No. 9 Negro Leagues Buck Leonard

Bill James listed Buck Leonard the best player in the Negro Leagues in 1946 and 1947. You think the majors would have wanted him. However, he was 38 and 39 years old those two years and didn’t have a lot left. He had one more year where he played well but retired after that. However, his SABR biography said he was asked by Bill Veeck to sign, but Leonard decline as he felt he was too old. However, he played in the Mexican League from 1951 to 1955. That was until he was 47 years old.

I noticed Leonard did a good job of taking a walk and it helped lead to an on base percentage of .450. While Leonard is usually listed as the best first baseman in Negro League history sometimes Mule Suttles is listed at first base ahead of him. Leonard had more patience at the plate and a higher on base percentage, but Mule was a better slugger. Mule could also play the outfield, which helps a team, while Leonard played in left field only one game shown on Baseball Reference in left field. He also played a game at catcher. I wonder what happened there.

Leonard was teammates with Josh Gibson and together they hit for such power they were called “The Thunder Twins”. It was kind of like having Ruth and Gehrig in your lineup. Speaking of Gehrig Leonard was often called “The Black Lou Gehrig”.  He was called this not only for his hitting but for his dignity on and off the field.

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