- Willie Wells
Infobox MLB retired
deathdate=death date and age|1989|1|22|1905|8|10
debutteam= St. Louis Stars
* St. Louis Stars (1924-1931)
Chicago American Giants(1932-1935)
Newark Eagles(1936-1939)As Player/Manager
* Negro National League record for most home runs in a season, 27 in 1926.
Willie James Wells (
August 10 1905- January 22 1989) was an American shortstopwho played from by|1924-48 for various teams in the Negro Leagues.
Wells was born in
Austin, Texas. A star in both baseball and football in high school, Wells first played professional baseball in by|1923, playing one season for the Austin Black Senatorsof the Texas Negro League, a minor league for the Negro National League. He entered the NNL with the St. Louis Stars in 1924, playing for the Stars until the franchise dissolved after the 1931 season. In 1926 he hit 27 home runs, a Negro League single-season record. From 1932 to 1935 he played for the Chicago American Giantsand played for the Newark Eaglesfrom 1936 to 1939. He played in Mexicoin 1940 and 1941, returned to the Negro Leagues in 1942 as a player-manager for the Eagles and then went back to Mexico for the 1943 and 1944 seasons. He returned to the U.S. in 1945 and played for various Negro League teams through the 1950 season. He then went to Canadaas a player-manager for the Winnipeg Buffaloesof the Western Canadian Leagues, remaining there until his retirement from playing baseball in 1954. Wells returned to the U.S. and continued with the sport as manager of the Birmingham Black Barons.
Nicknamed "El Diablo" by Mexican fans for his extraordinary intensity, Wells was a superb all-around player. He was a fast baserunner who hit for both power and average. But Wells was at his finest with his glove, committing almost no errors and having the speed to run down anything that came in his direction. He is widely considered the best black shortstop of his day. He also taught
Jackie Robinsonthe art of the double play.
He was also notable as being the first player to use a
batting helmetafter being hit and getting a concussionwhile playing with the Newark Eagles. His first helmet was a construction helmet.
After his baseball career, Wells was employed at a
New York Citydeli before returning to his birthplace of Austin to look after his mother. He died at age 83 in Austin. Willie Wells was originally buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Austin, Texas, and was re-interred in the Texas State Cemeteryin Austin.
He was elected to the
Baseball Hall of Fameby the Veterans Committee in by|1997 for his play in the Negro Leagues.
Known statistics: .328 career
batting average, 126 home runs, 945 games played
* [http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers%5Fand%5Fhonorees/hofer%5Fbios/wells%5Fwillie.htm Baseball Hall of Fame]
* [http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/W/Wells_Willie.stm BaseballLibrary.com]
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