George Stovey

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George Stovey
Born: May 1866
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Died: March 22, 1936(1936-03-22) (aged 69)
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Batted: Left Threw: Left
1886, for the Cuban Giants
Last appearance
1897, for the Williamsport Demorest Bicycle Boys

George Washington Stovey (May 1866 – March 22, 1936) is considered the best African-American baseball pitcher of the 19th century, but discrimination barred him from the majors and led him to move from team to team until he had no further opportunities to play in the minors. According to an 1892 recollection by Pat Powers, who managed Stovey in Jersey City in the Eastern League, the New York Giants in 1886 attempted to acquire Stovey. but Cap Anson helped stop the arrangement.


The alleged episode is examined at length in a 2006 book featuring Anson, which could not find any contemporaneous reporting to the above effect. The author concludes, "Powers's story may be mixed up with a contemporaneously reported controversy, late in the 1886 season, involving the signing of a white pitcher playing for Newark, John 'Phenomenal' Smith."[1]

In 1907, black player-turned-sportswriter Sol White alluded to a supposed effort in 1887 by New York to sign Stovey, and not to the 1886 effort noted as above. White, writing in a baseball book bearing his name, said "arrangements were about completed for his transfer from the Newark club, when a brawl was heard from Chicago to New York. The same Anson, with all the venom of hate which would be worthy of a (Benjamin) Tillman or a (James) Vardaman of the present day, made strenuous and fruitful opposition to any proposition looking to the admittance of a colored man in the National League." In prefacing his story, White said, "Were it not for this same man Anson, there would have been a colored player in the National League in 1887." [2]

It is possible that White muffed the above issue, as Powers arguably had done. But, in any case, there is interesting 1887 reporting involving Stovey.

On April 9, 1887, the Newark Journal said New York Giants manager Jim Mutrie offered to buy Stovey and teammate and fellow black Moses Fleetwood Walker, who were now both with Newark of the International League, "but [Newark] Manager [Charley] Hackett informed him they were not on [sic] sale."[3]

The day before that report, Newark and New York had met at the Polo Grounds, and Stovey and Walker had played (New York Sun, April 8, 1887). Presumably, Mutrie made his offer after the seeing the game. If so, since a single day elapsed between the game and the offer's rejection by Newark manager Hackett, it is highly unlikely that Anson, who was in St. Louis, would have weighed in.

In addition, Stovey was part of a far more acute controversy leading up to the 1887 season. It involved Newark and Jersey City, and reveals that Newark had no interest in selling him during the period in which White blamed Anson.[4]

Anson and Stovey did cross paths later in 1887, when, according to contemporaneous reporting, on July 14, 1887, following a vote that morning by International League owners to approve no more contracts with black players, in a home exhibition game against Chicago that afternoon, Newark's Stovey and fellow black teammate Walker sat out because of Anson's objection.

Both Stovey and Walker had played on July 11. The day of the Chicago game, the Newark News listed Stovey as the scheduled pitcher. Then, in its recap, it said, "Stovey was to have pitched for Newark, but he complained of sickness, and so [Micky] [sic] Hughes was substituted." Stovey did not play again until July 17, and Walker not until July 26. (Newark Journal, July 12 to July 27, 1887; Newark News, July 14–15, 1887.)[5]

A few days after the game with Chicago, the Newark Sunday Call said, "Stovey was expected to pitch in the Chicago game. It was announced on the ground [sic] that he was sulking, but it has since been given out that Anson objected to a colored man playing. If this be true, and the crowd had known it, Mr. Anson would have received hisses instead of the applause that was given him when he first stepped to the bat.(Newark Sunday Call, July 17, 1887; New York Telegram, July 18, 1887.)[6]

In 1889 he pitched for both the Cuban Giants, based at Trenton, New Jersey, and the New York Gorhams, based in Philadelphia. In 1891 he played for the Cuban Giants at Ansonia. These were all-black teams playing in organized baseball in those two seasons. He also played some in the outfield, batting .256 in a total of 122 games.



  1. ^ Rosenberg, Howard W. (2006). Cap Anson 4: Bigger Than Babe Ruth: Captain Anson of Chicago. Tile Books. ISBN 978-0-9725574-3-6. , p. 426.
  2. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4. , pp. 427-428.
  3. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4. , p. 428.
  4. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4. , p. 428.
  5. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4. , p. 430.
  6. ^ Rosenberg. Cap Anson 4. , p. 430.

Further reading[edit]

  • Riley, James A. (1994). "Stovey, George Washington". The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf. pp. 746–47. ISBN 0-7867-0959-6. 

External links[edit]