Bill Ball


William Ball, born May 24th, 1905 in Little Rock, AR,1 2 was a Negro minor league and semi-professional baseball player from about 1933-1952.


Ball was the son of James Ball and Alice (nee Cross) Ball and was raised in Luxora, AR.3 Despite having no lower right arm, Ball was a successful outfielder for various black baseball teams for many years. He was a good hitter, a fan favorite, and a clubhouse leader who was made manager of many of the teams he joined. In 1933, he acted as playing manager of the nearby Claybrook Tigers.4 He remained with Claybrook for at least parts of the 1934, 1935 and 1936 seasons.5 6 7 Later in 1936, Ball became manager of Harry Bailey's Booker T's team, playing home games on the HWY 61 at the Arkansas-Missouri border.8 Ball may have reprised his role as manager of the Booker T's in 1937.9

Ball married Ezell Handy on August 5th, 193610 11 and moved to St. Louis, MO around 1937. By August of that year, Ball joined the East St. Louis Colts, one of the city's top black semi-pro teams.12 The following spring, Ball was listed on the spring training roster of the Buffalo Aces,13 though it's not clear that he ever trained or played with the team. Instead, Ball played two more seasons of semi-pro baseball in St. Louis, returning to the East St. Louis Colts later in 193814 and managing the Monsanto Giants in 1939.15 16

In 1940, Ball moved to Detroit and began playing for Henderson "Ben" Turpin, a well-respected police officer who ran a semi-pro team known as the Turpin Athletic Club.17 Ball continued to play with and help manage the Turpin A.C. each year through at least 1945.18 19 20 21 22 Ball soon afterward became affiliated with Hank Rigney, a sports promotor based in Toledo. In 1948, Ball joined Rigney's Detroit Wolves, an independent team otherwise billed as the Mobile Red Sox.23 24 The following year, Rigney organized a baseball equivalent of his traveling basketball team, the New York Komedy Kings. The baseball team, which toured the Midwest and Great Lakes region, was largely comprised of Toledo's top black semi-pro players and few veteran professionals. Although he was now well into his 40s, Ball was promoted by Rigney as a drawing card for the Komedy Kings during the 1949 and 1950 seasons.25 26 Ball returned in 1951 to play one more season with Rigney's Mobile Red Sox in 1952 before retiring from professional baseball.27

Ball died in Wayne County, MI in September, 1966.28


"Miss Ezell Handy became the bride of William Ball, manager of the State Line Booker T. ball team."29

"Bill Ball, one armed St. Louisian, who plays with the Kings, made three find catches in the outfield."30