Dave Pope

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David Pope

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Biographical Information[edit]

Dave Pope was an outfielder 17 years (1944-1961), three in college (1944 and 1946-1947), one in the Negro Leagues (1946), two in semipro/independent ball (1948-1949), four in the Majors (1952 and 1954-1956) and ten in the minors (1950-1953 and 1956-1961), losing one year to the military (1945).

He was born on June 17, 1921 (SSDI) into a family of 15 children, in Talladega, AL but grew up in Library, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh. He graduated from high school in Library, where he starred in baseball and basketball, in 1939 at age 18. He then attended the University of Pittsburgh, intending to become a doctor (1944-1949). He left to join the Army during World War II (Historicbaseball.com, TSN 9/13/1950 & 8/20/52).

Following his discharge he played with the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the Negro National League (1946). He married Nellie Archie on October 9, 1947. He played for the Farnham Pirates in the "outlaw" Quebec Provincial League (1948-1949). Pope briefly managed the 1948 Farnham Pirates.

Signed by Hank Greenberg of the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent, he broke into Organized Baseball in 1950 at age 28 (his "official" age had been turned back four years) with Wilkes-Barre in the Eastern League. He played for Wilkes-Barre (1950-1951) and the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association (1952).

Pope was 31 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 1, 1952, with Cleveland, getting into 12 games. It was back to Indianapolis for 1953 and he then played for Cleveland in 1954 and 1955. He played in the 1954 World Series, going 0 for 3 in 3 games. On June 15, 1955 he was traded by Cleveland with Wally Westlake to the Baltimore Orioles for Gene Woodling and Billy Cox. Cox refused to report to his new team and the Orioles sent cash to Cleveland to complete the trade.

He also played for San Juan in the Puerto Rican Winter League (1951-52 & 1952-53) and Gavilanes (1953-54) and Santa Maria (1954-55) in the Venezuelan League. He played for Baltimore in 1955 and 1956 and on May 13, 1956 he was traded by Baltimore back to the Cleveland Indians for Hoot Evers. He played his final major league game with the Indians on September 30, 1956 at age 35.

He returned to the minors with Indianapolis (1956) and the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League (1957-1958). On October 13, 1958 he was traded by Cleveland with Larry Raines to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Bobby Tiefenauer. He played for Toronto of the International League in 1959, for the Houston Buffaloes of the American Association in 1960, and again for and Toronto in 1961, ending his baseball career at age 40.

His zeal for the game was apparent the first time he took the field when he crashed into the right field wall and suffered a chest bruise while chasing a foul ball. Later in the 1954 World Series, Dave Pope drifted over toward the line but quickly came up against the fence. He leaped but the ball came down beyond his reach, into the first row of fans for a game-winning home run. Dusty Rhodes won the game with a home run that traveled barely 260 feet while, two innings earlier, Vic Wertz had sent one well in excess of 400 feet that was nothing more than a long fly out (The Catch by Willie Mays). Pope batted .294 as an extra with the 1954 AL Champion Indians.(FK)

In 1955, his best year in the majors, he had 86 hits, 38 runs, 13 doubles, 4 triples, 7 home runs, 52 RBI and 5 stolen bases for a batting line of .264/.325/.393 in 121 games. In 1952, his best year in the minors, he had 167 hits, 77 runs, 29 doubles, 7 triples, 13 home runs, 79 RBI and 4 stolen bases for a .352 average in 126 games. In 1953, he had 172 hits, 101 runs, 33 doubles, 14 triples, 24 home runs, 88 RBI and 3 stolen bases and batted .287 in 154 games.

Overall in the majors, he had 146 hits, 75 runs, 19 doubles, 7 triples, 12 home runs, 73 RBI and 7 stolen bases for a batting line of .265/.317/.390 in 230 games. Overall in the minors, he had 1317 hits, 783 runs, 237 doubles, 82 triples, 152 home runs, 725 RBI and 61 stolen bases at for a .319 batting average and a .526 slugging percentage in 1166 games.

He then worked in a job counseling program and spent most of his years with the Cleveland Recreation Department at the Cory Recreation Center. He remained involved in sports after he retired. He was an amateur baseball coach. He was a supervisor for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when he retired in 1994. He had been a Sunday school superintendent as a teenager and was active with First Zion Baptist Church in Cleveland. He had black hair and brown eyes, his ancestry was American Negro and his principal hobbies were all sports, books and music. He died at age 78 at his home in Cleveland from leukemia on August 28, 1999 and is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. He was survived by his wife Nellie, daughters: Dr. Linda D. Pope of Houston, TX; Elaine Pope-Joffrien of Norwalk, CT; and Sharyon A. Pope-Prime of Cleveland; a son Vincent L. Pope of Cleveland; ten grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; four brothers; and four sisters.

His brother Willie Pope also played in the Negro Leagues.

Career Highlights[edit]

  • Led Eastern League in triples (18), 1950
  • Led Eastern League in runs (113) and triples (13), 1951
  • Led American Association in batting average (.352) and triples (14), 1952
  • Led Venezuelan Winter League in batting average (.345), doubles (22) and triples (6), 1953-4
  • Led Venezuelan Winter League in triples (6), and runs (32) 1954-5

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Member of the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brent P. Kelley: The Negro Leagues Revisited: Conversations With 66 More Baseball Heroes


Principal sources for Dave Pope include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1954-1956) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1953-1955) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley; The Negro Leagues Book by Dick Clark and Larry Lester; The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 by Dennis Snelling; The International League: Year-by-year Statistics, 1884-1953 by Marshall D. Wright; The American Association: Year-By-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

Related Sites[edit]