Red Ryan (Negro Leagues)

From BR Bullpen

Merven John Ryan (Jabao)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 8", Weight 158 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Red Ryan was a productive Negro League pitcher in the 1920s.

Ryan debuted with the minor Pittsburgh Stars of Buffalo in 1915 then moved to the New York Lincoln Stars. [1] He was 1-2 with a save and a 7.29 ERA for the 1919 Brooklyn Royal Giants. [2] In 1920, he dazzled for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (6-2, 0.95 ERA, 257 ERA+). Only Dick Redding had more wins among top black eastern teams, only Redding had more Ks (72 to 48), only Redding had more complete games (12 to 7) and only Dick Whitworth had a better WHIP (0.89 to 0.93). Ryan led in ERA (.01 ahead of Whitworth) and ERA+ (.55 ahead of Ping Gardner). His 3.1 Wins Above Replacement led all players, .3 ahead of Oliver Marcell. [3]

Atlantic City visited Cuba after the season and he was 0-1 with a 1.56 ERA, dropping a game to Habana. [4] The Giants stayed to play in the Cuban Winter League and he was their clear ace at 3-0, 2.19, 5th in the league in ERA; their other hurlers were 1-12 with ERA+s under 90. He was 0-1 for the 1922 Harrisburg Giants. He was 9-5 with a 2.48 ERA in the new Eastern Colored League in 1923. He was second in ERA (.12 behind Nip Winters), 3rd in wins (one behind Winters and Rats Henderson), 6th with 16 games pitched, tied for 2nd with 13 starts (4 behind Winters), tied Hubert Lockhart and Phil Cockrell for 3rd with 10 complete games, was 3rd with 54 K (well back of Henderson and Winters) and had a 1.10 WHIP, edged by Lockhart (also 1.10) for the lead. He had 3.3 WAR, good for second, .4 behind Winters [5]

The right-hander was 5-1 between Habana and the Santa Clara Leopards in the 1923-24 CWL but with a 5.44 ERA, the second-highest in the league; only Andy Cooper was higher. He tied Isidro Fabré and Oscar Fuhr for 7th in wins. Following the season, there was an additional season, the Gran Premio. He was 1-0 in limited action. [6] He had a 13-7, 3.22 campaign for Hilldale in 1924 in the Negro Leagues. He was 5th in the ECL in WHIP (1.17, between Willis Flournoy and Cockrell), tied Dave Brown for second in wins (7 behind Winters), was second with 21 starts (3 behind Winters), was 3rd in games pitched (25, behind Winters and Brown), was 3rd with 15 complete games (after Winters and Brown), was 3rd in K:BB ratio (2.96, behind Smokey Joe Williams and Oscar Levis), tied Claude Grier and Winters for the most shutouts (2), tied Levis for 3rd in K (83), was second in IP (190, 18 behind Winters) and was 7th in ERA (between Winters and Doc Sykes). [7] He struggled in his lone outing in the 1924 Negro World Series, though, allowing 3 runs in 2 1/3 IP to the Kansas City Monarchs before Rube Currie relieved and saved the day.

He was 0-3 for Santa Clara/Matanzas in the winter of 1924-1925. [8] In 1925, he was 5-2 with a 3.29 ERA (149 ERA+). Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in the ECL in ERA, between Connie Rector and Webster McDonald. Replacing Scrip Lee in the bottom of the 9th with a 1-1 tie against Kansas City in Game 3 of the 1925 Negro World Series, he worked two shutout innings (1 H, 0 BB, 1 K) while Hilldale rallied to win in the 10th. That gave them a 2-1 lead on the Series and they would not look back on the way to claiming the title. [9] He was 0-2 between Almendares and San Jose in Cuba in the winter of 1925-26. [10]

Ryan was only 8-11 in the 1926 ECL but had a 3.48 ERA (124 ERA+). He was 7th in ERA+ (between Grier and Willie Gisentaner), tied Rube Chambers and Scrip Lee for 6th in wins, led in losses (one ahead of Laymon Yokely and Bob McClure), was 5th in K:BB ratio (1.58:1, between Henderson and Flournoy), tied Grier and Yokely for 3rd with 23 games pitched, was 7th in ERA (between Grier and Gisentaner), was 4th with 17 starts, tied Winters for 3rd with 15 complete games, was 9th in WHIP (1.25, between Grier and Lockhart), tied Lee and Grier for the save lead (2), was 5th in Pitching Wins Above Replacement (2.4), was 3rd with 163 IP (behind Henderson and Winters), was 5th with 71 K (between Winters and Yokely). [11] On October 7, he beat Jack Quinn and a team of AL stars, 4-1; opposing hitters on the squad included George Burns, Heinie Manush, Bing Miller, Wally Schang and Jimmie Dykes. He allowed 7 hits and one walk while fanning five. [12]

He was 2-3 for the Havana Reds in the 1926-27 Cuban Triangular League in his last season in that country. [13] He struggled at 8-15 for Hilldale in 1927, 3rd in the ECL in losses (behind Winters and Cockrell). [14] He also pitched for the Homestead Grays when they faced a MLB All-Star team with Manush, Burns, Harry Heilmann, Dykes, Schang and Miller. He lost 4-0 to Rube Walberg, both hurlers going the distance. [15] He rebounded to 8-5, 4.02 (109 ERA+) for Hilldale in 1928 in the Negro Leagues. Statistics for other teams for that season are limited at the Seamheads DB (as of 6/24/18). [16]

In 1929, he was 1-2 for Philadelphia then was traded with Frank Warfield to the Baltimore Black Sox for Crush Holloway and Dick Jackson. He went 9-3 for the Black Sox. He was 5th in the American Negro League in wins and second in RA (4.00, trailing Cockrell). [17] Moving to the New York Lincoln Giants in 1930, he was 4-4 with a 5.68 ERA, but in a hitter-friendly season, his ERA+ was still 99. He was 6th among top black eastern teams in wins. [18] He was an impressive 3-0, 0.61 between Hilldale and the Harlem Stars in 1931. In his final season, 1932, he had a 3.18 ERA for the Newark Browns. [19]

For the seasons for which Seamheads has data available (as of 6/24/18), he was 65-43 with a 3.24 ERA (132 ERA+),

He threw a fastball, knuckleball and forkball.


  1. The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues ed. by James Riley, pg. 687
  2. Seamheads Database
  3. Seamheads DB
  4. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, pg. 136 and Seamheads DB
  5. Seamheads DB
  6. Seamheads DB
  7. Seamheads DB
  8. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 160
  9. Seamheads DB
  10. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 164
  11. Seamheads DB
  12. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, pg. 221
  13. Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, pg. 172
  14. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, pg. 227
  15. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, pg. 231
  16. Seamheads DB
  17. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, pg. 246-247
  18. Seamheads DB
  19. Seamheads DB