“You know, I was one heck of a ball player in my day. I played
against and with some of the best.”
--
William Haygood
(courtesy of Cassaundra R. Haygood)

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©Copyright 2004, Kyle McNary, McNary Publishing

kyle@pitchblackbaseball.com


(courtesy of Cassaundra R. Haygood)


(black cowboys ca. 1905, ©Solomon Butcher)

Negro Leaguer of the Month
April, 2004


William "Frank" Haygood

Born: June 3, 1902 in
Cameron, Milam County, Texas
Died: November 21, 1983 in Okmulgee, Okmulgee County, OK
Ht:5'-10", Wt: 170
Batted right and threw right.
Position: shortstop
Years: 1920s-1940s
Teams: Okmulgee (OK) Merchants, several teams in the Texas-Oklahoma Negro League

William Haygood is a name very few of you have heard of, but his story is one of the most interesting I've come across; he loved and excelled at baseball, but it was in another sport that he made history.

First, his baseball career: Haygood was born in Milam County, Texas in 1902 and was raised in the Tiger Flats-Sharp Community of Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

Around 1920, Haygood was good enough to be signed by a black team sponsored by the Okmulgee Merchants, who played at beautiful Petrolia Park. The merchants played many white semipro teams, but Haygood's fondest baseball memories were games against a tough club from Stroud, Oklahoma and the famed Kansas City Monarchs. As with most Negro Leaguers, playing against Satchel Paige was always a thrill.

Haygood was a slick-fielding shortstop who hit for a high average and had excellent speed. Had he chosen to venture outside of Oklahoma, he would have been a good prospect to play in the Negro American League. Instead, he played most of his career with the Merchants, and several teams in the Texas-Oklahoma Negro League.

Haygood had a special relationship with Rube Foster, from Calvert, Texas--only 26 miles from his hometown of Cameron. It's probable that one of Haygood's teams hooked up with Foster's Chicago American Giants in the 1920s.

After retiring from baseball, Haygood owned his own plumbing company, but he couldn't completely give up sports. In 1955, Haygood and 10 other leading black Okmulgee citizens, started the first black rodeo. Next year, the rodeo will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

For the record, the other charter members of the Okmulgee County Round Up Club included Ernest Thigpen, D.P. Lilly, Larnell Williams, Willie Tate, John Grant, Roy LeBlanc, Ernest Bruner, Clarence Williams, Charles LeBlanc and Alfred Nonnett.

There was a documentary made about the all-black rodeo called "Buckle Brothers--Today's Black Cowboys" by Ka-ron Om Vereen.

Haygood and his partners were inspired by the rich, but underreported history of black cowboys in the Old West. Black lawmen such as Bass Reeves, Ben Boyer, Robert L. Fortune, Grant Johnson and Francis T. Bruce kept peace in various towns in Colorado and Oklahoma in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I would like to give special thanks to William Haygood's daughter Cassaundra for her help and her desire to keep her father's memory alive.


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