Louis Santop

Louis Santop
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2006
Primary team: Hilldale Daisies
Primary position: Catcher

Louis Santop has been called “the first of the great Negro League sluggers,” and “the first Negro League super-star.”

Born in Tyler, Texas, Santop was huge for his day, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 240 pounds. Primarily a catcher, he also played the corner infield and outfield posi-tions. He was known as “Big Bertha,” after a large piece of German heavy artillery. While he was a gifted slugger who hit mammoth drives in the Dead Ball Era, he also hit for extremely high averages in the upper .300s and lower .400s.

He broke in with the Fort Worth Wonders in 1909, and the following season played with the Philadelphia Giants, where he formed the famous “kid battery” with Cannonball Redding. For the next four seasons, he caught for the New York Lincoln Giants, where he formed a future Hall of Fame battery with Smoky Joe Williams.

In 1915, he played briefly with the Chicago American Giants, before returning East to play with the Lincoln Giants. The two teams met in the postseason championship, and ended up tied.

He also played in the Black World Series for the Hilldale Daisies in 1921, 1924, and 1925, winning in ’21 and ’25.

Santop was an outgoing player and an exuberant drawing card, earning as much as $500 per month in the ‘teens and twenties. There are stories of him calling his home run shots, and he often gave pregame throwing exhibitions, throwing a ball over the centerfield fence while standing at the catcher’s position, and then crouching and firing repeatedly to each infielder, amazing onlookers with his powerful arm.

He served in the Navy in 1918 and ’19.

In exhibitions against white major leaguers, Santop is remembered for having outhit Babe Ruth in a 1920 post-season series, notching three hits against Carl Mays of the Yankees while the Babe recorded none. In a 1917 series, Santop recorded six hits in three games against Chief Bender and Joe Bush.

In the mid-1920s, Santop was replaced at catcher by another future Hall of Famer, Biz Mackey. After a couple of years of pinch hitting duty, he retired and formed his own touring team, the Santop Bronchos.

"He retains his edge even at his advanced baseball age. His joints may be creaky, his eyes may be rheumy, but his educated bat can always pick out the good ones and ride them to and over the outfield barriers. "
Rollo Wilson

Career stats

Year Inducted: 2006
Primary Team: Hilldale Daisies
Position Played: Catcher
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Birth place: Fort Worth, Texas
Birth year: 1889
Died: 1942, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Played for:
Philadelphia Giants (1911)
New York Lincoln Giants (1912)
New York Lincoln Giants (1914-1916)
Brooklyn Royal Giants (1917-1918)
Hilldale Daisies (1918)
Brooklyn Royal Giants (1919)
Hilldale Daisies (1919-1926)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG