Silvester Rodgers


Silvester Clifford Rodgers, born January 10th, 1927 in El Dorado, AR1 , was a Negro League baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1949-1950 and a professional baseball player with the Pine Bluff Judges in 1954..


Rodgers was the son of John J. Rodgers and Magnolia (nee Tellis) Rodgers and was raised in El Dorado, AR.2

Rodgers debuted in Negro league baseball in 1949 after he was recommended to the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro American League by one of the team's pitchers, Bob Romby, who was likewise a resident of El Dorado.3 As a pitcher in his rookie season, Rodgers went 2-1 in 11 games with Elite Giants, winners of the NAL pennant. He returned to Baltimore in 1950, but played only briefly. He was signed to play with Granby of the Provincial League in May, though it's not apparent he played with the team.4

In 1951, Rodgers married Dorothy McNeal in El Dorado,5 and afterward, he did not return to the Negro Leagues. Instead, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served from 1952-1954.6

In early August 1954, Rodgers was signed to play as an outfielder with the Pine Bluff Judges, a minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles in the Cotton States League.7 The league, which had fought a highly controversial battle to remain segregated in 1953, had finally integrated only a couple weeks earlier in the '54 season. The Pine Bluff club, suffering from poor attendance and financial strain, sought to sign a black player to increase interest among black fans. Baltimore reportedly offered Leon Wheeler of the Burlington Bees the option to join Pine Bluff, be he declined.8 Instead, Pine Bluff signed Rodgers, who Baltimore may have been aware of through his time with the Baltimore Elite Giants. Thus, Rodgers became the first black player with Pine Bluff. Rodgers performed very poorly, yet Pine Bluff continued to start him in effort to attract blacks fans. Rodgers finished the season with a meager .113 average, collecting only 5 hits in 53 at-bats during 22 games with Pine Bluff. He was not resigned for the 1955 season.

Rodgers died in Compton, Los Angeles, CA on June 29th, 1992.9


"Twenty-one-year old Sylvester Rodgers of El Dorado, Ark., recommended to the club by Romby, looked good in his mound stints, pitching for the Regulars in an intra-squad game that saw the Yannigans take a 7-5 licking. Rodgers weighs 168 pounds and stands 5 ft 9 inches in height. He worked five innings, allowed but three hits, fanned three and issued four bases on balls. This display was topped by his retiring in order the first nine men to face him."10

"Pine Bluff, Ark. --(ANP) -- The Pine Bluff Judges, a member of the Class C Cotton States League, signed a Negro player Tuesday in an effort to bolster gate receipts. Sam Cook, president of the Pine Bluff team, said he signed Sylvester Rogers of Eldorado [sic] because he had played with several of the best Negro teams in the section for the past seven years and felt as though he might be the answer to the lag in attendance. Cook also pointed out that both Hot Springs and Meridian now have a Negro player each and the gate receipts are definitely on the upward climb."11


Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.