A few months ago Jimmy Allen, original owner of this photograph of the 1923 Washington Potomacs, sent me another photo to identify.
The uniform style puts the photograph in the 1930s or 1940s. The logo, with the letters S and P smaller and superimposed over a larger M, strongly suggests “Minneapolis-St. Paul.” My hypothesis is that the team here is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Gophers of the 1942 Negro Major Baseball League of America. This was a minor Negro league, organized by the promoter Syd Pollock to provide opponents for his own Cincinnati Clowns. The Gophers featured Goose Tatum of the Harlem Globetrotters, “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and manager Jim Brown, a longtime Negro league catcher. Unfortunately, neither I nor other experts I consulted were able to find any contemporary images of the Gophers’ uniforms, so this can’t be confirmed.
Jimmy noted that “RIGHT FIELD” is printed, very faintly, over the bottom left quarter of the image. The regular right fielder for the 1942 Minneapolis-St. Paul Gophers was Samuel Segraves (who also caught and played left field for the team). Here is a picture of him from 1952, when he played for the Indianapolis All-Stars:
Here are the two images side by side:
While the quality of the newspaper photo is poor enough that I don’t think I can guarantee that the two images show the same person, the similarity is obvious in the shape of the face, nose, ears, and what can be seen of the eyes.
Samuel D. Segraves (often spelled “Seagraves” in the newspapers) was born on May 13, 1919 or 1920, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He and his brother John Claude Segraves played baseball in the Indianapolis semipro scene starting in the late 1930s. After appearing with the Gophers in 1942, Sam appeared for the Cincinnati-Cleveland Buckeyes and Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League, and then played in the outfield for the 1943 Harrisburg-St. Louis Stars. A private in the U.S. Marines during World War II, Sam was a catcher for the Marines’ national Negro baseball team. His teammates included future major leaguer Dan Bankhead, along with several Negro league veterans. In 1946 Sam played on the Cincinnati Crescents alongside Luke Easter. In 1952 (as noted above) he was with the independent Indianapolis All-Stars.
Many years later, Segraves spoke to historian Paul Debono about why he left baseball:
“I had a family to support, kids to put through school, and my wife didn’t like me traveling. I had enough. The money wasn’t that good, so I got a regular job in a garage. My brother basically was the same way; he went to Philadelphia and then came back, his wife was complaining. See, there wasn’t a whole lot of money in those days” (Paul Debono, The Indianapolis ABCs: History of a Premier Team in the Negro Leagues, p. 107).
According to city directories he worked as a mechanic in Indianapolis in the early 1950s before eventually becoming a truck driver. Sam Segraves died on July 4, 1994, leaving behind his wife Rena, four children, and ten grandchildren.