Nickname: Big Train
Team: Baltimore Elite Giants
Born: May 12, 1910, Baltimore, Maryland
Baseball Career Highlights:
Throughout Dudley's baseball career as a catcher for the Baltimore Elite Giants, he had the fortune and misfortune of being teamed with two of the game's greatest catchers, Roy Campanella and Eggie Clarke. Dudley said, "Campanella almost had to be dead not to catch and Clarke was one of the best catchers I ever saw, so I didn't get to play much. But, at least, I was on the team."
Being the team's No. 3 catcher, Dudley only appeared in about 60 games during the eight seasons he played with the Elite Giants. However, one of his fondest memories occurred in July 1944 in a game against the Philadelphia Stars. Campanella wasn't playing and Clarke was injured on a foul tip. "Baltimore manager Biz Mackey told me to go in and I didn't know what to put on first," Dudley said, who had one hit in three at-bats that day. "That was
a glory for me." As a Baltimore native, Dudley's biggest regret was never being able to start during a home game. "That's something I really wanted to do, but it never happened."
"The best game I ever saw was between the Baltimore Black Sox and the Homestead Grays in the early 1930s. It was played at Yankee Stadium without any lights. Satchel Paige was pitching for the Grays, while Slim Jones was pitching for Baltimore. The Grays scored a run in the first inning, then Baltimore scored in the bottom of the first. When they were changing sides, Satchel told Slim, 'That's all for you; you won't get any more.' Well, Slim responded by saying, 'If that's all you're going to give us, that's all I'm going to give you.' Sure enough, they played 17 innings and it was too dark to finish."
After baseball, Dudley was the first African American to manage
a major World Wrestling Federation (WWF) ticket office in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. He managed wrestlers such as Ed "Bearcat" Wright, Reginald "Sweet Daddy" Siki. Bobo Brazil and "Sailor" Art Thomas. On June 9, 1994, Dudley was inducted in to the WWF's Hall of Fame. Vince McMahon Jr., president of the WWF, said, "I'm not too familiar with James Dudley's baseball background, but if the quality of his play on the field was comparable to the qualities of James Dudley as a human being, he certainly would be one of the greatest superstars of all time and probably in the National Baseball Hall of Fame."
Source: NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.