Jim West

From BR Bullpen

James West
(Shifty, Hinkey, One Wing)

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 218 lb.

Biographical Information[edit]

Shifty Jim West was a Negro League first baseman noted for his glovework. A two-time All-Star, he put up some solid offensive seasons. He saw some time at second base and in the outfield.

West debuted in 1930 as a .277 hitter. In 1931, he hit .206 for the Cleveland Cubs. At age 21, Jim batted .333 for the Memphis Red Sox in 1932 and also briefly appeared with the Birmingham Black Barons. He moved to the Nashville Elite Giants in 1933 and only hit .229 for them. In 1934, he improved over 100 points, batting .333 for Nashville. He hit .287 for the Columbus Elite Giants in 1935. That winter, he hit .510 to lead the California Winter League and his three triples tied Felton Snow for the most in the CWL.

West rose to stardom in 1936, batting .354 for the Washington Elite Giants and finishing third in the Negro National League with four triples. He played in the 1936 East-West Game, having gotten the most votes at 1B in fan voting. He hit 7th and played first base for the East, going 1 for 3 with a walk, a run and an error in a 10-2 rout. He also was 0 for 3 in exhibitions against white MLB pitchers that year.

Shifty Jim was 3 for 11 with a home run in the 1936-1937 California Winter League. Back with Washington for 1937, he hit .373 while batting 5th in the order. He was 5th in the Negro National League in home runs, behind four legends in Josh Gibson, Mule Suttles, Wild Bill Wright and Buck Leonard.

In the winter of 1937-1938, West hit .461 in the Cal Winter League and slugged .744. He was 15 points behind batting champion Steve Mesner, leading all Negro Leaguers in the circuit. In 1938, West hit .359 for the Baltimore Elite Giants, tying for second in the NNL with five doubles (even with Henry Kimbro and Wright and trailing Red Parnell). West was 4 for 11 with a double and two homers in the 1938-1939 California Winter League.

West struggled in 1939, hitting just .247 for Baltimore and .239 for the Philadelphia Stars. He was 1 for 4 in an exhibition game against Bob Feller and Lee Stine. He batted .185 in California that winter.

West bounced back in 1940, hitting .328 to finish 5th in the NNL. He slumped to .194 for the 1941 Stars but tied Lenny Pearson and Leon Day for 4th in the circuit with five home runs.

The veteran switch-hitter posted a .274 average in 1942 and his five homers tied Ed Stone for 4th in the league. He made the All-Star Game for the second time. In the first 1942 East-West Game, West played first and hit 6th for the East, going 0 for 5 in a 5-2 win. In the second game that year, he was 1 for 4 with a run, a walk and a sacrifice hit. Overall, he had been 2 for 12 with two walks and two runs in East-West Game play in his career.

West hit .308 in 1943 and his 7 triples tied Parnell for the lead in the NNL. In 1944, he hit .447 to lead the circuit. At age 33, he slipped to .223 in 1945 and he did not play in 1946. He returned to hit .242 in one last go-around before calling it quits.

West became a bartender in Philadelphia after retiring from baseball. In 1970, he was shot and killed while trying to disarm a robber at the bar one night.

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