August 11, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 11, 2005
NEGRO LEAGUE STAR TED RADCLIFFE PASSES AWAY
CHICAGO - Radcliffe, Ed - Double Duty, a former Negro League star thought to be the oldest professional baseball player, died today of complications from a long battle with cancer. He was 103.
Ted Radcliffe grew up in Mobile, Ala. as one of 10 children. As a teenager in 1919, he and his brother, Alex, also a baseball player, hitchhiked to Chicago. A year later, Ted signed with the semi-pro Illinois Giants for $100 a month. The rest of his family soon followed and settled in Chicago. He formally entered the Negro National League in 1928.
He was given the nickname "Double Duty" by sports writer Damon Runyon in the 1932 Negro League World Series, when Radcliffe played both games of a double-header for the Pittsburgh Crawfords. In the first game, he caught a Satchel Paige shutout; in the second, Radcliffe pitched a shutout of his own. Runyon wrote that Radcliffe "was worth the price of two admissions."
"Double Duty shared such a love for baseball and a passion for life," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "We all loved to see him at the ballpark, listen to his stories and share in his laughter. He leaves such a great legacy after experiencing so much history and change during his long life. He will be missed by all of us with the White Sox."
Radcliffe, who played for or coached 30 teams in his career, recorded an estimated 4,000 hits and 400 home runs, winning 500 games and collecting 4,000 strikeouts as a pitcher. He appeared in six East-West All-Star games, pitching in three and catching three. He was known to be glib and fast-talking. Ty Cobb once reported that, as a catcher, Double Duty wore a chest protector that said "thou shalt not steal."
As player-manager of the integrated Jamestown Red Sox in 1934, Radcliffe was the first Black man to manage professional white players. At age 41, Double Duty won the Negro American League MVP award, and a year later homered into the upper deck of Old Comiskey Park during the East-West All-Star Game. In 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs, Radcliffe roomed with Jackie Robinson, and he was later credited with integrating two semi-pro leagues.
In 1997, Radcliffe was inducted into the "Yesterday's Negro League Baseball Players Wall of Fame" in Milwaukee. At age 96, he became the oldest man to appear in a professional game when he threw a single pitch for the Schaumberg Flyers. Radcliffe earned the State of Illinois Historical Committee's Lifetime Achievement Award and was honored by Mayor Richard M. Daley as an outstanding Chicagoan. He was inducted into the Illinois Department of Aging Hall of Fame in 2002 and a WGN-TV documentary about his life, narrated by Morgan Freeman, won an Emmy Award.
Every year since his 99th birthday (including his 103rd birthday this July), Double Duty threw a ceremonial first pitch for the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Always a friendly face at the ballpark, Radcliffe enjoyed dozens of White Sox games each season and gladly entertained players and fans with his wealth of wonderful stories.
(c) 2005 Chicago White Sox
Editor's Note: For more information, contact Katie Kirby in the White Sox public relations department at (312) 674-5304. Details of funeral arrangements will follow.