Best-selling author/writer, Joe Posnanski, gave fans missing baseball a treat with a remarkable compilation of essays written recently for The Athletic website that counted down his list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players.” The list included 14 Negro League players, with three legends—Oscar Charleston (No. 5), Hank Aaron (No. 4) and Willie Mays (No. 1)—listed in the Top 5. Mays, a former member of the Birmingham Black Barons, beat out Babe Ruth to secure the top spot on Posnanski’s list.
Seven Negro Leaguers on the list went on to successful Major League Baseball (MLB) careers including Jackie Robinson, who would break the color barrier in MLB with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Robinson began his pro baseball career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. Satchel Paige was No. 10 on the list. The legendary pitcher joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948, when he was believed to be 42 years old, and helped the Indians win the ‘48 American League pennant. The team went on to win the World Series, the last time the Indians won the World Series. All 14 listed are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Joe Posnanski is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America.” Buy the book here.