Bill Gatewood

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William Miller "Big Bill" Gatewood
Bill Gatewood 1909.jpg
Pitcher / Manager
Born: (1881-08-22)August 22, 1881
San Antonio, Texas
Died: December 8, 1962(1962-12-08) (aged 81)
Columbia, Missouri
Batted: Right Threw: Right
1906, for the Cuban X-Giants
Last appearance
1929, for the Gatewood Browns

William Miller "Big Bill" Gatewood (August 22, 1881 - December 8, 1962) was a Negro Leagues pitcher and manager for several years before the founding of the first Negro National League, and in its first few seasons. He pitched for the Leland Giants,[3] Chicago Giants, St. Paul Colored Gophers,[4] Chicago American Giants,[5] New York Lincoln Giants, Cuban X-Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, St. Louis Giants,[9] Indianapolis ABCs,[11] Detroit Stars, St. Louis Stars, Toledo Tigers, Milwaukee Bears, Memphis Red Sox, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, and Birmingham Black Barons.

Pre-Negro League Years[edit]

Sportswriter Harry Daniels named Gatewood to his 1909 "All American Team."[17]

A 6'7" tall spitball pitcher, Gatewood was a first line pitcher in Blackball's pre-league days, and pitched the first no-hitter in NNL league play, beating the Cincinnati Cuban Stars on June 6, 1921. As his pitching skills deteriorated, he remained in the game as a manager.

Negro League Career[edit]

In the first week of June in 1920,[18] 38-year-old Big Bill Gatewood left the St. Louis Giants and joined Tenny Blount's team, the Detroit Stars. [14] Part-way through the second season, he moved on to the Cuban Stars.

He managed the St. Louis Stars and Birmingham Black Barons. He is credited with giving Negro Leagues great James Cool Papa Bell his famous nickname,[19] and for convincing him to learn to switch hit in order to take advantage of his speed. He is also credited with teaching Satchel Paige his "hesitation pitch" while managing him in Birmingham.

Post career[edit]

After Gatewood died, he was buried in an unmarked grave and did not receive a proper headstone until a Society for American Baseball Research group led by Jeremy Krock and Larry Lester called the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project installed a proper gravestone in 2010.[20] Bill Gatewood's grave did not have a headstone for about 48 years.[21]


  1. ^ "Gophers are Classy Team" Rockford Register-Gazette, Rockford, IL April 29, 1908, Page 5, Column 2
  2. ^ "Leland Giants Slam Sphere and Shut Out Colts" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN Page 5
  3. ^ a b "Dubuque 6, Leland Giants 2" Waterloo Evening Courier, Waterloo, IA, Friday, April 28, 1911, Page 6, Column 5
  4. ^ a b "Senators Play 14 Innings to a Tie" La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI, Monday, May 4, 1908, Page 7, Column 4
  5. ^ a b "BEARS ROMP AWAY FROM GIANTS 8 TO 1" San Diego Union, San Diego, California, December 30, 1912
  6. ^ "American Giants Down the Roseland Eclipse" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, IN, July 3, 1915
  7. ^ "The Past and Present in Baseball" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, May 28, 1910, Page 7, Columns 3 and 4
  8. ^ "The All Nations Won Opener" Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO, May 27, 1917 Page 14
  9. ^ a b "Comet Six Team Handed Shut Out" Decatur Review, Decatur, IL, Monday Evening, June 9, 1919, Page 5, Column 4
  10. ^ "Triple Play a Feature of Sunday Game" The Daily Independent, Murphysboro, IL, Monday, June 11, 1928, Page 6, Columns 1 and 2
  11. ^ a b "Big City Stuff is Too Much for Local Club" Logansport Pharos-Reporter, Logansport, IN, Monday, July 9, 1917, Page 6, Columns 1 and 2
  12. ^ "C.I. Taylor to Start Spring Work Monday" Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, IN, Sunday Morning, March 24, 1918, Page 24, Column 6
  13. ^ "Empey Has Fine Bill" New York Sun, New York, NY, Page 4, Column 2
  14. ^ a b "Star Trucker Series Evened" Saginaw News, Saginaw, MI, July 17, 1920, Page 5, Column 3
  15. ^ "Balboa Parks Play Colored Giants Today" San Diego Union, San Diego, CA February 26, 1922, Page 8, Column 8
  16. ^ "Eagles to Play Columbia Sunday" Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat, Moberly, MO, Wednesday Evening, April 10, 1929, Page 2, Column 2
  17. ^ "The Base Ball Spirit In The East." Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, December 25, 1909, Page 7, Columns 1 and 2
  18. ^ "Dayton Marcos to Meet Stars" Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Michigan, June 4, 1920, Page 19, Column 4
  19. ^ 1974, J."Cool Papa" Bell Named to Baseball's Hall of Fame, Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, 13 February 1974
  20. ^ "For Negro League Players, A Measure of Recognition" The New York Times, July 1, 2010, Page A1 of the New York Edition
  21. ^ "A Legacy Written in Stone" The Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO, Wednesday, June 30, 2010, Page B1[permanent dead link]
  • The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley {1994} Publisher: Carroll & Graf (New York NY) ISBN 0-7867-0959-6
  • Draft registration card, 1918, National Archives & Records Administration
  • A Legacy Written in Stone - The Columbia Tribune

External links[edit]