Rap Dixon (NOIRTECH/LARRY LESTER)

Rap Dixon

This article was written by Ted Knorr - Chris Rainey


Rap Dixon art (COURTESY OF PHILLIP DEWEY)On December 12, 2018, at the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, Museum President Bob Kendrick, with historian Jay Caldwell, announced the Negro League Centennial Team. The team was a key part of the Museum’s celebration in 2020 of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues. The team of 30 players, a manager, and an owner was to honor the greatest Negro League players of all-time.1 Of the 19 position players on the team, only one was not already enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York — Herbert Alphonso “Rap” Dixon.2

Further affirmation of Rap Dixon’s greatness was provided 70 years earlier when in 1949, the greatest of all Negro League outfielders, Oscar Charleston, was asked by a reporter from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin for his all-time Negro League lineup, Charleston, whose career began before the Negro Leagues were organized, and ended several years after their demise as a major league, offered his team. In the outfield he placed future Hall of Famers Martin Dihigo in left and Cristobal Torriente in right … between that pair, at his old position of center field, he inserted Rap Dixon. High praise indeed for a lesser known player among the pantheon of Negro League stars.3

A 6-foot-1, 185-pound4 dynamo who batted and threw right-handed, and played all three outfield positions, Dixon was a classic five-tool player: hitting for both power and average, running, fielding, and throwing. He also had a knack for performing well on the big stage. During his 16-year career, he was a key player on great teams in the Negro Leagues as well as in offseason leagues and a tour of Japan.

Herbert Alphonso Dixon was born on September 15, 1902, in Kingston, Georgia, about 56 miles northwest of Atlanta. He was the first of John and Rosa Goodwin Dixon’s five children.5 Herbert and his younger brother Paul (also a future Negro League outfielder) developed their rudimentary baseball talents in Georgia’s rural farm country.

Just prior to the First World War, Rosa’s brother Oliver P. Goodwin accepted a position in Steelton, Pennsylvania, as pastor of the First Baptist Church. Steelton lies along the Susquehanna River south of the state capital of Harrisburg. Shortly thereafter, additional Dixon and Goodwin families, including John and Rosa Dixon, headed north for greener pastures joining approximately 1.6 million African Americans opting to leave the south as part of the Great Migration.

The Dixon and Goodwin families settled on Adams Street near Uncle Oliver’s church. Just down the street was the Hygienic School for Colored Children where Herbert began formal education. He graduated from eighth grade on May 23, 1919, before matriculating to Steelton High School. Herbert’s extracurriculars, in addition to baseball, included boxing, football, and playing the trumpet in the school band. In addition, Herbert worked part-time in the steel mill once he was old enough. According to Chappie Gardner: “[Dixon] got his wonderful strength of arms and shoulder from throwing pig iron billets at the crane operators in the steel mills.”6

Herbert Dixon completed only two years of high school. Purportedly Dixon’s schooling ended and his “career in baseball started one day when his high school science teacher announced that the class was going to dissect a cat. Dixon, feeling squeamish, exited quickly and went straight to a sporting goods store; with the money he had earned working weekends at the Bethlehem Steel Company, he purchased a glove and bat, took a train to Atlantic City and joined the Bacharach Giants.”7 Neither Seamheads.com nor Baseball-Reference.com list him playing any games with the Giants that year.

By 1919, Dixon became a regular with Steelton’s semipro Keystone Giants. On May 31, the Harrisburg Telegraph announced that “Dixon, the Giants new shortstop, played fast ball and made two healthy swats” in an 8-3 victory over the Middletown White Sox.8 Dixon usually batted leadoff and clearly was one of the team’s stars, even at age 16.

Perhaps the biggest game for young Herbert with Steelton came on July 16, 1921, at Harrisburg’s Island Park, when they took on the best of the local semipro clubs — Colonel W. Strothers’ Harrisburg Giants. The upstart Steelton club held a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning before the more polished Harrisburg team rallied and eventually won the game in the 10th.9 Dixon played shortstop, batted third, and had two hits in the loss.

Herbert Dixon was briefly with the Keystone Giants in early May 1922 before Colonel Strothers recruited him. Dixon’s debut with Harrisburg occurred on May 20 against the powerful Hilldale Club when he stroked one hit in three at-bats with a run and a ribbie in a 5-3 loss.10 By mid-June, Dixon was the Harrisburg center fielder. When the veteran fly hawk, Jess Barbour, returned to the lineup Dixon played mostly right field. Over the summer he continuously upped his place in the batting order from eighth to fourth. The 1922 season ended on an unhappy note for Harrisburg as they lost their city title in a nine-game series against the fast Motive Power semipro team.

As the 1923 season dawned, Colonel Strothers struggled to find talent for his independent team competing against 14 teams in two leagues. These difficulties were eased when E.B. Lamar of the New York Bacharach Giants joined Harrisburg’s administrative team and brought with him several outstanding players including outfielder Fats Jenkins, second baseman Dick Jackson, and pitchers Harold Treadwell and Nip Winters. In addition, Strothers brought in William Pettus of the Richmond Giants to anchor the infield at first and to manage the team.11

By early 1923, Dixon’s nickname began to appear in print.12 There are two suggestions as to its origin. One supposes it was derived from the Rappahannock River which flows through Virginia. How this relates to him is unclear.13 Sportswriter Chester L. Washington offered a more plausible suggestion: that it grew out of Dixon’s hitting ability while still in high school. Washington claimed, “Rap hits the old apple with the same degree of which made William Tell famous.”14

The Giants’ main opponent in 1923 was again the local Motive Power team. John Brackenridge, Motive Power’s manager, threw down the gauntlet in the offseason saying he had “signed the same aggregation of stars that annexed the City championship from Strothers’ Harrisburg Giants.”15 Unlike 1922, where the Giants got off to a slow start losing 11 of their first 17 contests, the 1923 Harrisburg team captured a dozen victories in their initial 17 games. They faced Ben Taylor’s Washington Potomacs nine times and emerged with six wins.

Dixon started the season slowly at the plate before being sidelined most of July with an undisclosed illness. It was a harbinger of the future for Dixon who would be haunted by injury and illness during his career. He had powerful arms, but author James Riley called attention to his spindly legs. Riley also suggests drinking was an issue with Dixon especially later in his career.16

The season culminated, as it had the previous year, with a series against Motive Power. The Giants dropped the opener, 7-4, on the Island Park field. Dixon’s bat led the team to an 8-3 victory in the second game. The remainder of the series was dominated by Giants pitcher Nip Winters who captured three complete-game wins.

During the offseason the Giants joined the ECL and signed Oscar Charleston to guide the team. Charleston arrived in Harrisburg on March 3, 1924. Immediately he and Strothers began building a ballclub that Charleston thought could be a dark horse contender. Retained were outfielders Dixon, Jenkins, and Barbour, and five others. Charleston brought four pitchers with him from the Indianapolis ABCs. Other new faces included first baseman Edgar Wesley from the Detroit Stars and pitcher Slim Branham. The new manager gushed about the potential he saw. “We got the stuff, boy, we got the stuff.”17

The season began April 19 with a non-league contest versus the York White Roses, featuring Del Bissonette. The Giants lost a close encounter, 3-1, and Dixon appeared as a defensive replacement for Dick Jackson, the second baseman Charleston started in right field.18 Dixon saw little action early in the season as Jackson held down right field. At 21, Rap was the youngest member of the team and may not have won Charleston’s favor yet.

Dixon’s chance to impress came in early June in New York against the Lincoln Giants at the Catholic Protectory Grounds. In a doubleheader victory he supplied five hits off a quartet of hurlers.19 By late June, Dixon had cemented his place in right field joining Jenkins (left) and Charleston (center).

The trio was soon dubbed the “million-dollar outfield” and played together through the 1927 season.20 Combined they posted a stellar .351 batting average (898-for-2559) in their time together. The trio is one of only 12 outfield groups that played four or more years together while featuring a future Hall of Famer.21 Local sportswriter Wellington “Welly” Jones said, “There is no better outfield than Dixon, Charleston, and Jenkins.”22

While Dixon maintained his hold on the right-field spot, he hit only .259 in ECL action. His first ECL home run came on July 15 off Brooklyn’s Pud Flournoy. Jenkins batted .336 and Charleston dominated league pitching with 15 home runs and a .405 average. A revolving door at third base and a struggling pitching staff doomed the Giants to a 30-31 mark.

The following season, 1925, was the Harrisburg Giants’ highwater mark. Charleston captured his second consecutive triple crown (.427/20/97 in a 73-game ECL season). Jenkins hit .317 and scored 82 runs while Dixon made his presence known hitting .352/8/53. The team finished second (48-24-1, .664) behind Hilldale. The outfield trio was honored with both Charleston and Dixon being named first team All-East and Jenkins as an honorable mention in left.23

That fall, Dixon accepted an invitation from Hilldale’s Biz Mackey and joined the Philadelphia Royal Giants in the California Winter League. The team won the season’s second half with an overall record of 24-15-3.24 Dixon batted just .271 and usually was in the bottom of the order. He did stroke four hits as the Royal Giants swept the White King Soapsters in a three-game postseason battle.

The Royal Giants remained in the West after the Winter League season playing local semipro squads and PCL teams. Dixon hit well in these exhibitions although the greatest impression his bat made was on the head of Portland catcher Frank Tobin. In a game on March 19, Dixon swung and missed but knocked Tobin unconscious.25 The team wrapped up their stay in California in early April.

His fine 1925 season made Dixon a star. New York Giants manager John “Muggsy” McGraw told the press that winter that, “If that boy Dixon was not so black, I could make a Cuban out of him and the National League would have another star to talk about. He is without question, one of the greatest outfielders in the United States.”26 Despite the glowing praise, Colonel Strothers listened to offers from Rube Foster that might have sent Dixon to Chicago.

In the 1926 season Dixon again put up nice stats, .323/6/40, while playing 47 of the 49 league games. Charleston’s numbers dipped dramatically, and John Beckwith led the team with a .330 average. Perhaps it was his off-year or maybe the pitching staff’s 5.00 ERA but, as his biographer Jeremy Beer notes, Charleston “increasingly edged into hotheadness as the year dragged on.”27 The manager’s attitude rubbed off on his players. Dixon tried to fight an umpire in Baltimore. Shortstop Rev Cannady went further by slugging an umpire in the jaw.28 The team finished fourth in the ECL at 27-22.

When the ECL season ended, Dixon again joined Mackey in California. He joined a spectacular lineup featuring holdovers Mackey and Bullet Joe Rogan, plus Turkey Stearnes, Willie Wells, and Andy Cooper. After a decent (9-8) first half the Royal Giants added Bill Foster. The team caught fire winning 13 of 14 second-half decisions to capture the playoff qualifying title. In the playoff they split four games but failed to capture the official league title when the deciding fifth game with Shell Oil was never played.

Dixon batted .349 — third in the league behind Stearnes (.387) and Shell’s Bob Jones (.361) while leading the league in games and doubles. He finished second on the team (and league) in hits to Stearnes. As in the previous winter he was the team’s left fielder.

After the season, Philadelphia Royal Giants owner/promotor Lonnie Goodwin desired to take the squad on a tour of Japan, Korea, and the Hawaiian Islands. With the core of his team under contract to Negro League teams such plans were not without controversy. Ownership threatened a five-year suspension on any Negro Leaguers that failed to show for spring training. Of the 14 players on the Winter League team only five risked the potential punishment — Mackey, Cooper, Dixon, Frank Duncan, and Neal Pullen.29

On March 9, Goodwin and his team set sail on the La Plata Maru to Yokohama, Japan. The touring Royal Giants were not the same team that had participated in the California Winter League, but they remained a formidable unit. They arrived in Japan on March 29 to begin a 27-game schedule (22 games in Japan; 5 in Korea).

The major-league tour of Japan in 1934 featuring Babe Ruth was highly influential in the birth of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Writers also credit the two earlier Negro League tours for creating a love for the game in Japan. In his study of Ruth’s tour, Robert K. Fitts notes that the “Negro Leaguers conducted themselves far better than their white counterparts.”30 Years of barnstorming had taught them not to embarrass an opponent with antics or running up the score.

The tour opened on April 1 in Tokyo against the Keio University’s Mita Club which five years earlier had defeated the Herb Hunter All-Stars, 9-3. The Mita Club fell, 2-0, to Cooper and then Mackey beat them, 10-6, the following day. No box score exists for the opener, but Dixon went three for three with a double, a walk, and a sac fly in the second game. He followed that performance with a five-for-five day (including a triple and double) in cavernous Koshien Stadium.31

The Japanese fans were in awe of Dixon’s bat, speed, and throwing arm. Dixon’s eighth consecutive hit was a mere appetizer for his next feat. Koshien Stadium had been built in 1924 with a left-center-field gap that measured 128 meters (420 feet). No native batter had hit or cleared the fence but on April 6 Dixon smashed a ball that ricocheted off the wall for a triple. Dixon next wowed the fans at Jingu Stadium on April 28 after a 14-0 win. He stood at home plate and threw balls on target to players in the left-field seats.

After Emperor Hirohito commemorated the Japanese tour of Dixon and his mates by presenting them with a trophy, the team headed for Korea. Dixon pitched the May 19 game in present-day Daegu picking up the victory, 14-2. From there the team traveled to Honolulu where they played for two weeks before heading back to the mainland. The threatened lengthy suspension had been reduced to approximately two weeks by ECL President Isaac Nutter.32

Dixon finally returned to Harrisburg on July 22. Things were vastly different with the Giants as Oscar Charleston was being dealt to the Hilldale club and John Beckwith was manager. Charleston’s departure fell through and he took the field with Dixon against a Brooklyn Royal Giants team rattled from an auto accident en route to the game.

Brooklyn’s late arrival and a rain shower held the game to just four-and-a-half innings with Harrisburg on top, 8-7. Dixon had a hit and scored a run while batting in the seventh spot and playing his traditional right field.33 Harrisburg had finished the first half with a 25-20 mark. They were 0-3 in the second half before the victory over Brooklyn. With their million-dollar outfield again intact the team finished second and posted a 13-8 record after Dixon’s return. Dixon hit .282 in 21 league games.

Dixon returned to the California League that winter, but circumstances were far different than the previous year. A second Black team was entered, called the Cleveland Stars, with a roster that included Dixon’s former Royal Giants teammates Stearnes, Newt Allen, Crush Holloway, and Wells. In addition, Commissioner Landis had imposed restrictions on major leaguers playing in the circuit.

Besides the newly minted Stars, the Royal Giants’ main competition came from Pirrone’s All-Stars. Anchored by Babe Herman and Bob Meusel, Pirrone’s squad beat Dixon’s team early in the campaign, but then Herman and Meusel stopped play to comply with Landis’s edict.34 After their departure the All-Stars faded and the Royal Giants ran away with the title.

After his shortened season with Harrisburg, Dixon exploded in California. His .380 batting average was second in the league behind teammate Jess Hubbard (.442). He exhibited power with a league-leading six doubles and three triples in just 79 at-bats. His five home runs were second to Stearnes’ seven.35

Dixon played with the Cleveland Giants in California in 1928-29. His .360 average was only sixth on the team. After a winter in Cuba, Dixon returned to California in 1930-31 with the Royal Giants. In five seasons on the coast he batted .326 (156-479) and had 21 home runs.36

Citing poor attendance, Colonel Strothers disbanded his Harrisburg team in March 1928. Dixon signed with the Baltimore Black Sox and turned in two of the finest seasons ever seen in baseball. In 1928 he posted a line of .398/13/58. They were nearly Triple Crown numbers had teammate Jud Wilson not hit .399 (they were separated by .0006 points). He also led the circuit with 34 walks. Using modern statistics, he posted an OPS of 1.180 and an OPS+ of 190.

The following year found the team in the American Negro League where they captured the flag in both halves and posted a league (ANL) best 55-25 mark. In 76 games Dixon produced even better numbers: .415/16/92. His OPS rose to 1.204 and his OPS+ to 191. Dixon’s marvelous season was jeopardized in July when he was beaned in a game with the Homestead Grays. He fearlessly returned to the lineup the next day and proceeded to rap out 14 consecutive league hits during the week. The streak started against the Grays and culminated on July 28 when he collected eight hits in a doubleheader versus Hilldale.37 The major-league record for consecutive hits is 12.38 Including two walks against the Grays, he had 16 consecutive on-base appearances which is bested only by Piggy Ward’s 17 in 1893.39

Dixon did not go west in the offseason, opting instead to play in Cuba with Almendares. He showcased his power and speed, leading the league in stolen bases (19) and the team with five home runs. (Mule Suttles led the league with seven.)

Dixon entered the 1930 season as a 27-year-old, with his prime years apparently ahead of him. Rather than improving on the two impressive seasons he tailed off and found himself packing bags to go from team to team. He opened 1930 with the Black Sox and played the first Negro League games at Yankee Stadium in a doubleheader versus the Lincoln Giants on July 5.

Dixon had a reputation for saving his best for big occasions. He opened the scoring in the first game with a home run in the first inning off Bill Holland, but the Giants prevailed easily, 13-4. In the second game Dixon again homered in the first then added an inside-the-park blow to deep left-center in the third as Baltimore won, 5-3.40

There were 15 Black ballclubs in 1930: nine in the NNL and six Eastern Independent teams. The competition between the two leagues led to players jumping from one circuit to the other. Dixon was one of three big names (with Suttles and Jenkins) to leave the Black Sox as he skipped to the NNL Chicago American Giants. He hit .305 with eight home runs in 49 games for Baltimore and Chicago.

Dixon opened the 1931 season playing left field for the Hilldale club that featured Mackey and Martin Dihigo. He struggled to a .226 average in 44 games before joining the Black Sox late in the season.41 In 1932 he reunited with manager Oscar Charleston with the Pittsburg Crawfords. He wowed the fans at Greenlee Field on May 28 with a single and double, two stolen bases, and four runs scored in a 13-4 win over Birmingham. The Crawfords featured 20-year-old catcher Josh Gibson whose eight home runs took the team title over Dixon’s seven blows.

Dixon married Rosa (aka Rose) Yarbrough in August 1931 in Richmond, Virginia. The couple were divorced in October 1934 also in Richmond. The decree listed desertion as the cause and noted that Rap had not contested the proceedings.42 Dixon’s death certificate shows a second wife, Edith Dixon.43

Dixon joined the independent Philadelphia Stars in 1933 and came out slugging. He hit a robust .360 finishing second on the team to Jud Wilson (.376). The Stars finished out of contention with a 22-13 mark. Fans rewarded Dixon with a spot on the East roster in the first East-West All-Star game. While the East squad lost 11-7, Dixon had a strong game going 1-for-3 with a walk, sacrifice fly, and stolen base against Bill Foster.

In November 1933 Dixon joined Josh Gibson and league players on a boat trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The players formed a team that the Pittsburgh Courier called the Ramirez Stars. Following the Puerto Rican season, Dixon and Gibson joined the Concordia team from Venezuela. Dr. Leyton Revel and Luis Munoz list Dixon with 21 at-bats with Concordia.44 It has often been suggested that Dixon injured his back badly during the winter of 1933-34. Concordia played in four series, one of them going nine games, so it appears (from his limited at-bats) that Dixon was injured while with this team. We can further pinpoint the timing by noting that the Philadelphia Tribune reported a trade offer of Cool Papa Bell for Dixon in early February 1934.45 News of a serious injury had presumably not made its way back to the States by that time.

In the spring of 1934, the Philadelphia Stars released Dixon while he was in the hospital. Was he being treated for the back injury that plagued him the remainder of his life?46 Dixon’s numbers when he returned to action from 1934-37 indicate a severe downturn. He batted .272 in those seasons, 50 points below his career average.

The Baltimore Black Sox entered the NNL for the second half of the 1934 campaign and Dixon served as their player/manager. Confident in his recovery he used himself as utilityman even playing third base in a win over the Homestead Grays.47 That was one of just three wins the team earned. As a manager, he won praise for his work with the young, unknown players including rookie Leon Day. Dixon’s reputation was rewarded with a spot on the East roster in the All-Star Game. He replaced Vic Harris midgame and went 1-for-2 in the East’s classic win, 1-0.48

The following year the Brooklyn Eagles’ Ben Taylor invited Dixon to training camp in Gadsden, Alabama. Soon after his arrival, Dixon was referred to a dentist who discovered four infected molars. Once they were removed Dixon’s health improved remarkedly and he showed flashes of his athletic talent.49

Dixon split the season with Brooklyn and the New York Cubans batting .301. The Cubans were the second-half champs and faced the Crawfords in the championship. In the spotlight for the final time in his career, Dixon responded by leading all hitters with a .421 average and 1.079 OPS but was on the losing side.

He joined the Grays in 1936 then finished up with a few games with the Crawfords in 1937. He joined the all-star contingent, often labeled the Ciudad Trujillo team, that captured the crown in the Denver Post tournament that August. He played sparingly in the games, quite possibly managing the team. Upon leaving that team the 35-year-old returned home to Steelton. Dixon took a job with Bethlehem Steel then in the 1940s he took a job with the county. Later he operated a pool hall in Steelton.

While his professional days were over, Rap Dixon still played with Harrisburg area semipros. But mostly he dreamed of bringing the NNL back to Harrisburg. To that end he became a great advocate for the game in his area throwing his support and reputation behind numerous efforts to keep the sport alive during the Depression and ensuing war years. This included managing an American Legion team in 1940 and an integrated semipro team.

In 1943 Dixon made an unsuccessful run as a Republican nominee for constable. After the election defeat and a burglary at his pool hall, he left Steelton for greener pastures in Detroit, supposedly for a job coaching a baseball team. A heart attack hospitalized him on July 18, followed by his death on July 20. His body was returned to Harrisburg for funeral services that were attended by his parents, two brothers, a sister, and other family and friends. On June 8, 2007, a citizen’s group dedicated a fitting grave marker in the Midland Cemetery where he had been laid to rest. The Orioles sent Paul Blair and Curt Motton to honor the former Baltimore Black Sox.

 

Sources

Unless otherwise cited, Rap Dixon’s baseball statistics were compiled by SABR members Gary Ashwill and Kevin Johnson and are available at Seamheads.com. Extensive use of the Harrisburg newspapers provided background. Ancestry.com provided much family background as did 10 years of research and family interviews by Ted Knorr.

Photo: Courtesy of Phillip Dewey.

 

Acknowledgments

This biography was reviewed by Bill Nowlin and Rory Costello. It was fact-checked by Kevin Larkin.

 

Notes

1 Matt Campbell, “Negro League Players Could be Bobbleheads — with Enough Support,” Kansas City Star, December 14, 2018.

2 The argument could be made for John Donaldson and Buck O’Neil as position players, but Donaldson made his reputation as a pitcher and O’Neil as a manager.

3“Jackie, Larry Snubbed in All-Time Team Poll,” New York Age, July 16, 1949: 16.

4 Rap can be found listed anywhere from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-2.

5 Rachel was born about 1905; twins, Paul and Pauline, 1907; and John W., 1909.

6 W. Rollo Wilson, “Sports Shorts,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 2, 1930: 14.

7 Phil Dixon and Patrick J. Hannigan, The Negro Baseball Leagues, A Photographic History (Mattuck, New York: American House, 1992),97.

8 “Keystone Giants Win,” Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Telegraph, May 31, 1919: 15.

9 “Local Giants Take First Game,” Harrisburg Telegraph, July 18, 1921: 11.

10 “Saturday Games,” Harrisburg Telegraph, May 22, 1922: 15.

11 “Snow and Rain Spoil Ball Games,” York (Pennsylvania) Daily Record, April 16, 1923: 7.

12 “Baseball Activities,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 14, 1923: 11.

13 James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994), 239.

14 Chester L. Washington, “Ches’ Sez,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 3, 1935: 14.

15 “City Champs to Meet Fast Foes,” Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), May 5, 1923: 9.

16 James A. Riley, 239-40.

17 “Giants Planning for Big Season; Manager Arrives,” Evening News, March 4, 1924: 15.

18 “Gardner Blows and York Wins,” Evening News, April 21, 1924: 15.

19 Standard Union (Brooklyn New York), June 3, 1924: 14.

20 “Harrisburg Giants May Lose Stars, Charleston is One,” Harrisburg Sunday Courier, January 31, 1926: 7.

21 Ted Knorr, “The Greatest Outfield in Baseball History,” as published in The National Pastime: Steel City Stories (Pittsburgh, 2018). https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-greatest-outfield-in-baseball-history/ Last accessed September 7, 2020.

22 “Tuning in With Fans,” Harrisburg Telegraph, August 14, 1924: 15. Other million-dollar outfields included Harry Hooper, Duffy Lewis, and Tris Speaker who played six seasons with Boston. Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, and Bob Meusel played five seasons together. The Philadelphia Phillies had three Hall of Famers — Ed Delahanty, Billy Hamilton, and Sam Thompson from 1891-95. The other example in Negro League ball was Bell, Wilson Redus, and Branch Russell with the St. Louis Stars.

23 W. Rollo Wilson, “Fans of Country Select Mythical All Eastern Team,” Pittsburgh Courier, October 3, 1925: 14.

24 William F. McNeil, The California Winter League (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2002), 108-110.

25 “Portland Beavers Hold Royal Giants Squad 12 Innings,” Bakersfield (California) Morning Echo, March 20, 1926: 2.

26 “M’Graw Praises Herbert Dixon, Star Outfielder,” Harrisburg Telegraph, February 2, 1926: 15.

27 Jeremy Beer, Oscar Charleston, The Life and Legend of Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Player (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019), 178.

28 Jeremy Beer, 178.

29 “Charleston Still in Fold of Harrisburg, “Pittsburgh Courier, March 19, 1927: 17.

30 Robert K. Fitts, Banzai Babe Ruth (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012), 10.

31 Kazuo Sayama & Bill Staples, Jr., Gentle Black Giants (Fresno: NBRP Press, 2019), 37-46.

32 Michael E. Lomax, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902-1931: The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014), 363.

33 “Extra Basehits Feature Game,” Harrisburg Telegraph, July 23, 1927: 12.

34 McNeil, The California Winter League, 124-25.

35 McNeil, 127.

36 Numbers are taken from McNeil’s The California Winter League, 306.

37 “Blacksox Double Win Over Hilldale Settles Top Place; Rivalry Keen,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 3, 1929: 16.

38 Three major leaguers to collect 12 straight hits were Johnny Kling in 1902, Pinky Higgins in 1938, and Walt Dropo in 1952.

39 Newspapers trumpeted the 14-hit mark. For some reason two games with the Bachrach Giants on July 27 were not recognized as league games.

40 William G. Nunn, “Diamond Stars Rise to Miracle Heights in Big Game at Yankee Bowl,” Pittsburgh Courier, July 12, 1930: 14.

41 “Old Sox Slugging Stars Rejoin Team for Stars’ Series,” Evening Sun (Baltimore), September 25, 1931: 46.

42 Commonwealth of Virginia, 34-002086, issued on October 22, 1934 in Richmond.

43 “Former Baseball Player Here, Ralph (sic) Dixon, Dies,” Evening News, July 27, 1944: 12. Oddly this obituary makes no mention of Edith.

44 Dr. Layton Revel and Luis Munoz, “Forgotten Heroes: Herbert ‘Rap’ Dixon,” Center for Negro League Baseball Research, www.cnlbr.org/Portals/0/Hero/Herbert_Rap_Dixon.pdf, accessed September 5, 2020.

45 Randy Dixon, “Baseball Magnates Convene in Parley Here,” Philadelphia Tribune, February 15, 1934: 10.

46 Dixon began suffering from consumption in the mid-to-late 1930s. Lung issues cannot be definitively ruled out as the reason for the hospitalization. It should also be noted that John Holway termed the problem a stomach ailment.

47 “Rap Dixon is Inspiration to the Blacksox,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 4, 1934: 15.

48 Larry Lester, Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 1933-53 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001), 61.

49 “Rap Dixon’s Return Gives Team New Life in Training,” Chicago Defender, April 27, 1935: 16.

Full Name

Herbert Allen Dixon

Born

September 15, 1902 at Kingston, GA (US)

Died

July 20, 1944 at Detroit, MI (US)

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