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Artie Wilson

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Arthur Lee Wilson (Artie)

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 162 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Artie Wilson first played professional ball in 1944, the first of his five seasons with the Birmingham Black Barons. He was selected to play in the All-Star game four times and the only year he missed, the shortstop chosen was a Kansas City Monarchs rookie, Jackie Robinson. He also played in the Negro World Series three times, including the last one in 1948, each time losing to the powerful Homestead Grays. 1948 was also the year Wilson helped mentor another Alabama native, 17-year-old Barons rookie Willie Mays.

During the 1948 regular season Wilson hit .402 for the Barons and is credited with being the last player in a top league to hit .400 as he did it seven years after Ted Williams hit .406 for the Boston Red Sox. A speedster on the bases, Wilson was a singles hitter who often hit to the opposite field.

After the 1948 Series, Wilson went to Puerto Rico to play winter ball where he led the Mayaguez Indians to the Puerto Rican Winter League title, hitting .379. Cleveland's flamboyant owner, Bill Veeck, flew to Puerto Rico and signed Wilson, 28, to play for the Indians who had won the major leagues' World Series that year with Larry Doby and Satchel Paige on the roster. Unfortunately for Wilson, the New York Yankees protested the signing as the Yanks believed they had secured the right to sign Wilson from the Barons' owner. At the same time a contract dispute arose between Cleveland and New York over the Yanks signing another former Negro Leagues star, outfielder Luis Marquez. Baseball commissioner Happy Chandler resolved the conflict by voiding both contracts. Cleveland received Marquez and the Yankees promptly traded Wilson to the Oakland Oaks where he played his first year of integrated ball.

Wilson led the Pacific Coast League in batting average in 1949 with a .348 mark and stolen bases with 47. A slick-fielding middle infielder, he had six seasons over .300 in the PCL. In 1950 he led the league in runs (168) and hits (264). He made PCL All-Star teams in at least the following years: 1950, 1952, and 1953. In 1952, he led the PCL in hits again. In 1953, he led the league with 14 triples and his .332 average was second to Bob Dillinger. He played for several PCL teams during his prime - the Oakland Oaks, San Diego Padres, Seattle Rainiers, and Portland Beavers.

In 1951 Wilson finally got the opportunity to play in the major leagues when he was signed by the New York Giants. He shined in spring training in Florida, and manager Leo Durocher was quoted in the New York Times as saying he didn't see how he could keep Artie out of the starting lineup once the regular season began. Wilson only played sparingly, however, getting just 22 at-bats in 19 games. He was sent down to the minors in May when the Giants brought up a stellar center fielder from their AAA club in Minneapolis, Willie Mays. Wilson decided to return to Oakland and finished his career in the Pacific Coast League in 1957. In 2003 he was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.

Following his retirement Wilson and his wife Dottie settled in Portland, Oregon. Wilson died there October 31, 2010, three days after celebrating his 90th birthday.

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