No. 28 Negro Leagues Leon Day

Leon Day first pitched in the majors at age 17 but was so bad his record is a lot better not including that year even though he pitched only 3 innings. At age 18 he was an all-star, but his statistics are solid but not great.

The strange thing is Day was 29 in 1946 and had one of his two greatest years, He doesn’t show up in the minors until 5 years later. So, I’m going to try to find out what happened those four years in between.

Day went to Mexico for two years. Surprising enough his win-loss was 18-20 and his ERA was 4.00. He came back and he pitched in a Negro League in 1950 that isn’t recognized as a Major League or one that Baseball Reference doesn’t have records. In 1950 Day pitched for the Winnipeg team in the Mandak League. This was a Independent League formed that year. Willie Wills, Ray Dandridge and Satchel Paige also pitched in that league. Then stated above Day pitched in the minors for two years. It is not in Baseball Reference, but Day pitched in a minor league in 1953. It must have been an independent minor league. He then went back to the Mandak League for two years before he retired, went home and became a bartender. Later he returned to Baltimore and became a bartender.

In the SABR article it tries to compare Day to Paige as a competitor to Satchel Paige by saying the only way Paige was better he was flashier. They site the fact that Day beat Paige 3 out of 4 games they faced each other, and Paige was name pitcher of the year in 1942 and 43 over Paige. One thing the article doesn’t mention is that Day was close to his prime being ages 25 and 26 those two years. Paige was 35 and 36 years old those two years. Part of the problem is you can’t judge a career on 4 ballgames. We don’t even know for sure if that was the only four games the two met. I looked at their records those two years and in 1942 Day was definitely a better pitcher. However, the opposite was true in 1943. I don’t know if Day pitched better in exhibition games and that is why he was name pitcher of the year or there was just something wrong in the voting, but Paige was definitely a better pitcher than Day in 1943.

That being said Day is definitely a hall of famer.

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