The oldest of five brothers who played in the Negro Leagues, Sam Bankhead appeared in seven East-West all-star games between 1933 and 1946, during which time he played three different positions for three different teams and batted .346. He was an integral part of the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays of the 1930s and 1940s. He was known for his strong arm, consistent hitting, and versatility in the field. He interrupted his Negro National League career for several years to play in the Cuban winter league. In 21 documented games against white major leaguers, he batted .342.