- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 7" to 5' 10", Weight 167-170 lb.
Jimmy Newberry pitched in the Negro Leagues for 9 seasons, the Manitoba-Dakota League for 3 and the minor leagues for three. He made history, though, as the first black pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball after World War II. He was briefly the staff ace of the Birmingham Black Barons and was one of the favorite players of owner Abe Saperstein, who often gave him advances on his salary.
Newberry started his baseball career on the sandlots of Birmingham then played for the minor L&N Stars. He joined the Black Barons in 1942. His records were indifferent over the World War II years - 1-4, 4-5 and 5-3 from 1943-1945. In 1946, Jimmy went 7-9 and tied for third in the Negro American League in wins with Dan Bankhead and Gentry Jessup. He was 1-1 in 1947 and was 2-0 for the Chet Brewer All-Stars when they faced the Ewell Blackwell All-Stars, a touring white team composed of major league players. Both of his victories came in relief of Satchel Paige.
Newberry became a star in 1948, going 14-5 with a 2.18 ERA. He was second in the NAL in wins, one behind Jim LaMarque and was second in ERA to LaMarque. In the playoffs, he beat the Kansas City Monarchs twice. In the 1948 Negro World Series, he went 0-1 against the Homestead Grays. Manager Piper Davis made sure to keep Newberry away from young prospect Willie Mays due to Newberry's drinking long into the night.
1949-1951: Birmingham and Canada
Newberry pitched two more years for Birmingham but records are scarce for that era in the Negro Leagues. Partway through the 1950 season, he moved to the Winnipeg club in the Manitoba-Dakota League; he remained there through 1951.
In 1952, Jimmy was signed by the St. Louis Browns and sold with John Britton to the Hankyu Braves. The first black pitcher in Nippon Pro Baseball since World War II (Jimmy Bonner had played briefly in 1936), he went 11-10 with a 3.22 ERA. He was 9th in the Pacific League in ERA and made the PL All-Star team.
1953-1956: Final years
Jimmy returned to the Manitoba-Dakota League in 1953 with Carman but fell to 5-10. He struggled after that in the minor leagues. In 1954, he was 2-6 with a 6.01 ERA for the Abilene Blue Sox. In 1955, he was 1-4 with a 4.50 ERA for the Big Spring Cosden Cops and 6-4 with a 5.01 ERA for the Port Arthur Sea Hawks. The washed-up veteran went 0-1 for the 1956 El Paso Texans to conclude his career.
Newberry threw a fastball and curveball to complemeent his main pitch, an overhand drop he called the "dipsy doodle." Artie Wilson said he threw more pitches than Satchel Paige, also listing a knuckleball, screwball and sinker.
Japanbaseballdaily.com by Gary Garland, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, Artie Wilson's description of Newberry's pages at Rob Neyer's website