I’ve got a new article out in the latest issue of Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal, about Bill Cadreau, who pitched for the both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Union Giants. This is a revised version of a piece I published back in 2010 in the Outsider Baseball Bulletin. Here’s the abstract:
In 1910 William Cadreau, a young pitcher from the semiprofessional circuit of the upper Midwest, made his sole appearance with the Chicago White Sox. Seven years later, after a checkered career in the minor leagues, Cadreau spent a few weeks with the Chicago Union Giants, a traveling African American team. In doing so, Cadreau became one of the few ballplayers known to have played for both a white major league team and an avowedly all-black professional team between Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884 and Jackie Robinson in 1947. While a number of Cubans made the same journey, starting with Rafael Almeida and Armando Marsans in 1910, Cadreau is so far the only American known to have done so. Although Native Americans did not routinely play for all-black teams, it was likely Cadreau's identity as an Ojibwe Indian that made it possible for him to cross the color line.
I wouldn’t be especially surprised if somebody came up with another American player who made the journey between the major leagues and the Negro leagues during the Jim Crow era. For a while I thought it was possible that Walter Johnson, of all people, accomplished the feat, but I wasn’t able to substantiate it.