|"Cannonball" Dick Redding|
April 15, 1893|
|Died: October 31, 1948
Islip, New York
|Negro league baseball debut|
|1911, Lincoln Giants|
|1932, Bacharach Giants|
|Earned run average*||3.64|
Richard Redding (April 15, 1893 – October 31, 1948), nicknamed "Cannonball", was an American pitcher, outfielder and manager in baseball's Negro leagues, regarded as perhaps the fastest pitcher in the history of black baseball (which makes the origin of his nickname no mystery). In his career, he played for the Philadelphia Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Lincoln Stars, Indianapolis ABC's, Chicago American Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, and Bacharach Giants.
Born in Atlanta in the era of racial segregation, he was functionally illiterate and was not allowed to play in the Major Leagues because of his race. Against all levels of competition he threw seven no-hitters in one year and approximately thirty in his career. Quiet and clean-cut off the field, he was as intimidating as anyone on it. He had a limited pitching repertoire, but his main pitch, his fastball, was feared by batters all over the league. It was likely faster than Bob Feller's and was far more accurate than Steve Dalkowski's. Redding gained an extra advantage by throwing "brushback" pitches inside, similar to that of today's stars like Pedro Martínez.
His career began in 1911 with the Philadelphia Giants. That year, at the age of twenty, he won seventeen consecutive games. Early in his career he was at his best, and in 1914, playing for the New York Lincoln Giants, he was 12-3 against official competition and 31-9 in barnstorming. He served in World War I in 1918, and was a player-manager from 1919 to 1922. His playing career was essentially over by the mid-1920s, but he managed the Brooklyn Royal Giants from 1927 to 1932.
He was as good as or better than rival Smokey Joe Williams, and certainly comparable with Walter Johnson of the major leagues. Unlike Williams or Johnson, he is not currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is considered by many to be a major oversight. He is also known for using, possibly even before Satchel Paige, the hesitation pitch.
His career W-L record is known to be 81-62. Hall of Famer Buck Leonard once said about Redding: "was a nice fellow, easy going. He never argued, never cursed, never smoked as I recall; I never saw him take a drink."
Comprehensive statistics for some Negro league and Cuban League seasons
- Negro league and Cuban League statistics and player information from Seamheads.com
- Negro league baseball statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Negro leagues)
Pre-league play in the United States
The following statistics, compiled from box scores by John Holway, provide an incomplete record of games played against other major black teams. Because black teams of that era played most of their games against white semi-pro or professional teams, the available statistics represent a very small sample.
|1917||Chicago American Giants||14||5||.737||1.57|
|1918||Brooklyn Royal Giants||2||0||1.000||—|
Source: Holway, pp. 84, 90, 94, 99, 105–06, 113, 116, 126, 130–31.
|w – winter; * – led league; p = pennant.|
Source: Figueredo, pp. 99, 103, 114, 138–39, 146.
- "Lincoln Giants Adds Another Brace of Victories to its Brace" Indianapolis Freeman, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 20, 1916, Page 4, Column 4
- "Empey Has Fine Bill" New York Sun, Page 4, Column 2
- "'Cannonball' Redding was one of a kind". mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "1952 Pittsburgh Courier Poll of Greatest Black Players"
- Figueredo, Jorge S. (2003), Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History, 1878–1961, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, ISBN 0-7864-1250-X
- Hogan, Lawrence D. (2006), Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, ISBN 0-7922-5306-X
- Holway, John B. (2001), The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History, Fern Park, Florida: Hastings House Publishers, ISBN 0-8038-2007-0