Leaguer of the Month
Sunny Jim Echols
Born: 1914 in Atlanta
Died: 2000? in Atlanta
Ht: 6'-1", Wt: 155
Batted right and threw right.
Teams: Atlanta White Sox, Icehouse Gang, Atlanta Black Crackers,
Norfolk Stars, Mobile Black Shippers
A fine right-handed
curveball pitcher with a happy disposition, "Sunny"
Jim Echols played pro baseball in the South for 12 years.
Echols hones his skills on the sandlots of Atlanta playing for
semipro teams such as "The Icehouse Gang" which passed
a hat after each game to make enough money to buy baseballs and
was a good outfielder as a youngster, but as he grew taller and
didn't fill out, he concentrated on pitching and became a good
one. Echols had a good fastball, but was better known for a wide-sweeping
"A pitcher that dont have no moves and motions aint
much of a pitcher!" explained Echols. "Im telling
you cuz them big suckers up there with that bat--he up there
with a stick and you out there with a ball. If you aint
got no moves you aint gonna do nothing!"
In 1936, Sunny Jim's childhood dream came true when he was signed
by his hometown Black Crackers, joining such men as Red Moore,
Pee Wee Butts and Joe Greene.
picked up his nickname from Atlanta World sportswriter Jule Smith
who loved the pitcher's sunny disposition.
In 1938, the Atlanta Black Crackers won the second half pennant
in the Negro American League with Echols as a member of its pitching
staff with Chin Evans, Bo Mitchell, Bullet Dixon and Telosh Howard.
credited Howard with teaching him a secret to pitching: watching
batting practice. "You watch the team taking batting
practice and you got to be able to memorize how the batters hit
the pitches," said Echols.
had many career highlights, including a gem he pitched against the
New York Black Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Echols struck out 22 batters
without a walk.
Chin Evans, like Echols, was a tall righthanded curveball expert,
and in the opening game of the 1938 playoffs that year he pitched
against Double Duty Radcliffe and the Memphis Red Sox. Radcliffe
beat Evans and the Red Sox won the second game before the two
teams couldn't agree on when and where to finish the series and
no more games were played.
Echols was content playing with his hometown Black Crackers when
he was given some advice by Josh Gibson after a game against the
Homestead Grays. Echols, you get rich traveling! Gibson
told the youngster. Soon after, Echols joined the Norfolk Stars
who played across 42 states and Canada.
After baseball, Echols worked for the Atlanta Post Office until