Theodore Reginald Strong
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 210 lb.
Ted Strong was one of the most imposing hitters in the Negro Leagues both in size and in performance. A well-rounded player, he appeared at all three outfield spots and every infield position except second base during his career. Strong played for basketball's Harlem Globetrotters in his time away from the baseball field.
Strong debuted in 1937 at the relatively old age of 23, hitting .348 as the main shortstop for the Indianapolis Athletics. In the 1937 East-West Game, Strong hit third for the West and manned first base. He went 2 for 4 with an inside-the-park homer, 2 RBI and two errors in a 7-2 loss, the bright spot offensively for the West. Ted joined the Kansas City Monarchs for the playoffs and went 8 for 19, their top hitter. He was 2 for 9 in a Negro World Series which featured a Kansas City/Chicago combination facing off with a Homestead/Baltimore combo. He spent the fall with Kansas City as they faced a team of white major leaguers. Against Lou Fette, Lon Warneke, Mike Ryba, Jim Weaver and Mace Brown, Strong hit .278 in four games.
Strong became a regular for Kansas City in 1939, back at shortstop. He batted .296, easily outhitting infield mates Buck O'Neil and Newt Allen. His two home runs tied O'Neil, Willard Brown and Turkey Stearnes for second in the league, one behind Ed Mayweather. T.R. went 0 for 2 with two walks and an error as the West shortstop in the first 1939 East-West Game. In the second East-West Game that year, he was 1 for 4 as the West 1B, hitting third. Strong got 508,327 votes for the East-West Game that year, most in all of black baseball.
The tall switch-hitter went to the Mexican League in 1940 and hit .332/~.399/.603 with 14 triples, 57 runs and 57 RBI in 71 games for the Nuevo Laredo Owls. He finished second in slugging percentage behind Cool Papa Bell and was also second to Bell in triples (only one behind that legendary speedster). His 11 home runs tied Josh Gibson for second, one behind Bell.
Strong split 1941 between Mexico's Veracruz Eagle (.329/~.393/.539, 19 R in 19 G) and Kansas City (.333, now mainly being used as an outfielder). Strong played right field for the West in the 1941 East-West Game, going 2 for 4 with a double, triple, run and RBI, producing two of the three Western runs and again leading their offense.
In 1942, the South Bend native hit .322 for Kansas City, putting him fifth in the Negro American League. He got 120,997 votes for the East-West Game, finishing second to Hall-of-Famer Willard Brown in the outfield and just ahead of Sam Jethroe and Cool Papa Bell. Strong hit third for the West in the first East-West Game that year, going 1 for 3 with a walk as their right fielder. In the second East-West Game of '42, Strong again hit third and played right. He was 2 for 3 with an error. In the 1942 Negro World Series, Strong batted .316 as Kansas City beat the Homestead Grays. Strong was 0 for 4 in an exhibition game that fall against Dizzy Dean, Johnny Grodzicki and Al Piechota.
Strong then lost three years of his prime to serve his country during World War II. He was in the United States Navy during the conflict.
Returning to baseball at age 32 in 1946, Strong slumped a bit to .278. He was just two for 15 in the 1946 Negro World Series, though he did sock one home run. He missed the final two games with different explanations given - that he had gone to play in Puerto Rico, that he had been drinking and involved with women or that he was busy negotiating a contract for winter ball. Strong was back with Kansas City in '47 as a starting outfielder, ending his run with the team.
Overall, Strong hit .348/~.444/.609 in 7 East-West All-Star Games. He was 4th all-time in East-West Game history in slugging for players with 15+ AB, trailing only Mule Suttles, Neal Robinson and Josh Gibson and just ahead of Buck Leonard.
- The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley
- The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway
- The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester
- Baseball in Wartime website
- Sherman L. Jenkins: Ted Strong Jr.: The Untold Story of an Original Harlem Globetrotter and Negro Leagues All-Star, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4422-6727-5