Adventures in Baseball Archeology: the Negro Leagues, Latin American baseball, J-ball, the minors, the 19th century, and other hidden, overlooked, or unknown corners of baseball history...with occasional forays into other sports.
Maybe the most important find related to the Negro Leagues among the U.S. passport applications concerns “Pud” Flournoy, a southpaw who pitched for Hilldale, the Brooklyn Royal Giants, and other teams in the 1920s, and was supposed to have struck out Babe Ruth three consecutive times. We have, for the first time I think, learned that his full name was Willis Jefferson Flournoy; he was born on August 9, 1894 (WWI draft card) or 1895 (passport application) in Monticello, Georgia. He served as a corporal in the Army in World War I. If the passport application is correct, he was six foot five (his draft card says “tall”). He died November 22, 1964, and is buried in Beverly National Cemetery, New Jersey. He currently appears in Riley and other sources as “Jesse Willis Flournoy;” “Jesse” could be derived from his middle name. (His name appears in several databases as “Willie” instead of “Willis.”)
Here is his World War I draft card (a poor image):
I’ve been able to find U.S. passport applications for thirteen Negro Leaguers—the complete North American roster of the “Bacharach Giants” aggregation that played in Cuba during the 1920/21 season (both American Series and regular Cuban League). These applications have enabled me to fully identify two of these players—Willis “Pud” Flournoy and James York—for, I believe, the first time. I’ll put up a separate post on Flournoy soon.
Before 1916, U.S. law did not require American citizens traveling abroad to carry passports, though some countries did require them. An executive order in 1916 mandated passports, and this was made law by Congress in 1918. The requirement was lifted in 1921, not to be reinstated until 1941. So, unless the country of destination required passports, Americans did not have to get them before 1916, or from 1921 to 1941.
The one foreign nation Negro Leaguers were apt to visit was Cuba, which evidently did not require passports for entry. So we have only the narrow window of 1916 to 1921 to find Negro Leaguers’ passport applications. As it happens, the 1920 Bacharachs were the only Negro League team to visit Cuba during these years.
One thing we learn about this 1920 team: it is often linked to Rube Foster (despite featuring none of his players at the time), but I’m not sure he had anything to do with it. For one thing, he probably didn’t accompany the team, as no passport application for him could be found.
For another, the team’s organizer appears to have been Edward B. Lamar, former manager/owner of the Cuban X Giants, and promoter of that team’s trips to Cuba in the 1900s. Lamar provides affidavits swearing to the identity of every player but Toussaint Allen (see below) and Philip Cockrell, who apparently had forgotten to apply, and had to send his application right before leaving from Key West, with instructions for it to be sent to him in Havana. Somebody typed up his application for him, and misunderstood his name to be “Phillip Cochran.”
I’m no handwriting expert, but with the exception of Cockrell’s application (and maybe the signatures), the forms all seem to be filled out by Lamar.
Here are the photos of the Bacharach players; I’ve never seen most of these (or possibly any of them) before.
Toussaint Allen * Born: 7 June 1896, Atlanta, Georgia (WWI draft card has 7 June 1895) * Father: Riley Allen (dec’d), born in Atlanta * Height: 5’9” * Affidavit attesting to Allen’s identity signed by Richard Redding—though Redding’s World War I draft card signed with his mark.
Charles Blackwell * Born: 12 December 1894, Brandenburg, Kentucky (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Charles Blackwell, born in Shelbyville, Kentucky, currently residing in Brandenburg * Height: 5’7”
Oscar McKinley Charleston * Born: 14 October 1896, Indianapolis, Indiana * Father: Thomas Charleston, born in Charleston, South Carolina, currently residing in Indianapolis * Height: 5’8” (does not match Riley, who has him as six feet tall, or his WWI draft card, which describes him vaguely as “tall”)
Morten Avery Clark * Born: 19 December 1889, Bristol, Tennessee (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Joseph Henry Clark, born in Richmond, Virginia, currently residing in Los Angeles, California * Height: 5’9” * The middle name “Avery” is new information (his WWI card has the middle initial “A.”). The form also indicates that Clark was in France with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during the war. * Now we can see his “gafas blancas” for ourselves. As in 1915, Figueredo identifies him as “Dell Clark.”
Philip Cockrell (“Phillip Cochran”) * Born: 9 July 1895, Augusta, Georgia * Father: “Wm. Cochran” (William Cockrell), born in Georgia, currently residing in Philadelphia. * Height: 5’11”
Willis Flournoy * Born: 9 August 1895, Monticello, Georgia (WWI draft card has 9 August 1894) * Father: William Flournoy, born in 1855, currently residing in Monticello. * Height: 6’5” * The birthdate and place is, I believe, brand-new information; more on him in another post.
Joseph Hewitt * Born: 7 August 1885, Nashville, Tennessee (date matches WWI draft card) * Father: Price Hewitt (dec’d), born in West Virginia * Height: 5’5” * The birthplace is new information (1920 census record has him born in Alabama). His middle name was William (WWI draft card; he was nicknamed “Joe Bill”).
Louis Santop Loftin * Born: 17 January 1889, Fort Worth, Texas (matches WWI draft card; Riley & HOF have 17 January 1890, Tyler, Texas) * Father: Andrew Loftin, currently residing in Tyler, Texas * Height: 6’2”
Richard Lundy * Born: 10 July 1898, Jacksonville, Florida (matches WWI draft card) * Father: Richard Lundy, born and currently residing in Jacksonville, Florida * Height: 5’11”
Oliver Marcelle * Born: 1 June 1895, New Orleans, Louisiana (WWI draft card has 21 June 1895) * Father: Daniel Marcelle, born in Thibodaux, Louisiana, currently residing in New Orleans * Height: 5’10” * His World War I draft card is signed “Marcell,” with no “e.” Here the signature is unclear, though the form definitely says “Marcelle.”
Richard Redding * Born: 15 April 1893, Atlanta, Georgia (WWI draft card has 14 April 1893) * Father: Richard Redding, born in 1869 and currently residing in Atlanta * Height: 6’1” * Form is signed, though Redding’s World War I draft card is signed with his mark.
Merven John Ryan * Born: 11 July 1897, Brooklyn, New York (matches WWI draft card) * Father: John Ryan (dec’d), born in Brooklyn. * Height: 5’11” * The middle name “John” is new information (WWI card has middle initial “J.”).
James Henry York * Born: 11 July 1895, St. Peters, Pennsylvania * Father: Wallace Jacob York, born in Altoona, currently residing in Coatesville, Pennsylvania * Height: 6’1/4” * Middle name, birth date and place are all new information.