Bill Monroe (Negro Leagues)

From BR Bullpen

William S. Monroe

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 7", Weight 151 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bill Monroe was a Negro League infielder known for his defense, showboating and trash talk. Statistics are very limited for Monroe's career, as there were no organized Negro Leagues and few games between top black teams. Monroe broke in with the Chicago Unions as a third baseman. He moved to second base the next year and in 1901 moved to the Cuban X-Giants as a second baseman and the #3 hitter. In 1903 he moved to first base for the Philadelphia Giants as part of a star double-play combination with future Hall-of-Famers Sol White and Frank Grant. Monroe hit just .191 in games against other top black teams in '04, when he continued his trip around the infield by playing shortstop. Monroe joined the Brooklyn Royal Giants in either 1906 or 1907. In '07, he hit .319 in the Cuban Winter League, fourth in the circuit. When the Royal Giants played a 12-game series in Cuba the next year he managed just a .234 average at age 32. The next year he was 6 for 8 in games against top black teams but slipped to .171 a year later in 5 contests. In 1911 Monroe joined the new Chicago American Giants and hit .297 as the cleanup hitter to lead the club that year, then just .208 in 1912. Monroe hit .268 in '13 and .239 in 1914 but he died before the next season got going. The team honored him by wearing black armbands in his memory.

William "Bill" Monroe utilized his innate talents to turn ball fields into grand comedic productions. Though he was an excellent hitter, a speedy runner and an exceptional defensive player, Monroe's humorous frolics on the diamond nearly overshadow his credentials as one of baseball's greatest players. An unrecognized but potent factor when on the field and healthy, the punctilious Monroe astutely nit-picked pitchers for stolen bases, and in the field picked up hot shot grounders with acrobatic ease. A clever sort, he out-thought rival managers down to the smallest details. Without question, Monroe was the greatest third basemen of his generation. An incessant chatter-box on the infield, Monroe was likewise the most outspoken athlete of his generation.

Monroe had picked up the nickname “Money” in 1899 while a member of the Chicago Unions. By 1905, he was a well-seasoned superstar. His famous motto, "I never miss, hit it to me and you are out," was an irritation for batters bent on proving him wrong, and a bit of showmanship for all who had gathered to cheer him on. Understandably, Monroe's zany comments were not limited to ballplayers. Over the course of a nine-inning game he yelled benign jokes at the grandstand, offered didactic words of encouragement to umpires and lampooned rival managers to the point of exasperation. Monroe's more serious athletic side matched his playful side perfectly. It was the serious side that showed up in his statistics.

In spite of his team's stellar performance, Monroe’s personal numbers were somewhat skewed by an injury he suffered on July 7, at Glassboro, New Jersey. He missed twenty-one consecutive days in connection with that injury. Apparently, this was not Monroe's first serious injury. In 1902, while a member of the Cuban X Giants, he had broken his ankle in a late July game at Chester, Pennsylvania and missed the remainder of that season.

Monroe's humorous antics appeared irresistible to the sportswriters' pens. As a consequence, there were more things written in the newspapers about Monroe than about Rube Foster, Sol White and “Home Run” Johnson combined. When asked by a census taker in 1910 for his occupation, he answered "champion base ball player".

Monroe died on March 16, 1915 at his parents' home in Chattanooga, TN.


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