Ghost Marcelle

Marcelle was the finest-fielding third baseman in Negro League baseball during the 1920s. A Creole from New Orleans, he was a righthanded slash hitter who was most dangerous in the clutch. Hall of Fame Negro League third baseman Judy Johnson admitted that Marcelle was better than he was defensively, although not offensively.

Nearly complete statistics indicate that Marcelle batted .315 from 1919 to 1930. He hit a career-high .379 for the 1922 Bacharach Giants, .352 in 1924 with the Bacharach and New York Lincoln Giants, and .324 for Bacharach in 1927. He also hit well in the Cuban Winter League, compiling a lifetime average of .305 from 1923 through 1930. In the 1923-24 season he batted .393 to lead the league.

In 17 exhibition games against major league competition, Marcelle hit .365 (23-for-63). He played in two Black World Series for the Bacharach Giants, hitting .293 with six RBI in 11 games in 1926 and .235 with two RBI in nine games in 1927.

Marcelle was known for his uncontrollable temper. He would fight with umpires, opponents, and his own teammates. Marcelle reputedly once became so enraged that he struck Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston in the head with a bat. His temper may have led to his premature retirement. Bill Yancey, a teammate of Marcelle’s, said, “What got [Marcelle] out of baseball, he and [teammate] Frank Warfield had a fight in Cuba [probably in the winter of 1927-28, over a dice game] and Warfield bit his nose off. He was a proud, handsome guy, you know, and then he used to wear a black patch across his nose and he got so he couldn’t play baseball anymore.”