Gardner was a 5’6″ 160-lb lefthanded line-drive hitter who batted leadoff for the powerful Chicago American Giant teams in the 1920s. An outstanding, far-ranging centerfielder, he was one of the era’s fastest runners.
Gardner played his first full season with Chicago in 1920. He batted a career-high .367 in 1924 and .333 in 1926. The Giants won four pennants during Gardner’s first seven-year tour with them (1920-26), and triumphed in the ’26 Black World Series. Gardner played in all 11 games of the series, batted just .222, but stole three bases and scored eight runs.
Gardner went to the New York Lincoln Giants in 1927 after a salary dispute, but returned to Chicago in 1928 and batted .307 in 1929. He returned to his first team, the Detroit Stars, in 1931 and closed out his career with them.