Biz MackeyJames Raleigh Mackey
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2006
Primary team: Hilldale Giants
Primary position: Catcher
Though somewhat overshadowed by such legendary names as Josh Gibson and Roy Campanella, when black baseball’s top catchers are discussed, Biz Mackey should be considered one of the great players of his era.
“Actually, as much as I admired Campanella as a catcher, all-around, and Gibson as a hitter,” said Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell, a veteran of the Negro leagues, “I believe Biz Mackey was the best catcher I ever saw.” In fact, a 1954 Pittsburgh Courier poll saw Mackey edge Gibson as the greatest Negro league catcher.
Mackey would don the tools of ignorance in a career that spanned almost 30 years, from the late 1910s to the mid-40s. Whether while a member of the Hilldale Giants, Philadelphia Stars, Newark Eagles, Indianapolis ABCs or the Baltimore/Washington Elite Giants, he always proved to be a leader behind the plate or later as a manager. Fellow Hall of Famer Cum Posey, a longtime Negro league executive, once said, “For combined hitting, thinking, throwing and physical endowment, there has never been another like Biz Mackey. A tremendous hitter, a fierce competitor . . . he is the standout among catchers.”
A line drive hitter whose batting average rarely strayed below .300, Mackey, named to five East-West All-Star teams, was a favorite receiver among pitchers and had a strong throwing arm.
“I’ve pitched to some great catchers, but my goodness, that Mackey was to my idea the best one I pitched to,” said Hall of Fame hurler Hilton Smith. “The way he handled you, the way he just built you up, believing in yourself. He was marvelous.”
Mackey has been given credit for furthering the development of a number of Negro leaguers who would go on to success in the major leagues, such as Campanella, Monte Irvin and Larry Doby.
“In my opinion, Biz Mackey was the master of defense of all catchers,” Campanella said. “When I was a kid in Philadelphia, I saw both Mackey and Mickey Cochrane in their primes, but for real catching skills, I don’t think Cochrane was the master of defense that Mackey was.”
Statistics are incomplete and from official league games only. More information
Year Inducted: 2006
Primary Team: Hilldale Giants
Position Played: Catcher
Birth place: Eagle Pass, Texas
Birth year: 1897
Died: 1965, Los Angeles, California
St. Louis Giants (1920)
Indianapolis ABCs (1920-1922)
Hilldale Giants (1923-1931)
Philadelphia Stars (1933-1935)
Philadelphia Stars (1937)
Newark Eagles (1939-1947)
Newark Eagles (2016)
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