Leaguer of the Month
Theodore Roosevelt Radcliffe
aka Double Duty
Born: 7/7/1902 in Mobile, AL
Resides in Chicago
Ht:5'-10", Wt: 220
Batted right and threw right.
Position: pitcher, catcher, manager
Teams: Mobile Black Bears, Illinois Giants, Gilkerson's Union
Giants, Chatanooga Black Lookouts, St. Paul Gophers, Indianapolis
ABCs, Cleveland Red Sox, Cleveland Buckeys, New Orleans Creole,
Detroit Wolves, Nashville Elite Giants, Columbus Bluebirds, Philadelphia
All-Stars, Detroit Stars, St. Louis Stars, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh
Crawfords, Brooklyn Eagles, Jamestown Red Sox, Bismarck Churchills,
Claybrook Tigers, Memphis Red Sox, Cincinnati Tigers, Chicago
American Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, Kansas City Monarchs,
New York Black Yankees, Rochester Aces, Harlem Globetrotters,
South Bend Studebakers, Winnipeg Elmwood Giants, East Chicago
Giants, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela
my 15 years of Negro League research has largely focused on the
career of Double Duty, I haven't honored him with a turn as Negro
Leaguer of the Month--he's my favorite Negro Leaguer every month.
But, for those of you who have never read my book, the biograpy
of Double Duty, or have seen the PBS special I helped with, I
want to take this time and space to tell you why Double Duty has
intrigued me so for more than a decade.
On July 7th, 2004, Double Duty will turn 102. Whenever someone
dies young, it's standard practice to declare, "he really
packed a lot of life into his 54 years," or whatever the
age might have been. Well, Duty has lived 102 years, hopefully
will live many more, and I can honestly say, "He's packed
a lot of life into his 102 years!"
he has suffered various illnesses that come with living more than
a century, Duty still has a zest for life that few can match.
When I first met Duty in 1992, when he was 90, I could hardly
keep up with him. It's been an absolute honor to call him a friend,
not only for the ballplayer he was, but for the person he is.
Enough with the mushy stuff..let's talk baseball.
was born in '02 in Mobile, Alabama and grew up playing ball with
Satchel Paige, Bobbie Robinson, Cito Gaston 's dad, Hank Aaron's
dad and Billy Williams' dad. At the time, Alabama might have been
the greatest producer of baseball talent in the union, at least
in the Negro Leagues.
In 1919, Duty moved to Chicago and was discovered by the Illinois
Giants and he hit the road. He would play baseball "everywhere
a black man could play" for the next 36 years.
want to get into a boring recitation of stats, but there are a
handful that you might appreciate.
and caught multiple no-hitters in his career
more than 400 games on the mound
over .300 lifetime with more than 400 homeruns
major-leaguers in exhibitions at a .403 pace
chosen as a pitcher and catcher 3 times each for the Negro League
East-West All-Star Game (batting .308, with a homer, one win,
one save and a 2.35 ERA)
the Negro American League MVP award in 1943 (at age 41)
2 leagues in one season, 1948--the Southern Minny and the Michigan-Idiana
still pitching and catching in his 50s; he batted .459 and was
3-0 pitching for Winnipeg in a "triple A" semipro
with more than 30 teams, as many as 5 in one season!
understand Double Duty, you need only remember this: he was the
best, and he's not shy about telling you!
"How many men you know could pitch and catch?" he will
often say. The answer, of course, is not many!
In the Negro Leagues, where rosters were small and versatility
essential, Double Duty perfected the two hardest positions on
the diamond, hence the nickname Double Duty.
During the ten-year-span of 1928-1937, I could argue that Double
Duty was, along with Martin Dihigo, the most valuable player in
Most of these season, Duty won 20 games, while averaging over
.300 with power.
In 1934, with the Jamestown Red Sox and Chicago American Giants,
Duty had one of the finest years anyone's ever had. He won 18
games, lost 4 and walked only 17 batters all season. At bat, Duty
batted .362 and hit some of the longest homers ever seen in North
Dakota! After the season, Duty managed a North Dakota semipro
team that took on the Jimmie Foxx All-Stars (featuring Hall of
Famers Foxx, Heinie Manush and Ted Lyons, along with All-Stars
Pinkie Higgins and Doc Cramer, and 20-game winners Rube Walberg
and Earl Whitehill.)
The North Dakota stars beat the Major Leaguers in Valley City,
Jamestown and Bismarck. In those games, Duty batted .556 and threw
a complete game win in Bismarck, not allowing a run until the
I've interviewed more than 50 Negro Leaguers in the past 15 years,
and the majority think that Double Duty belongs in the Hall of
Fame ("He could do everything but run!" said one player).
only knock against Duty was that he was able, with his personality,
to promote himself as good as Muhammed Ali or Deion Sanders. Some
players, frankly, were jealous. The squeeky wheel gets the grease,
and Duty's been squeeking for more than a hundred years.
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