Friday, August 6, 2010

Cleveland Buckeyes film, seen for the first time

This rare film, never before seen by the public, shows the 1946 Cleveland Buckeyes, our city's Negro League baseball team, playing at League Park the year after they won the Negro League World Series.

The film was donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society a few years ago as part of the collection of Josephus Hicks, a prominent local photographer, author and probation officer who died in 1998 at age 90. The WRHS has given Cleveland Magazine permission to post it online.

That's Parnell Woods, the Buckeyes' captain and third-baseman, running onto the field and tugging his cap between the 43 and 46 second marks, according to his son, Jeffry Woods. Quincy Trouppe, all-star catcher and player-manager (who briefly joined the Indians in 1952), sits in the dugout in catcher's gear early in the clip, then stands by home plate wearing #10 and watching opponents score on a base hit.

Update, 8/12: The light-skinned player sitting next to a post early in the video is pitcher Sam Jones, according to Negro League historian and author Larry Lester. Jones later played for the Indians and became the first black major-leaguer to pitch a no-hitter in 1955. Later in the video, backup catcher Tommy Harris, wearing #38, walks onto the field.

(Thanks to Bob Zimmer, founder of the Baseball Heritage Museum in Cleveland's Colonial Arcade, who helped put out word about the video to historians.)

The shoulder patches commemorate the Buckeyes' 1945 championship. The second part of the film shows the crowd at League Park, a few years before it closed for good.

To read Dave O'Karma's May 2006 Cleveland Magazine article "The Forgotten Championship" -- the definitive history of the Buckeyes' 1945 season and Negro League World Series victory -- click here.

The Indians will honor Cleveland's forgotten champions tomorrow at their Negro Leagues Turn Back the Clock/Heritage Weekend game. They'll be wearing authentic 1946 Buckeyes jerseys -- just like the ones in the film -- during their game against the Minnesota Twins, who'll be wearing the uniforms of the 1906 St. Paul Gophers.

The celebration will include appearances by Negro League players Joe Caffie and Ted Toles, as well as two Negro League historians, former Indian Jim "Mudcat" Grant and Sean Gibson, grandson of Hall of Famer Josh Gibson. Fans can check out a display of Negro League artifacts and commemorations on the scoreboard before and during the game.

Film courtesy of The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.

(To link to O'Karma's article, use this shortcut: To link to this post, use this shortcut:


Estimated Prophet said...

This is not only the first film I have seen of the Cleveland Buckeyes, but the first film I have seen of League Park! Tremendous find.

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