Klugh: Who is Leon Day? Remembering a Negro Leagues star

From Justin Klugh at The Hardball Times on December 17, 2018, with mention of SABR member Michelle Freeman, Michael Rosenband, and Gary Cieradkowski:

It came pretty easy for Leon Day, rolling out of bed to play baseball for a living. At least, as easy as they made it for black ball players in the 1930s amd ’40s, an era defined by segregation in a country still slow to leave it behind.

But when Day was on the field — starting at age 17 for the Baltimore Black Sox, and for 17 years after with the Newark Eagles, Baltimore Elite Giants, and any team that would have him, from Brooklyn to Edmonton to Mexico City — he made everything about it look easy.

The positions came easy; he played almost every one of them. At the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, statues of nine legendary players are cast in bronze and placed at all the positions on the diamond. Day is in right, but they could’ve put him anywhere, at home as he was with dirt or grass or mound under his beat-up cleats. Just not at catcher–he could never stop himself from closing his eyes when the batters swung.


It all came pretty easy for Leon Day. But buried under his country’s chronic racism, outshone by his more gregarious peers like Paige, and ignored by archivists who either didn’t find him worthy or else didn’t care who he was, Leon Day and his supporters have learned, that in baseball, the easiest thing to do is be forgotten.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/who-is-leon-day/

Originally published: December 17, 2018. Last Updated: December 17, 2018.