“No player, black or white, could handle bunts like Newt!”
--Quincy Gilmore, KC Monarchs business manager, quoted in “Baseball’s First Colored World Series” by Larry Lester
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©Copyright 2012, Kyle McNary, McNary Publishing
Negro Leaguer of the Month
Walter “Newt” Joseph
Position: third base
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 6 ", Weight: 175 lb.
Born: October 27, 1896 in Birmingham, AL
Died: January 19, 1953 in Kansas City, MO
Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, Satchel Paige All-Stars
Despite his small stature, slow foot speed and limited natural ability, Newt Joseph was a mainstay of the Kansas City Monarchs infield for 14 seasons.
Walter Newton Joseph was born in Montgomery, Alabama and reared in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and was a star pitcher and catcher on the sandlots before hitch-hiking to Kansas City to try to make the Monarchs team. Joseph was not taken seriously at first, but his persistence paid off as he eventually made the team and became an excellent third baseman and team leader.
Joseph had a strong arm, and worked hard to become a good fielder, but it was his hustle and constant chatter that made him a fan favorite. The cocky Joseph was the heart of the Monarchs in the 20s and 30s, and roomed with second baseman Newt Allen, who was born Newton Henry Joseph. Both players were known to be rough on the field, often spiking opponents with their aggressive slides.
Joseph usually batted near the bottom of the powerful Monarch lineups, but was a consistent hitter in the .280-range, with occasional power. In 1923, Joseph hit a home run that gave the Monarchs their first Negro National League pennant, and the next two seasons, also pennant-winning campaigns, he batted over .325.
Joseph was a student of the game, and was considered the best “sign stealer” in baseball. Within a few innings, Joseph usually had deciphered his opponents steal, bunt and hit-and-run signs.
Joseph never played in an East-West game, but was the second leading vote-getter in 1933 behind Alec Radcliffe, and the third leading vote-getter in ’34 behind Radcliffe and Felton Snow.
After retiring from baseball, Joseph was a cab driver in Kansas City before dying at the age of 54 from tuberculosis.