On February 25, 1951 — Smokey Joe Williams dies in New York City at age 62. Williams has been considered by many historians to be one of the game’s greatest pitchers, even though he never played a game in the major leagues. He spent his entire 27-year career (1905-1932) pitching in the Negro Leagues, Mexico and the Caribbean, but his path to the majors was barred by the color line. During his stellar career, he defeated five Hall of Fame pitchers in exhibition competition: Grover Alexander, Chief Bender, Waite Hoyt, Walter Johnson and Rube Marquard. In 1999, after extensive research on the early years of black baseball reveals his outstanding numbers, Williams will gain Hall of Fame honors himself.

 

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