Thorn: The New York Giants’ pursuit of black pitcher George Stovey

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on October 31, 2017:

On May 11, 1998 I received an email about the mysterious lefthanded black pitcher George Stovey, which I only recently unearthed. No image of Stovey has survived, despite his having played for several high-level minor league clubs, forming a battery with Fleet Walker in 1887; it is possible that white teammates would not pose with him, as was the case elsewhere. The subject, still compelling, was how close Stovey might have come to being the first black pitcher signed to a major-league contract.

The correspondent was Negro Leagues expert Jerry Malloy, my dear departed friend whose classic study, “Out at Home,” is available at Our Game [links at the bottom of this story]. What follows is Malloy’s email.

Gordon Hylton inquired about two items from Sporting Life regarding racial discrimination in 1886 and 1891. I do have a citation on the latter:

Probably in no other business in America is the color line so finely drawn as in base ball. An African who attempts to put on a uniform and go in among a lot of white players is taking his life in his hands.

This is fromSporting Life, April 11, 1891.

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Originally published: October 31, 2017. Last Updated: October 31, 2017.