Pop Watkins died on February 22, 1924, in Durham, North Carolina, where he had wintered for several years (he had also coached baseball at Shaw University in Raleigh). Here is an obituary from the Watertown, New York, Daily Times (February 26, 1924, p. 18). The version of the article I have (from the Fulton History website) is a little difficult to read, so I’ve typed it out. There are some obvious differences between this piece and the Afro-American article summarized yesterday, which I’ll take up in the next post.
“POP” WATKINS DIES IN SOUTH
Colored Baseball Mentor Dead at Durham, N. C.
PILOTED HAVANA RED SOX
Team Made Watertown Its Headquarters For Several Season.
(SPECIAL TO THE TIMES.)
Durham, N. C., Feb. 25—“Pop” Watkins, veteran colored baseball manager, died at his home here on Friday afternoon following a short illness, aged 66 years. Although the leader of the Havana Red Sox had been in poor health for the past several months, his condition had never been regarded as serious. Mr. Watkins arrived here from Watertown the latter part of last year. During the past few months he had been busily engaged in organizing a strong barnstorming team.
When Watkins was not touring the north with his squad of balltossers, he was baseball coach at various colored colleges in the south, his baseball knowledge being recognized throughout the south. For a time he was coach at Hobson college, Irmo, S. C., and also at Shaw University, Durham, N. C.
Funeral services and burial were held today.
John McCreary Watkins, known to thousands of baseball followers as just plain “Pop,” was born on a plantation near Durham, N. C., on May 18, 1857. Shortly after the close of the Civil lWar when baseball began to gain in popularity, “Pop,” who was fascinated by the outdoor game, started on his career as a player.
At the age of 17 years Watkins began playing baseball with the Fox Hunters team in South Carolina and the following year, 1875, he played with the Quick Steps team of Georgia. Up to 1882, he caught with various colored and white baseball teams, before colored players were barred from organized baseball.
“Pop” was a catcher and when in his prime was proclaimed to be the best colored backstop in the country in his days. In 1882 he joined the Cuban Giants, famous colored nine, catching for them for 18 years and playing seven years at first base. He was also captain of this team when he was playing first base.
In May, 1907, after fracturing his leg with the Cuban Giants at Oil City, Pa., “Pop” quit that club and started to organize a team of his own. Being a veteran in the game he experienced no difficulty in forming a formidable outfit which he called the Havana Red Sox. He than began touring the country, but the majority of the games were played in the northeastern tier.
News of “Pop’s” formidable baseball team reached Watertown in 1913 and promoters at once began angling for the appearance of this colored squad in this city. On Sept. 7, 1913, the Red Sox, under “Pop’s” guiding hand, played their first game in Watertown. The colored ball tossers defeated the All-Watertown nine by an 11 to 10 count in a thrilling diamond struggle, which was featured by heavy hitting.
The Havana Red Sox proved to be a big drawing card here and practically every year since 1913 the team has appeared in Watertown. In 1917 the colored team took up its headquarters at Gouverneur, being managed by B. G. Parker of the that village. During the war “Pop’s” team was hard hit when the majority of his players either enlisted or were drafted, and it was not until last season that Watkins brought his squad up to its former strength.
Watkins is well known to thousands of baseball fans throughout northern and central New York where his team has appeared for the greater part of the past eleven years. The Sox have played in Ogdensburg, Alexandria Bay, Potsdam, Adams, Pulaski, Lowville, Croghan, Carthage, Malone, Sandy Creek and other places in this section of the state.
“Pop” was well liked in every town and city in which his team played. In Watertown he was popular among the baseball followers. He possessed a keen sense of humor and was witty in his remarks, both on and off the diamond. “Pop” specialized in keeping the fans amused during the progress of the game by using words that had never seen the inside of Webster’s dictionary. One of his pet words was “excivorating.” Just what he meant by that word the genial colored pilot never disclosed.
“Pop” was well liked by his players and his ability to keep harmony among his team made other colored managers envious. Although he would show his anger at his players when they failed to exhibit any “inside baseball” on the diamond and would shower “you yellar dog” and similar phrase at them, they never rebelled and took it good naturedly.
Without a doubt Mr. Watkins knew more colored baseball stars than any other man in the country. It was through the keen judgment of “Pop” that many players, who formerly took part in sandlot games of the south, are now starring in Chicago and New York city in colored leagues. As soon as “Pop” found that a player had ability he would immediately start to develop it with the result that within a few years the player would be graduated into faster company. “Pop” discovered such famous colored stars as Dixon, Toussaint Allen, Phil Cockerell and Gifford McDonald, all of whom have played here.
“Pop” planned to celebrate his 50th anniversary in baseball this season with a formidable array of colored tossers. Last November before starting for southern climes, the Red Sox manager announced that he would bring a fast team back to Watertown. Since arriving in the south Watkins had written several letters to his friends in this city saying that he planned to return to Watertown in May.
When the Red Sox first appeared in this city “Pop,” equipped with a uniform, would take part in the infield practice and made a fine impression at first base, despite his age. But during the past four years the veteran manager had directed his team from the bench. He discarded the uniform for street clothes. “Pop” was a married man.