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Felton Snow

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Felton Snow (Mammy, Skipper)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 158 lb.

Felton Snow played and managed in the Negro Leagues for over two decades, often occupying both roles. A two-time All-Star, Snow was primarily a third baseman but played every position except catcher and first base. He was known as a solid all-around player without any exceptional ability; his strong throwing arm was considered one of his more notable features.

Snow moved to Louisville when he was 10 years old and spent much of his life there. He began his professional career in 1929 with the Louisville Black Caps of the Negro Southern League. In 1931, Snow hit .125 for the Louisville White Sox in his Negro National League debut. The next season, he hit .235 for the club as he became their main third baseman.

In 1933, Snow moved to the Nashville Elite Giants and batted .248. That winter, Felton played for Wilson's Elite Giants in the California Winter League, batting .322/?/.483 as the weakest contact hitter on a club loaded with stars - five Hall-of-Famers plus Wild Bill Wright, Tommy Dukes and Sammy Bankhead in addition to Snow. The next year, he improved to .287 with Nashville; he also briefly played that year for the Cleveland Red Sox. In the 1934-1935 California Winter League, he batted .351/?/.468.

During the 1935 NNL season, Snow hit .271 for the Elite Giants (bouncing between several cities). He was 4th in voting among third basemen for the 1935 East-West Game. With the East trailing 8-4 in the bottom of the 10th and the bases loaded with none out, Snow pinch-hit for Bob Griffith. Martin Dihigo came in from center field to pitch. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, he took a ball, then singled home Chester Williams and Josh Gibson to make it 8-6. He was retired on a force play but the East wound up tying the score, later winning the game, with Snow's pinch-hit playing a major role.

In the 1935-1936 California Winter League, Snow hit .224/?/.328 for Wilson's Royal Giants, playing shortstop. He led the league with three triples at least. Snow batted just .175 for the Washington Elite Giants in 1936, yet made it back to the East-West Game. Snow went 1 for 2 with an error and run in the East's 10-2 rout in the 1936 East-West Game; he replaced Judy Johnson at third base. He also played for the Negro League All-Star team that won the Denver Post Tournament. John Holway lists him as becoming manager of Washington that year, though James Riley says he took over the role four years later. Back in California for another winter, he went 4 for 8 with a double and triple in the games that have been accounted for. He also played a white MLB team and went 6 for 22; opposing hurlers were Bob Feller, Jim Winford, Earl Caldwell, Mike Ryba and Jim Winford.

Felton batted .336 for Washington in 1937. The Elite Giants were 27-17, third in the NNL. In the 1937-1938 California Winter League, Snow hit .298/?/.447 in the 109 games accounted for.

Washington became the Baltimore Elite Giants in 1938; they went 23-9 that year. Snow only hit .197. In winter play in California, Snow was 7 for 14 with two doubles and two homers in the few box scores located. That made him the possible co-batting champ with Spencer Harris. In 1939, Baltimore went 25-21 and Snow batted .256. Snow's team beat the Homestead Grays in a post-season competition; Felton was 8 for 34 at the plate. In a change of pace, he spent the winter in Cuba. In early October, he joined the Grays on a six-game rout of local clubs. In the 1939-1940 Cuban Winter League, Snow manned third for the title-winning Almendares Blues but only hit .223/?/.253. His 22 RBI were still second on the team to Willie Wells.

At age 34, Snow guided the Elite Giants to second place (54-30) in the NNL. He hit .372 and would have ranked fourth in the league had he been among the qualifiers. He easily led his team, outpacing the likes of Roy Campanella, Sammy T. Hughes and Tubby Scales. Back in California for the 1940-1941 winter campaign, Felton hit .310/?/.524 according to box scores located so far. It was his last season in California - overall, he had hit .319/?/.504 in 101 games in the California Winter League. He ranks 13th in league history in average among players with 300+ AB, right behind Irish Meusel.

In 1941, Snow's club finished with the best record at 36-21, though they failed to win either half. Snow moved to second base and hit .256. Baltimore went 38-22, losing a tight race to Homestead, in 1942; Felton tied Larry Doby for third in the NNL in triples (5) while batting .247 in a return to third base.

Baltimore fell to 15-26 in 1943; the veteran player-manager stole three bases to tie him for fourth in the NNL but he only hit .209. In 1944, Snow's outfit was back to second at 24-20 and he rebounded with a .270 season at 38 years of age.

In 1945, Snow's club finished second at 25-17, behind the Grays. He hit .278 as the shortstop for this team. Baltimore was 28-31 in 1946 as Snow now saw reduced action. Scales replaced him as manager after that year.

Snow managed for minor teams after that, guiding the 1948-1949 Nashville Cubs and 1950 New Orleans Crescent Stars.

Sources: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo and The California Winter League by William McNeil

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