Ralph Leon Palmer, born September 11th, 1926 in Hope, AR1 2 , was a Negro League baseball player from about 1948-19563 and a professional baseball player in 1951.
Palmer was the son of James A. Palmer and Frances (nee Phillips) Palmer.4 He grew up in Hope, AR where he graduated from Yerger High School. After serving in the Air Force as a paratrooper in 1945 and 1946, Palmer attended Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR and played for the school's basketball and football teams.5
Palmer, a short, heavyset6 righthanded pitcher, may have tried out with the Memphis Red Sox in the springs of 1948 and 1949, but seemingly did not make the team.7 In 1950, he played for Morris, Canada, and in 1951, he joined the Chicago American Giants of the Negro American League.8 In July, he was signed by the St. Louis Browns to a minor league contract and sent to play for Aberdeen in the Northern League where he went 4-1 through the end of the season. The following spring, Palmer was sent to train with Keokuk in the Three-I League, but was released just before the beginning of the season.9 After a couple of seasons out of baseball, Palmer returned in 1954 with the Detroit Stars of Negro American League, continuing with the team until he was released in June 1955.10 11 12 Palmer played the last years of his baseball career with the Grand Rapids Black Sox in 1955 and 1956.13 14
Palmer died on September 16th, 2006 in Grand Rapids, MI.15
"Ralph Palmer, rookie hurler from Philander Smith college in Little Rock, Ark., allowed the Monarchs two hits in the remaining four frames."16
"This 19-year old hurler is a native of Hot Springs, Ark., stand five feet, 11 inches and weighs 185 pounds. Prior to entering organized ball late last season, he was also a member of the Chicago giants and was secured during Veeck's business with the club. As soon as Palmer became the Browns' property, he was sent to Aberdeen in the Northern League. During the one month he stayed with Aberdeen, he stacked up a four wins against one loss record. With Chicago his record was eight wins and three losses."17
"Mr. Ralph Leon Palmer, Sr. A beautiful blessed life came to an end Saturday, September 16, 2006 when God called Mr. Ralph Leon Palmer, Sr. to his heavenly home. Mr. Palmer was born in Hope, AK on September 11, 1926, the son of James A. Palmer and Frances Ella Phillips Palmer. He was a graduate of Yerger High School in Hope, AK and attended Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AK. Mr. Palmer honored his country with service in the United States Air Force as a paratrooper. He was a veteran of World War II. Upon moving to Grand Rapids, MI in 1954 he became employed by Rowe International Inc. where he served as a Union Steward before going on to be elected National Representative for the International Union of Electrical Workers serving the states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents, James A. Palmer, Frances Ella Phillips Palmer; and sister, Irene Virginia Palmer Bridges. Mr. Palmer leaves to celebrate his life and home-going his wife of 55 years, Mrs. Mattie Grace Palmer of Grand Rapids, MI; three loving children, Mr. Ralph Leon Palmer, Jr. of Grand Rapids, MI, Ms. Julie Palmer of Lansing, MI and Ms. Tracey Palmer of Chicago, IL; five caring grandchildren, Amy, Ann, Kendra, Brandie and Grace Mayin; three great grandchildren, Riley, Dante, and Liam; one dear brother, Mr. Theodis (Louise) Palmer of Hope, AK; a loving sister, Mrs. Minerva (Thowell) Frierson of Chicago, IL; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and many special friends. Family will greet friends Thursday morning, September 21, 2006 at 11 a.m. at the Brown Funeral Chapel, Grand Rapids. Viewing will be held Wednesday, September 20, 2006 from 4 to 7 p.m.".18
Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.
6 Palmer's WWII draft card lists his height as 5'5. However, other sources, including Palmer's The Sporting News contract card, listed him as 5'11.