Just to let you fans of Black College Nines know, I have been slow to post any stories… but with good reason.
Last October, I was asked by the director of the College Baseball Foundation to serve on a four person ad-hoc committee assigned to the task of formulating a new classification for the foundation’s existing College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ultimately the new group became know as the Black College Legends and Pioneers Committee. After developing the criteria for honoring a group of athletes and coaches, who may not be as well known to mainstream college baseball fans, the next task was to select ten individuals to represent the first class of nominees.
For those followers of HBCU baseball, the group of ten presents a very impressive list of five former ballplayers and five former coaches. From this list, the committee will select the very first class of Black College Legends and Pioneers for induction into the foundation’s Hall of Fame in July of 2011.
This was a great personal honor to be included in this process and an exciting time for HBCU baseball!
While looking through the Official NCAA Baseball Guide of 1973 for some unrelated material, I stumbled across a stat that I had not included in any of my previous updates on the good old days when HBCU’s dominated NAIA baseball.
Inadvertently left off my list of yearly leaders was Southern University, with its lofty .334 team batting average leading the small school division in 1972.
And it is not a wonder the Jaguars were a hitting machine with the likes of Dale Brock and Danny Goodwin, both of whom would be named to the prestigious Team USA in 1973.
Brock, the cousin of pro baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, posted a .348 average in 1972 and led the team with eight home runs. Goodwin, who went on to become a two-time All American and the only ballplayer ever to twice be tabbed as the number one pick in the MLB draft, hit .364. Both Brock, an outfielder and Goodwin, a catcher, were freshman in 1972.
However, the team leader on offense was an upper-class outfielder named Roger Cador. If the name sounds familiar, it should. Cador went on to become the highly successful head coach of these same Southern University Jaguars. Entering into his 21st season in 2010, Coach Cador had compiled a 645-334-1 record.
But in 1972, leading the team with a .393 batting average (two years before aluminum bats came on the scene), Roger Cador had dreams of pro baseball, not coaching. As a 10th round selection of the Atlanta Braves in 1973, Cador spent four seasons in the minor leagues before turning to coaching. Dale Brock was drafted three times, the last being a third round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1975. Brock played two years of minor league ball. Danny Goodwin was the first player picked in the 1975 MLB draft (by the California Angles) and played seven seasons in the Majors, mostly as a designated hitter and part-time catcher.
College baseball season is so close at hand that I can almost hear the ping of aluminum… or if I listen close enough, the crack of a wooden bat. Though it seems far from baseball weather as I look at my desktop thermometer, I too better get crackin’ and finish my story on the days when HBCUs dominated NAIA baseball. (To read part one of this story, please click here.)
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which started admitting HBCU schools in 1953 and held its first baseball championship in 1957, did not officially start collecting statistics until the 1960 season. That year Charles Gray, the national individual ERA leader (0.56 ERA),led a Southern University pitching staff that finished third in the nation with a 2.01 ERA. The Jaguars hitters also finished third in the country with a collective .335 batting average.
The following year, it was Grambling University’s turn to show off its baseball muscle leading the country in hitting with a .362 average and fielding with a .964 average. The star on the Tigers’ 1961 squad was Tommie Agee (later of New York Mets World Series fame) who finished third in the country hitting an even .500 , third in home runs with seven and seventh in rbi with 37. Hitters representing HBCU schools also finished fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and tenth in batting. On the pitching end, Clyde Parquet ranked first in the country with a 0.66 ERA while the entire staff finished fourth with a 1.79 ERA.
Grambling pitchers topped the individual charts in 1962 and 1963, as they did in 1961, with Hillary Bossier’s nation leading 0.53 ERA and Alex Pero’s amazing 0.00 ERA. As a team, Grambling led the nation in both hitting and pitching in 1963 with a .370 batting average and a 0.61 ERA.
In the mid-to-late 1960s, Grambling continued to be the leading HBCU program in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and produced Atlanta Braves’ great, Ralph Garr, the nation’s leading hitter in 1967 with a batting average of .582.
In addition to Garr, Kentucky State’s James Jackson and Charles Stukes of Maryland State finished second and fifth in hitting with respective .531 and .489 averages. As well, Pete Barnes of Southern University led the country in 1967 with 43 rbi and home runs (an average of .32 per game).
Charles Stukes was one of a number of Maryland State grid stars who not only went on to pro football careers, but were also stars on the Eagles baseball team. Others who either led the country or were highly ranked in various statistical categories were Curtis Gentry (Baltimore Colts) in stolen bases, Johnny Sample (New York Jets) in hitting and slugging and William Thompson (Denver Broncos). Stukes, who played for the Baltimore Colts, finished fourth in the country in 1966 hitting at a .492 clip and for two years led the country in stolen bases. Maryland State (now known as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore) teammate Tick Hebron hit .487 and along with Stukes, helped Maryland State rank second in team hitting with a .352 average.
Maryland State again finished second in team hitting (tied with Southern University at .341) the following year, but finished behind 1967 national leader Grambling University’s .355 batting average. Grambling’s pitching staff also led the nation in 1967 with a 0.88 team ERA.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, ballplayers from even more HBCU schools started to creep into the annual NAIA statistical leaders. In 1969, St. Augustine’s College of North Carolina led the country in hitting with a .379 average. Ronald Tucker of Hampton Institute ranked first in doubles per game with an average of .62 per game, while George Pack of West Virginia State was second (.58 per game). Leroy Sykes of Wiley College finished third in the country in triples per game with an average of .33 per game and Eldridge Blake of Fisk was fourth in rbi per game (1.54). On the pitching end, Kenneth Stone of Tuskegee was nationally ranked third in victories with ten.
In 1972, Al Holland of North Carolina A&T appeared upon the college scene and as a freshman led the country in strikeouts (143) and was second in ERA (0.54). The following year, NCA&T’s last in the NAIA, Holland recorded an ERA of 1.03 and added another 102 strikeouts. Though the Aggies moved up to NCAA status, Al Holland continued to dominate the competition the next two years with a 0.95 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 1974 and a nation leading 0.26 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 1974.
In 1973, one of the leading hitters in all the NAIA was future Major Leaguer, Steve Henderson of Prairie View A&M. His .488 batting average ranked fourth and his five triples was also among the nation’s leaders. Besting Henderson in hitting was another HBCU standout, James Marshall of Jackson State, who finished third hitting .495. An emerging powerhouse, Jackson State topped the NAIA team hitting stats with a .372 average.
The 1974 season saw Nathan Chapman from Jarvis Christian in Texas win the NAIA batting title with a .551 average. Interestingly… Tyrone Phinnessee of Tuskee won the NCAA Division II crown hitting .482 and Artis Stanfield of North Carolina A&T topped the NCAA Division I big school hitting charts with a .500 average. Stanfield also won the stolen base crown stealing an average of 1.32 bases per game.
As more and more historically black college left the NAIA for the NCAA in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, fewer names from HBCUs dotted the list of national statistical leaders.
That is not to say they disappeared. Greg Carter from Kentucky State finished fifth in hitting (.487 BA) in 1975 and the Thoroughbreds led the NAIA in team hitting with a .375 average. The following year, the Delta Devils from Mississippi Valley State topped the NAIA in team hitting (.370 BA) and team pitching (1.79 ERA). Individually, Mississippi Valley State’s Frederick Akon finished second in the country with a 0.71 ERA and teammate Willie Powell was the top hitter with a .563 average.
Toney Howell of Central State in Ohio won the hitting crown in 1981 with a .524 average and in 1983, Murauder teammate Terry Edwards finished third in hitting (.514 BA). Sandwiched between the two, St. Augustine’s Eddie White finished second in the NAIA, hitting .515 in 1982.
While fewer and fewer names of HBCU schools and ballplayers dominated NAIA stats, more and more started to appear amongst the leaders or on top of the NCAA’s Division I charts like Stan Jefferson of Bethune-Cookman, Dave Clark of Jackson State, Vince Coleman and Marquis Grissom of Florida A&M and most recently Mike Woods and Rickie Weeks of Southern University
… but that will be reserved for another story!
I recently emailed the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) asking for year-end stats from 1957 through 1969. Back when I was a volunteer sports information director for baseball at (then) Ohio Dominican College, I had collected stats from 1970 through the mid-1990s. Chad Waller and Steve Bechard of the NAIA were kind enough to follow through with my request and dug up the older stats for me.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics was originally founded in 1940 as the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball, though the organiation first sponsored a national tournament in 1937.
In 1952 the NAIB became the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the following year, the NAIA took a giant leap forward by voting to admit HBCU schools into its membership. Many of them who had never been affiliated with a national association eagerly joined. Then in 1956, the group voted to expand it championship series to include a baseball tournament starting in 1957.
By 1959, HBCU baseball teams had already made their presence felt when Southern University (with then future MLB great Lou Brock) won the title in only the NAIA’s third annual baseball championship. In 1963 and again in 1964, Grambling finished second in the national tournament.
Though no other HBCU teams won another NAIA baseball title, beginning with the first year that year-end statistics were tabulated in 1960, both team and individual statistics were dominated by HBCU hitters and pitchers.
Like quite a few non-HBCU schools who were in the athletic upper-eschelon of the NAIA at one time or another, most HBCU schools eventually left the organization in favor of the NCAA. Some schools, like Howard University, Tennessee State and Central State ultimately dropped baseball as an intercollegiate sport. Even with these losses, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics remained and still remains a strong, viable alternative to NCAA membership. Yet, in the years from 1960 to 1970, names from HBCU baseball programs were almost always among the nation’s NAIA statistical leaders.
In part two, I’ll delve into the stats and present some of the outstanding individual and team performances. Some resulted in All-American recognition, some were fore tellers of MLB careers and others were just indicators of great college careers on the road to professional success.
- Where Have I Been?
- Andre Dawson (FAMU) – Hawk Soars Into MLB History
- When HBCUs Dominated NAIA Baseball – Part 3
- Kenny Washington (UCLA) – Bruins’ First Black Ballplayer
- When HBCUs Dominated NAIA Baseball – Part 2
- Harry “Wu Fang” Ward (Wilberforce) – All Around Athlete
- Pete Barnes (Southern U) – Two Time Two Sport All-American
- Johnny Sample (Maryland State) – Outspoken Star of the 1960s
- Charles Follis (College of Wooster) – Football and Baseball Star
- When HBCUs Dominated NAIA Baseball – Part 1
- Links to Stats for HBCU Ballplayers Taken in the 2009 MLB Draft
- Bert Simmons (NC A&T) – Negro League Star Passes Away
- Ralph Garr (Grambling) – More than a “Face in the Crowd”
- 2009 HBCU Freshmen All-Americans
- 2009 HBCU Summer Assignments
- Tip of the Hat to the ABAA
- Condredge Holloway (Tennessee) – Vol’s First Black Ballplayer
- Charles Thomas (Ohio Wesleyan) – Inspiration to Branch Rickey
- About this site…
- Mitch Hill, New Leader of A&M Baseball
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- Bhatti Helps Peninsula Pilots Capture Coastal Plain League Title
- Shouppe Announces Recruits Then Jets To California
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- Shaw Ends Baseball Program
- Exhibit Brings Home The History Of Black Baseball
- HBCU Baseball Players Selected In 2013 MLB Draft
- Savannah State Baseball Camp
HBCU Baseball Sites
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- Pitcher of the Year Award finalists announced
- Brooks Wallace Award finalists announced
- Hall of Fame creates Coach of the Year Award