The Hill District: Pittsburgh Crawfords
CAPTION: Base Ball Club,
Crawford Recreation Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Pittsburgh Crawfords Teams
the ownsership of Gus Greenlee, the Pittsburgh
Crawfords were called the "Yankees of Black
Baseball" and were ranked with the best teams for five
years. This season was the first great Pittsburgh
Crawfords team. Manager-firstbaseman Oscar
Charleston was joined on the roster by Satchel Paige,
Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, Jud Wilson, Rap Dixon
and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe...
The team most identified
as the greatest black
baseball team of all-time is the 1935 Pittsburgh
Crawfords. For five years, 1932-36, Gus Greenlee's
Crawfords were the "Yankees of the Negro Leagues"
and each year's squad draws some votes as the
greatest of all-time. However, the 1935 team, which
featured five Hall-of-Famers in the lineup, is
considered the best, with Josh Gibson, Oscar
Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and
Satchel Paige. Although Paige jumped to a white
semio-pro team in Bismarck, North Dakota during the
season, the team was so strong that they continued to
win without him. Lefthander Leroy Matlock assumed
the role as ace of the staff and fashioned an
outstanding record. Flanking Bell in the outfield were
Sam Bankhead and Jimmie Crutchfield, giving the
Crawfords one of the fastest outfields ever to play
baseball. The Crawfords easily won the first half title
with a .785 winning percentage and defeated the New
York Cubans in a seven-game play-off for the
- TK Publishers and BlackBaseball.Com
- Crawford County,Pa minutes
Crawford, whose name opens this sketch was born about 1812, in County Down,
Ireland, and came to America with
the family. In early life he settled in Pittsburgh, Penn..... more
2141 Wylie Ave.
Pittsburgh , PA. 15219
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Just a few miles from Homestead [Pennsylvania], on the north
side of Pittsburgh, is an area known as the Hill District, home to the city's
black community. At the corner of Crawford and Wylie Avenues stood the Crawford
Grille, which as owned by a man named W.A. (Gus) Greenlee... A veteran of
War I, Greenlee moved from Marion, North Caroline, to Pittsburgh in 1920. Several
years later he opened the Grille, a two-story restaurant and dance hall that on
any given night might have featured the swingin' sounds of Duke Ellington or Count
Basie or any of the eras top jazzmen.
Greenle had no involvement in baseball until 1930, when he began sponsoring the
Crawford Colored Giants, a local semipro team..
- BOOKS -
Meyer, M. E. "Hill Street Jazz: Crawford Grill Takes Jazz Back Where It Started,"
In Pittsburgh, 11 May 1988, 4-5.
Pittsburgh Crawfords & Homestead Grays
Bankes, James. "The Pittsburgh Crawfords: The Lives and Times of Black Baseball's
Most Exciting Team." Dubuque:
Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1991.
Sanchez, Annette Bassett. "Kings on The Hill...Crawfords Subject of Black
Baseball Documentary," New Pittsburgh
Courier, 11 April 1992
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