Nat Peeples

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Nathaniel Peeples

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Nat Peeples spent ten seasons in the minor leagues, from 1951 to 1960, winning two stolen base titles and once leading in runs and RBI while just missing a batting title, another steal leadership and a home run crown. He also played in the Negro Leagues, Mexico and Panama. He was the only African-American to play in the Southern Association.

He appeared briefly for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League in 1948 and later for the Kansas City Monarchs (1949-1950) and Indianapolis Clowns (1950). In the 1951 Caribbean Series, he was 0 for 11 with a run and a RBI, splitting catching for Panama's Spur Cola team with Leon Kellman.

Peeples began his non-Negro League career in the Brooklyn Dodgers system, playing there from 1951 to 1953. He hit .252/?/.372 for the 1951 Elmira Pioneers. In 1952, Nat played for Elmira (.255/.364/.489 in 12 G) and the Santa Barbara Dodgers (.327/.467/.501, 14 HR, 82 R, 93 BB, 52 SB). He was 5th in the California League in average, perhaps as high as third in OBP, tied for 8th in home runs, first in steals (15 more than anyone else) and third in outfield errors (13). In the 1953 Caribbean Series, he starred for Panama's Chesterfield entry, going 6 for 15 with a triple, home run, two runs and four RBI. He tied Bobby Prescott for the team lead in hits and home runs and led the team in RBI.

He split 1953 between the Pueblo Dodgers (8 for 34, 2B, 3 HR), Keokuk Kernels and the Milwaukee Braves' Evansville Braves. He hit .331/.468/.539 with 15 home runs and 36 stolen bases in 90 games between the latter two clubs, both members of the Three-I League. Had he qualified, he would have led the Three-I League in average and OBP. He was one steal behind leader Carlos DeSouza and his .982 fielding percentage was second-best among outfielders with 80+ games.

He remained in the Milwaukee chain until 1959. In 1954, Peeples played briefly for the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association. He hit .416 in the preseason. Though his stay lasted only two games, it was notable for he became the only African-American to ever play in the Southern Association. The ripples of racism still permeated the South in those days, however, and - facing pressure from other league clubs - the Crackers sent him to the Jacksonville Braves of the South Atlantic League, prematurely ending his stay with the Atlanta squad.[1] He hit .288/.395/.424 for Jacksonville.

Peeples split 1955 between Evansville (.325/.433/.520, 13 SB in 55 G) and Jacksonville (.270/.348/.400 in 40 G). In 1956, he was with Jacksonville (.265/?/.385 in 58 G) and the Austin Senators (.200/.330/.324 in 66 G). In 1957, with the Corpus Christi Clippers of the Big State League, Peeples hit .314/.418/.554 with 25 home runs, 31 steals, 76 walks, 116 runs scored and 99 RBI, leading the league in the latter two categories (26 runs ahead of runner-up Don Miles and 20 RBI more than #2 Pete Peterson) and finishing second in home runs, behind Miles' 28. He was second to Miles in slugging, 4th in average, first in OBP and first in steals. He led the league's outfielders in both assists (23) and putouts (329). He was clearly one of the league's top two offensive forces, very possibly #1 ahead of Miles.

The following year, with the Austin Senators of the Texas League, he hit .259/.336/.435 with 21 home runs, 80 runs, 79 RBI and 23 stolen bases, finishing second in the league in steals, five behind Rod Kanehl and 7th in home runs. He split 1959 between the Louisville Colonels (7 for 20, 3 BB, 2B, 2 HR in his first 12 games in AAA), Austin and the Chicago Cubs' San Antonio Missions, posting a combined .255/.374/.374 line between the latter two stops. He last played in the Mexican League in 1960, going 3 for 7 for the Mexico City Red Devils. A severe knee injury ended his career. He finished with over 100 minor league home runs and 150 steals.


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