Leaguer of the Month
Born: 1902 in Louisville, Kentucky
Died: 1956 in New York City
Ht:6'3", Wt: 230
Batted right and threw right
Position: shortstop, third base, catcher, utility
Teams: Montgomery Grey Sox, Chicago Union Giants, Chicago
Giants, Chicago American Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Philadelphia
Harrisburg Giants, Homestead Grays, New York Lincolns, Atlantic
City Bacharachs, Newark Browns, New York Black Yankees, Newark
Dodgers, Palmer House (Chicago) Indians, Brooklyn Royal Giants
Beckwith may have been the Mike Schmidt of the Negro Leagues.
He was a dead pull hitter, and could hit the ball as far as
anyone who ever played. He hit one ball completely out of Redland
Field in Cincinnati (500+ feet), and cleared the left field
bleachers at Washington D.C.'s Griffith Stadium, striking a
sign 460 feet from home and 40 feet off
Beckwith supposedly swung a 38-inch, 45 ounce bat,
but still got around on the fastest pitchers in baseball.
Beckwith grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and started
his professional career with the Montgomery (Alabama) Grey Sox,
the same team that Willie Mays would start with 30 years later.
After a few seasons with some mediocre teams, Beckwith joined
the star-studded 1922 Chicago American Giants, under manager
Until Cal Ripken came along, Beckwith may have been the tallest
shortstop to ever play professionally. And, at close to 230 pounds,
he almost certainly was the heaviest. Despite his size, Beckwith
was a slick fielder with a strong arm, and he also had great
seasons at various other positions, especially third base and
the aforementioned Mike Schmidt, Beckwith was not a great teammate,
had a surly disposition, and was frequently
traded or released despite immense talent; over 23 seasons, Beckwith
played with at least 18 teams. Beckwith could be lazy at times
than his full effort, but also was tough enough to play half
a season with a broken ankle.
used his great size not only to blast homers, but also to fight
with teammates and opponents. After
pitcher Bill Holland got upset with Beckwith for making an error
behind him during a big game, the hefty slugger responded by
knocking him out with a single punch.
his prime, Beckwith averaged over .300 at the plate with 40
or more homers, and broke .400 several times. Even though a
majority of Beckwith's at bats were against semipro teams many
it's still impressive
that the slugger once batted over .500 with more
than 50 homers.
age and alcohol abuse caught up to Beckwith, and after 1933
he was a shell of his former self. He did continue, however,
to play for several lesser semipro teams.
died too young, at age 54 in New York City.
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