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Encyclopedia > Luke Easter (baseball player)

Luscious Luke Easter (Born August 4, 1915 in Jonestown, MS - Died March 29, 1979 in Euclid, OH) was a professional baseball player in Major League Baseball and the Negro leagues. He batted from the left side, threw with his right hand, was 6 ft 4 in tall, and weighed 240 lb. The birth year listed here is drawn from census data. Easter himself listed multiple birth years ranging from 1911 to 1921 on different occasions, so some ambiguity as to the correct year does exist. is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1915 (MCMXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar). ... Jonestown is a town in Coahoma County, Mississippi, United States. ... March 29 is the 88th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (89th in leap years). ... Also: 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins. ... Euclid is a city located in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Bud Fowler, the first professional black baseball player with one of his teams, Western of Keokuk, Iowa The Negro Leagues were American professional baseball leagues comprising predominantly African-American teams. ... The U.S. Census is mandated by the United States Constitution. ... Year 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Year 1921 (MCMXXI) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar). ...


Early career

Easter grew up in St. Louis, MO. His family moved there when Easter was four years old, so that his father James could secure a more lucrative job in the auto industry. Prior to that time, the Easters had been farmers. He attended the same high school as fellow Negro league star Quincy Trouppe. After graduation, Easter was good enough to be a professional player, but there was no Negro league franchise in St. Louis. As a result, in 1937 Easter joined the top team in the area, a semipro outfit called the St. Louis Titanium Giants. This team was sponsored by the American Titanium Company, with membership drawn from the company's worker base; players held a job at the factory and received a weekly paycheck, but received substantial amounts of time off from "work" to practice and to participate in games against visiting squads. During the time Easter played for them, the Giants fielded a very competitive team; also featuring Sam Jethroe, they went 6-0 in exhibitions against teams in the Negro American League in 1940. Easter played for the Giants until 1941, when he suffered a broken leg in a car accident, as a passenger in a car driven by Jethroe. The Gateway Arch, shown here behind the Old Courthouse, is the most recognizable part of the St. ... Quincy Trouppe (1912–?) was a baseball player and an amateur boxing champion. ... See also: 1936 in sports, other events of 1937, 1938 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto racing Wally Parks founds the Road Runners Club, considered to be the start of organized drag racing. ... Samuel Jethroe (January 20, 1918 - June 18, 2001) was a center fielder in the Negro Leagues and Major League Baseball. ... See also: 1939 in sports, other events of 1940, 1941 in sports and the list of years in sports. Many sporting events did not take place because of World War II. // Baseball The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, 4 games to 3. ... For the movie, see 1941 (film). ...

During World War II, Easter avoided combat by working domestically in war essential industries. Luscious Easter 37 368 805 was indcuted into the Army of the United States at Jefferson Baracks, MO, on June 22, 1942 and stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, with the Quartermaster Corps. He was separated from the Army at Fort Leonard Wood, MO on July 3, 1943. (National Archives and Records Administration.) After the war ended, he tried to resume his playing career by trying out for manager "Candy Jim" Taylor of the Chicago American Giants. Taylor elected not to sign Easter, but referred him to promoter Abe Saperstein, who at that time was founding a new touring baseball team, the Cincinnati Crescents. Saperstein signed Easter, and after a successful 1946 season, sold him to the Homestead Grays. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Candy Jim Taylor, born James A. Taylor (1884 - 1948), was a legendary Negro League baseball player and manager. ... Chicago American Giants were a Chicago based Negro League baseball team, formed by player-manager Andrew Rube Foster. ... Abe M. Saperstein (July 4, 1902 - March 15, 1966) is the famous creator of the Savoy Big Five, which later became the Harlem Globetrotters. Born in London, England, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1970. ... The Cincinnati Crescents was an All-Star barnstorming team that played in the mid 1940s. ... See also: 1945 in sports, other events of 1946, 1947 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Baseball January 23: Hall of Fame election: The writers vote again fails to select an inductee, despite a newly revamped voting process. ... The Homestead Grays were a professional baseball team that played in the Negro Leagues in the United States. ...

Negro and Major Leagues

Easter was a solid contributor to the Grays in 1947, and then excelled in 1948. That year, he batted .363, tied for the league lead in home runs, and led the league in runs batted in. He led the Grays to a victory over the Birmingham Black Barons in that year's Negro League World Series, the last one ever played. His success attracted the attention of Bill Veeck, owner of the Cleveland Indians, who purchased his contract from the Grays. A knee injury in spring training in 1949 cost Easter a spot on the major league roster at the start of the season. He started the year in the Pacific Coast League, and despite a mid-season operation on the knee, continued to excel. He again batted .363, along with 25 home runs and 80 RBI. This performance impressed the Indians so much that they called Easter up for a brief appearance at the end of the season, and early in 1950 traded All-Star Mickey Vernon to open up first base for him. See also: 1946 in sports, other events of 1947, 1948 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto racing Wally Parks founds the Southern California Timing Association, to better organize drag racing. ... See also: 1947 in sports, 1949 in sports and the list of years in sports. Baseball January 29: Commissioner Happy Chandler fines the Yankees, Cubs, and Phillies $500 each for signing high school players. ... Batting average is a statistic in both cricket and baseball measuring the performance of cricket batsmen and baseball hitters, respectively. ... In baseball, a home run is a base hit in which the batter is able to circle all the bases, ending at home plate and scoring a run, with no errors on the play that result in the batter achieving extra bases. ... In baseball statistics, a run batted in (RBI) is given to a batter for each run scored as the result of a batters plate appearance. ... Birmingham Black Barons Leagues Negro Southern League Negro National League Negro American League Significant Players Joe Bankhead Lyman Bostock Willie Mays Satchel Paige Ted Radcliffe Harry Salmon Sam Streeter Mules Suttles LorenzoPiperDavis The Birmingham Black Barons was a professional baseball team based out of Rickwood Field in Birmingham... The Negro League World Series is a baseball tournament that took place at various times from the 1920s to the 1940s, matching the champions of various Negro Leagues. ... William Louis Veeck Jr. ... Major league affiliations American League (1901–present) Central Division (1994–present) Current uniform Retired Numbers 3, 5, 14, 18, 19, 21, 42, 455 Name Cleveland Indians (1915–present) Cleveland Naps (1905-1914) Cleveland Bronchos (1902-1904) Cleveland Blues (1901) Ballpark Jacobs Field (1994–present) Cleveland Stadium (1932-1993)* a. ... A Grapefruit League game at the LA Dodgers camp in Vero Beach, Florida In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of exhibition games which precedes the regular season. ... See also: 1948 in sports, other events of 1949, 1950 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto racing The first 24 hours of Le Mans is held since the beginning of World War II. Luigi Chinetti and Lord Seldson win the race in a Ferrari 166M. Baseball... The Pacific Coast League (PCL) is a minor league baseball league operating in the West and Midwest of the United States. ... // August 23 — European Championships Marathon, Brussels, Belgium Mens Winner: Jack Holden (ENG) 2:32:14 December 10 — Fukuoka Marathon, Japan Mens Winner: Shunji Koyanagi (JPN) 2:30:47 May 21 — United States Mens Winner: [[ur mom]|ur dad & ur dog]] — 2:45:55 July 22 — Netherlands Men... The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also popularly known as the Midsummer Classic, is an annual baseball game between players from the National League and the American League, currently selected by fan vote for the starting position players and by the manager (the managers from the previous years... Mickey Vernon, playing for Washington James Barton Vernon (Mickey) (born April 22, 1918 in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania) is a former Major League Baseball player for the Washington Senators (1939-1948, 1950-1955) for the majority of his career, plus 4 other teams: the Cleveland Indians (1949-1950, 1958), the Boston... The position of the first baseman First base redirects here. ...

As a 34-year-old rookie, Easter continued his record of strong hitting. He ranked among the league leaders in home runs and RBI, and led the league in times hit by pitch. He continued to excel in these areas in 1951 and 1952, even finishing 13th in Most Valuable Player voting in the latter year, but continuing knee and ankle problems sapped his strength. He played in only 68 ML games in 1953, spending part of the year at AAA, and finished his major league career with six games in 1954. In baseball, being hit by a pitch refers to the batter being hit in some part of the body by a pitch from the pitcher. ... See also: 1950 in sports, other events of 1951, 1952 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto Racing NASCAR Championship - Herb Thomas AAA Racing: Tony Bettenhausen won the series championship Lee Wallard won the Indianapolis 500 Formula One Championship - Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina 24 hours of... See also: 1951 in sports, 1953 in sports and the list of years in sports. Auto Racing NASCAR Championship - Tim Flock AAA Racing: Troy Ruttman won the Indianapolis 500 Chuck Stevenson won the season championship Formula One Championship - Italy 24 hours of Le Mans: Hermann Lang / Fritz Reiss won, driving... In sports, a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is an honor typically bestowed upon the best performing player or players on a specific team, in an entire league, or for a particular contest or series of contests. ... See also: 1952 in sports, other events of 1953, 1954 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto Racing NASCAR Championship - Herb Thomas AAA Racing: Bill Vukovich won the Indianapolis 500 Sam Hanks won the season driving championship Formula One Championship - Alberto Ascari of Italy 24 hours of... See also: 1953 in sports, other events of 1954, 1955 in sports and the list of years in sports. // 1954 World Championships Mens all-around champion: Viktor Chukarin, USSR Womens all-around champion: Galina Rudko, USSR Team competition champions: mens - USSR; womens - USSR NASCAR Championship...

Easter continued to play professionally at AAA, even though the leg injuries had reduced his running speed to a slow limp. He played regularly for the Ottawa Athletics, Charleston Senators, Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings, and won the International League's MVP award with the Bisons in 1957. He ultimately retired as a player in 1963, at the age of 52, and worked for several years thereafter as a coach. His number (36) was retired by the Rochester Red Wings. Class-Level Single-A Minor League affiliations South Atlantic League Northern Division -  Major League affiliation Milwaukee Brewers (2005-Present) Toronto Blue Jays (2001-2004) Kansas City Royals (1995-2000) Cincinnati Reds (unknown-1994) Chicago Cubs (unknown-unknown) Cleveland Indians (1987-unknown) Current uniform Name West Virginia Power (2005-Present) Charleston... The Buffalo Bisons (Pronounced BI-zons by locals) are a minor league baseball team based in Buffalo, New York. ... Class-Level Triple-A (1929-Present) Minor League affiliations International League North Division Major League affiliation Minnesota Twins (2003-Present) Baltimore Orioles (1961-2002) St. ... The International League (IL) is a minor league baseball league which operates in the eastern United States and Canada. ... See also: 1956 in sports, other events of 1957, 1958 in sports and the list of years in sports. // Auto Racing NASCAR Championship - Buck Baker Indianapolis 500 - Sam Hanks USAC Racing - Jimmy Bryan won the season championship Formula One Championship - Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina 24 hours of Le Mans... Year 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Notable Home Runs

As a player, Easter was best known for his tape-measure home runs. While with the Grays in 1948, he became the first player to hit a home run into the center field bleachers at New York's Polo Grounds during game action, a section that was 475 feet from home plate. During his rookie season, he also hit the longest home run in the history of Cleveland's Municipal Stadium, a 477-foot blast over the auxiliary scoreboard in right field; the only other player to match that feat was Mickey Mantle, who did it in 1960. Finally, during his twilight days with the Bisons, he became the first player to hit a home run over the center field scoreboard at Buffalo's home park, Offerman Stadium, doing so twice in a month in 1957. The Polo Grounds was the name given to four different stadiums in New York City used by baseballs New York Giants from 1883 until 1957, New York Metropolitans from 1883 until 1885, the New York Yankees from 1912 until 1922, and by the New York Mets in their first... Cleveland Stadium (also known as Municipal Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and The Mistake on (or by) the Lake) was a baseball and American football stadium located in Cleveland, Ohio. ... Mickey Charles Mantle (October 20, 1931 – August 13, 1995) was an American baseball player who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. ... // December 4 — Fukuoka Marathon, Japan Mens Winner: Barry Magee (NZL) 2:19:04 Stock car racing: Junior Johnson won the Daytona 500 NASCAR Championship - Rex White Indianapolis 500 - Jim Rathmann USAC Racing - A.J. Foyt won the season championship Formula One Championship - Jack Brabham of Australia 24 hours of...

When told by a fan one time that the fan had seen Easter's longest home run in person, Easter is reported to have replied, "If it came down, it wasn't my longest."

Post-Playing Career

While playing with the Red Wings, Easter also began to serve as a coach, and after his playing days were over he continued in this role. Future major leaguers Boog Powell, Curt Blefary, and Pete Ward were among the players who credit Easter as a positive influence on their careers. John Wesley Powell (born August 17, 1941 in Lakeland, Florida) is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Baltimore Orioles (1961-74), Cleveland Indians (1975-76) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977). ... Curt Blefary, born Curtis Le Roy Blefary (July 5, 1943 - January 28, 2001), was a left fielder in Major League Baseball who played with the Baltimore Orioles (1965-68), Houston Astros (1969), New York Yankees (1970-71), Oakland Athletics (1971-1972) and San Diego Padres (1972). ...

After his days as a coach were over, Easter moved back to the Cleveland area. While transporting $40,000 for the Aircraft Workers Alliance from a bank on March 29, 1979, in the course of his job as chief union steward for TRW, Easter was approached by two robbers armed with shotguns. He refused to turn over the funds, and was killed. This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ... March 29 is the 88th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (89th in leap years). ... Also: 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins. ... TRW Incorporated was an American corporation involved in a number of businesses, mostly defense-related, but including automotive supply and credit reporting. ...

Woodland Hills Park in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood was renamed Luke Easter Park in his honor.

Historical Analysis

Easter was generally well-liked by teammates during his career, and most printed recollections by them refer to him as a good-natured practical joker. He owned and operated a sausage company while in Buffalo, and gave five pounds of sausage to every teammate who hit a home run. He was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, with that body citing his "grace and dignity on and off the field" and his "legacy as a friend to the community, a generous soul with plenty of time for any cause" 1. He had already become the charter member of the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1989 2. Year 1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1997 Gregorian calendar). ...

In "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," baseball writer and statistician Bill James rated Easter as the second-best first baseman in the history of the Negro leagues, behind only Buck Leonard. He described Easter as "an amiable, fun-loving man who gambled, wasn't 100% honest, and had a temper," with "shoulders that crossed three lanes of traffic," but also claimed that "if you could clone him and bring him back, you'd have the greatest power hitter in baseball today, if not ever." George William “Bill” James (born October 5, 1949 in Holton, Kansas) is a baseball writer, historian and statistician whose work has been widely influential. ... Walter Buck Leonard was born on September 8, 1907 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA. At the age of 14 he left school for the simple reason that no high school education was available for Blacks in his hometown. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Minor League Baseball History, A Look Back : Luke Easter - Myth, Legend, Superstar (2025 words)
Luke's major league accomplishments are well known to historians and fans of that era.
Whatever players were available - usually either former major league players such as Bill Serena, Joe Caffie, and Johnny Blatnik, or minor league veterans such as Lou Ortiz and Freddie Hahn - were brought together as player-manager Phil Cavarretta made the best of what he had.
Baseball fans remember Luke Easter as a power-hitting first baseman who hit some of the longest home runs in the game's history.
All About Baseball (11049 words)
Players slept in the homes of fans on good days, on the bus, in a barn, or the booth of a tonk or bar on not-so-good ones, and out in open fields on bad ones.
Black players moved freely through the rest of baseball, playing in Canadian Baseball, Mexican Baseball, Caribbean Baseball, and Central America and South America where more than a few found that level of fame that they were unable to attain in the country of their birth.
Players who had been dramatically underpaid for generations were now replaced by players who were paid extremely well, and, in many cases, dramatically overpaid for their services.
  More results at FactBites »



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