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Clarence Williams

Clarence Williams

Career: 1885-1912
Positions: c, ss, 3b, of, manager
Teams: minor leagues (1885, 1890), Cuban Giants (1885-1889, 1891, 1892-1894), New York Gorhams (1891), Philadelphia Giants (1902), Cuban X-Giants (1903-1905), Colored Capital All-Americans, Smart Set (1912)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: January 27, 1868, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

He joined the Cuban Giants, the first black professional team, in the latter part of their first season, and was their regular catcher for a decade. The Cuban Giants were the colored champions in 1887 and 1888, and were considered the top ballclub of the era, often playing as representatives of a host city in an otherwise all-white league. In 1887 and 1889 they represented Trenton, New Jersey, in the Middle States League, and in 1891 they represented Ansonia in the Connecticut State League. In 1890 Williams and Frank Grant defected to the Harrisburg team in the Eastern Interstate League. Altogether he hit an even .300 for his three seasons in organized baseball.

He began playing baseball as a teenager in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, playing left field for the local ballclub in 1882. The next season he became a catcher for the Middletown baseball club of Pennsylvania and progressed to the Williamsport professional baseball club in the early part of 1885 before joining the Cuban Giants.

He joined Sol White's Philadelphia Giants in 1902, their initial season, but jumped to the rival Cuban X-Giants the following year. In addition to his catching, he played infield and outfield positions and appeared with the Colored Capital All-Americans of Lansing, Michigan. Later in his career he became a manager, guiding the Smart Set as playing manager in 1912, his last season in black baseball.

In 1909 he was among a group of former Cuban Giants' players, including Frank Grant, George Williams, and Ben Holmes, who made plans to play a benefit game for an ailing Bud Fowler, baseball’s first black professional player.

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