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Jim Crutchfield, 1932
*On this date in 1910, Jimmie Crutchfield was born. He was an African American baseball player who was a household name in Pittsburgh’s Black baseball community.
From Ardmore, Missouri, the little 5’ 7" John William “Jimmie” Crutchfield began his 15-year career with the Birmingham Black Barons in 1930. As a rookie outfielder for the Black Barons, he earned a spot in the everyday lineup with his solid fielding skills and reliable performance at the plate. Although he demonstrated little power as a hitter, Crutchfield was an excellent slap hitter with the ability to place the ball in play behind runners on the base-path. In addition to compiling impressive RBI totals, he always maintained a respectable batting average near.300 throughout his career.
After a brief stint with the Indianapolis ABCs, Crutchfield jumped to the Pittsburgh Crawford’s joining Cool Papa Bell and Ted Strong to form the finest outfield in the Negro Leagues. While with the Crawford’s, Jimmie’s performance earned him three trips to the East-West All-Star game. As the Crawford’s dynasty began to crumble in the mid-1930s, Crutchfield moved on, first to the Newark Eagles and then to the Chicago American Giants. In Chicago, his affable personality and consistent willingness to interact with fans at the ballpark made him a favorite with the local regulars. In 1941, he was again honored by election to the West squad in the East-West game.
As a player, Crutchfield never rose to "league leading" stature in any single category, yet demonstrated better than average skills in almost every aspect of play. He was, in essence, the epitome of the well-rounded ballplayer — a solid everyday performer. He did, however, possess one exceptional talent – the ability to make friends wherever he went and to serve as a unifying force on every team on which he played. Cool Papa Bell once observed that Jimmie was the best team player in baseball. If he never played in a game he would still have been an important part of any baseball team. He cheered you up when things weren’t going too good whether you had troubles on or off the field.
You always knew you could count on Jimmie to be on the bright side of everything." Jimmie Crutchfield died: March 31, 1993 in Chicago, Illinois.
The Negro Baseball Leagues A Photographic History
By Phil Dixon with Patrick J. Hannigan
Copyright 1992, Jed Clauss and Joanna Paulsen
Ameron House Publishing