This week as part of Black History Month, we introduce you to Buck Leonard. Known as the black Lou Gehrig.
Walter “Buck” Leonard played for the Homestead Grays from 1934 to 1950. These Grays teams are among the greatest in baseball history, winning 9 league titles in a row at one point. Pairing with Josh Gibson, the "Thunder Twins" were the most prolific hitting combination in history. In 1948 Leonard hit .395.
The first baseman spent his entire 15-year career with the Grays, the longest term of service for a player with one team in Negro League history.
He played in a league-record 11 East-West All-Star Games and won two Negro World Series titles in 1943 and 1944.
League statistics have Leonard batting .320 for his career with a .519 slugging percentage over 1,675 plate appearances.
In 1999, the Sporting News ranked Leonard No. 47 on its list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. One of only five men on the list who played most of, or their entire career in the Negro leagues.
Leonard was also honored as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Among his other career achievements:
- 13× All-Star selection (1935, 1937, 1938, 1939-Comiskey, 1939-Yankee Stadium, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946-Griffith, 1946-Comiskey, 1948)
- 3× Negro World Series champion (1943, 1944, 1948)
- Washington Nationals Ring of Honor
- Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after Satchel Paige became the first Negro Leaguer elected.