Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Garfield Colored Giants Made History

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Garfield Colored Giants Made History

Article excerpt

GARFIELD - The Garfield Colored Giants were a force to be reckoned with on the baseball diamond, fielding segregated teams in an integrated league and winning a number of North Jersey National League semi-pro baseball championships, Horace "Mickey" Buggs, 87, recalls.

The team was established in the 1930s, and Buggs was itsassistant manager in 1946 and 1947. Its accomplishments will be celebrated as part of Garfield's Black History Month celebration on Saturday.

"My job was to warm up the pitchers, take the box scores to the [Herald News], collect money from the crowd by passing a cap around, because we didn't have team sponsors like the [Caucasian] teams, and whatever else manager John Foster needed to be done," Buggs recalled.

Although the teams were segregated, Buggs said he does not recall any racial issues on the fields throughout northern New Jersey and in Garfield. Players shared gloves between teams, he said, because they didn't have enough equipment. Buggs paid for baseballs out of his own pocket.

"The only thing [the Garfield Colored Giants] fought over was if someone was trying to date another guy's girlfriend," Buggs said.

Other players included John Logan, a shortstopwho later founded the Garfield branch of the NAACP and was posthumously honored last weekend, when a portion of Malcolm Avenue was named John Pierce Logan Way.

Brothers Cleveland and Purvis Buggs played center field and third base, respectively. Cleveland was a powerful switch hitter, smashing pitches from Whitey Ford, who played for a Paterson team, Buggs recalled.

"Cleve was like a Willie Mays, batting over .300 against Whitey Ford," Buggs said. "Cleve could hit lefty and drive homers in."

During practice and bullpen action, Buggs occasional warmed up his teammates, throwing on the glove to catch for pitchers like Gene Wright, whom the Herald Newsdescribed as a "workhorse hurler" who twirled the baseball to victory and gave up few hits.

"He taught me how to catch. That ball would look like it'll come whipping around my head and then all of a sudden it drops right here," Buggs said, motioning to the strike zone while describing the pitcher's breaking ball pitch. …

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