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  • Writer's pictureKirk Jenkins

Back to Greenlee Field for Game 2 of the New York versus Pittsburgh Series

Today we’re back at Pittsburgh’s Greenlee Field for Game 2 of the 1936 Semifinal playoff series, matching the underdog New York Black Yankees versus the Pittsburgh Crawfords (and their five future Hall of Famers). Pittsburgh manager Oscar Charleston will send Leroy Matlock to the hill to try and give the Crawfords and commanding 2-0 lead in the series. New York manager Bob Clarke will counter with Bill Holland.

Both teams came out swinging hot bats today. Ameal Brooks led off the game for New York with a booming liner off the left field wall which rebounded past left fielder Josh Gibson (taking a day off from his catching duties) and went for a triple. Walter Cannady then plated Brooks with a sharp single to right. After Fats Jenkins was out on a routine fly ball to center, George Scales crushed a Matlock breaking ball for a two-run homer to right.

The Crawfords offered a partial answer in the bottom of the first, getting their first run by stringing together base hits from Jimmie Crutchfield, Sam Bankhead and Josh Gibson. The Crawfords pulled to within one in the bottom of the second when Judy Johnson slapped a base hit to right, stole second and scored on Jimmie Crutchfield’s solid base hit to center.

But the Black Yankees piled on two more in the top of the third to take a 5-1 lead. Ameal Brooks led off the innings for New York with a long double. Three pitches later, Walter “Rev” Cannady seemed to have gotten just what he was expecting – a Matlock fastball – and put it over the right field fence for a home run.

The Black Yankees added one more in the top of the fourth. Marvin Barker got things going with a base hit up the middle. After George Giles fouled out to first baseman Oscar Charleston, pitcher Bill Holland hit a bouncing ball to third baseman Ralph Burgin which Burgin threw over Charleston’s head at first. The official scorer ruled it an infield hit and a one-base error for Burgin, scoring the run. The Crawfords drew closer in the bottom of the inning when Bill Perkins and Ralph Burgin led off with back-to-back base hits. Bill Holland then walked Hall of Famer Judy Johnson to load the bases, and Johnny Washington, pinch hitting for pitcher Leroy Matlock, scored Perkins and Burgin with a single down the right field line.

But in the top of the fifth, reliever Tin Can Kincannon didn’t have much more success than Matlock had had keeping the Black Yankees off the bases. Fats Jenkins led off with a solid base hit. George Scales followed with a base hit to right with Fats – notwithstanding his nickname – rumbling all the way around to third and then scoring when cut-off man Oscar Charleston threw the relay past Judy Johnson, trying to get Jenkins.

The Black Yankees broke the game open in the top of the sixth. George Giles opened things up with a double. After Bill Holland was out on a vicious line drive speared by Dickie Seay, Kincannon’s control suddenly left the building, as he walked Ameal Brooks and Rev Cannady back-to-back to load the bases. Oscar Charleston brought in Fireball Smith to take the mound and – since the pitcher’s spot was up second in the bottom of the inning, sent in Daniel Wilson for Ray Burgin at third, with Wilson in the nine slot. Fats Jenkins greeted Fireball with a single, scoring Giles, but leaving the bases loaded. Fireball then managed to hit George Scales with – you guessed it – a fastball in the ribs, and Ameal Brooks walked home with New York’s ninth run of the game. Scales ultimately decided to take a seat, with Flash Miller going in to pinch run – and really, have you ever heard a more apt name for a pinch runner? Jim Williams then singled to right, scoring two more, and Clarence Palm singled up the middle, scoring the Black Yankees’ fifth run of the inning and twelfth of the game.

With pitcher Bill Holland still sailing along against the Crawfords, things stayed at 12-4 into the top of the eighth. Clarence Palm started the inning off with a long double into the right-center field gap. After Marvin Barker was out on an easy ground ball right at first baseman Oscar Charleston, George Giles scored Palm with a sharp base hit to right. When right fielder Jimmie Crutchfield’s throw back to the infield went wide of Oscar Charleston, Giles was able to advance to second. At that point, Oscar had seen enough of Fireball and brought in Charles King to try and finally shut the Black Yankees down. No dice – pitcher Bill Holland scored the Black Yankees’ fourteenth and ultimately final run with a base hit up the middle.

So the Crawfords headed into the bottom of the ninth trailing 14-4, with Bill Holland trying to complete his start. After Dickie Seay flew out to center, Sammy Bankhead tripled off the left-center field wall. The next hitter Josh Gibson then brought in Bankhead with a base hit up the middle. Oscar Charleston worked Holland through a ten-pitch at-bat, ultimately ending in a walk, putting men at first and second. The Black Yankees responded by replacing the entire battery in one swoop – Willie Burns came in to pitch and manager Bob Clarke decided to replace Clarence Palm behind the plate. Burns ended the game on one pitch, getting Bill Perkins on a perfect 5-4-3 double play.

So after two games in Pittsburgh, our series is all tied at one. Next time, our scene will shift to the New York Black Yankees’ home ballpark, Municipal Stadium in Freeport.

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