Jesse Hubbard

From BR Bullpen

Jesse James Hubbard (Mountain)

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lb.

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Jesse Hubbard was a pitcher, outfielder and manager for top black teams from the 1910s to the 1930s and also starred in the integrated California Winter League. He was part-Native American. [1] The New York Giants once signed him, hoping to pass him as a white player, as he was light-skinned. [2]

He dropped out of school in the 5th grade and worked in a saw mill then played for the minor Houston Black Oilers in 1915. [3] He was in the Army in 1918, stationed at Fort Dix. [4] He made it to the big time in 1919 with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants and Hilldale Club (spending the year primarily with Brooklyn). He hit .304/.342/.389 for a 119 OPS+ and was 3-4 with a 4.47 ERA (85 ERA+). [5]

In 1920, he was 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA (69 ERA+) and hit .276/.344/.345 (148 OPS+) for Brooklyn, still being used almost entirely as a pitcher despite his fine batting. In the playoffs against Hilldale, he went 11 innings in a 1-1 tie with Connie Rector in Game 1. He tripled to open the 9th but was stranded. He also started Game 2, 11 days later, and pitched a 2-2 tie against Phil Cockrell. [6] He also beat Jim Shaw and the Washington Senators, 5-4. [7]

Hubbard played for the New York Lincoln Giants when they were in the California Winter League in 1920-1921. He was 9-1, leading the league in wins (one over Ping Gardner), IP (87), K (60, 12 over Gardner), walks issued (33) and games pitched (tied for first with Wizard Baugh. [8] Brooklyn did not play many games against other top black teams in 1921. He was 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA (166 ERA+) in five games pitched, the team lead, while going 6 for 15 with a double and a homer as their top hitter to boot. Brooklyn again saw little action against other top black teams in 1922. He lost his lone start (8 1/3 IP, 9 H, 6 BB, 6 R, 5 ER, 9 K) and went 1 for 5.

The right-hander was with Brooklyn when they joined the new Eastern Colored League in 1923, going 2-3 with a 4.84 ERA (87 ERA+) and hitting .270/.308/.324 (84 OPS+). He played in the Cuban Winter League, going a surprising 0 for 17 (with two walks) and going 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA. He continued to struggle on the hill with Brooklyn in 1924 (2-4, 7.20, 64 ERA+) but was hitting again (.444/.464/.667, 231 OPS+). He battled arm problems in 1925 and began pitching sidearm and submarine at times. [9] He as 2-3, 4.42 for a 120 ERA+ while hitting .240/.269/.380 for a 69 OPS+.

He again had a big turn in the California Winter League, five years after his prior appearance. This time, he was primarily a right fielder, though, hitting .347 and slugging .525 while going 1-3 on the mound. He hit a 3-run homer in Game 2 of the finals. [10] He also was primarily an outfielder for Brooklyn in 1926, hitting .325/.409/.558 for a 183 OPS+ while going 0-3 with a 8.00 ERA (54 ERA+). Among players with 90+ plate appearances, only Hall-of-Famers Martin Dihigo and Jud Wilson had a better OPS+.

The Texas native was a two-way player in 1927, going 10-3 with a save and 2.80 ERA (151 ERA+) for Atlantic City as they won the ECL title. He also started in right, batting .262/.355/.414 (98 OPS+). Against all competition, he was 13-7, 3.80 and hit .267/.339/.387. [11] He tied Bob McClure and Laymon Yokely for 7th in wins, was second to Darltie Cooper in ERA+, led in winning percentage (.063 ahead of Rats Henderson), tied Henderson for 6th in complete games (13) and tied Nip Winters for 6th in Wins Above Replacement (4.2). He struggled in the 1927 Negro World Series, though, losing game 1 to Willie Powell and the Chicago American Giants in a rout. He started again the next day and was again lit up, in a loss to George Harney. He won Game 8 against Bill Foster. He was 1-2 with a 7.80 ERA for the Series and went 3 for 13 with a double and a triple as Atlantic City fell. [12]

He once again dominated the California Winter League in his third and final season there, hitting .442 and slugging .558 in 1927-1928. He led the league in average (.057 ahead of Biz Mackey) and hits (34, 4 ahead of Rap Dixon). [13] He split 1928 between the Baltimore Black Sox and Lincoln Giants (.317/.406/.483, 124 OPS+; 5-7, 4.34, 107 ERA+). He tied for 4th in the 1928 ECL with three triples, was 6th in ERA (between Luther Farrell and Hubert Lockhart), tied Rector for 5th in wins, tied McClure and Farrell for 3rd in losses, was 3rd in WHIP (1.34, behind Juanelo Mirabal and Yokely) and was 6th with 8 complete games.

Jesse only pitched one game in 1929, but batted .346/.453/.561 (140 OPS+) for Baltimore, scoring 33 runs in 31 games. He tied for 6th with 5 triples. He was released in late July while battling side injuries. [14] He opened a restaurant before returning to baseball in 1930. [15] He was 2-4 for Hilldale with a 7.46 ERA (77 ERA+) and hit .233/.282/.438 (66 OPS+).

He played for a Providence team in a New England League in 1931 (The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues lists this as a minor league, but it was not part of Organized Baseball. [16] He returned to black ball in 1932 with the New York Black Yankees, going 2-1 with a 4.97 ERA and 3 for 9 at the plate against other top black teams. He was player-manager of the 1933 Baltimore Sox, batting .324/.385/.479 for a 130 OPS+ while starting in left. Only Jake Dunn hit better for the team. At age 38, he was a bench player for the 1934 Bacharach Giants (0-1, 8.31; 2 for 16, HR). He wound down in 1935, going 1-2 with a 4.87 ERA (94 ERA+) for the Black Yankees and going 3 for 9 with four walks, a double and a homer.

In 100 games against top black opponents, he was 36-43 with 3 saves and a 4.60 ERA (92 ERA+). He had batted .291/.368/.462 for a 120 OPS+ in 322 games. In the California Winter League, he was 4th all-time in average (.390, between Smead Jolley and Sammy T. Hughes) and tied for 10th with 3 shutouts. [17]

He was known as a ladies' man and a sharp dresser. [18]

Sources[edit]

  1. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, pg. 397
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Seamheads database (This is the source for all stats whose source is not otherwise listed)
  6. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, pg. 145
  7. ibid., pg. 147
  8. The California Winter League by William McNeil, pg. 78
  9. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, pg. 397
  10. The California Winter League, pg. 110 and 112-113
  11. Black Ball and the Boardwalk by James E. Overmyer, pg. 244 and 256
  12. Seamheads; The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, pg. 228-231
  13. The California Winter League, pg. 127
  14. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, pg. 398
  15. ibid.
  16. ibid.
  17. The California Winter League, pg. 245-246
  18. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, pg. 398