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Oscar Charleston
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Baseball Player
    (October 14, 1896-October 5, 1954)
    Born in Indianapolis, Indiana
    Outfielder/first baseman for the Indianapolis ABCs (1915-18,1920,1922-23), Chicago American Giants (1919), Detroit Stars (1919), St. Louis Giants (1921), Harrisburg Giants (1924-27), Hilldale Daisies (1928-29), Homestead Grays (1930-31), Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-37), Toledo Crawfords (1939), Indianapolis Crawfords (1940) and Philadelphia Stars (1941)
    Managed the Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-38), Philadelphia Stars (1941-44,1946-50), Brooklyn Brown Dodgers (1945) and Indianapolis Clowns (1954)
    Negro League career leader in stolen bases
    Nicknamed ‘the Hoosier Comet’
    Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1976)
    He dropped out of high school and lied about his age to join the US Army at 15.
    Like Ty Cobb, he would slide into bases with his feet high to slash opposing players with the sharpened spikes on his shoes.
    He and teammate Bingo DeMoss were arrested for assaulting an umpire and starting a riot (1915).
    During a Winter League ballgame in Cuba, he caught a ball up against the fence only to have a fan reach over and grab the ball from his glove. He yanked the fan over the wall onto the field and slugged him in the face.
    He was let go from the Hilldale Daisies after punching the team owner during a clubhouse brawl.
    He was left-handed.
    As a youth, he was a batboy for the Indianapolis ABCs.
    Unlike Cobb, who was generally considered an all-around bastard, he was described by colleagues as a kind man off the field.
    In 1921, he led the Negro Leagues in pretty much every offensive category, including batting average, home runs, RBIs, doubles, triples and stolen bases.
    Hall of Fame manager John McGraw said, ‘If Oscar Charleston isn’t the greatest baseball player in the world, then I’m no judge of baseball talent.’
    Branch Rickey consulted with him about who he should sign to break the Major League color barrier; Charleston recommended either Jackie Robinson or Roy Campanella.
    After a game in Florida, he and two teammates were confronted in the parking lot by a band of Klansmen. He walked up to the leader, yanked off his hood and told him and his followers to take a hike (but less politely). They did.

Credit: C. Fishel

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