Today’s Negro League legend is Buck Leonard, legendary first baseman for the great Homestead Grays teams of the 1930’s and 1940’s that also had stars like Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson:
Leonard played for the Homestead Grays between 1934 and 1950, often
batting cleanup behind Josh Gibson, with whom he was nicknamed the
“Thunder Twins” because of their legendary power.
The team were three-time Negro World Series Champions, in 1943, 1944
& 1948, while Leonard was a 13-time all-star selection at First Base
and took home the batting title in 1948 with a .395 average.
After his Negro League playing days were over he went on to play in the
Mexican League where he would continue playing until 1955, even though
he was actually offered a Major League contract in 1952.
However, due to his age, he felt he would hurt the integration of
baseball and embarrass himself, so he stayed in Mexico, playing for
various teams such as Torreon, Xalapa and Durango.
Fittingly, in 1972 he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame along
with former teammate Josh Gibson, and in 1999 he was ranked #47 in the
Sporting News list of “100 Greatest Baseball Players”, only one of five
players who played the bulk of their career in Negro League ball.