Bill Yancey

From BR Bullpen

William James Yancey (Yank)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Weight 165 lb.

Bill Yancey played in the Negro Leagues for 14 years, his time split between minor and major clubs. He was primarily a shortstop. He later became a scout, was active in Panamanian baseball and helped decide who would be in the Hall of Fame.

Yancey was not allowed on his high school's baseball or basketball teams. In his sophomore year, he began playing baseball for the semipro Pelham Silk Sox. After graduation, he tried out for the Philadelphia Giants (by that time a minor team) but was sent down to the lower Boston Giants for development. By 1924, he was with Philadelphia full-time and remained there for several years.

Bill got his first playing time with a top black team with Hilldale in 1927, hitting .278 as a utility infielder. In 1929, he joined the Renaissance Five basketball team, which would be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1963. He also joined the New York Lincoln Giants that year, hitting .239 as the regular shortstop for the top team in the American Negro League. The club's manager was legendary Pop Lloyd, who helped teach Yancey how to play shortstop.

In 1930, Yancey was a backup for New York. Bill became the first black player to step foot on the field at Yankee Stadium when the Lincoln Giants played there, as he ran out early to take fielding practice in Babe Ruth's spot in right field. He later recalled that it was one of the highlights of his baseball career. Yancey went 6 for 30 in the post-season against the Homestead Grays, playing regularly.

Yancey returned to Philadelphia in 1931 as the starting shortstop and batted .224. At age 28, he moved on to the New York Black Yankees and batted .241 as the regular at short. In 1933, Yancey batted .250 for New York and he followed with a .191 season (still good for 5th on the team as New York went into a collapse that year).

Yancey played for the New York Cubans and Brooklyn Eagles in 1935, but his struggles continued; he fell to .176 with Brooklyn, one of the lowest marks in the Negro National League. He bounced back in his last year, 1936, hitting .273 as the second baseman for the Philadelphia Stars.

After his playing career ended, Yancey managed in Latin America. He coached a Panamanian Olympic team and directed a YMCA in Colon, Panama, through 1943. In 1945, he returned to America after a nearly 10-year absence, to manage the Atlanta Black Crackers.

Yancey was a scout for various clubs (including the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies) from 1950 to 1970. Yancey served on the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues.

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