Beckwith, John


SS, 3B, C, 0F, MGR
Negro Leagues 1919-38:
Chicago Giants, Chicago American Giants, Baltimore Black Sox, Homestead Grays, Harrisburg Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Bacharach Giants, New York Black Yankees, Newark Dodgers, Brooklyn Royal Giants

Beckwith was a 230-lb righthanded slugger who smashed some of the longest and most memorable home runs in Negro League baseball during the 1920s and early 1930s. A pull hitter who swung a huge 38" bat, he hit against a severe fielder shift that did little to curtail his effectiveness. In 1921, as a 19-year-old rookie with the Chicago Giants, he became the first player, white or black, to hit a ball over the laundry roof behind Cincinnati's Crosley Field. His longest blast, according to Hosely Lee, who pitched against Beckwith in the Eastern Colored League, came at Washington's Griffith Stadium, which had the longest leftfield fence in the majors at the time. Beckwith's home run hit an advertising sign, approximately 460' from home plate and 40' above the ground, behind the leftfield bleachers. Negro League great Ted Radcliffe said of Beckwith, "Nobody hit the ball any farther than him - Josh Gibson or nobody else."