The Nine - San Antonio's Top 5 Black Players
In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club. While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great
In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club.
While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor League careers or, in some cases, just one incredible season that went down as “a year for the ages.”
Here is a look at five of the best Black baseball players ever to suit up for the San Antonio Missions organization.
Considered to be one of the best second baseman of all-time, Joe Morgan spent one season in San Antonio prior to his Hall of Fame MLB career. Playing for the San Antonio Bullets in 1964, Morgan appeared in 140 games that season and recorded 160 hits. He also scored 113 runs, hit 42 doubles and eight triples, swiped 47 bases, drove in 90 runs, and recorded a .323 batting average. Still to this day, this ranks as one of the strongest individual seasons in San Antonio baseball history.
Morgan made his major league debut in 1963 with the Houston Colt .45s. He appeared in eight games that season and 10 more games during the 1964 season. After establishing himself in the Houston organization, he was traded to Cincinnati ahead of the 1972 season. His career with the Reds was a legendary one. He was an All-Star in all eight seasons with the Reds, helped the team with two World Series titles, and was named National League Most Valuable Player in 1975 and 1976.
Morgan spent 22 seasons in the big leagues with Houston, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Oakland. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1990 on his first year of eligibility. He recorded over 2,500 hits, scored over 1600 runs, and swiped nearly 700 bases during his playing career. He and “The Big Red Machine”, consisting of Morgan, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, and Dave Concepcion, put together some of the best seasons in major league history.
A member of the Chicago Cubs’ All-Century Team, Billy Williams is also one of the most recognizable names in major league baseball history. Like Joe Morgan, Williams appeared in one season for the San Antonio Missions prior to his Hall of Fame career. In 1959, Williams appeared in 94 games with the Missions and collected 118 hits. He also hit 22 doubles and 10 home runs while driving in 79 runs. He made his major league debut that same season with the Chicago Cubs.
Williams quickly made a name for himself with the Cubs and was awarded National League Rookie of the Year in 1961. During that campaign, he played 146 games and showed off his power with 25 home runs, 20 doubles, and seven triples. He would spend 16 of his 18 seasons in Chicago. Williams finished his career with Oakland following a 1975 trade.
In his illustrious career, the Alabama native was the runner-up for National League Most Valuable Player on two different occasions and both times he fell short to Johnny Bench. The six-time All-Star finished his career with 426 home runs, 2,700 hits, and a .290 career batting average. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.
It took Dave Stewart six seasons and four organizations to become a household name. Before he was an All-Star and World Series MVP, Stewart made 28 starts for the San Antonio Dodgers during the 1978 season. It was a feast or famine season for Stewart as he won 14 of those starts while losing 12 of them. His ERA was a respectable 3.68 and he pitched two complete game shutouts. Stewart also made his major league debut that season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Smoke” Stewart saw some early success with the Dodgers posting a 3.33 ERA in four seasons with the club including a World Series title in 1981. He then spent three seasons with the Texas Rangers and two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies before ending up with the Oakland Athletics in 1986. The following season saw Stewart begin an incredible streak of four dominant seasons on the mound. From 1987-1990, Stewart recorded 20 or more wins in each season and finished in the top four in America League Cy Young Award voting. The 1989 season saw Stewart named to his first and only All-Star game, claim his second World Series title, and be named World Series MVP.
In the final stage of his career, Stewart won a third World Series title in 1993 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He was named American League Championship MVP in 1990 with Oakland and in 1993 with Toronto. In 16 seasons, he went 168-129 with a 3.95 ERA while going 10-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 22 postseason appearances. Following his retirement, Stewart spent time as an assistant GM and pitching coach with Toronto and Milwaukee. He also served as the general manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2014-2016.
Despite beginning his career at shortstop, Adam Jones transitioned into one of the finest outfielders of the 21st century. Jones was still primarily a middle infielder when he played for the San Antonio Missions in 2005. Appearing in 63 games for the club, only twice was he in the outfield. During that 2005 stretch in San Antonio, Jones recorded 68 hits including 10 doubles and seven home runs.
After officially making the shift from infielder to outfielder, Jones debuted with the Seattle Mariners in the 2006 season. However, he wouldn’t become a household name until he became a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Jones was named an All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner in just his second season with the club in 2009. A few years later, he began a streak of four consecutive All-Star Game appearances and three consecutive Gold Glove Awards. He also received his first and only Silver Slugger Award in 2013.
Jones played 14 seasons in the big leagues with Seattle, Baltimore, and Arizona. The 36-year-old spent the last two seasons playing baseball in Japan. During his time in the big leagues, Jones nearly reached 2,000 career hits, hit 282 home runs and collected 336 doubles. He finished with a career batting average of .277.
Jimmy Wynn, also known as “The Toy Cannon”, played 15 years in the big leagues with the Houston Colt .45s/Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Milwaukee Brewers. He was a steady force for Houston in the late 1960s as well as the Dodgers in the mid-70s. Before he was making All-Star appearances and recording 30-homer seasons, Wynn appeared in 78 games for the San Antonio Bullets in 1963. He would eventually make his major league debut in the same season. While in San Antonio, Wynn demonstrated his power ability with 16 home runs, 15 doubles, and 11 triples. He recorded 87 hits during those 78 games played in San Antonio.
Following his debut with Houston in 1963, Wynn was named to his first All-Star team in 1967. Appearing in 158 games, Wynn slugged 37 home runs and 29 doubles while driving in 107 runs. He remained in Houston through the 1973 season and then found a career resurgence once he joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1974. The Texas native made his second All-Star appearance and finished fifth in the National League MVP voting after hitting 32 homers and driving in 108 runs. He was named an All-Star the following season while hitting 18 home runs and recording a .403 on-base percentage.
At the end of his stellar career, Wynn finished with 1,600 hits, 291 long balls, 285 doubles, and 225 stolen bases. Wynn led the league twice in base on balls and finished his career with a .366 on-base percentage and .250 career batting average.