1946 Negro World Series
Negro World Series
The 1946 Negro World Series was the fifth postseason championship between the eastern Negro National League and western Negro American League. This series marked the last appearance by J.L. Wilkinson's Kansas City Monarchs in the World Series and the only Negro World Series championship for Effa Manley's Newark Eagles. With Organized Baseball having begun to integrate that year, dozens of scouts were reportedly in the stands to take a look at some of the top black talent in baseball.
Kansas City Monarchs
The Monarchs had dominated the NAL with a 43-14 record under manager Frank Duncan, winning both halves of the split season. The club did not miss Jackie Robinson as the load was carried by Hall of Fame center fielder Willard Brown (.348/~.364/.565), back from a year in the military, to lead the NAL in homers. First baseman Buck O'Neil had a career year and won the batting title; he batted .350/~.388/.497. Second basemen Hank Thompson (.226) tied for fourth with 4 HR and third baseman Herb Souell (.316) was 4th in average and second with 14 steals. On the mound, Connie Johnson (9-3) led the league in wins, Hall of Famers Satchel Paige (5-1) and Hilton Smith (5-2) finished first and fourth, respectively in RA (Runs Allowed per 9 IP) with 1.32 and 3.30. Smith also batted .431 as a pinch hitter and part-time position player.
Hall of Famer Biz Mackey managed the Eagles. The team had a star keystone combination of second baseman Larry Doby (.360) and short stop Monte Irvin (.349). Doby was 4th in the NNL in batting average, fifth in homers (5), led in triples (6) and tied for fourth in doubles (6) while Irvin was fifth in average, second to Josh Gibson with 9 homers and second to Gibson with 11 doubles. Outfielder Johnny Davis (.301) and first baseman Lenny Pearson (.257) tied for third in the league with 7 homers. Rufus Lewis (15-1, 2.79 RA) led the league in wins and tied for fifth in RA. He was barely above team average, though, as the staff had a cumulative RA of 2.80. Leon Day (14-4, 2.53) led the league with 65 strikeouts, tied for second in wins and was third in RA. Max Manning (13-1, 2.79) tied for fifth in RA and was fourth in wins. Lemuel Hooker (8-3, 2.12) led in RA. Doby, Irvin, and Day had all spent the prior year in the US military and their return was a major aid to the team.
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Hank Thompson scored the series' first run off of Leon Day. In the bottom of the sixth, Doby walked and stole second. Paige relieved starter Hilton Smith and allowed a game-tying single to Davis, but gave up nothing further. In the 7th, Lewis allowed a single to the light-hitting Paige, who came around to score and give K.C. the opening win. Kansas City's rookie shortstop Hamilton suffered a compound fracture of his right leg when Newark outfielder Bob Harvey crashed into him to break up a double play. Hamilton never played baseball at the top level again. Eagles third baseman Clarence Israel suffered an injury that sidelined him for the next four games. Day was suffering from a late-season sore arm, and was unimpressive in this series.
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Heavyweight boxing great Joe Louis threw out the first pitch, and special recognition was given 88-year-old Ben Holmes, the last member of the Cuban Giants of the 1880s and a participant in what was identified as the first Negro "World Series" in 1888.
Despite making only two hits, Kansas City scored four and led after six behind a fine effort from Ford Smith. Satchel Paige relieved Smith when he tired in the 7th, but was unable to match his previous game's effort. Pearson hit a ball over the left field fence but umpire Bullet Joe Rogan called it foul. Lenny singled afterward to ignite a six-run rally, tying the series at one apiece. Doby and Brown each homered, while Manning went the distance for Newark.
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Jim LaMarque pitched a complete game for Kansas City, which feasted on Hooker, Cotton Williams and Manning in a 15-5 rout. Renfroe, Souell, and Thompson had 12 of their 21 hits and Ted Strong went deep for the Monarchs.
September 24 at Blues Stadium in Kansas City, MO
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After their explosive performance of a day earlier, Kansas City reverted to game two form with only four hits and a run against Lewis, a solo homer by Brown the sole highlight. Ted Alexander took the loss and Satchel was smacked around for the second time in three relief appearances, allowing a 3-run homer to Irvin, one of 4 hits he had. Doby doubled and tripled to tie the series again.
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After three scoreless by Manning and Hilton Smith, Kansas City began to get to Dr. Cyclops, handing him only his second loss of the year as Newark squandered hits - for the fourth time in five games, they had more hits than KC, but they were now facing elimination as Kansas City just needed one more victory to put it away. Kansas City outfielder Ted Strong did not accompany the team from Kansas City, having already left to play in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Ford Smith played right field in his place for games five and six.
September 27 at Ruppert Stadium in Newark, NJ
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The series returned east and the visitors routed Day for five runs in the first inning. Hooker relieved him and did a fine job the rest of the way. Day moved to center field for the remainder of the game. LaMarque walked the first three men up and was relieved by Wylie. Newark took the lead for good by the bottom of the second inning to tie the series yet again. Irvin hit his 2nd and third home runs of the Series, Brown hammered his third, Pearson went yard twice and even O'Neil (who had hit one homer all year) hit one out in the high-scoring contest that kept the Series alive.
September 29 at Ruppert Stadium in Newark, NJ
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Kansas City expected Satchel Paige for the game, but he failed to show up, joining Hamilton and Strong on the list of missing. Ford Smith took Paige's place and did a fine job but an error and a hit by Irvin scored one in the first for the Eagles. In the sixth, O'Neil surprisingly homered once again to tie the score. Kansas City went ahead against Lewis in the 7th, but in the bottom of the eighth inning, Smith walked Doby and Irvin. Johnny Davis then smacked a game-winning, two-run double, his third hit of the contest.
Kansas City's top hitter was backup shortstop Chico Renfroe (.414), while Willard Brown (.241) had provided his three homers and Souell (.344) and O'Neil (.346, 2 HR) had done well. Strong (.133) had been struggling even before he left the country, though his absence in the last three games was still felt, leaving the team another player short on its 16-man roster. Hilton Smith (1-1, 1.29 ERA) and Ford Smith (0-1, 3.77) were their most effective pitchers while Paige (1-1, 5.40) and LaMarque (1-0, 7.00) both experienced difficulties.
For Newark, Irvin (.462, 3 HR, 8 RBI) and Pearson (.393, 2 HR) had provided plenty of punch, but the Eagles still would not have won it without the big last hit from Davis (.292). Doby had the team's lowest average at .227 but scored the game-tying run in the finale. Both Leon Day (0-0, 6.00) Lem Hooker (1-1, 6.00) were disappointingly ineffective, but Lewis (2-1, 1.23) and Manning (1-1, 3.12) filled that gap admirably.