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Solly Drake

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Solomon Louis Drake

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[edit] Biographical Information

Solly Drake was the older of the first black brother combination to play major league baseball in the 20th Century. His brother Sammy Drake was an infielder for the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets from 1960 to 1962. Fleet Walker and Welday Walker, another black brother combination, had played in the 19th Century.

Before the 1951 season Solly was signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent. Solly spent 1951 with the class C Topeka Owls and the 20-year-old outfielder appeared in 85 games and hit for a .324 average.

The United States military was Drake's home in 1952 and 1953, during the Korean War. Solly arrived back on the ballfield in time for the 1954 season, where he appeared in 106 games for the Class A Des Moines Bruins and hit at a .282 pace. Solly, seemingly destined to be the Cubs' centerfielder in 1955, broke his ankle early on and finished the season with the Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels, getting into only 44 games and hitting .261.

The speedy switch-hitting outfielder, once timed in 10 seconds flat in the 100-yard dash, was brought up by the Cubs in 1956, when he appeared in 65 games, hit for a .256 average and fielded at a .993 clip. He was also with the AAA St. Paul Saints for 55 games that year, hitting .333 with nine home runs.

Solly was back in the minors in 1957, hitting .290 for the Portland Beavers and in 1958 he turned it up a notch and hit .301 with 9 homers for the Montreal Royals, leading the International League in hits with 183, runs with 105 and triples with 16. 1959 saw Drake back in the National League, getting into nine games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and 67 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was mainly a pinch-hitter - a role in which he went 0 for 22 - and a back-up outfielder, getting only 70 at-bats between the two teams and hitting .157. This marked the end of his major league run with a career batting average of .232 in 141 games.

Drake spent two more seasons in pro baseball in 1960 and 1961 with the Buffalo Bisons and the Portsmouth-Norfolk Tides winding up his nine-year pro baseball career with a minor league batting average of .283 in 842 games.

After baseball the Reverend Solomon Drake became the minister of the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church In Los Angeles, CA.

[edit] Sources
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

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