Peterson: Negro Leagues great Sam Bankhead never made it to the promised land

From SABR member Pete Peterson at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 24, 2018:

In 1971, Satchel Paige became the first Negro League player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was the same year that the Pirates fielded the first all-black lineup in Major League Baseball on their way to a World Series championship.

Since 1971, more than 30 Negro League players have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Those honored include Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston and Judy Johnson, teammates with Paige on the 1936 Pittsburgh Crawfords, arguably, with its five future Hall-of-Famers, the greatest team in Negro League history. Also in the Hall of Fame are Buck Leonard, Raymond Brown and Jud Wilson, who, along with Gibson, were part of the Homestead Grays dynasty that won nine consecutive Negro National League pennants from 1937 to 1945 and three Negro World Series titles.

One of the most important members of the great Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays teams, however, is not in the Hall of Fame. Sam Bankhead was among the most accomplished and versatile players in Negro League history. A clutch hitter, aggressive baserunner and skilled infielder and outfielder, he started at five positions (second base, shortstop and all three outfield positions) in the Negro League’s East-West All-Star game. He was also named the top utility player on the All-Time Negro League team selected by the Pittsburgh Courier.

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Originally published: February 26, 2018. Last Updated: February 26, 2018.