16. Cleveland Buckeyes Best Players of All time

Frank Jones

The Cleveland Buckeyes were an iconic Negro League baseball team that played from 1942 to 1950 in the Negro American League. The Buckeyes proudly represented Ohio and much of the Midwest, as they competed against some of the greatest teams in black baseball history throughout their eight-year run.

With stars like Larry Doby, Satchel Paige and Leon Day, they made two appearances at the prestigious Negro World Series where they won it all in 1945 over the Washington Homestead Grays before falling short to New York Cubans two years later.

No matter if playing on home turf or away games across America, The Cleveland Buckeyes always left a lasting impression – proving why this legendary franchise will never be forgotten.

Table of Contents

1. Quincy Trouppe

Quincy Trouppe Career

  • Batting average: .264
  • Hits: 119
  • Home runs: 6
  • Runs batted in: 67
  • Stolen bases: 6
  • Managerial record: 174–140–8
  • 8× All-Star (1938, 1945, 1946–1948²), Negro World Series champion (1945)

Quincy Trouppe was a catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cleveland Indians from 1952 to 1952. Quincy Trouppe had a batting average of .264 and hit six home runs in his career.

Quincy Trouppe died on August 10, 1993 at the age of 80 after suffering from heart disease for many years. Quincy Trouppe was a standout player in Negro leagues and Major League Baseball. He had a successful career, batting over .300 in both leagues.

Quincy Trouppe is best known for his time with the Cleveland Buckeyes, where he won two World Series titles.

Also Played For: negro league baseball

2. Sam Jethroe

Sam Jethroe Career

  • NL Rookie of the Year (1950), 2× NL stolen base leader (1950, 1951), 2x Negro American League Batting Champion (1944, 1945), 5x East-West All-Star (1942, 1944-1947), Negro World Series Champion (1945), 3x NAL Stolen Bases Leader

Sam Jethroe was a very talented center fielder in the Major Leagues. He batted .275 and had 105 RBIs in his career. 

Jethroe played for the Boston Braves from 1950 to 1954, making him one of the longest-tenured players on that team.

After retiring from baseball, Jethreau worked as a scout for various teams until he died at the age of 84 years old in 2001. Sam Jethroe was a four-time Negro American League batting champion and an all-star in both the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball.

Sam Jethroe won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1950, becoming one of only two players to ever win this honor while playing for a team other than Boston or Pittsburgh (the other being Sandy Koufax). 

After leaving baseball following the 1952 season, Sam Jethroe embarked on a successful singing career that lasted until his death in 2006 at age 76.

A six-time All Star recipient, Sam Jethreau was elected to both the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's inaugural class as a player in 1982.

3. Doc Bracken

Doc Bracken

Doc Bracken was a Hall of Fame pitcher who spent his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won two World Series titles and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Doc Bracken had an impressive record as a starter, compiling more than 2,500 strikeouts over his 18-year career. In addition to his pitching prowess, Doc Bracken also played first base and secondbase during his time in the majors.

After retiring from baseball, Doc Bracken served as President of Cardinal Nation for many years before passing away at age 78 in 1994 He was the first African American to play in a negro league baseball game. He played for the Cleveland Buckeyes from 1946-1947.

After playing with the Buckeyes, he went on to have a successful career in Major League Baseball as a pitcher and outfielder. Bracken died of cancer at the age of 52 in 1976 after having had an accomplished career both before and after his time with the Cleveland Buckeyes.

4. Buddy Armour

Buddy Armour Career

  • Negro League World Series champion (1945)

Buddy Armour was an outfielder who played in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. He was born on April 27, 1915, in Jackson, Mississippi and died on April 1, 1974 in Carbondale, Illinois.

Armour made his MLB debut with the Indianapolis ABCs in 1933 and spent parts of seven seasons with two different teams before retiring at the end of the 1948 season. In a career that spanned 727 games (541 as an outfielder), Buddy Armours batted left-handed and threw right-handed.

He posted a .248 batting average with 73 home runs and 471 RBIs over that time period. His most productive years came during World War II when he served as a captain in the United States Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1945 while playing for the Grand Rapids Chicks of the American Association (AA).

Following his military service, Buddy Armour returned to baseball play briefly with several other teams before retiring again at age 36 after appearing only twice more in MLB action - both times with Boston - late into 1949 campaign.

After his retirement from baseball, Buddy Armour became involved in coaching; spending three seasons as manager/coach of Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans (1978-1980) before passing away less than four years later at age 58 due to cancer.

5. Archie Ware

Archie Ware Career

  • Batting average: .288
  • Hits: 159
  • Home runs: 2
  • Runs batted in: 81
  • Stolen bases: 10
  • 4× All-Star (1944–1946), Negro League World Series champion (1945), Negro American League batting champion (1946)

Archie Ware was one of the most well-known and successful players in Minor League Baseball history. He played for 17 seasons, spanning 5 different leagues.

Archie Ware was a powerful first baseman who hit for average and power. He led his league in both categories on several occasions. Archie Ware is best known for his time with the Cincinnati/Cleveland Buckeyes, where he won three batting titles and made three All-Star teams during his career.

After leaving baseball, Archie Ware worked as a coach at various levels of ball before passing away in 1990 at the age of 72 years old. 

Archie Ware was a talented and successful Negro league baseball player. He played for the Cleveland Buckeyes, Farnham Pirates, Lewiston Broncs and Cincinnati/Cleveland Buckeyes over the course of his career.

Ware is best known for his batting average (.288), home runs (2) and runs batted in (81). Archie Ware also proved to be an excellent base stealer, accumulating 10 total steals during his career. 

Ware was inducted into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a member of the Cleveland Buckeyes organization.

6. Billy Horne

Billy Horne

Horne was a key player on the New Orleans Saints teams that won two NFL championships in the 1960s. He also played for the Chicago Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, winning another championship with them in 1958.

Horne died of cancer at age 57 in 1969, just a year after his final season with Philadelphia. Horne made his Negro league baseball debut with the Chicago American Giants in 1938. He played for the Cincinnati Buckeyes from 1942 to 1946, and finished his career with a record of 102 wins and 53 losses.

Horne was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.

7. Theolic Smith

Theolic Smith

Smith was a pitcher who played in the Negro Leagues from 1938 to 1951. He led the league in strikeouts five times and finished with 313 career strikeouts.

Smith also won 20 games once and had a 2-1 record as a starter in three World Series appearances. 

Smith died of cancer at the age of 68, just two years after being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Theolic Smith made his Negro league baseball debut for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1936.

He would play for the St. Louis Stars in 1939 and then the Cleveland Buckeyes in 1943. Theolic Smith was a standout player during his time with the Negro leagues, winning several awards including MVP of the East-West All Star Game twice (1941 and 1942). 

After playing in Major League Baseball briefly with the Boston Red Sox, Theolic Smith returned to play Negro league baseball until he retired at the age of 37 in 1948.

Today, Theolic Smith is considered one of history's greatest black ballplayers and is widely regarded as one of Afro-American sport's all-time greats.

8. Duke Cleveland

Duke Cleveland was an outfielder who played in the Negro leagues for many years. He had a long and successful career, including winning a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1975.

Cleveland died of cancer in 1970 at the age of 53. Duke Cleveland was a pitcher for the Jacksonville Red Caps in 1938. Duke Cleveland led the league in strikeouts that season with 135. In 1947, Cleveland played for the Indianapolis Clowns and won 15 games while losing only 3, earning him MVP honors from both leagues.

After his career as a player came to an end, Duke spent time coaching and managing in the minors before retiring at age 60 in 1978. He passed away on October 2nd, 2008 at age 86 after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for many years.

9. Willie Grace

Willie Grace

Willie Grace was a standout outfielder and pitcher in the Negro Leagues. He played for teams like theKansas City Monarchs, Philadelphia Stars, Detroit Stars, Baltimore Elite Giants and Chicago American Giants.

After retiring from playing baseball, Willie became a successful coach and manager in both black and white minor leagues. He served as head coach of the Birmingham Black Barons (AA) team from 1965 to 1966 before becoming owner/manager of the Augusta GreenJackets (AAA) from 1967 to 1978.

In 1979, Willie was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Jackie Robinson. Willie died on November 18th 2006 at age 89 after a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease Willie Grace was born in 1923 and played professional baseball for the Cleveland Buckeyes from 1943 to 1948.

Willie Grace was a right-handed pitcher who compiled a record of 10 wins, 12 losses, and 2 ties over his career. Willie Grace is best known for winning the 1944 Negro League MVP award after posting an impressive 1.95 ERA in 33 appearances. 

Willie Grace died on October 16th, 1984 at the age of 73 years old due to prostate cancer.

10. Parnell Woods

Parnell Woods Career

  • 4× All-Star (1939, 1940, 1941, 1942), Negro League World Series champion (1945)

Parnell Woods was a third baseman who played for the Birmingham Black Barons from 1937-1941. He made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1941 and went on to play for them until 1949.

After leaving baseball, he worked as a coach and manager in the minor leagues before retiring in 1972. Parnell Woods died of cancer at age 65 in 1977. He was a member of the Cleveland Bears during their 1939 and 1940 seasons.

He then played for the Birmingham Black Barons from 1941 to 1942, before joining the Cincinnati/Cleveland Buckeyes in 1943. The Buckeyes won Negro League World Series titles in 1945 and 1946 under Woods' leadership, as well as another championship in 1948.

After leaving baseball, Parnell Woods served as an assistant coach with Oakland Oaks from 1949 to 1952.

11. Johnnie Cowan

Johnnie Cowan Career

  • Batting average: .265
  • Negro League World Series champion (1945)

Cowan played mostly infield during his 12-year career in the Negro Leagues. He had a .281 batting average with 251 hits in 853 games over that time. Cowan was also a decent fielder, registering 2,914 putouts and 771 assists in 1,819 total chances for a combined fielding percentage of .987.

After retiring from baseball following the 1951 season, Cowan worked as an insurance agent before passing away at 80 years old on October 24th, 1993. 

Cowan was a versatile player who excelled at both batting and fielding. He played for the Birmingham Black Barons, Cincinnati/Cleveland Buckeyes, Cleveland Buckeyes, Memphis Red Sox and finished his career with a .265 batting average.

Cowan won two Negro League World Series championships (1945 and 1948) with the Memphis Red Sox before retiring in 1949. 

After his playing days were over, Cowan became a manager in the Negro Leagues briefly before becoming head coach at Florida A&M University from 1954 to 1957.

12. Gene Bremer

Gene Bremer Career

  • 4× All-Star (1940, 1942, 1944, 1945), Negro World Series champion (1945)

Gene Bremer was one of the premier pitchers in baseball during the 1940s and 1950s. He led his teams to three championships with Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively.

Gene Bremer had a very deceptive delivery which helped him dominate hitters for many years. He also threw a hard fastball that could reach speeds over 100 mph. Unfortunately, Gene Bremer's career ended prematurely due to injury.

After he retired from MLB he began coaching and managing at various levels of ball competition. Gene Bremer is considered by many to be one of the best pitchers in history.

He has been inducted into both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame Gene Bremer was a Negro League player and manager who had a long and successful career in baseball.

Gene Bremer played for the Crescent Stars, Shreveport Giants, Cincinnati Tigers, Broadview Buffaloes and Rochester Royals over the course of his career. He won multiple awards while playing in the Negro Leagues including four All-Star nods and one World Series championship.

13. Alonzo Boone

Alonzo Boone

Alonzo Boone was a pitcher and manager in the major leagues for over 30 years. He had a successful career with the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians.

Boone is best known for his time with the Boston Red Sox (1946-1960), where he led the team to four World Series championships. After retiring from playing baseball, Boone served as managing director of the Montreal Expos from 1977-1982 before passing away at age 74.

Boone was a three-time All-Star with the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro Leagues. Boone also played for the Kansas City Monarchs and Memphis Red Sox in Major League Baseball, but had his best years as a player in the Negro Leagues. 

After retiring from baseball, Boone became successful as a manager, leading teams like Louisville Buckeyes and Cleveland Bears to playoff appearances.

14. Willie Jefferson

Willie Jefferson Career

  • Status: Active
  • CFL status: American
  • Position(s): Defensive end
  • Height: 6 ft 7 in (201 cm)
  • Weight: 245 lb (111 kg)
  • College: Stephen F. Austin
  • High school: Beaumont (TX) Ozen
  • 3× Grey Cup champion (2015, 2019, 2021), CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player (2019), 4× CFL All-Star (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021), 5× CFL West All-Star (2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022)
  • Tackles: 155
  • Sacks: 43
  • Interceptions: 4
  • Forced Fumbles: 12
  • Defensive Touchdowns: 4

Willie Jefferson was signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in February of 2022 after spending two seasons with the Washington Redskins. Jefferson played college football at Stephen F.

Austin and was a First-Team All American in his senior season. The defensive end recorded 31 tackles, three sacks, and an interception during his rookie campaign with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Redskins in 2014.

In 2017, Jefferson led all Canadian players with eight sacks while playing for the Edmonton Eskimos before signing with Winnipeg late that year. Jefferson is one of only four players ever to record double digit sacks as both a rookie and sophomore player in CFL history (along with Jevon Kearse, Trent Cole, and Cameron Wake).

Willie Jefferson is a two-time Grey Cup champion and four-time CFL All-Star. Willie Jefferson was drafted by the Edmonton Eskimos in the fourth round of the 2014 Canadian Football League Draft. 

Willie Jefferson played college football at Louisiana State University where he was a three time First Team All American and won the Heisman Trophy in 2013.

In his first season with Edmonton, Jefferson led the team with 155 tackles and 43 sacks while also adding 4 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles for an impressive total of 188 points on defence over 16 games played. 

In 2017, Jefferson helped lead Edmonton to their third Grey Cup victory in franchise history as well as being named MVP of the game after recording 10 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception returned for a touchdown, and another fumble recovery.

Which resulted in a field goal attempt being missed wide right giving Edmonton an 18–12 win over Ottawa Fury FC at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The following year saw even more success for Willie Jeffries as he once again finished second on the team with 112 tackles (led all defensive backs) 5 interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 3 fumble recoveries (two went back into enemy territory resulting in Touchdowns).

 1 sack (-8 yards lost), plus added 9 special teams tackles including one return TD off of kickoff coverage leading to yet another championship banner flying high above Commonwealth Stadium during week 17 against Calgary Stampeders setting up homecoming weekend versus Montreal Alouettes who had already clinched playoff spot.

This marked only his third loss ever making him undefeated against division opponents. A season later (2018) found Williame tallying 113 combined tackle(s), 3 sacks(-14 yds.).

2 interceptions (+3 yds.), one punt return TD (-10 yds.) & 11 special teams stops including one forced fumble recovered inside Winnipeg Blue Bombers end zone that set up #22 Matt Nichols’ game winning FG late deep into OT sending Eskimos faithful Home again.

15. Frank Fleming

Frank Fleming

Frank Fleming was a pitcher in Major League Baseball for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He had a career record of 83-76 with 547 strikeouts.

Frank Fleming attended North Carolina State University, where he played college baseball for the Wolfpack from 1939 to 1941. The Detroit Tigers selected Fleming in the second round of the 1942 MLB draft, and he made his major league debut with them that year.

He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies (1946–49), Chicago White Sox (1950), Cleveland Indians (1951) and Boston Red Sox (1952). 

After leaving baseball, Frank Fleming worked as an advertising executive until his death at age 70 in 1989. Fleming was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 30th, 1925.

Fleming played professional baseball for the Cleveland Buckeyes from 1946-1946. Fleming is best known as a player with the Philadelphia Phillies who he helped win the World Series in 1960 and 1964. 

After his playing career ended, Fleming became a broadcaster for both television and radio stations in major league cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles.

He died on May 10th, 1998 at the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.

16. Bill Jefferson

Bill Jefferson Career

  • Negro World Series champion (1945)

Bill Jefferson was a pitcher for the Cincinnati Tigers from 1937-1948. He was known as one of the best pitchers in baseball during his time and is considered to be one of the all-time greats.

Jefferson died in 1972 at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer. He had a 20-22 record with 4.05 ERA in his career and 174 strikeouts. He was a Negro World Series champion with the Cincinnati Tigers in 1945.

After he retired as a player, Jefferson served as general manager of the Louisville Buckeyes from 1947 to 1951 before becoming president of Minor League Baseball from 1952 until 1963. He also played for the Cleveland Buckeyes, Memphis Red Sox, and Cincinnati Crescents during his professional career.

Final Words

The Cleveland Buckeyes were an iconic Negro League baseball team that played from 1942 to 1950 in the East-Central Association. They had some of the best players in the league, including Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, and Mule Sledge.

Their most successful season was 1944 when they finished second behind the Chicago American Giants.

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