- Bats Right, Throws Right
- School Knoxville College
Bill Force was a pitcher and outfielder in the Negro Leagues for more than a decade and had several fine seasons on the mound. His career record was 50-39.
He graduated college in 1919 and debuted with the minor Knoxville Giants. In 1921, Force pitched briefly for the Chicago American Giants, then moved on to the Detroit Stars. With Detroit, he was 8-8 with a 5.50 RA. He played center field and right field at times and hit .218/.282/.295. Sticking with Detroit, Force hit an impressive .314/.417/.608 in 1922 and was 7-4 with a 4.59 RA on the mound. He allowed 13 home runs, the most in the Negro National League. On June 27, he threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Stars.
Force kept hitting well in 1923 with a .302/.355/.427 line and continued to see occasional action in the outfield. Bill was 11-9 with 3 saves and a 3.88 ERA. He led the NNL in games pitched (37) and was third in innings (195) and strikeouts (92). He tied Bullet Joe Rogan and Rube Currie for second in the league in saves, behind teammate Andy Cooper. That off-season, Detroit played the St. Louis Browns. Force got a no-decision in a game one victory and won game 2 by a 7-6 margin. He relieved in game three and got a no-decision in a loss. As the Browns scored 6 runs in the first three innings of game one and 11 overall in game three, Force's RA was probably not too impressive. He did hit a homer to support his own cause in game two, taking Elam Vangilder deep.
In 1924, Force joined the Baltimore Black Sox and went 10-8. He came within one strike of a no-hitter but Ben Taylor singled to break up his bid. Bill was one of the top pitchers in the Eastern Colored League during the 1925 campaign. He had a 8-2 record, finishing third in winning percentage. His 3.36 RA was second only to Joe Strong. Force's 50 strikeouts were third behind Nip Winters and George Britt.
Bill went 2-2 for the 1926 and hit .170 as his production began to fall. In 1927, Force was 4-4 and batted .188. He dropped both of his decisions in 1928 and had no decisions the next year. In his later years with Baltimore, he served as an unofficial pitching coach.
Research by Gary Ashwill