Lester: The greatest pitching duel in black baseball history

From SABR member Larry Lester at The National Pastime Museum on February 19, 2015:

My most desired time-machine dream game happened on August 2, 1930, between the Kansas City Monarchs and the Homestead Grays. On a hot, humid summer night in Kansas City, Missouri, two men, one with smoke and the other with fire, engaged in a wild, free-swinging 12-inning contest that would result in a total of 46 strikeouts. Neither man blinked as they mowed down hitter after hitter in one of the first night games ever played in professional baseball.

But who were these guys?

Joe Williams was a seasoned 44-year-old fireman with a blazing fastball and diamond savvy. Williams’ Homestead Grays, a new entry into the Negro American League, included three future Hall of Famers in Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson, and rookie Josh Gibson. Owned by Cumberland Posey, the Grays rode into town on a nine-game winning streak over the Monarchs that had started back in Pittsburgh. Posey’s posse was poised to establish a reputation in this part of the country and began the three-game series with a victory the night before.

If someone combined a few drops of Roger Clemens’ rocket fuel, a couple of ounces of Satchel Paige’s control, a tiny pinch of Bob Feller’s savvy, a dash of Nolan Ryan’s tenacity, and a little streak of meanness—they got Joe Williams. At times, Smokey Joe’s ball sizzled through the air, and it would explode into the catcher’s leather mitt with a deep, resounding thump. It was the unmistakable sound of baseball smoke from one of the game’s greatest power pitchers.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/smoke-n-fire

Originally published: February 19, 2015. Last Updated: February 19, 2015.