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Bingo DeMoss

From BR Bullpen

Elwood DeMoss

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 175 lb.

BR Register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Bingo DeMoss was considered one of the best second basemen of the pre-Negro Leagues period. Playing in pitcher-friendly ballparks in a low-offense era, his raw offensive numbers were never good. He was valued for his defensive talent, his base-running ability, his bunting and hit-and-run skills, and his leadership qualities.

DeMoss began his career with the West Baden Sprudels in 1912 after several years with lesser teams. The 22-year-old hit .231. Playing for five different clubs in |1913, he hit .091 against top black teams. DeMoss joined the Indianapolis ABCs at age 25 in 1915 and hit .243; he was tied for third among western black teams in doubles (8) and tied George Shively for the lead in steals (23). He hit .328 in a series in Cuba that year. On October 17th, he was involved in a well-publicized incident when, during an exhibition game against a while "All-Star" team, he objected to a call made by white umpire Jimmy Scanlon and began to fight him, at which point teammate Oscar Charleston rushed in from his position in center field and decked the umpire with a single punch. That nearly started a race riot, and when order was restored, both Bingo and Charleston were arrested, although they were let out on bail and were able to join the team for the aforementioned tour of Cuba. When the case came to trial in December, he was fined $5, although the fight served as a pretext for the police to ban any further baseball games in Indianapolis, IN between teams of different races.

DeMoss batted .231 for Indianapolis in 1916, and moved to the Chicago American Giants the following season, where he achieved prominence on a team built around speed and bunting. He hit .168 in 1917 and led western teams with 7 steals. Chicago did play in a pitcher-friendly park and no regular hit over .258 with just one over .223, but DeMoss was just about the worst on the team. He was 1 for 5 against major-league white pitchers that year.

Given a "fourth class" draft classification, DeMoss was not called to serve in World War I. Using incomplete data, he hit only .103 for Chicago that season. Improving to .189 in 1919 and replacing Pete Hill as captain, DeMoss improved his batting average to .281 in 1920. At age 31, he hit .241. Offensive statistics were improving just as in the white leagues, but Chicago remained a pitcher's paradise and the veteran was a decent 3rd on the champion team in hitting, well behind Cristobal Torriente (.346) and Jimmie Lyons (.295).

In 1922, the second baseman batted .256, fourth on the top team. DeMoss hit .252/.309/.332 in 1923, fielding a pretty slick .971. He hit .219 in 1924 then .228 a season later in 1925. With the ABCs struggling, the Negro National League tried to bolster the team by sending other players to help out. DeMoss hit .282 for the club.

1927 brought Bingo to the Detroit Stars as a player-manager. The 39-year-old hit .210 in a hitter-friendly environment and guided the Stars to a 70-53 finish. He hit .155 for the team as a backup the next year and they were 58-38. In 1929 he hit a surprising .314 in limited time while the Stars were 38-39. Hitting .256 off the bench in 1930, he led the Detroit club to a 58-37 season. In his final season as a player, his team fell to 23-30 in 1931.

Released by Detroit, DeMoss managed the Cleveland Giants in 1933, his last top-level season. He managed mostly second-tier black teams after that, including the Chicago Brown Bombers in 1942 when they were part of the semi-pro Negro Major Baseball League, in 1943 as an independent club. He managed the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers of the United States Negro Baseball League in 1945.

DeMoss has been considered by some Negro Leagues researchers to be the best second baseman in Negro Leagues history, though rankings at that position vary widely, as there were few players in the entire history of the Negro Leagues who had long careers there. He was nominated for the first list of potential Hall of Fame candidates for the Hall's February 2006 Negro Leagues vote, but he failed to garner enough support to make the first cut. To date, only a single Negro Leagues second baseman, Frank Grant, has been selected for the Hall.

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jeremy Beer: "Hothead: How the Oscar Charleston Myth Began", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 46, Nr. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 5-15.

Related Sites[edit]