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Henry Blackman

Henry Blackman
Nickname: The Galloping Ghost

Career: 1920-1924
Positions: 3b, c, 1b
Teams: San Antonio Black Aces (1920), Nw York Lincoln Giants (1920), Indianapolis ABCs (1920, 1922-1923), Colored All-Stars (1921), Baltimore Black Sox (1924)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2''   Weight: 185
Born: 1888, Hillsboro, Texas
Died: August 8, 1924, Baltimore, Maryland

Although his career was short, the Indianapolis ABCs' hot-corner star is mentioned among the best of his era. He had a wide range, a strong and accurate arm, and was very quick afield. He excelled in fielding bunts and making the throw to first base without raising up. In the California winter league of 1921 he finished with the second-highest batting average (.408). His untimely death while still a top player at his position voided what might well have been a Hall of Fame career. At the time of his demise, he was hitting .333 with the Baltimore Black Sox in the Eastern Colored League.

The youngest of five children, he honed his baseball skills on the ball diamonds of Texas, and in July 1917 he was the third baseman with the Texas All-Stars. Three years later, while playing with a team called the San Antonio Black Aces, he left the Lone Star State to join C.I. Taylor's Indianapolis ABCs in 1920. While with the ABCs he earned a reputation as one of the cleanest fielders and had one of the best and snappiest arms in baseball, rarely making a bad throw. He was a fair hitter, with averages of .224 and .264 in 1922-1923, and a fair base runner. He was good-natured, likable, and popular with the fans, and earned the nickname "the Galloping Ghost."

Manager Pete Hill of the Baltimore Black Sox signed the Texan in 1924, but Blackman didn't report, and business manager Charles Speeden caught a train and went West to bring him back East personally. After reporting to the Sox, the smooth-fielding third sacker was considered the peer of Judy Johnson and Oliver Marcelle and quickly became a crowd favorite.

Blackman played a game against Hilldale on July 26, performing in usual fashion, and two weeks later he was dead. His death took place in the office of Dr. Montague on Madison Avenue in Baltimore. He had gone there because of a throat ailment that later developed into complications that caused his death, listed as a liver ailment. Over a thousand fans followed his bier as his remains were taken to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station to be sent to Texas for interment.

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