MILLION DOLLAR INFIELD
By John B Holway
The Yankees A-Rod/Jeter combo on the left side of the Yanks infield, has gotten off to a rocky start after a winter of great promise. But if focuses attention on two other combinations that may have been the best of all time.
In 1938 two Hall of Famers held down the left side of the infield for the so-called million-dollar infield of the Newark Eagles Ray Dandridge and Willie Wells. Both were sharp line-drive hitters Wells had fair power and they were both bow-legged. You could drive a freight train between Rays legs, the players laughed, but you couldn't get a ground ball through them. Wells had a weak arm, but like Lou Boudreau, he compensated by playing shallow and knowing the hitters. If you ever saw me dive for a ball, he said, you know I misjudged it.
Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith rented his stadium to the Homestead Grays. He begged black sports writer Ric Roberts, Be sure and let me know when those two bow-legged men are coming, please dont let me miss them.
The other two members of the million-dollar infield were Dick Seay, a no-hit/great-field second baseman, and Mule Suttles, who hit more home runs than Josh Gibson.
Another great black combination was third baseman Oliver Ghost Marcelle and shortstop Dick Lundy (King Richard) of the 1929 Baltimore Black Sox. Lundy was called the smoothest black shortstop, and Marcelle, a handsome New Orleans Creole, played right in front of the batter on bunts, daring him to hit away. Playing first on that team was burly Jud Wilson, the black Ty Cobb, whose .361 lifetime average is the highest in the Negro Leagues. Jud was replaced by David (Showboat) Thomas, the fanciest fielding first baseman of his day and possibly of all time.
John B Holway is author of The Complete Book of the Negro Leagues, $35, including p&h. (Mailing address: Box 1305, Springfield VA 22151).
Contact John directly: 5511 Callander Dr., Springfield VA 22151 / phone 703-764-3294 / Fax 703-764-2589 / Email John Holway