William McKinley Cornelius
Nicknames: Willie, Sug
Teams: Nashville Elite Giants (1928-1929), Memphis Red Sox (1929-1931), Birmingham Black Barons (1930), Cole's American Giants (1933-1935), Chicago American Giants (1936-1943, 1945-1946), Cincinnati Buckeyes (1942)
A crafty right-hander with good control, "Sug" had a superb curveball that he could "throw around a barrel." Other pitches in his arsenal included a good fastball, hard slider, screwball, drop, and change of pace. A member of owner Robert A. Coles' Chicago American Giants Negro National League championship team in 1933, the curveball artist had enough confidence in his curve to throw it on a 3-2 count. He fashioned an 8-3 league record for the regular season, and in the playoffs against the Philadelphia Stars the following year he made a supreme effort to stave off defeat by starting three games and relieving in another. His best season came two years later, when he was credited with a 20-4 record for the 1936 season.
He appeared in three East-West All Star games, starting on the mound for the West squad in 1936 and 1938 and gaining the victory in relief in the 1935 game. In 1937, the only year during this period when he missed making the All Star team, he was credited with 22 victories.
He started his career with southern teams, posting a combined 11-17 record for the 1929-1930 seasons before joining the American Giants and finding a winning touch. Although his best years in Chicago were in the '30s, he still managed to produce winning results late in his career, with records of 6-5 and 5-4 (4.65 ERA) in 1943 and 1945. The next year was his last in the Negro Leagues, and he ended his nineteen-year career after the 1946 season.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.