(Highpockets, Stringbean, Big Florida)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 185 lb.
- School Bethune-Cookman College
Ted Trent was a star Negro League pitcher who went 109-56 in a 13-year career. Trent was known for his breaking balls, featuring a long curve, short curve, shorter curve and slider in addition to a good fastball. Ted was 13th all-time in the Negro Leagues in victories and 12th in winning percentage among those with 50+ wins.
1924-26: College and early pro career
The tall Floridian began his professional career in 1924 and was with the Bethune-Cookman College team in 1925-26. He played for Jimmy Reel's West Palm Beach Giants after the college season ended in 1926. Reel arranged for Trent to join the St. Louis Stars.
1927-31: St. Louis Star
With St. Louis, Ted was the "Sunday pitcher" for five years. Negro League teams often would schedule easier, semipro or amateur opponents during the weekdays, saving top matches often for Sunday, when they would draw the largest crowds. This enabled Trent to get extra rest between starts. In his first year in St. Louis, he was 15-11 and tied Bullet Joe Rogan for second in the Negro National League in wins, trailing only Willie Foster. Trent finished third in the NNL with 85 strikeouts. Trent was the ace of a St. Louis team that finished first in the 1928 NNL. Ted's 21-2 record gave him the league lead in victories (6 over Carl Glass) and placed him second to Roosevelt Davis in winning percentage. His 3.11 RA was third after Wee Willie Powell and Satchel Paige. In a post-season series against the Chicago American Giants, Trent won one, lost one, saved one, got a no-decision in a win and another no-decision in a loss. His one victory came in game nine to give St. Louis the title. He had a 3.33 RA in the series. As the Eastern Colored League dissolved, there was no Negro World Series.
Trent played in the Cuban Winter League in 1928-29, going 5-7 for Cienfuegos, the last-place outfit. Back in the USA in '29, the 26-year-old hurler slipped to 12-8 and did not rank among the league leaders in anything. In 1930, Highpockets twirled a 11-2 mark for St. Louis, helping them to another title; he was second to Army Cooper in winning percentage in the NNL. In the post-season, he won the opener in relief, won game three, got a no-decision in a loss in game five and had a 3.15 RA as the top hurler on the St. Louis staff as they beat the Detroit Stars 4 games to 3. In a reduced Cuban Winter League, Ted went 1-1 for Cienfuegos. A special second season was added and Ted went 0-2 for the 2-7 Cienfuegoes club.
In 1931, the curveball specialist had another excellent campaign (8-2, 2.03 RA). He tied for 4th in the NNL in wins, was third in winning percentage, second to Webster McDonald in RA and second to Powell in strikeouts. It would be his last year in St. Louis. In an exhibition series that winter, Ted won his lone outing by a 10-8 slugfest against Heinie Meine. He allowed 9 hits and fanned 13 in 9 innings; he allowed only one run in 7, tiring at the end. He struck out Paul Waner and Babe Herman twice and Bill Terry four times. Lloyd Waner was one of the other players. 40 years later, Terry said "the lights were dim." It was his only exhibition game against white major leaguers.
1932 was a rough year for the Negro Leagues and many players bouned around. Ted was 7-2 for the Detroit Wolves, 0-1 for the Homestead Grays, 1-3 for the Washington Pilots, 2-0 for the Chicago American Giants and also was on the Kansas City Monarchs for a 10-6 year.
1933: An off-year; postseason success
Trent pitched two games in The Colored Championship of the Nation. The Championship Series pitted the Pittsburgh Crawfords against the New York Black Yankees. Trent was the staring pitcher in Game Three and the decisive Game Five for the Black Yankees. Games Three and Five both took place at historic Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey. Trent was the winning pitcher in both games for the Black Yankees en route to the championship. (Note" Games One, Two and Four of the Colored Championship of the Nation were played in Pittsburgh)
1934-37: East-West Perennial
Trent was 0-1 for New York in 1934 but rebounded upon joining the Chicago American Giants. He was 12-6 for Chicago and his 2.94 RA was fifth in the NNL. The staff's other hurlers went 18-24 as Ted kept Chicago in the race. 47,870 votes came in for him for the 1934 East-West Game, third among pitchers, behind Foster and Chet Brewer. He was less than 2,000 votes from being the most popular player in the Negro Leagues. Ted got the start for the West and worked three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three, before being replaced by Brewer in an eventual 1-0 loss.
Ted declined to 5-7 in 1935 but he did work two scoreless frames of the 1935 East-West Game, walking two, striking out one and allowing no hits as the most effective pitcher for the West in their 11-8 win.
In 1936, Trent went 2-1 for Chicago. There was no organized league in the West and top teams rarely played each other that year. He still was third in voting for the 1936 East-West Game, trailing only Paige and Leroy Matlock. He came in in relief for the West and was shelled for four runs, three hits, a strikeout and walk in a 3-inning stint at the end of a 10-2 rout.
"Big Florida" dominated the Negro American League in 1937, the league's first year. Trent went 8-2 with a 2.08 RA. He tied Sug Cornelius for the NAL win lead, led in RA (edging out Hilton Smith and his 37 K were second to Cornelius. Ted was again a popular vote-getter, leading all pitchers for the 1937 East-West Game (Paige, Matlock and Brewer were among those in the Dominican Republic that year and thus out of the picture) with 31,809 votes. Getting the start for the West, he allowed one run on two hits in three innings in a 7-2 defeat.
Overall, Trent had a 2.45 ERA and 4.09 RA in his four East-West Games, getting no decisions. In 11 innings, he allowed 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out five.
1938-39: The last years in baseball
Ted was 6-6 with a 3.57 RA for the 1938 American Giants. He was still fourth in the NAL in wins and third in RA, trailing Double Duty Radcliffe and Hilton Smith. He fell to 12th in balloting for the East-West Game and did not appear.
Trent was 2-2 in the 1939 NAL, his last year.
Trent, known for his affinity for alcohol, continued to suffer from the effects of drinking after his baseball career ended. He got pneumonia and died at the age of 41, only five years after he had thrown his last pitch.
The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, The California Winter League by William McNeil