Dick Redding

The 6’4″ 210-lb Redding may have been the hardest-throwing pitcher in black baseball history. Negro Leaguer Jesse Hubbard said Redding had a better fastball than did Satchel Paige or Cum Posey. Frank Forbes, Cannonball’s teammate on the 1914 New York Lincoln Giants, said, “Dick Redding was like Walter Johnson. Nothing but speed.” Like Johnson, Redding did not develop a curveball until late in his career. He used the hesitation delivery decades before Paige made it famous, balancing on one foot with his back to the hitter before cutting loose his devastating fastball.

In his first season, 1911, Redding reeled off 17 consecutive wins. Through 1914, he teamed with Smokey Joe Williams to give the New York Lincoln Giants one of the all-time-great one-two pitching punches. He went 43-12 in 1912, including a 17-strikeout perfect game against the Eastern League Jersey Skeeters. He struck out 24 in defeating a United States League team. Jumping to the Lincoln Stars in 1915, he won 20 straight, including several games against major league all-star squads. In that year’s Black World Series, he went 3-1 with a shutout over the Chicago American Giants, and batted .385.

Redding fought in France in 1918, then returned as player-manager of the Bacharach Giants. In 1920 he led them to the Eastern Colored League championship. He spent 16 years with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, pitching occasionally. Though he never achieved great managerial success, he was well liked by his players. Hall of Famer Buck Leonard said Redding “was a nice fellow, easy going. He never argued, never cursed, never smoked as I recall; I never saw him take a drink.” He died in a mental hospital under mysterious circumstances shortly after leaving the Royal Giants