BHM - Leon Day

BHM - Leon Day

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#Spotlight – This week as part of Black History Month, we introduce you to Leon Day, who enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Leon Day played every position except catcher but was known for his pitching expertise. He would typically play 2B or CF when not on the mound.

Debuting in the Negro leagues in 1934, Day played with the Baltimore Black Sox, Newark Eagles, and Baltimore Elite Giants during his career.

In 1937, Day had the best season of his career as a member of the Eagles, finishing with a perfect record of 13–0 and a batting average over .300.

Day also played Puerto Rican winter ball in the off seasons. He holds both the Negro and Puerto Rican league records for strikeouts in a game, and appeared in the most East–West All-Star Games.

Because of his soft-spoken demeanor, Day's accomplishments were not immediately recognized as opposed to other elite pitchers of the league like Satchel Paige. Nonetheless, Day is considered one of the best pitchers of the Negro leagues, equaling and sometimes surpassing the abilities of his rivals. In 1995, Day was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, just six days before his death at 78 years old.

A tremendous overview of Leon’s post playing days appears in Justin Klugh’s piece – Who is Leon Day.

Leon Day would spend his post playing days working as a Bartender, first in Newark where he played for the hometown Eagles, then in his hometown of Baltimore. In 1970 he would go to work as a Security Guard, a position he would serve for almost a decade.

Klugh’s story would tell of Leon Day’s epic path to the Hall of Fame, including how Roy Campanella (a long time supporter of Day’s inclusion) was ill for the final vote in 1993 and how Leon Day would fall one vote short. Our own Gary Cieradkowski makes an appearance in this story, lending his considerable artistic talents to a campaign that would eventually result in Day’s election the Hall of Fame in 1995, six days before passing away from a heart failure at the age of 78.

A foundation bearing his name, The Leon Day Foundation was started by his widow Geraldine in 2001 and is run by Michelle Freeman and benefits youth baseball in West Baltimore.