Ed Stone



(photo courtesy Russell Stone)
“Ed Stone has big league talent. He’s fast and shifty at spearing flies. He has a great throwing arm.”
--Wally Singer, Chicago Cubs pitcher

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kyle@pitchblackbaseball.com

Negro Leaguer of the Month
November, 2004

Ed "Ace" Stone

Born: August 21, 1910 in Black Cat, Delaware
Died: April 11, 1983 in the Bronx, NY
Ht:6'-0", Wt: 195
Batted both and threw right
Position: outfield
Years: 1931-1950
Teams: Wilmington Hornets, Atlantic City Bacharachs, Brooklyn Eagles, Newark Eagles, Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, Nuevo Laredo Owls (Mexico), Veracruz Red Eagles (Mexico), Torreon Cotton Dealers (Mexico),Mexico City Red Devils, Havana Lions (Cuba)

Ed wore #3, #28 and #12 with Eagles; #12 and #28 with the Philadelphia Stars.

If a Major Leaguer spent two decades batting in the heart of the lineup for some of the greatest teams of all-time, you most certainly would have heard of him. Ed Stone was all these things, save one: he played with the greatest teams in the Negro Leagues instead. Add the fact that he had a right-fielder's throwing arm comparable to Roberto Clemente, and he'd probably be a household name.

Instead, Ed Stone played with much less fanfare, but with the knowledge that he would have been a star had his skin color not disqualified him from the Major Leagues.

Stone was born in Black Cat, Delaware in 1910 and his first professional team was the Wilmington (Delaware) Hornets. Almost immediately, Stone's batting prowess made him a mainstay in the third and cleanup positions in the batting order. Stone was a prodigious doubles hitter, and had excellent home run power that was sometimes overshadowed by the exploits of his teammates.

For instance, Stone batted third on some of the greatest Newark Eagles teams ever, where he batted third in front of Mule Suttles, one of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history. Also in the Eagles' lineup were Hall of Famers Willie Wells and Monte Irvin.

Stone was a five-tool player: power at the plate, ability to hit for average, great arm, fine glove and excellent running speed.

It was Stone's arm, however, that may have received the most attention because, frankly, it was breathtaking. Fans came out early to watch Stone and his teammates take infield/outfield practice because Stone made a habit of putting on throwing exhibitions for the fans.

It's been reported that Stone could throw a baseball from the centerfield fence at most ballparks to the plate on a fly (400+ feet). Stone has to be put in the same class as Martin Dihigo and Sam Bankhead for outfield throwing arms. With his tall, slender build, Stone might be compared to today's Major League star Vladimir Guerrero.

Stone, playing for the Brooklyn Eagles (the Eagles moved to Newark in '36) made his first East-West All-Star game in 1935, he struck out as a pinch-hitter, and put on a throwing display before the game that some Chicagoans are still talking about. Stone was selected for the All-star game again in '39 and '40, both times representing the Newark Eagles; he batted .375 in East-West action.

In 1939, Stone's Eagles made the Negro National League playoffs against a powerful Baltimore Elite Giants team featuring Roy Campanella, Bill Byrd and Lester Lockett. Baltimore won the series, but Stone homered in the last two games in a losing effort.

In the 1942 Negro League World Series, the Homestead Grays, after losing the first two games to the Kansas City Monarchs, "picked up" Ed Stone, Leon Day, Len Pearson and Lefty McKinnis for game three. The Grays won, 4-1, but the game was thrown out because of the "ringers" and the Monarchs won the next two games to take the series.


Besides starring for the Eagles, Philadelphia Stars and New York Black Yankees during his career, Stone spent many winters playing with teams in foreign countries. Stone batted cleanup on a powerful team in Havana, Cuba, was player-manager for Humacao, Puerto Rico, and played on a powerful Puebla, Mexico team with Ray Dandridge and Pullman Porter.

So how much money did a star of Stone's caliber make? Well, in 1940, in his prime, Stone made $175 a month. According to his contract at the time, players could be fined $15 for missing games and $25 for striking an umpire. Stone never had to worry about those transgressions.

During World War II, Stone was chosen to play for Joe Lillards All-star team in USO camp shows. On the team were Neck Stanley, Thad Christopher, Showboat Thomas, Dave Barnhill, Harry Williams and Norman Robinson.

After a great run with the Eagles, Stone was traded to the Philadelphia Stars for Terris "the Great" McDuffie.

In 1946, Stone was chosen to barnstorm with Jackie Robinson's All-Stars that played across the country against Bob Feller's All-stars and prepared Robinson for his 1947 season as the first modern black Major Leaguer.

After playing several years with the Philadelphia Stars with legend Oscar Charleston and All-stars Barney Brown and Bill "Ready" Cash, Stone closed out his career with a mediocre New York Black Yankees team.

Stone, known as a great teammate and modest man, became a chauffeur in New York after his playing days were over, and rarely talked of his countless thrills on the baseball field.

I would like to thank Russell Stone, son of the great Ed Stone, for providing me with photos and newsclips to help piece this biography together. Hopefully this bio will be the first step on the road to Ed Stone receiving the attention he has long deserved as one of the top Negro League outfielders and clutch hitters of his day.

Ed Stone's Mexican League stats, 1940-'50

Ed Stone's Cuban League stats, 1937-'48

 




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