Leaguer of the Month
Born: Sept. 18, 1920 in Anniston, Alabama
Ht:5'8", Wt: 155
Batted right and threw right
Position: shortstop, center field
Teams: Youngstown AA, Colored House of David, Bud's Tailors,
Montey Ditd's Jewelery
up, Hewitt Burton never thought he'd play pro baseball. In
hindsight, he now realizes that he was part of something special.
was born in Anniston, Alabama, near the Fort McClellan Army
base, and a few hour's drive from both Birmingham and
Atlanta--both great black baseball cities.
was a speedy outfielder, with surprising power for his size,
while playing on the local sandlots in Alabama, and later Ohio.
most young baseball players, Burton didn't have many baseball
heroes growing up. His greatest hero in baseball turned out
to be his future teammate, Johnny Longhorn, a top semipro pitcher
from Atlanta. More recently, Burton had the pleasure of meeting
Hank Aaron, who greatly impressed him. "He was so nice, and
I was surprised, he hit all those homers and he wasn't much
bigger than me!" recalled Burton.
Burton went into the army during World War II, he played on
a service team, this time as shortstop. "I liked center field
best, but no one wanted to play shortstop, so I did," remembered
Burton's quick feet and strong arm made him a natural at shortstop,
and he played well enough to attract the attention of a Negro League
scout. When he was discharged from the army, Burton was sent
a contract and train
out of Minneapolis,
The House of David team didn't wear beards like their white counterparts,
but they played great baseball, and their home field was beautiful
Nicollet Park, home of the Minneapolis Millers of the American
the House of David in 1947, Burton played mostly shortstop,
but did play a few games in centerfield at Nicollet Park, where,
four years later, Willie Mays would star for the Millers before
called up to the New York Giants.
The House of David played the top traveling teams and town
teams in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, traveling by bus; the
bus driver was former Colored House of David star Maceo Breedlove.
The "Davids" boasted slugging first baseman "Lefty" Williams,
outfielder Emerson Smith, and player-manager Guy Osley.
The Davids carried only 14 players, and split their profits
(after taking 1/3 off the top to keep the bus repaired and
full of gas) equally. Burton usually made about $100 a month,
and it was after the '47 season that he realized he couldn't
make a living on such low pay.
moved back to the Youngstown, Ohio area where he played semipro
ball for several more years while working in the steel mills.
Burton's semipro teams played such great teams as the Homestead
Crawfords and Cleveland Buckeyes. Though usually over-matched,
Burton's teams occasionally upset the black Big Leagues' best.
Park, home of the Colored House of David
and Minneapolis Millers
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