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 Willie James Wells

Willie James Wells

Birth
Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
Death 22 Jan 1989 (aged 83)
Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
Burial Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA
Plot Statesmans Meadow, Section 2, Row G, #33
Memorial ID 2364 · View Source
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Major League Hall of Fame Baseball Player. Born in Austin, Texas to poor parents, he showed a great affinity for baseball at an early age, starting on sandlots at the age of fifteen. He was accepted into the St. Louis Stars of the Negro National Leagues in 1924 and performed extremely well both in his position as shortstop and as a consistently strong hitter. He was traded from team to team, from the Chicago American Giants in 1932 to the Memphis Red Sox in 1948. His reputation grew; he was called the "Shakespeare of Shortstops" and at one point played while suffering a concussion, wearing a construction helmet for protection; this is widely recognized as the first batting helmet. In 1926 he set the Negro League record with twenty-seven home runs in only eighty-eight games. In 1929 he traveled to Cuba to play in the new integrated Cuban league, playing so well that he was voted Most Valuable Player that year. He was selected to play in the very first East-West Classic, the Negro Leagues All-Star game, in 1933, and was invited back eight more times. He became more of a player-manager at this point, for the Giants in the early 30s and the Eagles in the 40s, at one point training Jackie Robinson on working second base after Robinson had made it to the major leagues. In the 40s he played in the Mexican league, where he got his nickname "Devil" due to his intensity, and was selected repeatedly by Satchel Paige to play on his All-Star team against white major league players. He briefly managed the Birmingham Black Barons in 1954 before retiring from the sport; his lifetime batting average reaching .358. He worked in a deli in New York for a few years before returning to Austin to take care of his mother. Devil Wells died at the age of eighty-three of a heart condition on January 22, 1989. Nine years later, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Bio by: Screwtape


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2364
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Willie James Wells (10 Aug 1905–22 Jan 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2364, citing Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Travis County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .