Whirty: Negro League great Smokey Joe Williams may have had Cherokee blood

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Philly.com on November 19, 2014:

In the summer of 1917, the Hilldale Club, based in Darby, PA, was one of the most popular and successful all-black professional teams in the world of segregated baseball.

But were they truly “all black?”

In August of that year, the Hilldales signed a ringer, and what a ringer – “Smokey” Joe Williams, a flame-throwing hurler whom many contemporary and modern experts believe was even better on the mound than the legendary Satchel Paige.

Williams, who was just reaching his peak at the time, was indeed one of the best best chuckers in the pre-Negro Leagues at the time. But he was also part Native-American, a fact that made him somewhat unique among his African-American peers and one that illustrated the constant blurring of the racial lines and social mores in the first half of the 20th century. It’s also a fact that brings extra importance during November, Native-American Heritage Month.

Read the full article here: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/Negro_League_pitcher_may_have_had_Cherokee_blood.html

Originally published: November 21, 2014. Last Updated: November 21, 2014.