Nicknames: Nip, Nipper, Jim
Positions: p, 1b, of
Teams: Norfolk Stars (1919-1921), Baltimore Black Sox (1920, 1929), Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (1921-1922, 1931-1933), Washington Braves (1921), Hilldale Daisies (1922-1928, 1931), New York Lincoln Giants (1928-1929), Homestead Grays (1928), Newark Browns (1931), Washington Pilots (1932), Philadelphia Stars (1933), Harrisburg Giants
Height: 6' 5'' Weight: 225
Born: 1899, Washington, D.C.
Died: December, 1971, Hockessin, Delaware
The best pitcher in the Eastern Colored League's history was a tall, left-handed curveballer named Nip Winters. Although he had good speed to go with his outstanding curve, he was somewhat wild, especially early in his career. The Hilldale ace pitched his team to pennants in the first three years of the league's existence, including a World Series victory in 1925.
In 1923 Winters registered a sensational 32-6 record on the mound while pitching against all competition. He fashioned records of 19-5 in 1924 and 21-10 in 1925 in league play, including a no-hitter the former season. In the 1924 World Series he pitched 4 complete games, including a shutout, and won 3 games in accruing a 1.16 ERA. However, his brilliant effort was negated, as the Kansas City Monarchs emerged victorious. In the 1925 World Series he added another complete-game victory and a 2.00 ERA to gain a measure of revenge as Hilldale prevailed against the Monarchs.
In 1926-1927 he posted records of 15-5 and 14-8 with Hilldale but was suspended during the latter season for "not trying." Possibly the team's disenchantment with his play was partly related to his excessive drinking. Whatever the cause, in April 1928 he was traded with George Carr to the New York Lincoln Giants for Red Ryan and Rev Cannady. Later in the season he was released by the Lincoln Giants and picked up by the Homestead Grays in late September, but he returned to the Lincolns' fold in 1929. By then his fastball was no longer effective, and his marks for the two years were 8-7 and 3-5.
He started his professional career with Chappie Johnson's Norfolk Stars in 1919 and, except for a short stint with the Baltimore Black Sox in 1920, remained with the Stars until joining the Bacharach Giants in 1921. That season he posted a 3-2 mark against top black teams, and in the playoffs for the championship against Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants, Winters won the opening game with a 2-hit shutout. The next season he posted a record of 4-3, but left the Bacharachs in 1923 until almost a decade later, when he returned to Atlantic City in the twilight of his career, posting marks of 1-5 and 1-1 in 1931 and 1932, and ending his career in a Bacharachs' uniform in 1933. Afterward he went to Canada and remained through 1940.
A good hitter, he sometimes pinch hit or played first base, and he showed averages of .345 and .314 in 1925 and 1926. He also often played in exhibition games against major-leaguers and, playing against Babe Ruth's All Stars, he split 2 decisions with the Philadelphia Athletics' great lefthander Lefty Grove. Winters' three winters in the Cuban League, 1923-1926, were less distinguished, as he posted an unimpressive 4-12 composite mark. Much of his poor performance on the island can be attributed to an extreme lack of control, a problem he battled throughout his career. After closing out his baseball career he worked sporadically as a handyman and continued to cultivate his excessive drinking habits.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.