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Alec Radcliffe



"My brother, Alec, was as good a third baseman
as ever lived. There wasn't any third baseman
in the league who could hit with him!"

--Double Duty Radcliffe

 


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Negro Leaguer of the Month
August, 2002

Alec Radcliffe

Position: Third Base
Career: 1927-1947
Teams:
Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cole's American Giants, New York Cubans, Birmingham Black Barons, Indianapolis Clowns, Memphis Red Sox.

HT: 6'-0"; WT: 210 lbs
Batted right; threw right
Born:
July 26, 1905 in Mobile, Alabama
Died: July 18, 1983 in Chicago.

Though he was often overshadowed by his older brother Double Duty, Alec Radcliffe was the Mike Schmidt of the Negro Leagues and played in more East-West All-Star games than any other player--13 (tied with Buck Leonard). In those All-Star games Radcliffe batted .340, and set career records for at bats (50), hits (17) and consecutive appearances (9).

Alec grew up in Mobile, Alabama and moved to Chicago with his brother Double Duty in 1919 and made the black big time in 1927 with the Chicago Giants as a slugging third baseman.

Radcliffe was a good fielder with a rifle arm, but was known more for his hitting than anything else. He batted in the .350-range during his prime and led the Negro American League in homers once.

Alec played on the pennant winning Chicago American Giants team of 1932 (they were beaten by Double Duty's Pittsburgh Crawfords), 1933 and 1934. In 1937 they made the playoffs again but were beaten by the Kansas City Monarchs.

In 1942 Radcliffe was suspended by his brother, then the player-manager of the Chicago American Giants, after assaulting an umpire after a called third strike.

The next season Double Duty again suspended his brother for "insubordination" but lifted the suspension in time for a game against the Kansas City Monarchs and Satchel Paige. With the score knotted at 0-0, Alec stole home to win the game in front of a packed house at Comiskey Park.

"When the catcher caught the ball, Alec was coming and he ran right over him," remembered Double Duty. "Boom! The ball went one way, the catcher the other – knocked him out cold – had to put smelling salts to him."

Only his quiet demeanor kept him from being as big a name as other Negro League stars, such as boisterous Double Duty, who always seemd to overshadow him. An example of this came in the '44 East-West game when Alec belted a two-run triple with his mother in the stands and it looked temporaily like he would be the player of the game. But, later in the game brother Double Duty belted a two-run homer into the upper deck and was carried around the field while money was tossed on the field.

There was one time that Alec got the best of his big brother: In 1932 Alec was with Chicago and Double Duty with the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Double Duty was throwing a no-hitter in the 9th when Alec homered for the game's only run. "My own damn brother!" recalled Double Duty.

After his baseball days were over, Alec worked as a bouncer at Double Duty's bar in Chicago. Considering the way Alec abused pitchers with his 40-ounce bat, it's doubtful he had too much trouble with rowdy customers.