Charles H. Blackwell (Rucker, John)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7", Weight 150 lb.
Charlie Blackwell was a top Negro League outfielder for a number of years. He had a good combination of contact, power and speed while rarely striking out.
Blackwell debuted in 1915 with the West Baden Sprudels, hitting .226 as a starting outfielder. He moved to the St. Louis Giants in 1916 and improved to .278/.358/.361 while playing mostly left field. After St. Louis folded, he played for Bowser's ABCs. In 1917, the Kentucky native played for both the Indianapolis ABCs and the revived St. Louis Giants; he hit .252/.330/.356 and fielded .908 in left. His 7 triples led top midwestern black clubs. He batted .333 for St. Louis in 1918.
In 1919, Charlie tore the cover off the ball for St. Louis, at .364/.440/.659 for a 227 OPS+. He was third in OPS+ in the midwest behind Hall-of-Famers Pete Hill and Oscar Charleston. During 1920, Blackwell batted .316/.400/.460 with 46 runs, 7 triples and 36 RBI in 64 games. He was 5th in the new Negro National League in triples (behind Charleston, Cristóbal Torriente, Hurley McNair and Bullet Rogan), tied for 5th in home runs (4), tied for 9th in RBI with Bingo DeMoss, 7th in steals (15) and 5th in OPS+ (between Bernardo Baró and McNair). Manning center field, he fielded .927 with 10 assists. He was 5 for 17 with a triple in the 1920-1921 Cuban Winter League.
The little outfielder batted .405/.478/.670 in 1921, with 88 runs, 20 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, 89 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 79 games. He also had 20 outfield assists, mostly playing right field. He was among the NNL leaders in almost every category - second in runs (behind Charleston), tied for 7th in doubles (with Tank Carr and John Henry Lloyd), 7th in hits (119), tied for 4th in triples (with Biz Mackey and McNair), tied for third in homers (with Torriente, trailing only Charleston and Carr), second in RBI (two behind leader Charleston), 5th in steals, 2nd in average (to Charleston), 2nd in slugging (to Charleston), 2nd in OBP (to Charleston) and second in OPS+ (behind Charleston, of course).
Blackwell hit .361/.451/.550 with 52 runs, 55 RBI, 38 walks and 14 steals in 64 games for the St. Louis Stars in 1922, with a 186 OPS+. He tied for fifth in the NNL in triples (8, even with Clarence Smith), tied for 10th with RBI (with Rogan), tied for 7th in steals (with Lemuel Hawkins), was 4th in walks, placed 9th in average (between Mackey and [[John Beckwith]), was third in OBP (behind McNair and Rogan) and ranked 6th in OPS+. In the winter of 1922-1923, he was the fourth outfielder for Habana, behind Torriente, Jack Calvo and Marcelino Guerra. He hit .321 and slugged .423.
For the 1916-1922 period, Blackwell hit .339/.420/.541 for a 183 OPS+. He had 235 runs and 211 RBI in 286 games. During that period, he was 9th in the Negro Leagues in runs (between McNair and Jimmie Lyons), 8th in hits (364, between McNair and Lyons), 10th in doubles (52), tied for second in triples (37, even with Torriente and behind Charleston), 6th in homers (23, between Carr and Rogan), 4th in RBI (211, behind Charleston, Ben Taylor and Torriente), tied for 10th in steals (57, even with George Shively), 7th in OBP (right behind Hill), tied for 9th in slugging (with Beckwith), 6th in OPS (between Torriente and Rogan), 6th in OPS+ (behind Heavy Johnson, Charleston, Torriente, Louis Santop and Smokey Joe Williams) and 4th in offensive win shares (behind Charleston, Torriente and Taylor).
Blackwell fell to .307/.396/.479 in 1923 with 16 doubles, 34 walks and 46 runs in 68 games. He was 8th in OBP, between Turkey Stearnes and Valentin Dreke and placed 10th in slugging. He hit only .259 in 1924. Moving to the Birmingham Black Barons in 1925, the veteran had his last big year, hitting .309 with 15 home runs. He was third in the NNL in homers behind Edgar Wesley and Stearnes. Blackwell hit .276 for the 1926 Detroit Stars. In 1928, he batted .167 for the Nashville Elite Giants and he finished his career with a .244 average for Nashville in 1929.