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Mon, 10.14.1895

Silas Simmons, Baseball Player, born

Silas Simmons

*Silas Simmons was born on this date in 1895. He was a Black semi-professional and professional left-handed pitcher/outfielder baseball player for Black teams in the pre-Negro League era.

Silas Joseph Simmons was born in Middletown, Delaware. Simmons was five-foot-ten and began playing for the Germantown Blue Ribbons, a semi-pro team, in 1911. In 1913, the Blue Ribbons became a professional team and were renamed the Homestead Grays. In 1926, Simmons pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants and appeared in at least one game in 1929 for the New York-based Cuban Stars (East) of the Negro National League. During his career, Simmons played on the same team as Hall of Famer Pop Lloyd and against Hall of Famers Judy Johnson and Biz Mackey.

He ended his baseball career soon after, in 1929. Simmons was married in Philadelphia on September 15, 1915, to Mary L. "Mamie" Smith. He and his wife had five children and settled into life as a Pullman Porter. He later became an assistant manager at Rosenbaum's Department Store in Plainfield, New Jersey. After 29 years of marriage, Mamie died ca. 1944. In 1957, Simmons married his second wife, Rebecca Jones. Simmons worked for R. J. Goerke Co. during the early 1960s, and in 1971, he retired to St. Petersburg, Florida. After 40 years of marriage, Rebecca died at 96 in 1997.

In May 2006, Dr. Layton Revel, founder of the Texas-based Center for Negro League Baseball Research, met and interviewed Simmons. Revel also organized a 111th birthday celebration for Simmons in 2006, which included approximately 30 former Negro League players from around Florida. A plaque was presented to Simmons on his birthday on behalf of the Society for American Baseball Research. Simmons has also presented a team jersey with the number "111" from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Silas Simmons died on October 29, 2006, at the Westminster Suncoast Nursing Home in St. Petersburg. At the time of his death, Simmons had nine grandchildren, several great-grandchildren, and many great-great-grandchildren. He also was the longest-lived professional baseball player in history. Red Hoff, who died at age 107 in 1998, held the previous record. Simmons was also one of the two known professional athletes born in the 19th century and died in the 21st century, the other being Karl Swanson. 

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