Pittsburgh Crawfords of 1935
The team most identified as the greatest black baseball team of all-time is the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords. For five years, 1932-36, Gus Greenlee’s Crawfords were the “Yankees of the Negro Leagues” and each year’s squad draws some votes as the greatest of all-time. However, the 1935 team, which featured five Hall-of-Famers in the lineup, is considered the best, with Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson and Satchel Paige. Although Paige jumped to a white semio-pro team in Bismarck, North Dakota during the season, the team was so strong that they continued to win without him. Lefthander Leroy Matlock assumed the role as ace of the staff and fashioned an outstanding record. Flanking Bell in the outfield were Sam Bankhead and Jimmie Crutchfield, giving the Crawfords one of the fastest outfields ever to play baseball. The Crawfords easily won the first half title with a .785 winning percentage and defeated the New York Cubans in a seven-game play-off for the Championship.