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Red Longley

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Wayman "Red" Longley , born September 7th, 1909 in Little Rock, AR, was a Negro League baseball player from 1931-1950 and an occasional Negro league baseball umpire.

Biography

Wayman "Red" Longley was the son of William and Ora (nee Chambers) Longley.1 He was born and raised in Little Rock, AR where he played semi-professional baseball before joining the 1931-1932 Little Rock Grays and the 1933 Little Rock Stars, each in the Negro Southern League.2 In 1934, after Little Rock withdrew from the league, Longley joined the Memphis Red Sox, with whom he earned a reputation as one of the league's best shortstops during the next two seasons. Accordingly, Longley was selected as the Negro Southern League's starting shortstop in both the 1934 and 1935 North-South All-Star games.34

Longley with Memphis, 1946.
Longley with Memphis, 1946.
In 1936, Longley shifted to the Nashville Elite Giants of the Negro Southern League. He also made a brief appearance with the affiliated Washington Elite Giants of the Negro National League during the same season. The following year, however, Longley returned to Memphis and began a long tenure with Red Sox, who joined the new Negro American League in 1937. In the proceeding years, Longley became a staple utility man for Memphis, playing nearly every field position. In 1938, Longley helped Memphis win the first half of the Negro American League season and defeat the Atlanta Black Crackers to lay claim to the league championship.

Although never a standout performer among league players, Longley remained popular in his hometown of Little Rock. On September 15th, 1941, during a game between Memphis and the New York Black Yankees at Travelers Field in Little Rock, Longley was honored by local fans. The day was declared "Red Longley Day" by a Little Rock civic group who awarded Longley a hat as a token of esteem during the sixth inning of the game.5 In 1942, Longley took a hiatus from baseball and returned to Little Rock where he worked as a laborer.6 He also umpired Negro league games in Little Rock during the baseball season before returning to the Memphis Red Sox in 1943.7

As Longley moved past the prime of his career, his performance at the plate suffered. In 1944, he hit only .205 and slugged only .257. A year later, at age 35, he hit even worse, registering a batting average of only .203 and a slugging average of .236. Yet, despite his poor statistics, Longley was chosen to replace catcher Larry Brown in the 1944 East-West All-Star classic.8 Furthermore, he continued to be a regular for Memphis through the 1947 season, maintaining his starting position until 1948. Longley's final appearances with the Red Sox came in 1950,910 the same season in which he briefly caught for the Chicago American Giants before heading to Canada to play in the Mandak League. In 27 games with the Elmwood Giants of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Longley hit for an average of .230.11

Longley played his final season in the Negro leagues in 1951 with the New Orleans Eagles, a Negro American League team strongly association with Memphis. Although now 41, Longley successfully earn the role of starting catcher for the Eagles and performed well enough for newspapers to credit him with having one of the best seasons of his career.1213 In 52 league games, Longley hit a respectable .273, ending his baseball career with a mark of success.14

After his playing career, Longley maintained involvement in baseball by umpiring Negro League games in Memphis for many years, including an exhibition game between Roy Campanelle's All-Stars and the Negro American League All-Stars in 1953.15 He went on to live the rest of his life in Memphis, working as a driver for a trucking company.16 Longley died in Memphis in July, 1977.17

Excerpts

"Busy Little Rock paused long enough to pay tribute to a great guy –Red Longley—Favorite on the Memphis Red Sox nine, Longley is a product of this city I’m told—used to spend his spare time knocking the horsehide around the sand lots and then moved up to the best Little Rock could offer in the semi-pro line. Played a little bit of everything during his baseball life, and has played all of ‘em good. He’s a hitter --hard and consistent; Catcher –few of the fast tipped ones get past his ever-ready mitt; outfield positions are a specialty. We’ve seen him run backward, half way across the field to snag the hit that would have been a three bagger or a homer and on the infield, one of the most versatile ball players we’ve seen in ages. An asset to any club and a shining star for the old home town. So, aside from the hat the boys gave him last Monday during “Red Longley Day,” here’s a bouquet of orchids for this season’s best! (incidentally, the head size hasn’t changed in ten years –this guy is far from being swelled head –Thanks Goodness!)"5

"Red Longley was honored Monday, the entire day being turned over to him and dubbed “Red Longley Day” in recognition of the famed all around diamond man’s achievement on the professional ball field. Members of a civic committee awarded him a hat during an intermission at the sixth inning, as a token of the day."5

""Red" Longley who resides at Little Rock, may not be with the Memphis Red Sox this season. He was the Chief Umpire in the game between Chicago and Memphis at Little Rock, April 12th and did a fine job."18

Stats

Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.