Oscar McKinley Charleston
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 200 lb.
- Negro Leagues Debut Year 1915
- Negro Leagues Final Year 1941
- Born October 14, 1896 in Indianapolis, IN USA
- Died October 5, 1954 in Philadelphia, PA USA
"Charleston could hit that ball a mile. He didn't have a weakness." - Dizzy Dean
Oscar Charleston is considered by many Negro Leagues experts to have been the greatest ballplayer of the Negro Leagues. Bill James ranked him as fourth-greatest player of all time in his New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. He was primarily a center fielder in the early part of his career, switching to left field and then to first base as he aged. He is among the top five Negro Leaguers in batting average and home runs, as well as the all-time leader in stolen bases.
Charleston began his career in 1915 after having served in the Phillipines. Over his career, he played for the Indianapolis ABCs (1915-1918, 1920, 1922-1923), New York Lincoln Stars (1915-1916), Bowser's ABCs (1916), Chicago American Giants (1919), St. Louis Giants (1921), Harrisburg Giants (1924-1927), Hilldale (1928-1929), Homestead Grays (1930-1931), Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1938), Toledo Crawfords (1939), Indianapolis Crawfords (1940), and Philadelphia Stars (1941). He managed the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1938), Philadelphia Stars (1941, 1942-1944, 1946-1950), Brooklyn Brown Dodgers (1945), and the Indianapolis Clowns (1954). He also was an umpire. He also is reputed to have recommended Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella to Branch Rickey when he decided to break baseball's color line . He died about one month after having led the Clowns to the NAL pennant.
Charleston was famous for his temper, his fearlessness, and his fights with opposing players, umpires, police, and even armed soldiers. According to legend, Charletson ripped the hood off a Klansman who had confronted him. Despite (or perhaps because of) his aggressiveness, he was one of the most popular figures in the Negro Leagues throughout his playing and managing career.
Negro Leagues Career Statistics
|1916|| New York Lincoln Stars
|1919|| Chicago American Giants
|1921||St. Louis Giants||NNL||76||279||104||122||17||12||15||91||32||41||.437||.746|
|1938||did not play|
|Averages||per 162 g||6.80||162||604||147||214||36||15||23||119||36||78||.354||.578|
- sources: www.seamheads.com (1916-1922), Gary Ashwill & Kevin Johnson; Shades of Glory, Hogan et al, ppg. 384-385 (1923-1941)