J. L. Wilkinson

Last updated
J. L. Wilkinson
Wilkinson James Leslie 1922.jpg
Wilkinson at the Negro National League annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, January 28, 1922
Owner
Born:(1878-05-14)May 14, 1878
Algona, Iowa
Died: August 21, 1964(1964-08-21) (aged 86)
Kansas City, Missouri
Batted: unknownThrew: unknown
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction2006
Election MethodCommittee on African-American Baseball

James Leslie Wilkinson (May 14, 1878 - August 21, 1964) was an American sports executive who founded the All Nations baseball club in 1912, and the Negro league baseball team Kansas City Monarchs in 1920.

All Nations

All Nations was a barnstorming professional baseball team that toured the Midwest from 1912 to 1918, and again in 1920 and 1921, and from 1923 to 1925. It derived its name from the fact that its team included players of several nationalities, including blacks and whites, Indians, Hawaiians, Japanese and Latin Americans. The team was founded by the Hopkins Brothers sporting goods stores. One day, however, the team's manager absconde with the daily gate proceeds. J. L. Wilkinson, who played for the team, replaced him as manager, later becoming owner as well. The team was based out of Kansas City and Des Moines.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

The Negro leagues were United States professional baseball leagues comprising teams predominantly made up of African Americans and, to a lesser extent, Latin Americans. The term may be used broadly to include professional black teams outside the leagues and it may be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues beginning in 1920 that are sometimes termed "Negro Major Leagues".

Contents

Early life

Born in Algona, Iowa, Wilkinson was a promising pitcher until he hurt his throwing wrist. He turned to team ownership and management, parlaying a promotional flair into an association with the game that lasted more than 50 years.

Algona, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Algona is the county seat of Kossuth County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,560 at the 2010 census. Ambrose A. Call State Park is located two miles southwest of the city.

Pitcher the player responsible for throwing ("pitching") the ball to the batters in a game of baseball or softball

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Team ownership

In 1909, he developed a women's baseball team—possibly with a few men in drag—to draw up to 2,000 fans to a covered grandstand moved around the Midwest by train. A team band whipped up tunes for crowds, a male catcher wrestled all comers and a brown bulldog served as the mascot. Town teams throughout Iowa and surrounding states faced Wilkinson's gimmick-laden squad.

The slang term "drag" refers to the wearing of clothing of the opposite sex (cross-dressing), and may be used as a noun as in the expression in drag, or as an adjective as in drag show.

Catcher defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his/her turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket.

In 1912, he founded the multi-racial All Nations team in Des Moines, Iowa. The team consisted of whites, blacks, Polynesians, Asians, Native Americans and at one time a woman. As did Wilkinson's first venture, it also had a team band and a number of other promotions, but featured a number of athletes of major league calibre, including John Donaldson and José Méndez. He moved the team to Kansas City, Missouri in 1915, and the team continued to barnstorm in the upper Midwest for a few years after the Monarchs were born, still fulfilling its original role but also serving as a farm team for the Monarchs.

Des Moines, Iowa Capital of Iowa

Des Moines is the capital and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Iowa. It is also the county seat of Polk County. A small part of the city extends into Warren County. It was incorporated on September 22, 1851, as Fort Des Moines, which was shortened to "Des Moines" in 1857. It is on and named after the Des Moines River, which likely was adapted from the early French name, Rivière des Moines, meaning "River of the Monks". The city's population was 217,521 as of the 2017 population estimate. The five-county metropolitan area is ranked 89th in terms of population in the United States with 634,725 residents according to the 2016 estimate by the United States Census Bureau, and is the second largest metropolitan area in the state after that of Omaha, Nebraska, which includes three counties in southwest Iowa.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

John Donaldson (pitcher) American baseball pitcher

John Wesley Donaldson was an American baseball pitcher in Pre-Negro league and Negro league baseball. In a career that spanned over 30 years, he played for many different Negro league and semi-professional teams, including the All Nations team and the Kansas City Monarchs. Researchers so far have discovered 667 games in which Donaldson is known to have pitched. Out of those games, Donaldson had over 400 wins and 5,002 strikeouts as a baseball pitcher. According to some sources, he was the greatest pitcher of his era.

When the Negro National League was founded in February 1920, Wilkinson built the Monarchs from the best of the All Nations team, and from the 25th Infantry Wreckers, an all-black U.S. Army team that starred Bullet Rogan, "Heavy" Johnson, Lem Hawkins, and Dobie Moore, among others. Wilkinson was the only white team owner trusted by Rube Foster when the Negro National League was founded; Wilkinson became a trusted member of Foster's inner circle. Stories were told by his players that during the Depression, Wilkinson would bunk with his coaches and players when the team was on the road and hotels were short of rooms.

Bullet Rogan American baseball player

Charles Wilber "Bullet" Rogan, also known as "Bullet Joe", was an American pitcher and outfielder for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro baseball leagues from 1920 to 1938. Renowned as a two-way player who could both hit and pitch successfully, one statistical compilation shows Rogan winning more games than any other pitcher in Negro leagues history and ranking fourth highest in career batting average. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

Oscar Johnson (baseball) American baseball player

Oscar "Heavy" Johnson (1895–1960) was a baseball player in the Negro Leagues. He played catcher and outfielder. Johnson was one of the Negro League's foremost power hitters in the 1920s, reportedly weighing 250 pounds, and known for hitting home runs. Longtime MLB umpire Jocko Conlan once said that Johnson "could hit a ball out of any park."

Lemuel Hawkins American baseball player

Lemuel Hawkins was an American first baseman in Negro league baseball. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago Giants and Chicago American Giants from 1921 to 1928. He was 5'10" and weighed 185 pounds.

Wilkinson was the first owner in the league to secure the services of African American Umpires for the Negro National League and by 1923, at least six Umpires were non-white. [1] During his ownership, the Monarchs won ten league titles and participated in four Negro League World Series, winning in 1924 and 1942.

The 1924 Colored World Series was a best-of-nine match-up between the Negro National League champion Kansas City Monarchs and the Eastern Colored League champion Hilldale. In a ten-game series, the Monarchs narrowly defeated Hilldale 5 games to 4, with one tie game. It was the first World Series between the respective champions of the NNL and ECL. It was the second year of existence for the ECL, but no agreement could be reached in 1923 for a post-season series, owing primarily to unresolved disputes between the leagues. Five members of the Baseball Hall of Fame participated in the series: Biz Mackey, Judy Johnson, and Louis Santop played for Hilldale, while Bullet Rogan and José Méndez played for the Monarchs. In addition, Monarchs owner J. L. Wilkinson was also inducted into the Hall.

In 1930, Wilkinson's Monarchs became the first professional team to play night baseball, using a portable set of lights. Wilkinson also signed Jackie Robinson to his first professional contract, in 1945.

Death and legacy

He sold the Monarchs in 1948, and died in poverty in a Kansas City nursing home. "Wilkie", as he was affectionately known to players, sportswriters and fans, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Related Research Articles

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Andrew "Rube" Foster was an American baseball player, manager, and executive in the Negro leagues. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

William Hendrick Foster was an American left-handed pitcher in baseball's Negro leagues in the 1920s and 1930s, and had a career record of 143-69. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Foster was the much-younger half-brother of Rube Foster, a Negro league player, pioneer, and fellow Hall of Famer.

The Kansas City Monarchs were the longest-running franchise in the history of baseball's Negro Leagues. Operating in Kansas City, Missouri and owned by J. L. Wilkinson, they were charter members of the Negro National League from 1920 to 1930. J. L. Wilkinson was the first Caucasian owner at the time of the establishment of the team. In 1930, the Monarchs became the first professional baseball team to use a portable lighting system which was transported from game to game in trucks to play games at night, five years before any major league team did. The Monarchs won ten league championships before integration, and triumphed in the first Negro League World Series in 1924. The Monarchs had only one season in which they did not have a winning record. After sending more players to the major leagues than any other Negro League franchise, the team was finally disbanded in 1965.

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Frank "Blukoi" Blattner was an American Utility player almost exclusively working for J. L. Wilkinson teams All Nations and the Kansas City Monarchs from 1912 until 1922.

Newt Joseph American baseball player

Walter Lee "Newt" Joseph was an American third baseman and manager in Negro league baseball. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Joseph played most of his career for J. L. Wilkinson and the Kansas City Monarchs franchise.

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