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St. Louis Giants

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The St. Louis Giants began play in 1909. In 1910 they went 2-1 against other top black teams. The team was heavily dominated by the Taylor clan - Ben Taylor and Steel Arm Taylor were the main pitchers while Candy Jim Taylor was stationed at third base. They went 16-9 in 1911 as arguably the top team in the midwest. 3B Whip Pryor hit over .400 to lead the offense with all three Taylors gone. They were not as dominant in following seasons, though they won city league titles in St. Louis, MO in 1912 and 1913. They halted play briefly in 1917 but were reorganized soon thereafter. In 1920 the club was a chart member of the Negro National League and finished fifth at 21-21. OF Charlie Blackwell hit .357, fifth in the league, and was also fifth with 6 triples. They played a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals minus Rogers Hornsby. After a 5-4 win in the opener behind a homer from the recently added Oscar Charleston, they were 2-hit by Jesse Haines in a 5-0 loss and 4-hit by Ferdie Schupp in a 6-0 defeat. They refused to play the fourth game over a conflict over their share of the receipts.

In their second season in the NNL, the Giants finished second at 54-30, behind only the Chicago American Giants. Blackwell led the NNL in average (.484), was second in doubles (20), third in steals (31) and fourth in homers (12). Charleston was with the team for a full season and led the loop in steals (37) and homers (17); he was second in average (.437) and triples (13) and tied for third with 19 doubles. The two-man offense led the charge for the team, which was managed by Felix Wallace. Big Bill Drake went 22-11 with a 3.32 RA and 132 strikeouts; he led the league in wins and strikeouts and was fourth in RA. They again squared off with a Hornsby-less Cardinals team. They lost the opener 5-4 in 11 innings, won game 2 6-2 against Haines, lost 12-3 in game 3, 9-6 in game 4 and 10-3 in game 5. Charleston hit .304 with 2 homers while Blackwell hit .364, but Drake was just 1-2 with a 5.57 RA.

In 1922 the St. Louis NNL team was sold by founder Charlie Mills to Dick Kemp, George Keys and Sam Sheppard; they renamed the club the St. Louis Stars.

Sources: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley

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