Nathaniel Clifton


Nathaniel Clifton (born Clifton Nathaniel Jr.), born October 13th, 19221 in England, AR,2 was a Negro League baseball player in 1949, professional baseball player from 1949-1950, as well as a professional basketball player from 1950-1958.


Clifton was born with the name Clifton Nathaniel and was the son of Clifton Nathaniel Sr. and Mattie (nee Green) Nathaniel.3 He grew up in England, AR, where he lived until at least 1930.

Clifton played Negro League baseball with the Chicago American Giants in 1949 before being signed by the Cleveland Indians and entering the minor leagues for two seasons.

In 1950, Clifton became the first African-American to sign a contract with a NBA basketball team. This largely ended his baseball career.

In 1958, Clifton played with the Detroit Clowns of the Negro American League.4 5


Baseball Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

Basketball statistics at Basketball-Reference.com.

1958 Detroit Clowns Statistics:

1958Detroit Stars103541012200002158.286

1 Clifton's WWII draft card and Social Security Death Index give his birth year as 1922. This aligns with the 1930 U.S. census, which lists him as age 7 in 1930. However, the Cook County, IL Death Index gives his birth year as 1926, and his Brazil Immigration Card gives 1924.
2 Clifton's WWII draft card (accessed at Fold3.com) gives his birthplace as Little Rock, AR. However, Deseret News, 9/2/1990 gives his birthplace as England, AR.
3 "Cliff Nathaniel Jr.", England, AR, 1930 U.S. Census