Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meeting A Negro League Legend

This article is not one of my own but is from one of my writers at I-70 Baseball. It is a great look at Civil Rights, human nature, and baseball. In honor of Black History Month, various sites are taking the time to look back at Negro League Baseball. I-70 will be running articles all month. I share this one with you today...

Meeting A Negro League Legend
Todd Fertig
I-70 Baseball



Historical research and the proliferation of information on the internet has allowed today’s baseball fan to learn more about the Negro Leagues than in times past. But in 1991, my knowledge of Negro League baseball didn’t go much further than the movie Bingo Long’s Traveling All-Stars.

So when I was told that a former Negro Leaguer was living right there in my college town of Manhattan, KS, I didn’t have much opportunity to research his career. Little did I know that George Giles, living right under our noses, was one of the best players of his era.

I heard he ran a bar that sat in isolation on the south side of Manhattan. To call it a “bar” was a real stretch, however. There were hardly any tables or chairs in the one room where George’s bar-tending consisted of pulling bottles out of a refrigerator. There was no sign to speak of – if you hadn’t known the bar was there, you’d never have found it. On the porch sat one seat removed from a van – a nice enough spot for an old black man to watch the cars go by.

Today I can appreciate that George Giles was named the sixth-best first baseman in the history of Negro League baseball by the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. (Buck O’Neil was fourth on the list.) He was often called “the black Bill Terry,” which I guess is supposed to be a compliment. Reports from various peers called Giles an excellent fielder, a fast runner and solid contact hitter.

Giles starred on Negro League teams in both Kansas City and St. Louis. Born in Junction City, KS, his career began with a tryout with the famed Kansas City Monarchs when he was just 14. Deemed too young to play on the big club, Giles signed a contract on his 15th birthday, but first suited up for the minor league Kansas City Royal Giants in 1925. He joined the Monarchs at the age of 18, playing the 1927 and 1928 seasons in KC.

Giles joined the St. Louis Stars for 1930 and 1931, helping that team win back-to-back Negro National League pennants. He also suited up for the Monarchs from 1932-1934 and again in 1939. In the days of player stealing, barnstorming and winter league excursions, Giles bounced around with several teams all over the nation. In 1935, at just 25, he served as player/manager for the Brooklyn Eagles.

Giles retired from baseball in 1939, at just 30 years of age. He said in interviews that the hardships of the Negro Leagues and the irritation of racism forced him to give up the game at a relatively young age. Giles didn’t sugarcoat the discrimination that kept him out of the major leagues. He told David Craft, author of The Negro Leagues: 40 Years of Black Professional Baseball in Words and Pictures:
"The racism we faced while I was in the Negro Leagues was one of the things that eventually pushed me out of baseball.... I was treated like a second-class citizen in my own country by people who knew they hated me before I could even say 'Hello'

"People say to me, 'George, you were born too soon to be one of the ones to make it to the big leagues'.... [But] I was born in the United States of America. I'm an American, not a foreigner. For years, foreigners came here and had more opportunity than I had"

Upon giving up the game, Giles worked in the civil service at Fort Riley, KS for years, and operated a hotel as well as the bar in Manhattan. Along the way, he had four sons, one of whom, George, Jr., played minor league baseball from 1953 to 1955.

Though racism denied George Giles, Sr. the chance to play in the major leagues, he did have the satisfaction of seeing his grandson, Brian Giles, play against the best players regardless of race for six seasons in the 1980s, primarily with the New York Mets. A slick-fielding, light-hitting middle infielder, Brian Giles was born in Manhattan in 1960 to George Giles, Jr.

The elder Giles died on March 3, 1992. But in January of 1991, fortunately for me, an unenlightened 21-year-old college student, I had the chance to meet him at his humble bar.

The article that came from that meeting was printed in the Kansas State Collegian on Jan. 25, 1991 and will be reprinted in i70baseball.com later this month as part of our ongoing look at Negro League Baseball in honor of Black History Month.

4 comments:

oakleyses said...

burberry outlet online, coach outlet store online, michael kors outlet, nike air max, jordan shoes, nike air max, michael kors outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, prada outlet, oakley sunglasses, longchamp handbags, michael kors outlet online, polo ralph lauren, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors handbags, nike outlet, red bottom shoes, prada handbags, cheap oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, coach outlet, christian louboutin, true religion outlet, louis vuitton, tiffany jewelry, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, coach purses, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet store, chanel handbags, ray ban outlet, longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, tory burch outlet online, louis vuitton handbags, kate spade outlet online, kate spade outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, coach outlet, oakley vault, true religion, longchamp outlet

oakleyses said...

sac louis vuitton, michael kors uk, air jordan, nike air max, mulberry, michael kors canada, nike roshe run, louis vuitton, ralph lauren, guess pas cher, true religion outlet, oakley pas cher, nike free, chaussure louboutin, sac michael kors, nike air force, converse pas cher, longchamp, tn pas cher, scarpe hogan, ray ban pas cher, nike roshe, abercrombie and fitch, hollister, nike air max, north face, sac vanessa bruno, hermes pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, lacoste pas cher, true religion jeans, ray ban uk, louis vuitton uk, north face pas cher, hollister, lululemon, air max pas cher, louis vuitton pas cher, burberry pas cher, new balance pas cher, barbour, timberland, vans pas cher, nike free pas cher, air max, longchamp pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher

oakleyses said...

nike roshe, asics shoes, celine handbags, ugg outlet, canada goose outlet, birkin bag, marc jacobs outlet, bottega veneta, ugg boots, mcm handbags, uggs outlet, nfl jerseys, mont blanc pens, instyler ionic styler, north face jackets, replica watches, abercrombie and fitch, ugg soldes, ugg boots clearance, beats headphones, babyliss, p90x workout, wedding dresses, reebok shoes, uggs on sale, ferragamo shoes, giuseppe zanotti, nike huarache, valentino shoes, ghd, jimmy choo shoes, ugg, lululemon outlet, chi flat iron, north face jackets, herve leger, hollister, insanity workout, soccer shoes, canada goose, canada goose outlet, uggs outlet, vans outlet, longchamp, soccer jerseys, new balance outlet, nike trainers, canada goose outlet, mac cosmetics

oakleyses said...

juicy couture outlet, montre femme, thomas sabo uk, louis vuitton canada, air max, moncler, moncler, iphone 6 case, canada goose, parajumpers outlet, juicy couture outlet, converse, uggs canada, swarovski uk, timberland shoes, replica watches, nike air max, moncler, converse shoes, gucci, ray ban, hollister, ralph lauren, pandora jewelry, vans, swarovski jewelry, lancel, canada goose pas cher, toms outlet, oakley, canada goose, moncler, moncler outlet, supra shoes, moncler outlet, karen millen, pandora uk, hollister canada, canada goose, moncler, wedding dress, coach outlet, baseball bats, links of london uk, hollister clothing, louboutin, pandora charms, ugg