Elected to the Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee: 1997
The first shortstop in baseball history to combine dazzling fielding with home-run power, Willie Wells set a single-season Negro leagues record with 27 homers in 88 recorded games for the St. Louis Stars in 1926. A scrappy, intelligent player, Wells had a prolific career in Latin America, where Mexican League fans dubbed him El Diablo. He batted .320 over seven Cuban Winter League seasons while winning two home-run titles and two MVP awards. As player-manager of the Newark Eagles in the 1940s, he became known as an extraordinary leader and teacher, and several of his young players later became stars in the Majors.