Mule Suttles

George Suttles
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2006
Primary team: Newark Eagles
Primary position: 1st Baseman

George “Mule” Suttles was almost lost to history. As noted in a local Tuscaloosa News article following his 2006 induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame, “He was born at the start of a century that’s passed in a town that no longer exists. He played for teams that have long since folded, in leagues that closed up shop more than 50 years ago.” Even so, the reputation of Mule Suttles was sufficient to ensure that he would be placed on the Hall of Fame ballot when the time came.

Noted for his soft-spoken personality, Suttles was not known to draw attention to himself. According to teammate Red Moore, “He didn’t get the ballyhoo that Satchel and Josh got. They were the ones who it seemed all the sports writers put the praise on. Mule Suttles was a powerful hitter. I can’t fathom why he didn’t get the publicity they got. He was a laid-back person. He didn’t do much talking. He wasn’t the boastful type. Sometimes the better players get overlooked.”

The slugging first baseman and outfielder had a playing career that lasted the entire Golden Era of Negro leagues baseball, from 1921 to 1944. He starred with some of the great squads of segregated baseball, including the Newark Eagles, Chicago American Giants and the Birmingham Black Barons.

He boasts a lifetime batting average of more than .325, and was particularly know for his power. According to Moore, fans and opponents would gather to watch him at batting practice, “They’d come out to see him hit the ball. I can tell you he was a great hitter. He was known for his power. He could really hit the ball a long way. In batting practice he hit some tape-measure balls. He could really hit it for distance.”

His skills were so noted by his contemporaries, having been selected to play in five East-West Classic all-star games, where in 1933 he knocked the first home run ever hit in the event.

In addition to his baseball skills, Suttles was also known as a good teammate, often serving as a father figure to the younger players. He is fondly remembered by teammates who recall his kind nature and willingness to do anything to help win a game. As noted by Red Moore, “He was kind of a genteel person. He was friendly, but when he was on the field he went to play. He was all business.”

“We always wondered why Uncle George was never mentioned,” said his niece Merriett Burley who accepted his plaque during the ceremony in Cooperstown, “They always mentioned Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell, but they never mentioned Uncle George. We’re now saying he’s getting his just rewards. For this to come up now, we’re all just thrilled to death.”

"He was kind of a genteel person. He was friendly, but when he was on the field he went to play. He was all business. "
Red Moore

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 2006
Primary Team: Newark Eagles
Position Played: 1st Baseman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Blocton, Alabama
Birth year: 1900
Died: 1966, Newark, New Jersey
Played for:
Birmingham Black Barons (1923-1925)
St. Louis Stars (1926-1931)
Detroit Stars (1932)
Chicago American Giants (1933-1935)
Newark Eagles (1936-1944)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
NA
At BatsAB
2632
RunsR
540
HitsH
866
Doubles2B
157
Triples3B
55
Home RunsHR
129
RBIRBI
417
Stolen BasesSB
43
WalksBB
196
Batting AverageBA
.329
OPSOPS
.953
On Base %OBP
.376
Slugging %SLG
.578