Verdell Mathis

Slender Lefty Mathis spent his entire career with the Memphis Red Sox, earning a reputation as one of the best pitchers in Negro League baseball during the 1940s. A protege of veteran catcher and Memphis manager Larry Brown, Mathis received pitching advice from his idol, Satchel Paige, and learned his great pickoff move from Luis Tiant Sr.

Mathis pitched in three East-West all-star games, and was the only pitcher other than Paige to win two such contests. He was overpowering in the 1944 East-West game, quieting the bats of the East’s Hall of Fame sluggers Josh GibsonRoy Campanella, Buck LeonardCool Papa Bell, and Ray Dandridge.

Mathis pitched year-round, often playing in Mexico in the off-season, and toured with Paige’s All Stars versus Bob Feller‘s All Stars in 1946. He was a good lefthanded hitter and usually played the outfield or first base when not on the mound.