Though I haven’t done any sort of rigorous demographic study or anything like that, it has always been my impression that an awful lot of Negro league players died at surprisingly young ages, an impression I share with Dave Wyatt, for one.
But it occurred to me that the 1920s Negro leagues, with Emilio Navarro, Silas Simmons, and Double-Duty Radcliffe, featured no less than three future centenarians. And Simmons, having lived to be 111, was a “supercentenarian”—that is, part of the very small slice of the population that attains the age of 110, a milestone reached by only one in a thousand centenarians.
How many men played for black baseball teams at the highest levels (NNL, ECL, and ANL, plus a few independents like the Homestead Grays) in the 1920s? I don’t know…a thousand? Fifteen hundred? Currently in the United States 1 in 3,300 people are aged 100 or over. So it seems, for whatever it’s worth, that the rate for the 1920s Negro leagues is rather high, compared to the general population.