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Syd Pollock

Syd Pollock

Career: 1926-1950
Position: officer
Teams: Havana Red Sox (1926-1930), Cuban Stars (1933), Cuban House of David (1931-1932), Ethiopian Clowns (1937-1942), Cincinnati Clowns (1943), Indianapolis Clowns (1944-1965)
Born: March 20, 1901, North Tarrytown, New York
Died: November 22, 1968, Hollywood, Florida

He is best identified with the Indianapolis Clowns ballclub, becoming partners with Hunter Campbell when they were still based in Miami. After assuming control of the franchise, he was instrumental in promoting and popularizing the team and developed them into a nationally-known combination of show business and baseball that earned them the designation as the "Harlem Globetrotters of baseball."

His first involvement with black baseball was in 1926, when he became associated with the Havana Red Sox. In 1929 the Red Sox won their 100th game of the season by mid-August, but their opposition was primarily teams of lesser quality. In 1933 he helped Ed Hamman organize the Canadian Indians, a white comedy team, and became a successful promoter and booking agent.

In 1941, Pollock's Clowns won the Denver Post Tournament. Two years later, he joined the Negro American League, beginning a 12-year membership in the League before withdrawing following the 1954 season.

In 1955 Pollock sold his longtime friend Ed Hamman a partnership in the Clowns and then the remainder of his interest in 1965. In 1952, Pollock signed Hank Aaron to his first professional contract, at $200 a month. Aaron played about three months as the team's shortstop and cleanup hitter before his contract was purchased by the Braves' organization. Pollock stalled the New York Giants, who were seeking Aaron, and when Aaron made it to the major leagues, Pollock received the last installment on the $10,000 contract price.

Pollock was twice awarded the National Baseball Congress Plaque for Outstanding Contribution to Baseball based upon the Clowns' contribution to the sport's popularity created by their comedy and appearances in cities and towns in all states in the Continental U.S.

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