baseball integration, Homestead Grays, Honus Wagner, Oscar Charleston, Pittsburgh Courier, Wendell Smith
Just came across this testimony on Oscar Charleston’s abilities from Honus Wagner, as quoted (or remembered by) Wendell Smith, crusading sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier.
The quote from Wagner is wonderful. But more wonderful is the direct, contemporary quote from Oscar about not getting the chance to play in the majors. This is the only place I have seen where he addresses the issue personally and directly.
(August 21, 1954, Pittsburgh Courier, p. 12)
I believe Oscar played against Wagner’s “All-Stars” in an exhibition game in 1929 or 1930, when Oscar was with the Homestead Grays. Wagner was, of course, long retired by then. But presumably he knew an elite ballplayer when he saw one. And he may well have seen or played against Charleston before then, although I have not come across such a game.
Within four months after Smith published this column, Charleston was dead. Wagner died the next year, in December 1955.