William H. Powell
Career: 1945-1950, 1952
Teams: Birmingham Black Barons (1946-1950, 1952), minor leagues (1950-1961), Mexican League (1957)
Height: 6' 2-1/2'' Weight: 195
Born: May 8, 1919, Comer, Georgia
Died: August 21, 2004, Birmingham, Alabama
Following 4-5 and 5-0 marks in his first two seasons, this Birmingham Black Barons' right-hander posted an 11-3 record with a 3.81 ERA to help the Barons to the 1948 Negro American League pennant, and started 2 games in the World Series against the Homestead Grays. Powell also started and won the All Star game that year for the West squad, yielding only a hit in 3 shutout innings. After a mediocre season (11-11, 3.61 ERA) in 1949, he bounced back with a 15-4 record and a 3.00 ERA the following season to earn another trip to the All Star game, where he pitched the last 3 innings in the West's 5-3 victory. A pretty good hitting pitcher, he contributed a .286 batting average to the Black Barons' cause in his last season with the team.
Entering organized baseball the next year, he posted a 15-15, 4.75 ERA ledger with Colorado Springs in the Western League, but lost his only decision with Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League. Two uneven years (5-15, 5.09 ERA and 14-9, 3.06 ERA) in the American Association followed, in 1952-1953. A respectable 10-8, 4.23 ERA season, split between Toronto and Havana, in the International League in 1954 was his last quality year, although he pitched for seven more years in the minor leagues before finishing his career with Charlotte in the South Atlantic League in 1961.
His best year during this time was with Savannah in the Sally League in 1956, when he fashioned an 8-12 record with a 3.12 ERA. The next season, after winning his first two decisions with Savannah, he jumped to the Mexican League, where he had a 3-7 record with a 3.96 ERA for Nuevo Laredo and batted .286. The next season he was back in the Sally League, with Knoxville.
Although his entrance into baseball was delayed by military service during World War II, he still pitched for fifteen years, including some winters in Latin American leagues. He played with Ponce (7-6, 2.83 ERA) in the 1949-1950 Puerto Rican League and had a combined 4-6 record for two seasons in the Cuban League.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"I won more than 20 games in three years straight 1948-1950. Also, I won the 1948 Negro American League Championship Pennant."
On the roster of several Latin American, Canadian and International Winter Leagues, and minor league teams in the South, Powell pitched for fifteen years. In 1965, he began working at Birmingham Beverage (Schlitz) and retired as a sales supervisor in 1987.
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
• Negro American League Championship - 1948
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.