Arthur David Pennington
Nickname: Art, Superman
Positions: of, 1b, 2b, 3b, ss, p
Teams: Chicago American Giants (1940-1946, 1950), Pittsburgh Crawfords (1946), Mexican League (1946-1950), minor leagues (1951-1959)
Height: 5' 11'' Weight: 195
Born: May 18, 1923, Memphis, Tennessee
Playing for the Chicago American Giants, "Superman" compiled batting averages of .299 in 1944 and .359 in 1945 while finishing second to Sam Jethroe in stolen bases with 18. In 1950 he hit .370 with good power and started the 1950 East-West All Star game, getting a hit in three at-bats. That marked the second All Star appearance for the switch-hitter, having pinch hit in the 1942 game. Pennington had a lifetime batting average of .336 in his eight years in the Negro Leagues. The last of these came after a three-year Mexican League hiatus, beginning in 1946 with Monterrey, where he hit .314, and continuing with marks of .291 and .294 with Puebla.
Although playing mostly in the outfield or at first base, Pennington was a versatile player and also could play any infield position, and because he had a stroung arm and could throw so hard, he sometimes was utilized as a relief pitcher for a 2-inning stint.
In addition to his summers in Mexico, he played winter ball there, playing in three seasons (1948-1951) in Culiacan. He also played winters in Caracas, Venezuela, and in Cuba, where he hit .234 in 1947-1948. Highlights of his performance in each of the last two leagues include grand-slam homers, with the last one netting him a $500 prize. During his career he also homered off Dizzy Dean in an exhibition contest.
After the breakup of the Negro Leagues, the outfielder-first baseman played in organized ball for an additional nine years but never made it to the majors. A partial season with Portland in the Pacific Coast League in 1949 is the closest he came to the top rung, and he managed only a .208 batting average in the 20 games he played. His greatest success in organized baseball came in the Three-I League in 1952-1954. With Keokuk the first year he won the batting title with a .349 average and slugged 20 home runs. The next two seasons he batted .329 and .345, the last year with Cedar Rapids. His last two years were with St. Petersburg in the Florida State League (.339) and with Modesto in the California League (.256). He retired following the 1959 season.
After leaving baseball, he worked at Rockwell Collins for twenty-three years, and two years on the railroad in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before retiring in 1985.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"Hitting a home run off of Dizzy Dean and Sal Maglie in an exhibition game and playing in the 1942 and 1950 East-West All Star games." Pennington or "Superman"posted batting averages of .299 in 1944 and .359 in 1945 and finished second with 18 stolen bases behind Sam Jethroe. Pennington hit .370 in 1950 and was named to start in the East-West All Star game.
In addition, Pennington played baseball in the Cuban, Mexican and Venezuelan Leagues. Posting a.349, he was the batting champ in the Three-I League (1952-1954). As a 25-year employee with Rockwell Collins, Pennington also played on Rockwell's company team. He retired in 1985.
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.