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George Stovey

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George Washington Stovey

[edit] Biographical Information

George Stovey is considered the best African-American pitcher of the 19th century but discrimination barred him from the majors and led him to move from team to team until he had no opportunities to play in the minors. Two unsubstantiated, years-later stories exist, in 1886 and 1887 that Cap Anson played a role in keeping the New York Giants from signing Stovey. The 1886 story was apparently first told in 1892 by Pat Powers, who had been Stovey's manager in Jersey City in the Eastern League in 1886. The 1887 story was apparently first printed in a 1907 book by baseball player-turned-writer Sol White, a 2006 special inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (Howard W. Rosenberg, Cap Anson 4: Bigger Than Babe Ruth: Captain Anson of Chicago, pages 425-430) In 1887 Stovey was the star pitcher for the Newark Little Giants of the International League, and formed the first known African-American battery with catcher Fleet Walker. On July 14, 1887 the Chicago White Stockings played an exhibition game against the Little Giants. Contrary to some modern-day writers, Anson did not have a second encounter with Walker that day (Walker was apparently injured, having last played on July 11 and would not play again until July 26). But Stovey had been listed as the game's scheduled starting pitcher, in the Newark News of July 14. Only days after the game was it reported (in the Newark Sunday Call) that, "Stovey was expected to pitch in the Chicago game. It was announced on the ground [sic] that he was sulking, but it has since been given out that Anson objected to a colored man playing. If this be true, and the crowd had known it, Mr. Anson would have received hisses instead of the applause that was given him when he first stepped to the bat." On the morning of the day of game, International League owners had voted 6-to-4 to exclude African-American players from future contracts. (Rosenberg, Cap Anson 4, page 430 and Cap Chronicled, Chapter 4: Cap's Great Shame - Racial Intolerance). In 1889 he pitched for both the Cuban Giants, home based at Trenton, and the NY Gorhams, home based in Philadelphia. In 1891 he played for the Cuban Giants at Ansonia. These were all-black teams playing in organized baseball in those two seasons. He also played some in the outfield, batting .256 in a total of 122 games. His career record as a pitcher was 60-40 with a 2.17 ERA.

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