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November 4, 2008

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Gary Ashwill

I know about a lot of Chicago-area semipro teams after WWI--Chicago City League teams like the Logan Squares, plus Dickie Kerr's Famous Chicagos, etc. But I don't think I've heard of the Chicago Bisons.

john peterson

do you have any information including roster's on the Chicago Bisons? My father played for them after WW 1

Scott Simkus

Oh, yeah. The Silk Sox were 4-8 against Negro League teams during the same era.

Scott Simkus

One more thing, in my box score collection, the Paterson Silk Sox went 6-9 during in-season exhibitions versus Major League teams (1916-1926).

Scott Simkus

Gary, you’re tapping into a subject of keen interest to me: Semi-pro baseball before TV, slow-pitch softball, integration, and economic abundance after World War II. This is the next great area of Negro League research, because it is in this environment these teams and players spent half their careers. It’s really the “lost half,” or the lost “statistical half” of blackball. Based on my analysis of thousands of line and box scores, the semis played much tougher than college, low Class A, high Class A, and even some AA. There is NO question these semi-pro teams were tougher than lower-rung minor league outfits. No doubt in my mind. I’m using today’s minor league classification system when I describe the levels, but you know what I mean. I wouldn’t suggest these semi-pro teams could compete over the course of a full season in a AA league, I’m suggesting that when they a) had their top pitcher on the mound, and b) had possibly recruited one or two “ringers” from other local semi-pro teams to fill out their line-up (two conditions which were often met when Negro League teams played top semi-pro squads), these teams played at the same toughness of a AA baseball team. Further study is needed, but these are my early impressions. This revelation could be very important, especially when we talk about analyzing Negro League performances against semi-pros. It’s going to help our understanding of guys like John Beckwith, whose monster seasons are hidden against white semi-pro and minor league competition.

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