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Silvester Rodgers

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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..

Biography

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. On April 2nd, 1951, Rodgers married Dorothy McNeal in El Dorado, and afterward, he did not return to the Negro Leagues.

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.4 The league, which had fought a highly controversial battle to remain segragated in 1953, had finally integrated only a couple weeks earlier in the '54 season. Accordingly, Rodgers became the first black player to play with the Pine Bluff club. Yet, his position on the team proved to be economically motivated. Even after it became apparent that Rodgers was performing poorly, Pine Bluff continued to start him in effort to attract blacks fans and improve lagging attendance. 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, 1992.5

Excerpts

"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."3

"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."4

Stats

Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.