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Merven "Red" Ryan

Merven J. Ryan
Nickname: Red
a.k.a. Mervyn

Career: 1915-1932
Positions: p, of
Teams: Pittsburgh Stars of Buffalo (1915), New York Lincoln Stars (1916), Brooklyn Royal Giants (1919), Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (1920-1921), Harrisburg Giants (1922), Hilldale Daisies (1922-1929, 1931), Homestead Grays (1927), Baltimore Black Sox (1929), New York Lincoln Giants (1928, 1930), Harlem Stars (1931), Newark Browns (1932)
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 5' 8''   Weight: 158
Born: 1898, Brooklyn, New York

A veteran pitcher for Hilldale's Eastern Colored League pennant winners of 1923-1925, Ryan maintained his composure on the mound and did not get rattled when an error was made behind him. Consequently, fielders played their best for him. The little right-hander was a speedball artist who threw hard for his size, but utilized a knuckleball and a forkball to earn a regular-season record of 20-11 in 1923. In postseason play he started 2 games in the 1924 World Series and relieved in a game the following year as Hilldale defeated the Kansas City Monarchs for the championship of black baseball. That season he fashioned a 5-1 league record, and followed with a 13-13 mark in 1926. He also pitched five winter seasons in Cuba during the 1920s, posting a composite 12-10 record.

Ryan, who earned the nickname "Red" because of his light complexion and dark red hair, began his baseball career in 1915 with the Pittsburgh Stars of Buffalo and played with the Lincoln Stars, Bacharach Giants and Harrisburg before joining Hilldale in 1922. In the fall of 1927 he was set to jump to the Grays, who were considered an outlaw club because they were an independent team and did not respect the contractual rights of league clubs.

The following spring he was with the New York Lincoln Giants but was traded with Rev Cannady to Hilldale in exchange for Nip Winters and George Cam. In 1929 Hilldale in turn traded him and Frank Warfield to the Baltimore Black Sox for Crush Holloway and Richard Jackson, and Ryan finished the season with a 7-4 mark. Back with the Lincoln Giants in 1930, he was 5-2, and in 1931 he began the season with the Harlem Stars but joined Hilldale for most of the season, finishing with a 7-2 mark. In 1932 he closed out his career, with the Newark Browns.

As a fielder he was not proficient at defensing bunts, but as a hitter he was better than most pitchers and sometimes played in the outfield. During his career he posted batting averages of .278, .300, .220, .282, and .308 interspersed between 1923 and 1930.

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