Saylor was a native of Blytheville, AR, the son of Allie Johnson.3 A switch hitter with considerable versitility, Saylor's baseball career likely began with the Claybrook Tigers, with whom he played from 1933-1936.4567 Late in the '35 season, Saylor and the other members of the Claybrook team entered the inaugural National Baseball Congress tournament in Wichita, KS under the team name "Memphis Red Sox."8 By 1937, Saylor, along with several other Claybrook players, joined the Donner-Hanna club in the Washington League of the Buffalo Municipal Baseball Association in Buffalo, NY. Similarly, many of the club's players, including Saylor, joined the upstart Buffalo Aces in 1938.9 From there, Saylor went on to play in 1939 with the Colored House of David10 and perhaps the Atlanta Black Crackers,11 the Cincinati Buckeyes in 1940, and the Cincinnati Clowns in 1942, with whom Saylor was touted for his ability to play all nine positions in one game.12
Although he was primarily used as a first baseman and a utility player early in his career, Saylor's most successful seasons came as a pitcher with the Birmingham Black Barons from 1941-1945. After winning the Negro American League pennant in 1943, Saylor and the Black Barons faced the Homestead Grays in the Negro League World Series. On the mound for Birmingham, Sayler won Game 1 and Game 5, but lost the deciding Game 8 to the Grays. The following season, Saylor helped Birmingham repeat as NAL champions, winning 14 and losing only 5 while posting a 2.74 ERA during the regular season.13 Again facing the Homestead Grays in Negro World Series, the Black Barons dropped the series four games to one with Saylor losing Game 3 and deciding Game 5.
Saylor played his final season with Birmingham in 1945, going 4-3 with an unimpressive 5.60 ERA in 11 league games.14 In 1946, Saylor signed to play with the Cincinnati Crescents, who were managed by former Birmingham Black Barons manager Winfield Welch.15 However, early in the season, Saylor was shifted to play in the short-lived West Coast Baseball League with the Seattle Steelheads, a team affiliated with the Crescents and managed by former Birmingham Black Baron veteran Paul Hardy. After the league's failure, Saylor returned to the Crescents. The following season, Saylor may have briefly appeared with the Cleveland Buckeyes,16 but by 1948, he was again with the Cincinnati Crescents.17 Now age 37 and pitching in reserve, the season proved to be his last in Negro baseball.
"[Cincinnati Buckeyes' player] Alfred (Greyhound) Sayler, first base. Played with the Atlanta Black Crackers in 1939, and is a switch hitter and fancy fielder. Hit twenty-six doubles with Atlanta Black Crackers last year. Home town, Blytheville, Ark."11
"Alfred Saylor at first, who hit 26 doubles in 1940, when with the Atlanta Club, a switch hitter and hails from Blytheville, Ark., gives the [Birmingham Black] Barons an air tight infield."18
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.
Statistics at Seamheads.com.
1. The proper spelling of Saylor's surname is not clear. In his WWII Draft Card, Saylor signed his name "Sayler." Contemporary newspaper accounts used the two variations interchangeably.
4. Chicago Defender, 5/13/1933, p.8
5. Chicago Defender, 6/9/1934, p.16
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