Febuary 6, 2005

Cincy welcomed Negro League
02/06/2005 10:00 AM ET
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Wayne DeHart Hubbard will always be best known for becoming the first African-American to win an individual Olympic gold medal, but the United States Track and Field Hall of Famer and graduate of Walnut Hills High School also made some contributions to baseball in Cincinnati.

Hubbard accomplished his defining feat in Paris by winning the long jump at the 1924 games. A decade later, the Cincinnati native founded the Cincinnati Tigers.

The Tigers spent three seasons as an independent club before joining the Negro American League in its inaugural season of 1937.

The seven-team NAL began its season with the Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago American Giants, Cincinnati Tigers, Memphis Red Sox, Detroit Stars, Birmingham Black Barons, Indianapolis Athletics and St. Louis Stars.

The Tigers wore hand-me-down uniforms from the Reds and played their home games at Crosley Field, often outdrawing the Reds. On occasion the Tigers brought in over 15,000 fans.

Just like today, star players attracted the fans. Although they finished their only NAL season in third place, the Tigers featured plenty of star power.

Negro League stars such as Neil Robinson and Ted "Double-Duty" Radcliffe, who earned his nickname by playing both catcher and pitcher, suited up for the club in 1937, but there was also a local flavor.

Pitchers Porter Moss, Jesse Houston and Roy Partlow all hailed from Cincinnati. Houston was a 23-game winner and Partlow played for 16 seasons, but Moss, a submariner who went a remarkable 35-8 in 1936, had perhaps the most promise until his life was cut short by a stray bullet in July 16, 1944.

"[Porter Moss] is one of the most popular pitchers in modern sport history," The Atlanta Daily World wrote the next day. "One of the nation's greatest Negro athletic figures."

Radcliffe, who took Moss with him when he left the Tigers to become the player-manager of the Memphis Red Sox midway through the '37 season, agreed.

"Some kids were playing softball on the playground,and Moss was pitching." Radcliffe said. "He was throwing that softball underhand by all the batters. I went up to him and signed him to a contract and he was one of the best submarine pitchers in our league until he got killed."

Despite a solid fan base, the Tigers closed shop after just one season in the Negro American League, but several former Tigers, including manager Radcliffe, Moss and Robinson, took Memphis to the NAL title in 1938.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.