Willie Wells

In Austin, Texas last month, I saw the grave of Negro League star and Hall of Fame member Willie Wells at the Texas State Cemetery.

Willie Wells lived between 1905 and 1989. He grew up playing baseball on sandlots in Austin.

Wells, a home run hitting shortstop, played in the Negro Leagues, Mexico, and Cuba from 1924 to 1949.

He also managed the Negro League Newark Eagles and a club in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The book Shades of Glory by Lawrence Hogan says about Wells—“Though he was never given a chance to play in the major leagues, Wells is given credit for helping the next generation of players such as Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Joe Black and Ernie Banks.”

Blackbaseball.com says Wells was the equal of the great Honus Wagner. The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia rates Wells as one of the 12 greatest Negro League players.