After both bullpens struggled in game one of the best of nine championship series, neither manager made the slow walk to the mound to remove their starter. For Buck O’Neil that restraint paid off; for Oscar Charleston that faith in his starting pitcher backfired and allowed the Buck O’Neil all stars to even up the series at one game apiece.
The matchup between Hall of Famer Smokey Joe Williams and (Stuart) Slim Jones had the potential for a one-sided slaughter, but the 6’6″ “Slim” Jones was on top of his game, just as he was for the entirety of 1934 when he was just 21 years old. That year Jones had his one great season, going 21-6 with a 1.24 ERA and an astronomical ERA+ of 295, which is higher than the best season ever recorded in the modern era, Pedro Martinez’s incredible 2000 season when he had an ERA+ of 291. Towards the end of the 1934 season, Slim and Satchel Paige faced off in a highly anticipated game played at Yankee Stadium. Jones and Satch battled to a 1-1 tie in a game Hall of Famer Monte Irvin called the best baseball game he ever saw. Unfortunately arm trouble and a drinking problem shortened Jones’ career to just seven mostly partial seasons, and Slim was dead of pneumonia at 25.
On this night, however, the Baltimore native was in his element, putting up zeroes in 8 of the 9 innings pitched, his one bump in the road being a two-run home run in the fourth inning to game three’s starting pitcher Bullet Joe Rogan who was starting in right field for “Charlie’s” squad. Through the final five innings Slim gave up just two hits and struck out four, retiring the last 6 batters in his complete game win.
For eight innings Hall of Famer Smokey Joe Williams was equally effective in his return to Muehlebach Stadium, the sight of one of the most epic matchups in Negro Leagues history. In 1930, Smokey Joe matched up against Chet Brewer and the Kansas City Monarchs. Brewer struck out 19 batters in 12 innings but lost to Williams who gave up just one hit and struck out TWENTY-SEVEN Monarchs. He was 44 years old. (There might have been a bit of a lighting issue at the park that evening).
Smokey Joe Williams pitched for 27 years in the Negro Leagues, with a career ERA of 2.45. For nine of his prime years, Smokey Joe was a player-manager. In 122 innings pitched against Major League players, Williams went 8-4 with a 2.79 ERA.
At Muehlebach Stadium against Buck O’Neil’s All Stars, though, Williams was bested by two fellow Hall of Famers. In the bottom of the seventh, Willard Brown lived up to his nickname “Home Run” by hitting a home run for the second straight game. Willard Brown struggled to overcome the overt racism during his brief time in the Major Leagues, but he did hit the first home run in the American League by a Black player. Over the two games, Brown is three for seven with a walk, two home runs, and 4 RBI’s, including the game-winning RBI when he drove in Hall of Famer Buck Leonard who had tripled with one out in the 9th.
Buck O’Neil will send John Donaldson to the mound to face Bullet Joe Rogan in game three, the final game in Kansas City before moving to Hilldale where Oscar Charleston’s All Stars will be the home team for the next three games.