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Dave Wyatt

David Arthur Wyatt, born about June 19th, 1871123 in Nelsonville, OH,45 was a Negro League baseball player from about 1897 to 1909, and well as an influential journalist. He frequently visited Hot Springs, AR during the early 20th century.

Biography

Dave Wyatt was the son of David Wyatt6 and Alice (nee Qualls) Wyatt1 and grew up in Nelsonville, OH. A small 5'7" middle infielder and utility player,7 Wyatt's first known engagement in professional baseball came in Hot Springs, AR, in 1897 with the Hot Springs Arlingtons. Though he lived most of his adult life in Chicago and primarily played professional baseball there, Wyatt later remarked that he "always went back to Hot Springs in the fall." In 1898, Wyatt was initially listed as a member of the Acme Colored Giants of Celeron, NY, an all-black team comprised primarily of natives of Pennsylvania and Ohio.7 The team competed in the otherwise all-white Iron and Oil League, becoming the last all-black team to play in the minor leagues before integration. It's not clear if Wyatt indeed made the team, but by May, he was instead playing with the Chicago Unions.8 Wyatt remained in Chicago through the remainder of the season before beginning a period between 1899-1901 in which he "free-lanced it, mostly through the South."9 It was during this period that Wyatt, by his own account, conspired with Baltimore Orioles' manager John McGraw to sign fellow black player Charlie Grant under the alias of a Cherokee named "Tokohama." According to Wyatt, while working at bathhouse in Hot Springs as a masseur in the early spring of 1901,10 he assisted in creating the alias with McGraw, who was in town for preseason workouts.1112 The intention was to use the false alias to cover Grant's black heritage in order that he would be allowed to play on McGraw's Baltimore team in the segregated American League. The scheme ultimately failed before the beginning of the season as Grant's true identity was gradually uncovered.

Wyatt began the 1902 season with the Chicago Union Giants, but jumped the team along with Rube Foster in mid-season to join an independent, integrated team in Otsego, MI.13 The following year, he joined the Cuban X-Giants. Wyatt claimed that he was given the position on the team to repay a "debt of gratitude" owed him by Charlie Grant, second baseman for the X-Giants. However, after only a few weeks with the X-Giants, Wyatt rejoined the Chicago Union Giants and remained with the team through 1904. In 1905, Wyatt appeared infrequently with the liked-named but unaffiliated Chicago Union Giants.14 Wyatt began the 1906 season with another Chicago team, the Illinois Giants,15 but finished the year with Chicago Leland Giants.16 Afterward, Wyatt continued to be active in Chicago baseball circles as a player of the Chicago Giants in 1908,17 and a manager and occasional player18 of the Illinois Giants in 1909 and 1910.1920

About 1907, Wyatt began transitioning into a sports writer.11 He became an influential voice in black baseball, writing for the Indianapolis Freeman, Chicago Whip, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, etc. Through this influence, Wyatt became an instrumental figure in the founding of the Negro National League in 1920.21

Wyatt lived most of the rest of his life in Chicago.22 He died there on December 10th, 1950 and was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Chicago.623

Excerpts

"Dave Wyatt, of Columbus, O. Height 5 feet 7 inches, weight 155 utility man."7

"Foster’s pitching first attracted the attention of this writer in 1897 at Hot Springs. I was a member of a baseball club known as the Arlingtons of Hot Springs. They were considered one of the best in the southern states. . . . In 1898 I joined the old Chicago Unions, but always went back to Hot Springs in the fall. In 1899 and 1901 I dropped out of Chicago baseball and “free-lanced it, mostly through the South . . . "9

Stats

Statistics at Seamheads.com.


1. 1880 U.S. Census . Wyatt is listed under his mother's maiden name as "David Qualls", age 8, the son of Alice Qualls and the grandson of Arthur Qualls and Lucy Qualls. In the Ohio Death Certificate of Allace Wyatt (daughter of Arthur Qualls and Lucy Stewart), David Wyatt is listed as the informant. Wyatt's Illinois Death Certificate gives his mother's name as Alice.
2. Wyatt gives his birth year as June 19th, 1874 in his WWI Draft Card, but the 1880 Census (enumerated in Nelsonville, OH on June 8th, 1880) suggests he was born in 1871. The 1900 U.S. Census suggests June 1874, and the 1910 U.S. Census (enumerated in Chicago on April 26th, 1900) suggests 1875. Wyatt's Illinois Death Certificate lists his birthdate as June 19th, 1876.
5. "Dave Wyatt: The First Great Black Sportswriter", Black Ball, Vol 4. Iss. 1, by Geri Strecker.
10. Chicago Defender, August 8, 1942, p. 1)
12. Indianapolis Freeman, February 19, 1910, pg. 7