Oliver Marcelle


"I think Marcelle was the best third baseman there was. Some ball players, it just looks like they have more color when they take the field."

--Negro League Third Baseman Bobbie Robinson
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Negro Leaguer of the Month
April, 2006

Oliver "Ghost" Marcelle

Born: June 24, 1895 in Thibodaux
, LA
Died: June 12, 1949 in Denver, CO
Ht:5'-11", Wt: 165
Batted right and threw right
Position: third base
Years: 1918-1935
Teams: Brooklyn Royal Giants, Atlantic City Bacharachs, New York Lincolns, Baltimore Black Sox, Denver White Elephants,

The Negro Leagues produced many great third basemen: Bobby Robinson, Ray Dandridge, Judy Johnson and Alec Radcliffe come to mind. But many believe the greatest of them all was Oliver Marcelle.

Only Robinson could field with him, but Marcelle outhit him, and was the best all-around third baseman of the lot. His work with the glove has been described as "magical" and "colorful," and his nickname, "the Ghost," reportedly came from the way he seemingly floated up in the air to snag linedrives.

Marcelle played fairly shallow and off the line, almost daring batters to make him go to his right; if they did, they ended up very disappointed.

Marcelle was born in Thibodaus, Louisiana, and played for the top black teams in New Orleans before signing with the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1918.

From 1920-1923 Marcelle played with the Atlantic City Bacharachs, and achieved his greatest fame. Marcelle usually batted in the mid .300s, had great speed, and was an aggressive baserunner.

Besides being a great player and wonderful fielder, Marcelle was known for a terrible temper, especially after drinking. This temper eventually ruined his career. During winter ball in Cuba in 1929, Marcelle got into a fight with player Frank Warfield during a game of craps. Marcelle challenged Warfield to a fight, and he accepted and ended up biting off the end of Marcelle's nose.

Marcelle was so embarrassed by his appearance (he had been one of the most handsome and sharpest dressed players in the Negro Leagues), that he wore a patch over his nose and tried to keep playing. The next season, 1930, Marcelle had a fine season, but his fire and desire were subdued and he retired from big time black baseball for good.

Marcelle moved to Denver and continued to play top semipro ball with the Denver White Elephants, along with youngsters Buck O'Neil and Pistol Pete Albright.

O'Neil remembered The Ghost as a fine veteran influence, though most of his teammates through the years remembered him as a great player with a nasty disposition.

In 1996, Marcelle was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame; if not for the abrupt ending to his career, Cooperstown also might have called for the Ghost.

Marcelle died in 1949, a few weeks shy of his 54th birthday. Marcelle's son, Ziggy Marcelle, also played into he Negro Leagues, though he was never a star.

 


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