1945 Negro World Series
Negro World Series
The 1945 Negro World Series was the fourth Negro World Series between the eastern Negro National League and western Negro American League. This series marked the first appearance by the Buckeyes in the World Series as well as the fourth consecutive appearance for the Grays.
The Buckeyes were a surprising team, haven been decimated by a bus crash in 1942 and having been a .500 team in the two years following. With other teams' rosters depleted by the war, the Buckeyes totally dominated this season with a .768 winning percentage, winning both halves of the NAL split season under newly hired player-manager Quincy Trouppe, who returned to the Negro Leagues after several years of starring in the Mexican League. Trouppe recruited other players from the Mexican League to help plug holes in the Buckeyes' roster. Offensively they were led by center fielder and batting champion Sam Jethroe, who hit .393 and also led the NAL in triples (10) and stolen bases (21). Shortstop Avelino Canizares (.314 and 7 triples), third baseman Parnell Woods (.335 and 16 stolen bases), and outfielders Buddy Armour (.325) and Ducky Davenport (.345) were also offensive leaders. Davenport, however, jumped the team late in the season, and light-hitting Willie Grace was his replacement. Brothers Willie (12-1) and George Jefferson (10-3), and Gene Bremer (9-4) were the leading pitchers. Willie Jefferson (2.17) and Bremer (2.22) were second and third, respectively, in Total Run Average (TRA).
Managed by Candy Jim Taylor, the Grays won both halves of the NNL split season. Offensively they were led by Hall of Famers Buck Leonard (.365 and 4 HR) and Josh Gibson (.323 and 11 HR). Outfielder Jerry Benjamin hit .315. Two other Hall of Famers were on this team in more limited roles: left fielder James "Cool Papa" Bell hit only .253 while Jud Wilson was reduced to a utility fielder/pinch hitter role. The team's leading pitchers were Roy Welmaker (10-2, 2.85) and Garnet Blair (8-1, 2.91), while Hall of Famer Ray Brown fell to a 3-4 record with a 6.79 TRA in his last season. This was an aging team, and its consecutive streak of pennants would end the next year.
|Winning pitcher: Willie Jefferson (1-0)|
|Losing pitcher: Roy Welmaker(0-1)|
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh, when Buckeyes manager Trouppe tripled and scored on Johnny Cowan's fly ball out. Heads-up baserunning by Archie Ware brought home the second run in the eighth. Josh Gibson, held hitless until the ninth, came through with a run-scoring single to half the score with one out. A double play ended the game.
September 14 at League Park in Cleveland
|Winning pitcher: Gene Bremer (1-0)|
|Losing pitcher: Johnny Wright (0-1)|
|Homeruns: Willie Grace|
The Grays scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. They called upon the combined efforts of Buck Leonard, Josh Gibson, and Jud Wilson in the fourth, and the aging Cool Papa Bell's speed helped manufacture the run in the fifth. Willie Grace, inserted into the lineup only after the Buckeyes had lost Ducky Davenport, hit the Series' only homer leading off the eighth. A double and an error allowed the Buckeyes to tie the score.
With a 2-2 score in the ninth inning, Quincy Trouppe opened the bottom half of the inning with a double, and took third on a wild pitch. Armour was walked intentionally and stole second without a throw. Cowan was then walked intentionally to set up a force at any base, but Cleveland's pitcher Bremer crossed up the strategy by bouncing a hit over the fence. Some newspapers called the final score 4-2 (allowing the automatic two-base advance on a ground rule double), but it was officially a single to score the run.
|Winning pitcher: George Jefferson (1-0)|
|Losing pitcher: Roy Welmaker (0-2)|
Game Three had actually been scheduled for the night before in Pittsburgh, but rain prevented play. George Jefferson shut out the Grays on three hits while his teammates scored all the runs they would need in the third. Buddy Armour went three for three.
|Winning pitcher: Frank Carswell (1-0)|
|Losing pitcher: Ray Brown (0-1)|
The Buckeyes loaded the bases with none out in the first, and scored two on Jelly Jackson's error. It was all the scoring they would need, as Frank Carswell shut out the Grays on four hits. One earned run in the fouth and two more unearned runs in the seventh iced the game and the sweep for Cleveland.
This was the lowest-scoring, lightest-hitting World Series in Negro Leagues history. The two teams combined for a composite batting average of .195 and slugging percentage of .222. Cleveland's numbers were poor, but Homestead's were pathetic. The Buckeyes scored 14 runs, batted .220, and slugged .274, with the only home run in the Series; Homestead scored three runs, and endured the last 22 consecutive innings without a single score. All three runs were earned, giving the Buckeyes a team ERA of 0.75.
No MVP award was ever made in the various Negro World Series, but Quincy Trouppe's .400 batting average and .600 slugging percentage in the four games topped everyone.