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Bill Byrd
Born: 1907

RHP Negro Leagues 1932-49 Columbus Turfs, Columbus Blue Birds, Cleveland Red Sox, Columbus Elite Giants, Washington Elite Giants, Nashville Elite Giants, Baltimore Elite Giants
  • All-Star in 1936, 39, 41, 44-46

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The 6'1" 210-lb Byrd was one of the last pitchers to legally throw the spitball, though he didn't depend on it entirely. He had excellent control and a repertoire of pitches that included the slider, fastball, curve, sinker, and two variations of the knuckler. A switch-hitter, he pinch-hit in one of his six East-West all-star game appearances, and batted .364 for the season with the 1934 Cleveland Red Sox. Although only partial statistics are available, it is known that he completed 56 of 85 league games he pitched between 1933-37 and 1944-47. His best year documented was 1945, when he was 10-6 with 79 strikeouts and 11 complete games. He played winter ball with Caguas in Puerto Rico in 1940-41, leading the league in wins (15). (BP)
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
July 4th, 1942: In the eighth inning of an 8-4 Negro League victory over the Newark Eagles at Yankee Stadium, Baltimore Elite Giants spitball ace Bill Byrd beans Eagles manager Willie Wells. Wells is carried from the field, and the incident causes him to design a batting helmet. When he steps into the batter's box Thursday he will be wearing a modified construction worker's hardhat.