Brian McKenna wrote me a couple of months ago regarding James Hugh Moss, a former Chicago ballplayer who was executed for murder in Georgia in 1928. Here is the story from the Chicago Defender (August 11, 1928):
I didn’t know anything at all about Moss until Brian’s email. You can check out the details of the case, gathered by Brian in this (rather morbid!) Baseball Fever thread about executed ballplayers.
Looking into Moss’s baseball career: as Brian pointed out, James Riley lists “Moss,” no first name, listed by Riley as “pitching briefly without a decision” for the American Giants in 1918. I was able to find a single instance of Moss appearing with the club, pitching against a white semi-pro team called the West Ends on Sunday, May 19, 1918. The West Ends won, 8-6; Frank Wickware relieved Moss in the fifth or sixth inning, probably with the score tied.
I couldn’t find any further hints of Moss’s baseball fortunes in 1918, but I did find a handful of references to a Moss pitching and playing center field for the Havana Stars, a traveling team based in Chicago 1917-19 that employed a number of second-tier black professionals (Sam Crawford ran the team for a while in 1917). Moss was also the captain of the team in 1919.
Moss, by the way, was living in Etowah, Tennessee, which just a few years earlier had been the home of southpaw Claude “Steel Arm” Dickey, a star pitcher for the Montgomery Grey Sox of the Negro Southern League who had also appeared briefly with the 1922 St. Louis Stars. Here is the story from the Defender (March 24, 1923); a headline (not reproduced here) runs across the top of the page reading, “Baseball Idol Slain by Ruffians”: