Cieradkowski: Biz Mackey, international man of clout

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski Jr. at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on October 1, 2013:

He grew up playing town ball with his brothers Ray and Ernest before going pro with the San Antonio Black Aces in 1918. When the team folded C.I. Taylor’s Indianapolis ABC’s bought his contract. The ABC’s were among the elite black teams at the time and for a young kid like Mackey to be picked up by them was saying a lot about his raw talent. Serving his big league internship on a team filled with stars such as Oscar Charleston, Dizzy Dismukes, Crush Holloway and Ben Taylor benefited the burly young catcher and he batted .312, 329 and .365. 

In 1923 he moved to the Hilldale Club out of Darby, Pennsylvania. Hilldale was the classiest of the eastern blackball outfits and were about to embark on a tear of three pennants once the Eastern Colored League was founded the year Mackey joined them.Because Hilldale already had slugger Louis Santop behind he plate, Mackey often played in the infield so both his and Santop’s bats could be in the lineup. It says a lot that a man of Mackey’s size, about 6′ and over 200 pounds, could play shortstop and third base with the same ease as he could catcher. When he did displace Santop behind the plate, Mackey’s mastery of the position became legendary. His arm was so strong and accurate that he didn’t have to stand up to throw a base runner out at second. No one had seen that before and soon Mackey was getting compared to Major League baseball’s best catcher, Mickey Cochrane, who played across town with the Philadelphia Athletics. Oldtimers who saw both men play usually give Cochrane the slight edge with a bat, but overwhelmingly give Mackey the nod when it came to defence and calling a game.

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Originally published: October 3, 2013. Last Updated: October 3, 2013.