Oscar Charleston was an eternal figure in Negro League Baseball, with a playing career than spanned nearly three decades. He’s considered by historians, as well as his peers, to be the greatest all-around ballplayer in black baseball history. In a career that included extended stints with the Indianapolis ABCs, Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, he had a verifiable .339 batting average, with 141 home runs and 226 stolen bases. He also bat .318 in 53 exhibition games against Major Leaguers. At the end of his playing career he managed the Pittsburgh Crawfords, winning the 1935 and 1936 Negro National League pennant with a team that featured fellow Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson and Cool Papa Bell.
Charleston was the manager of the 1945 Brooklyn Brown Dodgers, a team created by Branch Rickey to scout the Negro Leagues for the player who would help him break the color line.
August 15, 2011