Leaguer of the Month
Born: 1877 in Louisville, Kentucky
Died: date unknown
Ht:5'-9", Wt: 180
Batted right and threw right
Teams: All-Nations, Indianapolis ABCs, Gilkerson's Union Giants
of the first star
catchers in black baseball history, Pops Coleman pre-dated such
early stars as Bruce Petway, Louis Santop and Pythius Russ.
starting playing sandlot ball in Louisville, Kentucky only
20 years after the Civil War; with his strong arm he immediately
gravitated toward the pitcher's mound.
One day, the story goes,
the regular catcher didn't show up for a big game and Coleman's
Coleman volunteered to go behind the plate and was an immediate
success, leading his team to a 1-0 victory. He didn't hang
up his spikes until a half-century later, and rarely played
another position than catcher.
for so long, that Homestead Grays' player Bill "Happy" Evans
listed Coleman, Double Duty Radcliffe and Biz Mackey as catchers
who belonged in the Hall of Fame.
a matter of fact, much of Radcliffe's catching prowess can
be attributed to the tutelage of Coleman. Coleman was still
a part time catcher for the Gilkerson's Union Giants when the
young Radcliffe joined the team and Coleman took him under
his wing and taught him the tricks of the trade--Negro League
Coleman spent hours drilling Radcliffe on proper footwork,
using his powerful arm to cut down runners, and how to pad
his glove with pounded steak to protect his hand from the sting
of hard throwers--something that came in handy in future years
when Radcliffe caught Satchel Paige, Smokey Joe Williams and
More than anything else, Coleman impressed upon the young
Radcliffe the importance of keeping himself in good shape
and to avoid
too many vices. While Radcliffe was known as a lady's man,
he never abused alcohol, never used drugs, got plenty of
sleep, and, as a result, also played into his 50s.
of Coleman's prime years came while playing for the All-Nations,
on which he caught star pitcher John Donaldson, and with the
Indianapolis ABCs where he caught the lightening fast Dick
In the mid-1920s, Coleman joined the Gilkerson's Union Giants
and stayed with them for more than a decade. In 1927, Coleman
played only occasionally, contributing mostly as the manager,
base coach and pinch hitter. But when regular catcher, Radcliffe,
got injured and missed a month, Coleman came out of semi-retirement
to catch almost everyday, including doubleheaders.
In 1929, Coleman caught mostly when Radcliffe pitched, and
the two formed an air-tight battery. He also was on the receiving
end of many games pitched by Cristobel Torriente, who in his
later years was a fine pitcher.
Coleman was first, and foremost, a receiver. He called a great
game, was the field general on the field, threw well, blocked
the plate, and kept his teams lively. Coleman was a fine hitter,
usually batting in the middle of the order, and was a swift
base runner even through his 40s and 50s.
Pops got his fatherly nickname in 1909 by his Chicago Union Giants
teammates who considered him a father figure.
75 years after Coleman caught his last professional game, there
are few catchers who have handled the position any better than
the sunny-dispositioned "Pops."
site, and the webmaster, is powered by Xango!!!