans, 4-3, at Paterson. At home on August 29 he defeated the Philadelphia Stars, and on September 12 he beat the Newark Eagles, 11-5.78 The Crawfords surged to win the second half of the NNL season comfortably, and Matlock definitely contributed.79 In the midst of that action, Matlock started the East-West All-Star Game before at least 24,000 fans in Comiskey Park on August 23. This time he was on the East squad, and he pitched three scoreless innings as the East won, 10-2. The Chicago Defender credited Matlock with being the winning pitcher.80
A few weeks later Matlock faced a powerful lineup drawn from several major-league teams. It was led by Hornsby and another Hall-of-Famer, Johnny Mize, and featured three other recent or future All-Stars in Harlond Clift, Gus Suhr, and Ival Goodman. They played a five-game series in Iowa and Colorado against a team of NNL All-Stars, and Matlock’s start was on October 2 in Des Moines, Iowa, before 3,500 to 4,000 fans. Matlock gave up just four hits and the NNL nine won, 5-2. He saved another game with a scoreless frame, and in his 10 innings he struck out nine of Hornsby’s players.81
In November Newark Eagles co-owner Abe Manley persuaded Matlock to play winter ball in Puerto Rico with several of the Eagles, including third baseman Ray Dandridge. Manley reportedly recruited several other Crawfords, including Paige, Gibson, and Crutchfield. According to passenger lists, Matlock reached San Juan on November 23, and departed the island on February 11 to return to New York.82 In March at least three of those Crawfords – Gibson, Paige, and Matlock – were said to be holding out for higher pay. Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee accused Homestead Grays owner Cum Posey of trying to sign the holdouts.83
Posey did acquire Gibson for 1937, but Matlock remained with the Crawfords. His start on May 9, early in the regular season, was against Gibson and the Grays. Matlock exited before the Crawfords won in the 11th inning.84
Matlock remained with the Crawfords for only about another 10 days, because he and several teammates accepted attractive offers to play a short season in the Dominican Republic. Paige was among the first three players to jump their contracts, and he persuaded Cool Papa Bell to join him. In an interview many years later, Bell took credit for Matlock’s decision as he recalled the Dominicans agreeing to his requirement that he, Matlock, and others receive $500 in Miami even before leaving the United States.85
Matlock pitched for the Ciudad Trujillo club that finished in first place with a record of 18-13. He won four games and lost once; the loss was apparently the one he experienced in the playoffs.86 Matlock received $2,000 total, and the American players cost the Ciudad Trujillo club $30,000, including $2,800 paid to Gibson for just five weeks. At a concluding picnic in their honor, one Dominican congressman said Gibson, Bell, and Matlock seemed particularly sad to be leaving. Passenger lists indicate those three and a few teammates returned to New York together, via San Juan, in mid-July. Myra Matlock had not accompanied her husband to the Caribbean; the Chicago Defender happened to note that she and her daughter Delores were on a visit to the Windy City around Memorial Day.87
Matlock and Bell were among the players who barnstormed that summer under the name of the Negro All-Stars of the Dominican Republic.88 They participated in the Denver Post’s annual semipro tournament, which included teams managed by Hornsby and Grover Cleveland Alexander. On August 1 Matlock shut out an Oklahoma team and on August 5 his team’s win against Hornsby’s drew a crowd of 10,000. The next day Matlock scattered four hits in a 17-1 drubbing of a Texas team. The finale, part of a doubleheader,89 went past midnight and ended on August 10. Matlock defeated another Oklahoma team, 11-1, and also won a $1,000 bonus as the finale’s winning pitcher. Nebraska sportswriter Walt Dobbins noted that the team as a whole collected $5,179 for its championship – in which it won seven of eight games – and he called Matlock “the outstanding tourney pitcher.”90
From October through at least December, Matlock played under the leadership of Hall of Fame catcher Biz Mackey with the Philadelphia Royal Colored Giants in the integrated California Winter League. Bell and Suttles were among Matlock’s teammates. In five starts, Matlock completed two games and had a 3-1 record.91 Perhaps most notably, he started and won the opener on October 10 in Los Angeles’ White Sox Park. The second through sixth hitters in the opposing lineup were all future major leaguers. Matlock survived five innings of a 19-11 slugfest and was the winning pitcher.92
In March 1938 the NNL reinstated Matlock and the other players who had violated their contracts to play in the Dominican Republic, but each was to be penalized one month’s salary. Matlock was thus a Crawford again. The Pittsburgh Courier signaled its pleasure by printing a photo of him with a caption that began, “Regarded by ball players as the smartest pitcher in the league… .”93
Matlock did not play much, or particularly well, during the 1938 season’s first half. In June a newspaper reported that he had “been free from call due to an injured finger.” Whatever its cause or extent, Matlock had a high point the next month during a start against the Philadelphia Stars in Cleveland. He pitched well, but the Craws came out on top, 5-4, because of his bat. He gave them their last two runs on a homer that was said to have flown 460 feet.94
Nevertheless, in early August, he was called one of “the year’s biggest disappointments in baseball” by the Courier’s Wendell Smith. “Matlock has been blasted by league teams with ease,” Smith lamented in an article shortly before a game in front of 15,000 fans in New York that resulted in Matlock suffering a 9-1 defeat.95
Matlock’s “last hurrah” with the Crawfords may have been on August 3, 1938, against the Bushwicks in New York. He outdueled future Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt (who had completed a 21-season major-league career earlier that year). Matlock held the Bushwicks scoreless through seven innings and the Craws won, 4-1.96
The NNL’s regular season ended around September 5,97 and a few days later the Crawfords began a playoff series with the Philadelphia Stars, while the Grays played Baltimore.98 The Craws won the first two games, and Matlock started the third (the second game of a doubleheader) on September 10. Matlock shut out the Stars until the seventh inning, when he was the victim of a “called shot” homer by Curtis “Popeye” Harris. The score was 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth when a Philadelphia runner stole second on a call that the Philadelphia Tribune’s reporter said was “completely” wrong. That lead runner soon scored the winning run when Matlock attempted to pick off another runner only to find that his first baseman was daydreaming. That was likely his final start ever for the Crawfords. On September 13, with the best-of-five series tied at two wins apiece, the Crawfords jumped out to an early 8-0 lead. The Stars made it 8-3 after five innings and tied it in the next frame. Matlock was the Crawfords’ second reliever in, or right after, that inning, and he was apparently the one who gave up four additional runs by the time it all ended in a 12-8 Philadelphia victory. As far as is known, that was the last game of 1938 for the Crawfords and for Matlock as well (at least against an NNL team).99
Furthermore, the game was the last ever for the franchise as a Pittsburgh club. Greenlee sold the team after the 1938 season, and the new ownership relocated the franchise to Toledo, Ohio, where it played the first half-season in the NNL before moving to the Negro American League.100 The new Crawfords continued to be managed by Charleston, but Matlock was no longer on the roster.
Matlock spent the winter of 1938-1939 in Cuba, on the Santa Clara and “Cuba” teams. Dandridge was among familiar names on the latter, while Gibson played for Santa Clara. Matlock went 2-4 in eight games for Santa Clara and 4-4 in 10 games for Cuba.101
In the spring and summer of 1939 Matlock played in Venezuela’s Maracaibo League, for the Vargas team and the Estrellas (Stars) Venezolanos. Dandridge likewise played on both teams.102 This time, at least, Myra Matlock spent some time abroad with her husband; a mid-1939 passenger list shows her traveling with two of Dandridge’s relatives from La Guaira, Venezuela, back to New York.103 Leroy Matlock arrived back in New York on November 1.
Shortly thereafter, it was announced that the New York Cubans, also known as the Cuban Stars, had signed Matlock for the 1940 season. As Greenlee was exiting the NNL, the Cubans were re-entering, and the NNL awarded the rights to Matlock to the Cuban Stars That motivated Cum Posey to use one of his regular columns in the Pittsburgh Courier to provide a profile of Matlock. Posey brought to light an overlooked aspect of Matlock’s skill set when he called Matlock “exceptionally fast on the bases.” In any event, there was a similar announcement about Matlock and the Cubans before the 1942 season, but that was one of his seasons in Mexico.104 In fact, an article about the NNL’s Opening Day in May of 1943 said Matlock would be “making his first appearance in the States in four years” after playing in Mexico,105 but there is no currently available evidence that he played for the Cubans then either.
Instead, Matlock played for the Mexico Red Devils from 1940 through 1942, and his seasons are well documented. His won-lost records in 1940 and 1941 almost matched, at 15-10 and 15-9, respectively, and his four shutouts in 1941 led the league.106
After the 1940 season, government records indicate he re-entered the United States on November 6, and he soon completed a military draft registration card on which his approximate height was specified as 5-feet-11½ and his weight as 175 pounds. In mid-April 1941, he placed an ad in the Moberly paper seeking a passenger to help him drive to Mexico City that week; that may be the last confirmation of him residing in Moberly.107
Matlock returned to the United States after the 1941 season, at least briefly, for a 10-game barnstorming tour of Mexican League players, who also included Bell, Dandridge, and Willie Wells. Because some, if not all, of them had jumped contracts to play in Mexico, they could not play NNL or NAL teams. The Mexican League All-Stars team won all of its games.108
Pearl Matlock died on June 15, 1942, and it’s uncertain whether Leroy made it back to Moberly for the funeral four days later. The local paper mentioned that his brother Lawrence was still living in Moberly but that Leroy was living in Mexico.109 In any event, it may have merely been a coincidence that later in June he was again listed on the staff of the Cuban Stars.110
By July 1943, Matlock was back in the United States for good. He had taken a job at the Ordnance Steel Foundry plant in Bettendorf, Iowa, one of the Quad Cities. Not surprisingly, he was soon the ace of the plant’s baseball entry in the six-team Davenport League.111 Matlock likely chose to settle in the Quad Cities area because his brother Otis had married the former Ella Mae Brown in Davenport in mid-1942, and their brother Lawrence also lived there at that time.112 Leroy also pitched there during 1944, including for the Eastern Iowa-Western Illinois (or simply Quad City) All-Stars. On July 23 he pitched them to victory over the semipro Chicago Brown Bombers, 8-1, in Davenport.113
In early September 1946, Myra Matlock filed for divorce from Leroy.114 In the 1947 city directory for Rock Island, Illinois, one of the other Quad Cities, Leroy Matlock was listed as a factory worker for International Harvester. In 1949 he was signed to play about 400 miles to the northwest for Slayton, Minnesota, in the First Night League. Hall of Famer Hilton Smith of the Kansas City Monarchs was signed by a different team in the league and may have earned $1,000 per month.115
Around 1950 Matlock settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, and began to work for the Seeger Refrigerator Company, which merged with Whirlpool in 1955. He continued to work there for the rest of his life.116 Otis and Ella Mae had moved back to Moberly. She had taught at the Lincoln School for over 10 years,117 but when the school board was compelled to integrate Moberly’s public schools, it refused to retain any of Lincoln’s teachers. In late 1955 Ella Mae was among eight teachers who initiated a historically significant lawsuit over that decision, though they didn’t prevail.118
Leroy Matlock remarried on August 17, 1965, in his bride’s hometown of Columbia, Missouri. His wife was the former Dorothy J. Booth, a widow. The 1940 census indicates that she had happened to be living in Moberly, across the street from Matlock’s grandmother, Kate.119 That census noted that she had completed two years of college and, in 1936, she had been assigned to teach adult-education classes in Moberly under the federal Works Progress Administration.120
However she and her new husband met, their marriage was brief because Leroy Matlock died unexpectedly on February 6, 1968, at the age of 60. His funeral was in St. Paul, and he is buried in that city. On the page facing the death announcement in his hometown paper, Dorothy, his brothers, and sister-in-law published a “card of thanks,” especially for the “floral tributes to our loved ones, the sympathy cards, telegrams and other kindnesses.”121
One way of judging a player’s career is by how his peers rated him. Matlock was one of three pitchers on the all-time all-star team listed in 1944 by first baseman Dave “Showboat” Thomas, whose NNL career stretched from 1929 to 1946. More significantly, Matlock’s longtime manager, Oscar Charleston, named him as one of the six pitchers on his all-time roster in 1950. In 1970 Hall of Famer Buck Leonard said Paige and Matlock were the two toughest pitchers he had ever faced.122 In 1981 Judy Johnson rated him in a different way, by calling Matlock “a real gentleman.”123
Matlock was also remembered meaningfully early in the new century. In 2001 the Pittsburgh Pirates created a permanent exhibit to honor the Crawfords and Homestead Grays. “Each time a baseball fan walks into the left field entrance at PNC Park, they’ll see the names of 14 Negro League players and two owners emblazoned on eight fiberglass bats suspended above,” noted a New Pittsburgh Courier reporter. One of those 14 names is Leroy Matlock.124
All in all, Matlock had a remarkable professional career with many high points. As ESPN’s Tony McClean asserted, “[F]or a two-year period between 1935 and 1936, there may not have been a better pitcher than Leroy Matlock.”125 What’s more, from 1931 to 1938 he faced down no fewer than nine white Hall of Famers. “Matlock was one of the most underrated pitchers in our league,” concluded Cool Papa Bell.126
Unless otherwise indicated, all Negro League statistics and team records have been taken from Seamheads.com.
1 For examples of this short-lived nickname, see Jim Brahos, “Satchel Paige, Greatest of Colored Aces Here Tuesday,” Hammond (Indiana) Times, September 3, 1937: 15, and “Sunday Game Will Decide Strength of David Hitters,” Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), September 10, 1937: 28. The nickname even made it into a headline: “‘Black Carl Hubbell’ Will Strut Stuff at Lexington,” Minneapolis Star, September 8, 1937: 17. Matlock’s hometown newspaper made a fuss when he was deemed “the equal of Carl Hubbell” in the Denver Post, which was not simply quoting a promotional press release. See “Moberly Negro Pitcher Praised,” Monitor-Index and Democrat (Moberly, Missouri), August 12, 1937: 6.
2 Matlock won his final four games of 1934, went 17-0 in 1935, and started 1936 6-0 to extend his streak to “26,” according to baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Leroy_Matlock, though the arithmetic actually works out to 27.
3 Leroy’s birthplace and date of birth were specified on his 1940s military draft registration. His birthdate was also specified on a passenger list when he traveled to Puerto Rico in mid-1937.
4 Though the 1910 census indicated that Pearl Matlock and the former Delia Ganaway had been married for five years, they apparently didn’t make it official until February 1, 1914, in a ceremony performed by Rev. J.J. Miles. See “Granted Licenses,” Moberly Daily Monitor, January 12, 1914: 1.
5 It’s unknown whether Pearl and Delia had other children together before 1910 besides Leroy. If so, they presumably died before that census. Delia’s life story before Leroy’s birth is murky, but her death certificate revealed that her father’s name was Oscar Holley, born in Missouri. Clara’s surname on her death certificate was “Holly” and her father’s name was Oliver Wright. Clues that this was in fact Delia’s daughter include that the mother’s maiden name was listed as “Dellie Holly” and the Informant was “Mrs Dellie Medlock.” In fact, for some unknown reason the Matlock family’s listing in the 1910 census used the surname Holley instead. Otis was about three years younger than Clara and four years older than Leroy. On Otis’s marriage record in 1942 his father’s name was entered as Lindsy Pitts. See Note 9 below regarding Delia’s reported marriage before 1900 and regarding her mother. As of 2020 the State of Missouri makes statewide death records available online only back to 1910, so it is difficult to determine whether Delia had any children before that year besides Clara, Otis, and Leroy.
6 Even at the time of his death, more than two decades later, his occupation was the same. In the 1900 census, though, he was listed as a “coal hauler.”
7 As mentioned in Note 5 above, the Matlock family’s surname in the 1910 census was instead given as Holley, but more perplexing are the children’s first names, except that Leroy was spelled correctly. The 10-year-old daughter was “Clarens” instead of Clara, and the oldest son was “Cleatus” instead of Otis. Oddest of all is that the baby boy of the family, whose age was either “2” months or “7” months, was listed as something that approximates “Demon.” Still, because that census page was dated April 25, there is ample reason to believe that the newborn was Alfred, who was two months old in April of 1910, based on his death certificate. All five of these death certificates are accessible via s1.sos.mo.gov/Records/Archives/ArchivesMvc/ though Alfred’s surname was entered as “Meadlock.”
8 Pearl’s father, Amos, had died by the 1900 census, and his mother, the former Kate or Katie Twyman, married a man named Kitchen in early 1904. From 1918 until at least 1925, Leroy and his nuclear family lived at 1019 Forrest Avenue (which today is the farthest west block of West End Place); Kate lived at 1047 from around the time of Leroy’s birth until her death in 1941 at the age of 80.
9 Leroy was actually listed twice in the 1920 census, though as “Lela” in the entry with his parents. Just 15 days earlier, on January 2, Leroy (surname “Medlock”) reportedly lived with his maternal grandmother, Lottie Ganaway. The household also included a second grandson, who, accounting for the census taker’s penmanship, was likely Otis. Their grandmother, the former Lottie Herndon, married George Ganaway in 1892. However, in the 1900 census their household included Lottie’s mother, George’s 24-year-old son, George W., and his wife of two years, 19-year-old Delia Ganaway. This seems to indicate that Leroy Matlock’s mother married her stepbrother (no blood relation) around 1898. Though her children’s death certificates listed her maiden name as Holley, her own death certificate listed Lottie Ganaway as her mother, and Delia’s maiden name was entered as Her[n]don rather than Holley on Otis’s marital record. What’s more, she was listed as Mrs. Delia Ganaway on her marriage license in 1914. It was apparently a different woman named Delia Holley who married a man named George Oney in Randolph County in 1894.
10 Lawrence Matlock completed high school, according to “Lincoln School to Graduate 31 Students Saturday,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 19, 1932: 12.
11 This atrocity was covered coast to coast and beyond, and of course was big news across Missouri. For example, see “‘Reds’ and Blacks at Moberly,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 1919: 24. Details were provided in “Mob Kills Negro Bandit Sunday,” Moberly Evening Democrat, November 17, 1919: 1. For the aftermath, see “Lynching Victim May Have Been Killed by Police,” Dallas (Texas) Express, December 20, 1919: 1.
12 Malcolm Gladwell, “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment,” Revisionist History season 2, episode 3, 2017. A transcript of this episode is available at blog.simonsays.ai/miss-buchanans-period-of-adjustment-revisionist-history-podcast-transcript-b4c65731f73c. Moberly’s population history was provided by Steven E. Mitchell and Mary Aue Mitchell, Survey Report: Moberly, Randolph County, Architectural/Historical Survey, April 2007: 28, which is available at dnr.mo.gov/shpo/survey/RNAS001-R.pdf.
13 “Thrilling Story Told by Mrs. Oscar Oswalt,” Moberly Evening Democrat, February 10, 1922: 1; “Dogs Did Not Trail Negroes,” Moberly Monitor-Index, February 13, 1922: 1; W.B. Coleman, “People’s Forum,” Moberly Evening Democrat, February 14, 1922: 7. About a week later Mrs. Oswalt submitted a written statement asking that the two men not be prosecuted, and they were freed, with the prosecuting attorney issuing a stern warning against mob rule. See “2 Oswalt Case Negroes Freed,” Moberly Monitor-Index, February 22, 1922: 1. It was ultimately reported that Mrs. Oswalt had been giving money to some other man, and as her fear grew that her husband suspected, she made up the entire story as a diversion. Her own children stated that she tied up them and herself. See Biennial Report of the Missouri Negro Industrial Commission, 1921-1922: 45.
14 Leo Branham, “Moberly Shoe Shiner Shines on the Baseball Diamond as One of Negro League Best Pitchers,” Moberly Monitor-Index, December 9, 1931: 12. Brown’s first name was spelled “Hilbert” in this interview with Matlock, which was a longer version of “Baseball Notes,” Chicago Defender, November 21, 1931: 8. Crutchfield was the Eagles’ center fielder and “Medlock” their right fielder in a rare early box score beneath “Moberly Defeated in Ninth Inning, 3-1,” Browning (Missouri) Leader-Record, August 18, 1927: 1. In fact, this article also contained a full play-by-play of every inning. Anyone wanting to research the Moberly Eagles and their successor, the Gatewood Browns, should keep in mind that there was a second man named Helbert Brown in Moberly until at least 1920, except that he was about five years younger and white.
15 The date of their marriage came from “Two Divorce Suits Filed in Circuit Court,” Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat, September 4, 1946: 9. Matlock’s in-laws lived at 534 Winchester, and around 1938 he and Myra purchased a home two doors down, at 540. Like Forrest Avenue, mentioned in Note 8, Winchester eventually became a stretch of West End Place.
16 “A Large Crowd Attended Ball Game,” Browning Leader-Record, July 28, 1927: 1. He was also praised in “Moberly Won the Ballgame Sunday,” Browning Leader-Record, August 9, 1928: 1. In the latter article it was noted that the Eagles had played in Browning four times during 1927 and four more times during 1928 up to that point.
17 “Moberly Eagles Defeat Browning,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 11, 1928: 2. “Moberly Eagles Lose to Slater,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 25, 1928: 2. “‘Lefty’ Matlock Wins for Columbia,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, July 5, 1928: 8. He arrived during the third inning and became the winning pitcher in the 14th when he singled and eventually scored to break a 2-2 tie. The large ad for an Eagles game was printed in the Browning Leader-Record, August 2, 1928: 8. Shortly before, it was reported that the Eagles had a record of 10 wins and four losses. See “Moberly Eagles Beat Columbia,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, July 30, 1928: 2. They finished with a 16-6 record, according to “Eagles to Play Columbia Saturday,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, April 10, 1929: 2.
18 “Eagles Play First Home Game Sunday with Mexico Team,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 25, 1929: 6. The team’s victory total for 1927 and 1928 combined looks like 88, but either digit could actually be a 3. This article implies that the team started in 1927 rather than 1926, contradicting Matlock’s recollection in 1931, but it may be that the team did indeed form sometime during 1926 and was loosely organized until 1927.
19 “Eagles to Play Columbia Saturday,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, April 10, 1929: 2. See also “Eagles to Play White Sox Tomorrow,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, April 20, 1929: 6. Apparently rain kept the two teams from playing at all during April. Crutchfield, Matlock, and Gatewood were all mentioned in “Eagles Defeat Jefferson City,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 6, 1929: 6.
21 “Eagles Play First Home Game Sunday with Mexico Team,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 25, 1929: 6. “St. Louis Stars Win Final Game of Series from Cubans, 17-3,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 22, 1929: 13. “St. Louis Stars and Kansas City Monarchs Split Twin Bill, 5-3, 7-6,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 15, 1929: 15. The box score specified that Matlock gave up two hits and two runs in two innings but other details indicate he pitched in the second, third, and fourth innings, including that he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fourth. According to “National Negro Baseball League Standing,” Indianapolis Recorder, June 8, 1929: 6, St. Louis had a record of 13-3 up to May 21. Their first loss was at the beginning of May to Detroit, and Matlock wasn’t in the line score of their loss to the Monarchs on May 11. See “Monarchs Win, 12 to 3,” Kansas City Star, May 12, 1929: 4B.
22 Branham. One of Matlock’s early wins was a lopsided complete game on May 30; see “St. Louis Stars Trounce Memphis by 14-3 Score,” St. Louis Star, May 31, 1929: 29. Afterward, Memphis pitcher Robert Poindexter thought teammate J.C. McHaskell was teasing him about the drubbing, and Poindexter shot him in the foot. This was news across the country. For a long account, see “Memphis Red Sox Hurler Shoots Teammate,” Pittsburgh Courier, June 8, 1929: 1.
23 “Eagles Win 16th Victory of Season, Defeating LaPlata,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, October 14, 1929: 6. Matlock pitched at least one other game for them that month, as reported in “Eagles Beat New Boston; Their 18th Victory This Year,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, October 28, 1929: 9. The latter article mentioned Matlock, Gatewood, and Crutchfield in the same sentence.
24 Walter M. Smith, “Local Negro Club and Kansas City Play under Lights,” St. Louis Star, May 20, 1930: 16.
25 “St. Louis Stars Sweep Series,” Chicago Defender, July 26, 1930: 9. As of 2020 this shutout wasn’t reflected in his 1930 statistics at seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=matlo01ler or baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=matloc000ler.
26 “Detroit Evens Series with St. Louis Stars,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 16, 1920: 19.
27 The series was supposed to be best of nine, not best of seven, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate, according to “Again Rain Halts Negro World Series Ball Game in Detroit,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 25, 1930: 19.
28 “St. Louis Stars Trounce Moberly,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, August 5, 1931: 5.
29 “Stars Too Strong for Indianapolis,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, September 4, 1931: 9.
30 “Stars Slam Walker and Trim Careyites,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 3, 1931: 7. At the bottom of the box score the line for Carey’s All-Stars shows a zero in all nine innings, but the almost identical coverage in a nearby newspaper indicated that Matlock’s shutout ended in the sixth. See “Colored Stars 18 to 1 Against Carey Players,” Belleville (Illinois) Daily News-Democrat, October 3, 1931: 8. Both box scores excluded all pitching details and the like. Some of that information was provided in “St. Louis Beats All-Stars,” Chicago Defender, October 10, 1931: 8. As of 2020, at baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Leroy_Matlock, the date of the game is incorrectly stated as October 8.
31 See Gary Ashwill, “St. Louis Stars, 1931,” agatetype.typepad.com/agate_type/2019/07/st-louis-stars-1931.html. The Stars were supposed to face Bill Walker again in October but the rematch was rained out at least twice, according to “Dairies Will Try Again to Beat Roofers,” Belleville (Illinois) Daily News-Democrat, October 24, 1931: 8.
33 Branham. As of 2020, Matlock’s Seamheads stats at seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=matlo01ler only confirm five wins in 1931. Of course, Matlock’s count might have included exhibition games, such as against Carey’s team. In any event, in the interview he also recalled that as a rookie in 1929 he compiled a record of 7-3, followed by 10-3 in 1930. His Seamheads totals for those two seasons aren’t too far off, at 4-2 and 8-4, respectively.
34 “Matlock to Play with Detroit,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, March 31, 1932: 6. “Detroit in Drills at Charleston,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 9, 1932: section 2, 5. Chester L. Washington, “Sportively Speaking,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 9, 1932: section 2, 5. (See also Washington’s column on the same page one week later.) The Moberly paper was by no means alone in thinking he’d play with Detroit. See also “Wells, Suttles to Detroit: Creacy, Matlock, Redus also Join Dismukes’ Wolverine Club,” Chicago Defender, March 6, 1932: 8, and “Mule Suttles with Detroit,” Afro-American, March 26, 1932: 15. The confusion is understandable, because Cum Posey owned both the Homestead Grays and the new Detroit franchise; see baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Detroit_Wolves.
35 “Lefty Grove Tiant Leads East-West Tossers With 3 Full Games, No Losses,” Atlanta Daily World, May 23, 1932: 5. Chester L. Washington, “Crawfords Defeat Grays in Series,” Pittsburgh Courier, June 4, 1932: section 2, 5. “Grays Batter Out 10-Inning Win from Sox,” Afro-American, June 4, 1932: 14.
36 “Detroit and Grays Nines Consolidate,” Chicago Defender, June 11, 1932: 8. “Pilots Get a Clouter,” Washington Evening Star, June 9, 1932: D-1. Matlock’s record at the time was reportedly 7-0, according to “Matlock Goes to Washington Club,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 14, 1932: 6. If that count is even close to accurate, it seems unlikely that it refers only to regular-season games. Around that time the Grays had a record of 14-7, which would have meant Matlock won half of theirs. Standings accompanied “Trades Revive Interest in East-West League,” Philadelphia Tribune, June 16, 1932: 11.
37 “Night Baseball Inaugurated in D.C. by Pilots,” New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), August 6, 1932: 13. Gary Ashwill, “Negro Leagues DB Update: 1932 East-West League, August 13, 2015, seamheads.com/2015/08/13/negro-leagues-db-update-1932-east-west-league/. For more on the dissolution of the East-West League, see Cum Posey, “Posey Answers Clark on League and Grays,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 29, 1933: section 2, 5.
38 “Craws Sign Bell, Cooper, Hunter,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 18, 1933: section 2, 5. “Detroit Team Out of Negro National Baseball League,” Philadelphia Tribune, April 27, 1933: 11.
39 “Crawfords Win and Top League,” Chicago Defender, May 6, 1933: 9. The box score states that he gave up 10 hits and a pair of walks. He helped his cause during a double play by snagging a heave from center field and throwing a runner out at third base.
40 “Crawfords Blank Birds,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 1933: 16.
41 “Chicago Wins First of Split Season Race,” Detroit Tribune, July 15, 1933: 7. The conclusion of this article indicates that Sunday, July 9, was the start of the second half.
42 “Stearns [sic] Gets Two in Battle,” Chicago Defender, July 29, 1933: 8. For the box score, see “A 15-Inning Midnite Tilt!” Pittsburgh Courier, July 29, 1933: section 2, 4. It identifies who Matlock walked and how many times he struck out each batsman.
43 “Want Rogan on Star Team,” Chicago Defender, August 12, 1933: 8. “Leads Vote Parade of Eastern Pitchers,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 9, 1933: section 2, 5. Only the top four pitchers were named to each All-Star roster.
44 “Crawfords Defeat Nashville in Opener,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, October 1, 1933: part 2, 5. William G. Nunn, “Plucky Nashville Team Loses Three Thrillers to Craws,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 7, 1933: section 2, 4.
45 “Baseball Moguls to Meet in Philly Next Month; Meeting of Owners Set for Feb. 10,” Pittsburgh Courier, January 27, 1934: section 2, 5. See also John L. Clark, “Only Three Teams Finish National Baseball Race,” Afro-American, October 7, 1933: 15. For a different interpretation on how the 1933 pennant race was decided, see Mark Ribowsky, Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 121.
46 Shevlin formed his All-Professionals, aka All-Majors or All-Stars, from 1931 through 1936, but Durocher apparently played with them only in 1933, based on searching editions of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Crawfords lost to Shevlin’s team 6-1 on October 14, 1934, but Durocher wasn’t in Shevlin’s lineup published in a preview of the game that day See “Strong Teams,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 14, 1934: 30. Five days earlier Durocher had finished playing in the World Series with the Cardinals.
47 Lew Freedman, African American Pioneers of Baseball: A Biographical Encyclopedia (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2007), 21. “Curtains for Baseball; Shevlin’s Pros to Battle Pittsburgh Crawfords Today,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 15, 1933: 33. For an example of Durocher specified as in Shevlin’s lineup around that time – when they played the Chicago American Giants – see “Negroes to Be Opponents,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 5, 1933: 18. Durocher clearly remembered the play more than 20 years later when he and Johnson bumped into one another after a World Series game in Milwaukee, according to John B. Holway, “Judy Johnson a True Hot Corner Hotshot,” research.sabr.org/journals/judy-johnson-a-true-hot-corner-hotshot.
48 “Negro Baseball Stars Off Soon to Training Camp,” Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat, March 27, 1934: 5.
49 “Final Standing – The East,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 25, 1934: section 2, 5.
51 John L. Clark, “League Sec’y Recalls Close Ball Games During 1934,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 29, 1934: section 2, 4.
52 “Adrian Has a Tiger Finish at Hillsdale,” Adrian (Michigan) Daily Telegram, September 29, 1934: 5. This article refers to Adrian’s starting pitcher as “Bill James” of the Toledo Mud Hens but records indicate that his first name was actually Roy. At least six other players in Adrian’s starting lineup were also apparently minor leaguers at some point: Raymond Nebelung, Arthur Mason, Carl Huffman (Hoffman), Louie Batterson, Eddie Sobb(e), and most notably Harold Patchett, whose 15-year pro career included eight straight with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League. The doubleheader in Toledo on Thursday, September 27, was mentioned in “Grays Tackle Crawfords,” Pittsburgh Press-Gazette, September 29, 1934: 14.
53 According to Gatewood’s SABR biography by Bill Johnson, at sabr.org/node/54535, “The Moberly Eagles were re-dubbed the Gatewood Browns in late 1929,” and that may have been implied in “Negro Baseball Club Reorganized,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 1, 1934: 10. Still, the local paper apparently didn’t use “Gatewood Browns” or some variation, before 1934. In fact, there were Browns and Eagles teams in Moberly simultaneously, at least briefly in 1944, according to “Browns to Play at Kirksville, Eagles Have Game Here,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 23, 1934: 5. Their pitcher for that game was expected to be “Matlock, brother of Leroy Matlock who plays with the Pittsburgh Crawford Club,” and that was presumably Lawrence rather than Otis Pitts. By that point Lawrence’s team had played at least three games, according to “Eagles Will Play Richmond Tigers Here Sunday,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 22, 1934: 5. Lawrence had pitched while still in high school, according to “Moberly Panthers Beat Madison, 9-2,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, July 6, 1931: 7. Late that decade he was a pitcher for another local team, according to “Wheaties Ready to Play Ball,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 13, 1939: 5. According to his draft registration card the next year, his height was 5-feet-9 and he weighed just 140 pounds.
54 “Browns Win, 3-2, in 11 Innings,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, October 22, 1934: 8. There was considerable promotion for this game, including speculation that Matlock might not make it home in time, followed by a brief item when he did arrive. See “Browns to Play Salisbury-Dalton,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, October 13, 1934: 10 and “Leroy Matlock Here,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, October 16, 1934: 7. For an account of Matlock and Kennedy opposing one another some years earlier, see “Moberly Won the Ballgame Sunday,” Browning (Missouri) Leader-Record, August 9, 1928: 1.
55 Goetze Jeter, “Around Town,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, August 3, 1934: 4. The site’s previous name was mentioned earlier in the season, but the new name not explained, in “Browns Defeat Jeff City; Play Fulton Next,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 7, 1934: 5.
56 “Biggest Baseball Season in History Is Predicted for Bismarck,” Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune, April 13, 1935: 7. “Satchell[sic] Paige in Entanglement,” Negro Star (Wichita, Kansas), April 26, 1935: 6.
57 “Craws-Cubans,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 18, 1935: section 2, 5.
58 “Craws in 1st Place after Chi Series,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 25, 1935: section 2, 4. Crutchfield helped considerably with a “most thrilling” one-handed catch of a fly in the right-field corner off the bat of Suttles. The article said Bankhead tripled and scored the game’s only run on a single by Charleston, but the box score didn’t credit Bankhead with any extra-base hit.
59 Wm. J. Granger, “Duffy’s Great Pitching and Beazley’s Bat Win for Bushwicks in Tenth,” Brooklyn (New York) Citizen, June 8, 1935: 6. See also “Bushwicks Show Fighting Spirit, Win with Rally,” Brooklyn Times Union, June 8, 1935: 2A. Matlock also lost an exhibition game, in relief, on August 22 to a white team in Madison, Wisconsin, according to Hank Casserly, “Blues Nip Crawfords 2-1 in Fast 10-Inning Battle,” Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin), August 23, 1935: 17. Matlock needn’t have been embarrassed by the outcome, as the previous month the Chicago Cubs barely beat Madison’s team. See Henry J. McCormick, “8,000 People See Cubs Nose Out Blues, 2-1,” Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), July 13, 1935: 5.
60 “Matlock Tops League Pitchers,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 20, 1935: section 2, 5.
61 “Josh Gibson Tops Hitters in Negro National League,” Chicago Defender, September 7, 1935: 14. He finished a second game in relief.
62 “2 Managers Draw Suspensions after Rows with Umps,” Afro-American, July 27, 1935: 21.
63 “Race for E-W Berths Hot as Voting Spurts,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 27, 1935: section 2, 5. At that point, the Crawfords had played 11 NNL games in the second half, and had a middling 6-5 record. (Dubbing Matlock a “super-man” occurred about three years before the “Man of Steel” debuted in the pages of Action Comics.)
64 “’Dream Teams’ of East, West Set for Big Game,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 10, 1935: section 2, 4. Dan Burley, “Here’s How the West Made History at Comiskey Park,” Chicago Defender, August 17, 1935: 6. The latter is a batter-by-batter account of the entire game.
65 “Crawfords Cop 3 Out of 4 in Series with Homestead Grays,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 24, 1935: section 2, 4.
66 Matlock “won all his league games this season,” according to “Pittsburgh Crawfords Play Cubans Tonight,” Herald Statesman (Yonkers, New York), September 13, 1935: 15. Similarly, he was “unbeaten this year,” according to “Negro Baseball Teams to Play Contest Sunday,” New Orleans State, October 9, 1935: 9. The NNL secretary mentioned the same more than a year later; see John L. Clark, “Fans Must Lend Aid to Help Baseball,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 13, 1937: 16. Matlock had “a record of 15 wins and no losses last year,” according to “Crawfords Held Back by Unfavorable Weather,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 18, 1936: 16.
67 Jim Bankes, The Pittsburgh Crawfords (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2001), 72. As pointed out in the first Note herein, Matlock won his final four games of 1934, went 17-0 in 1935, and started 1936 6-0 to extend his streak to 26, according to baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Leroy_Matlock. The Seamheads Negro Leagues Database’s overall stats for 1935, at seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=matlo01ler, show him with a loss but if one clicks on the “Show Individual Stints” button it indicates that his lone loss was during the postseason championship series. As of 2020 Seamheads’ regular season data for Matlock excludes his NNL shutouts in May and August.
68 Bankes, 72.
69 Allan McMillan, “Pitt Crawfords Grab 3rd Game of Series,” Chicago Defender, September 21, 1935: 13. This was an inning-by-inning account. Matlock didn’t finish the fourth game, and if he gave up the run in the sixth inning that broke a 1-1 tie, he was the losing pitcher. No pitching data was in the box score that accompanied “Cubans Defeat Crawfords Again,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 19, 1935: 18. Matlock was listed in the Afro-American’s box score for the sixth game, though it also identified Gibson and Crutchfield as pitchers and Harvey as a catcher; see “Crawfords Beat Cubans, 8 to 1, to Get First Pennant,” Afro-American, September 28, 1935: 13. He also figured in the game’s ninth-inning rally, according to “Crawfords Now League Champs,” New York Amsterdam News, September 28, 1935: 12. Conversely, the Philadelphia Tribune’s box score for the sixth game didn’t show Matlock at all; see “Crawfords Take 4 [of] 7, to Top Stars,” Philadelphia Tribune, September 26, 1935: 10.
70 “Crawfords Win over Shroyers,” Dayton Herald, October 10, 1935: 19.
71 “Major League Stars Score Twice, 3-0, 1-0,” New York Times, October 14, 1935: 24.
72 “Local Ball Players Perform in Mexico,” Moberly Monitor-Index, October 31, 1935: 6.
73 “Red-Hot Crawfords Go to Town and Smother New York Cubans, 19-6,” Paterson (New Jersey) Evening News, May 11, 1936: 23.
74 “Crawfords Win, Even Series Here,” Pittsburgh Press, May 17, 1936: section 2, 4. The box score shows Carter as a relief pitcher.
75 “Giants, Crawfords Trade Close Ones,” Washington Evening Star, May 24, 1936: B-7. “D.C. Elites in Foldup to Pitt in Last Inning,” Chicago Defender, May 30, 1936: 14.
76 “Crawfords Split with Philly Stars,” Pittsburgh Press, May 31, 1936: section 2, 4; “Crawfords Lose to Elites, 10-4,” Pittsburgh Press, June 7, 1936: section 2, 4; “Crawfords, Cubans Split,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 29, 1936: 16.
77 “Crawfords Defeat Newark Eagles, 5-3,” Pittsburgh Press, June 14, 1936: section 2, 4; “Crawfords, Newark Split,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 22, 1936: 16.
78 See baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Leroy_Matlock about the final months of 1936, an assertion disproven by: “Pittsburgh Crawfords Defeat Cubans for Third Time, 4 to 3,” Paterson (New Jersey) Morning Call, August 10, 1936: 21; “Crawfords Victors in Double Bill,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, August 30, 1936: 20; “Grays Divide Games with Crawford Club,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 8, 1936: 16; “Crawfords Win and Tie with Newark,” Pittsburgh Press, September 13, 1936: section 2, 3.
79 The Crawfords clinched the NNL’s second-half title around mid-September, and initially there was supposed to be a championship series with Washington. See “Crawfords Win Second Half,” New York Age, September 26, 1936: 9. Right above this brief article is a table of NNL hitters with batting averages above .300 for July 11 through September 12, but the newspaper skimped on pitchers’ stats. It named eight pitchers who were undefeated, and among pitchers with at least one loss, Matlock had the fifth-best winning percentage – though all of this information was presented without any numbers.
80 Franklin Penn, “West’s Best No Match for Star Eastern Outfit,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 29, 1936: section 2, 5. On the same page, see also William G. Nunn, “Satchell[sic] Paige Is Magnet At E-W Game; Players of Big League Calibre Perform” and Chester L. Washington’s “Ches’ Sez” column. The accompanying box said the second of the East’s three pitchers, Bill Byrd, was the winning pitcher. Conversely, Matlock was deemed the winning pitcher in the box score that accompanied the account by Al Monroe, “East Wallops West 10-2,” Chicago Defender, August 29, 1936: 13.
81 Everett Wadsworth, “Stars Nip Big Leagues’ Best,” Chicago Defender, October 10, 1936: 13. This account said Matlock was the “winner of twenty-four victories and no defeats this season,” which may actually have been a reference to his winning streak from 1934 to that season. See also “Negro Hurler Stops Hornsby’s All-Stars,” Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald, October 3, 1936: 9. Statistical totals for the series are available at seamheads.com/NegroLgs/year.php?yearID=1936&lgID=NvM. For additional insights, see Timothy M. Gay, Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 166.
82 “Manley Sends Strong Team to Porto Rico,” New York Age, December 5, 1936: 8.
83 “Crawfords and Grays in Exhibition Doubleheader at New Orleans April 25,” New York Age, March 13, 1937: 8.
84 “Crawfords Nose Out Homestead Grays, 8-7,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 20, 1937: 23. Matlock also faced Gibson in spring training, according to “Crawfords Lose Twice to Grays,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 26, 1937: 20.
85 “Four More Players Desert Crawfords,” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, May 20, 1937: 25; James Bankes, The Pittsburgh Crawfords: The Lives & Times of Black Baseball’s Most Exciting Team! (Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown Publishers, 1991), 128. For much more detail, see the compilation of Averell “Ace” Smith’s impressive research at thepitcherandthedictator.com/. Bankes helped put Matlock’s income in perspective on page 101 (of the first of his two books on the Crawfords): “When compared to the salaries of their major league contemporaries, the pay for blacks was indeed low, and a comparison with modern major league salaries becomes ridiculous. When compared to the earnings of most other black men, however, as well as most white men during the Depression, the compensation looms rather large.”
86 William F. McNeil, Black Baseball Out of Season: Pay for Play Outside of the Negro Leagues (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2007), 145-146. On page 145, Paige’s record was listed as 7-2 prior to the final game of the playoffs, which he won, and on the next page McNeil wrote that Paige led all league pitchers that summer with a record of 8-2.
87 Lewis Dial, “The Sports Dial,” New York Age, June 26, 1937: 8; Ollie Stewart, “San Domingo Club Pays $30,000 for Americans,” Afro-American, July 24, 1937: 19; “Society,” Chicago Defender, June 12, 1937: 6. Matlock was said to have gone 16-4 with the Dominican team, but if that’s even close to accurate, it had to have included their subsequent barnstorming back in the States. See Wendell Smith, “If the Crawfords Hurlers Click,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 23, 1938: 16.
88 At other times this team was called Trujillo’s All-Stars and Satchel Paige’s All-Stars, according to Mike Vago, “In 1937, a Dictator Assembled a Baseball Team for the Ages,” March 25, 2018, avclub.com/in-1937-a-dictator-assembled-a-baseball-team-for-the-a-1823978045.
89 The winner of the tournament’s final game was to receive $1,000, according to Larry Lester, Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933-1953 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001), 100-101.
90 “Hornsby’s Team Wins Over That of ‘Old Pete,’” Ada (Oklahoma) Evening News, August 2, 1937: 8; “Matlock Stars as Outlaw ‘9’ Batters Ofays,” Philadelphia Tribune, August 12, 1937: 9; “Negro All-Stars Win Denver Post Semi-Pro Tourney,” Amarillo (Texas) Globe, August 10, 1937: 7; Lester, 100-101; John Bentley, “I May Be Wrong,” Lincoln (Nebraska) Evening Journal, August 11, 1937: 11. Bentley’s column quoted Dobbins, who added that Satchel Paige lost the only tournament game in which he pitched, but he struck out 14 batters and scattered five hits in eight innings. See also Note 2 herein, about Matlock being called “the equal of Carl Hubbell” in the Denver Post itself.
91 McNeil, 185, 190.
92 McNeil, 188. The box score in the Los Angeles Times for a rematch on November 7 shows “Gomez” as the pitcher for the White Kings, and though McNeil says Lefty Gomez pitched for the White Kings that winter, the truth appears to be that Matlock was opposite Joe Gonzales of the 1937 Boston Red Sox, as noted by Harry Levette, “Watching the Scoreboard,” Chicago Defender, November 20, 1937: 10.
93 “NNL Reinstates ‘Jumpers’; New D.C. Club Is Admitted,” Afro-American, March 12, 1938: 18. The photo of Matlock was in the Pittsburgh Courier, April 23, 1938: 16.
94 “Diamond Dope,” Afro-American, June 25, 1938: 23. “Pittsburgh Crawfords Top Philly Stars 5-4,” Cleveland Call and Post, July 14, 1938: 10.
95 Wendell Smith, “Smitty’s Sport Spurts,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 6, 1938: 16; “Nashville Beats Craws 9-1 Before 15,000 Fans,” Chicago Defender, August 20, 1938: 10. In the latter article Mackey was the catcher for “Nashville,” and the team was called the “Nashville Elite Giants making their home in Washington,” in which case the team that pummeled Matlock was actually the Baltimore Elite Giants (who had been in Washington the previous season).
96 John Palmer, “Bushwicks Fail on the Fourth Try to Shake Pittsburgh Crawford Jinx,” Brooklyn Citizen, August 4, 1938: 6.
97 Coverage of the Crawfords faded considerably in September, but one knowledgeable source said the NNL’s regular season ended on Labor Day, which was Monday, September 5. See Cum Posey, “Posey’s Points,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 10, 1938: 17. However, the Craws and the Homestead Grays were scheduled to play a six-game series in four cities from September 3 through 6, according to “Grays and Crawfords Open Series Saturday,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 2, 1938: 17. Results may not exist. It was reported that the final game was indeed played, in Welch, West Virginia, but neither the score nor even the winner was mentioned in “Homestead Grays Will Meet Locals Tonight, Bluefield (West Virginia) Daily Telegraph, September 7, 1938: 4.
98 “League Playoff Games Start Sept. 9,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 3, 1938: 17.
99 “Stars Barely Escape Being Put Out of Loop Playoffs over Weekend,” Philadelphia Tribune, September 15, 1938: 9. Harris’s called shot received its own article on that page, under the headline, “Popeye’s Feat Like ‘The Babe.’” The final two games of the series were covered in “Stars Win 5th Game[,] Will Play in Finals,” September 15, 1938: 8. The Tribune said (twice) that the Crawfords’ starting pitcher was named Davis, but both the Seamheads database and baseball-reference.com show that Roosevelt Davis’s last season with the Craws was 1937.
100 For one overview of the end of the Greenlee era, see Doron Goldman, “1933-1962: The Business Meetings of Negro League Baseball” at sabr.org/research/negro-leagues-business-meetings-1933-1962.
101 See Jorge S. Figueredo, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2003), 225-226, and McNeil, 47.
102 See the long list compiled by the Center for Negro League Baseball Research, at cnlbr.org/Portals/0/RL/Negro%20Leaguers%20in%20Venezuela.pdf. For some insights from Dandridge, see McNeil, 162.
103 One of the Dandridges was his baby daughter, Delores (or Dolores), and the other was 19-year-old Mary Dandridge. The latter was presumably Ray’s wife, except that in the 1940 census her name was shown as Florence.
104 Examples of articles from 1942 that put Matlock on the Cubans’ staff is “Cubans May Be Threat in NNL; Matlock And Morris Will Pitch,” New York Age, April 25, 1942: 11, and “Cuban Stars, Equal of White Majors, Noted Baseball Scribes Say,” Atlanta Daily World, April 15, 1942: 5. The latter said Matlock and the Cuban Stars beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in early 1942 in Havana. The Dodgers did lose three of five games to a team of Cuban all-stars in Havana during March of 1942, but the only pitcher on the Cuban team with a name similar to Matlock (winning or otherwise) was “Mayor,” who beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the third game. That was longtime minor leaguer Agapito Mayor, according to “Hornet-Bound Cuban Handcuffs Bums, 4-2,” Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, March 8, 1942: section 2, 17.
105 “City Council Head to Throw Out First Ball at Stadium,” New York Amsterdam News, May 8, 1943: 12. This article was printed in the Pittsburgh Courier on the same day.
106 His full stats for 1940 and 1941 are available at seamheads.com/NegroLgs/player.php?playerID=matlo01ler. See also Gerald F. Vaughn, “Mexico’s Year of Josh Gibson,” The National Pastime, Number 11 (SABR, 1992): 56. It was Vaughn who said Matlock’s four shutouts led the league in 1941.
107 “Personal,” Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat, April 14, 1941: 7.
108 John Virtue, South of the Color Barrier: How Jorge Pasquel and the Mexican League Pushed Baseball Toward Racial Integration (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc., 2008), 99. For a photo of the team, see “Mexican League Players Visit Chicago,” Chicago Defender, October 4, 1941: 22.
109 “Pearl Matlock Dies; Funeral Tomorrow,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 18, 1942: 10; “Card of Thanks,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, June 22, 1942: 3.
110 “Recreations Play Havana, Cuba, Stars Tonight in Attraction at Municipal Stadium Under Lights,” Kingston (New York) Daily Freeman, June 26, 1942: 8.
111 “Rauschenberger Gives Only Three Hits as Indees Win Game 1 to 0,” Muscatine (Iowa) Journal and News-Tribune, July 7, 1943: 8; “Leroy Matlock on Mound for Saturday Tilt,” Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), July 30, 1943: 13.
112 Lawrence Matlock signed Otis and Ella Mae’s marriage certificate and listed a Davenport address. Leroy wasn’t listed as the other witness; he was probably in Mexico. Otis and Ella Mae still lived in the Quad Cities in 1944, according to “Davenport,” Chicago Defender, April 29, 1944: 17A.
113 “Local All-Stars Win Tussle from Chicago Negroes,” Moline (Illinois) Daily Dispatch, July 24, 1944: 11. For another example of a game with the Quad City All-Stars, see “Seahawk Nine Whips All-Stars,” Waterloo (Iowa) Daily Courier, May 15, 1944: 9. He also pitched for the Foundry. For example, see “Indees Lose to Blackhawks, 1 to 0, Then Defeat Foundry Club, 7 to 6,” Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune, August 7, 1944: 5.
114 “Two Divorce Suits Filed in Circuit Court,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, September 4, 1946: 9.
115 Armand Peterson and Tom Tomashek, Town Ball: The Glory Days of Minnesota Amateur Baseball (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 51. See also “Talkin’ Baseball,” Marshall (Minnesota) Independent, August 15, 2015, accessible at marshallindependent.com/news/local-news/2015/08/talkin-baseball/.
116 “Leroy Matlock, 60, Former Ball Player, Dies in Minnesota,” Monitor-Index & Evening Democrat, March 8, 1968: 9. Matlock is listed in St. Paul city directories for 1950, 1955, and 1960. For insight into the significance of Seeger/Whirlpool in St. Paul, see “Seeger Co.’s Tenure Was Bittersweet for East Side, St. Paul Pioneer Press, twincities.com/2007/05/28/seeger-co-s-tenure-was-bittersweet-for-east-side/. This article was posted in 2007 but updated in 2015.
117 “93-Year-Old Man Steps Out – Daily,” Moberly Monitor Index and Evening Democrat, January 6, 1973: 1.
118 “Former Teachers in Lincoln School File $32,000 Suit,” Moberly Monitor-Index, November 26, 1955: 1. Malcolm Gladwell, “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment,” Revisionist History, season 2, episode 3, 2017. A transcript of this episode is available at blog.simonsays.ai/miss-buchanans-period-of-adjustment-revisionist-history-podcast-transcript-b4c65731f73c.
119 See Note 8.
120 “Adult Education Leaders Named,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, January 25, 1936: “Adult Education Season Closes,” Monitor-Index and Democrat, May 29, 1936: 4.
121 See Note 121. This obituary summed up his career as having been spent with “the St. Louis Stars, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs and Homestead Grays of Philadelphia, Pa.” There is no known instance of Matlock having played with the Monarchs.
122 Dan Burley, “Confidentially Yours,” New York Amsterdam News, May 27, 1944: 6-B. Chuck Davis, “Pupil Spanks Old Master in All Star Game,” Chicago Defender, August 26, 1950: 17. Buck Leonard with John Holway, “A Gallery of Greats in Baseball’s ‘Other’ League,” Washington Evening Star, September 6, 1970: S-11. Leonard was consistent in this regard, because in 1938 he called Matlock the toughest, in “Buck Says Matlock Tough,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 23, 1938: 16.
123 The interview is made available by the National Baseball Hall of Fame at collection.baseballhall.org/PASTIME/judy-johnson-oral-history-interview-1981-december-13-3.
124 Charles N. Brown, “Pirates Honor Negro Leaguers: Permanent PNC Park Exhibit Unveiled,”
New Pittsburgh Courier, July18, 2001: A1.
126 Bankes, The Pittsburgh Crawfords (2001), 72.