In addition winter ball, Marcelle played stateside, beginning in 1918. He played for a number of teams, winning pennants twice with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants and once with the Baltimore Black Sox.
Marcelle regularly hit above .300 and played stellar defense. Baseball Hall of Famer Judy Johnson, normally a third baseman, said that when he played with Marcelle in Cuba, Johnson was moved to second base so Marcelle could stay at third. According to another Negro League third baseman, Bobby Robinson, Marcelle played 10 feet closer to the plate than any other third baseman dared. He was quick enough to knock down line drives to either side, and he essentially eliminated the possibility of opponents bunting to the left side of the infield.
Pop Lloyd called him the greatest third baseman in the Negro Leagues, and a 1952 poll in the Pittsburgh Courier came to the same conclusion. But in spite his enormous talent, Marcelle was a difficult teammate.
Buck O’Neil said people called him “The Ghost” because he would disappear after the game, not to be seen in his hotel room, and then reappear the next day at the ballpark. His nights were spent on the town. At a bar in 1925, he was involved in an altercation that ended with a man being shot and killed. Marcelle was arrested, but not charged after it was determined Marcelle hadn’t fired the gun.
He lost his temper on the field, too, arguing with umpires, fighting with opponents, and clashing with teammates. Once in a game, in a rage, he hit teammate Oscar Charleston over the head with a baseball bat.
His temper was well-known by fans, who would taunt and heckle until it affected his play. Wrote one columnist in a 1924 article in the New York Age, “He was a victim of almost uncontrollable temper, as he let fans and umpires get his goat.”
In 1930, a game of cards with teammate Frank Warfield dissolved into a brawl. Warfield ended up in jail, and Marcelle ended up in the hospital, with a large chunk of his nose bitten off. Marcelle would play future games with a patch on his nose. Some said his vanity and the ridicule from opposing players and fans led him to retire, but the fact is that that Marcelle, then 33, was in decline. He continued to play, but for independent and second tier teams, and he barnstormed as late as 1934. That year, he retired, moved to Denver, and took odd jobs to support himself, mostly painting houses.
Denver at the time held the Denver Post Tournament, biggest semi-pro and independent team tournament in the United States, dubbed “The Little World Series.” According to Chet Brewer, a star pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs, Marcelle urged the organizers at the Post to include independent Negro League teams. Two teams broke the color line at the 1934 tournament: the Monarchs (then independent) and the integrated House of David barnstorming team, which at the time was borrowing Satchel Paige from the Monarchs (the two clubs often cooperated on tours). The Monarchs proved no match for the white teams assembled, and Paige almost single-handedly powered his club to the championship. More significantly, the tournament introduced Paige to a nation-wide, white audience, an important step in the road to integration.
This was the same year that Marcelle was mentioned as an afterthought in the editorial by Nat Trammell. Both Trammell and Marcelle, it turns out, were fighting equally for the same cause.