Pride of Smoketown: The 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords

SABR Digital Library: Pride of Smoketown: The 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords

Pride of Smoketown: The 1935 Pittsburgh CrawfordsAdd a new baseball book to your collection from the SABR Digital Library:

Pride of Smoketown: The 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords
Edited by Frederick C. Bush and Bill Nowlin
Associate editors Len Levin and Carl Riechers
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-970159-25-7, $34.95
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-970159-24-0, $9.99
8.5” x 11”, 349 pages

The 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords team, one of the dominant teams in Negro League history, is often compared to the legendary 1927 “Murderer’s Row” New York Yankees. The squad from “Smoketown” — a nickname that the Pittsburgh Courier often applied to the metropolis better-known as “Steel City” — boasted four Hall of Fame players in outfielder James “Cool Papa” Bell, first baseman/manager Oscar Charleston, catcher Josh Gibson, and third baseman William “Judy” Johnson. The team also included such stalwarts as Sam Bankhead, William Bell, Jimmie Crutchfield, Andrew “Pat” Patterson, Leroy Matlock, and Sam Streeter. With a roster full of such illustrious stars, it is easy to see why the Crawfords were dominant. Nonetheless, the team unexpectedly had to scratch and claw its way to the Negro National League pennant by defeating the New York Cubans in a thrilling seven-game championship series.

This book includes articles on the players from the 1935 squad, as well as one who was absent. The Crawfords might have dispatched the Cubans more easily had they retained the services of pitcher Satchel Paige, a fifth Hall of Famer who had been a member of their 1934 squad. However, Paige and Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee were at odds and Paige shunned the Crawfords in 1935, although his shadow still loomed large over the Pittsburgh franchise. In light of Paige’s prominence and the fact that he had been expected to pitch for the Crawfords, a feature article about his accomplishments in 1935 and a story about his failure to appear for a game at Yankee Stadium in September also are included here.

This volume contains exhaustively researched articles about the players, front office personnel, Greenlee Field, and the exciting games and history of the team that were written and edited by 25 SABR members. The inclusion of historical photos about every subject in the book helps to shine a spotlight on the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords, who truly were the Pride of Smoketown.

Contributors include: Jeremy Beer, Mark Blaeuer, Richard Bogovich, Frederick “Rick” Bush, Matt Clever, Alan Cohen, Duke Goldman, Peggy Gripshover, Leslie Heaphy, Jon Henson, Paul Hofmann, Jay Hurd, Bill Johnson, Thomas E. Kern, Kevin Larkin, Bob LeMoine, Len Levin, Brian McKenna, Bill Nowlin, Tim Odzer, Richard J. Puerzer, Carl Riechers, Wes Singletary, Mark S. Sternman, Jeb Stewart, and Dave Wilkie.


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About the SABR Digital Library

For more than 40 years, SABR and its members have led the way in publishing the best baseball historical and statistical research. Our publications program is shifting to take advantage of new methods of publishing. Not only will we continue to publish new books like Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts and Their Profession (2011); Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish! (2012); Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates (2013); Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (2013); Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox (2015); Nuclear Powered Baseball/The Simpsons (2016), Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos (2016); Cuban Baseball Legends (2016); No-Hitters (2017); Bittersweet Goodbye: The Black Barons, the Grays, and the 1948 Negro League World Series (2017), Major League Baseball A Mile High: The First Quarter Century of the Colorado Rockies (2018), and The 1995 Cleveland Indians: The Sleeping Giant Awakes (2019), which showcase the best efforts of SABR’s members, chapters and committees, but new technology makes it possible for us to bring out-of-print titles like Nineteenth Century Stars (2012); The Fenway Project (2013); The 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox: Pandemonium on the Field (2017); Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox (2019); and Green Cathedrals (2020) back again.

Books will be available in digital formats as well as paperbacks produced by “print on demand” (POD).

SABR members will get discounted rates for all Digital Library publications, including many for free. If you’re not a member, click here to join SABR.

Stay tuned throughout the year for new (and old!) titles that we’ll be adding to the SABR Digital Library. To learn more about SABR Publications, contact Publications Editor Cecilia Tan at

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Originally published: July 14, 2020. Last Updated: May 28, 2021.