Silas Simmons


“It was a thrill to watch players like [Negro Leaguer John Henry Lloyd]. After awhile they were in the big leagues, playing ball, which you thought would never come. But eventually it did come. And that was the greatest thing of my life when I saw these fellows come up and play big league baseball.”
--Silas Simmons in an interview with The New York Times


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Negro Leaguer of the Month
December, 2006

Silas Simmons

Born: Oct. 14, 1895 in Middleton, Delaware
Died: Oct. 29, 2006 in St. Petersburg, FL
Ht:5'9", Wt: 165
Batted left and threw left
Position: outfield, pitcher
Years: 1912-1929
Teams: New York Lincoln Giants, Cuban Stars, Blue Ribbons of Germantown, Homestead Grays.

To paraphrase an old saying, "We had to say good-bye just when we learned to say hello."

Sy Simmons, who lived longer than any Negro Leaguer, or any other Leaguer for that matter, died two weeks after turning 111 (at the time, the 5th oldest man in the U.S.), and only a few months after the baseball world discovered him!

Unbelievable as it may seem, Simmons was born the same year as Babe Ruth and George Halas, 1895, only 30 short years after the Civil War ended! He was an outfielder and pitcher on some good early Negro League teams, but it was assumed years ago that he had long since passed away....until...a Negro League historian, Dr. Layton Revel, on a tip from Massachusetts genealogist Dave Lamberttook, discovered he was alive and well in a retirement home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Simmons spent much of his early life in Philadelphia, learning the game of baseball playing stickball on the streets, before being signed to play for the Blue Ribbons, which later became the Homestead Grays.

Simmons, not one to brag, described himself as a good pitcher with a good fastball and curve, and his top pay was around $10 a game. Simmons was fortunate to have played against most of the early Negro League stars such as Pop Lloyd, Spots Poles and John Donaldson.

After his baseball career ended, Simmons became a railroad porter, then managed a department store. He was a baseball fan until the day he died, following his hometown Tampa Bay Devil Rays closely and attending games on occasion.

Simmons was married twice and outlived all five of his children.


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