Lester: Wilmer Fields, the Negro Leagues’ gentle giant

From SABR member Larry Lester at The National Pastime Museum on November 20, 2015:

A five-tool player is considered a marquee talent in baseball. Wilmer Fields was not a five-tool player, but he was a rare talent in that he could hit for power and for average, he was a good fielder, and he was a sensational pitcher. Players with versatile talents, especially in pitching and hitting, allowed teams to fill a roster spot with a pinch hitter, pinch runner, position player, and moundsman with only one man. These durable men were very valuable in the early days of baseball, when rosters were much smaller and teams could not afford a large squad, especially with limited travel arrangements and accommodations. Such dual talents are rare, as studs like Leon Day, John Donaldson, Don Newcombe, Bullet Rogan, and Double Duty Radcliffe can attest. Another talent seldom mentioned in this pitch-plus-hit category is Wilmer “Red” Fields from Manassas, Virginia.

The tall and sturdily built Fields had played quarterback at Virginia State College of Negroes in Petersburg before being recruited by the Homestead Grays in 1940. He spent his entire Negro League career with the Grays but continued his college education in the offseasons while playing a little football and basketball.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/wilmer-leon-fields-gentle-giant?mc_cid=579efbace5&mc_eid=306136058c

Originally published: November 20, 2015. Last Updated: November 20, 2015.