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Willie Grace

William Grace
Nickname: Willie

Career: 1942-1951
Position: of, p
Teams: Cincinnati Buckeyes (1942), Cleveland Buckeyes (1943-1948, 1950), Louisville Buckeyes (1949), Houston Eagles (1950), minor leagues (1951)
Bats: Both
Throws: Left
Height: 6'   Weight: 170
Born: June 30, 1918, Meridian, Mississippi
Died: November 18, 2006, Erie, Pennsylvania

A switch-hitting outfielder with good bat control but without appreciable power, he had only average speed and defensive skills but a pretty good arm. He played with the Negro American League champion Cleveland Buckeyes of 1945 and 1947, and after Ducky Davenport jumped the team late in the 1945 season, the burden fell on Grace, and he responded with some clutch hitting.

In the 1945 World Series sweep of the Homestead Grays he batted .313 and contributed a rare home run. In the 1947 World Series the Buckeyes lost to the New York Cubans in five games. Sandwiched between the two Negro American League pennants was his All Star season of 1946, when the Negro Leagues held two All Star games and he started in both games, collecting 4 hits in 8 at-bats for an even .500 average.

Although not noted as a strong hitter, with averages of .237 and .232 in 1944-1945, he strung together three consecutive .300 seasons (.305, .301, and .322) in 1946-48 before falling off in his production (.221, .273) the following two years.

Originally signed in 1942 off the sandlots of Laurel, Mississippi, at age twenty-five, he joined the Buckeyes soon after a tragic automobile accident in which two players were killed. Not long after his arrival, the team had another accident, when the bus turned upside down, but fortunately there were no serious injuries.

Grace remained with the franchise as the team relocated in Louisville in 1949, before finishing his career in the Negro Leagues with the Houston Eagles in 1950. The following year, the last in his baseball career and his first in organized baseball, he hit .293 with Erie in the Middle Atlantic League.

Baseball Career Highlights:
"Winning the 1945 Negro Leagues World Series and being voted MVP in 1948 by a Cleveland newspaper were very rewarding to me."

Professional/Personal Accomplishments:

"From 1943 to 1980, I worked and retired from Hammermill Paper."

Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
Schools, Colleges:

• Three Time All Star (once with Cleveland Buckeyes, 1946)
• 1945 Negro Leagues World Series Champions (Cleveland
• Negro American League Pennant Winner - 1945-1947
• Cleveland Buckeyes "Most Valuable Player" - 1946
• Negro Leagues World Series - 1947

NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book
, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.

James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.

Willie Grace photo

Willie Grace