Bill Greason

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William Henry Greason
(Booster, Willie)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Bill Greason was a pitcher 13 years (1947-1959), five in the Negro Leagues (1947-1951); two in the Mexican League (1950-1951); eight in the minors (1952-1959); five in the winter leagues (1951; 1954-1958) and a cup of coffee in the major leagues 1954, losing parts of two years to the military. He was born on September 3, 1924, in Atlanta, GA. He broke into Organized Baseball in 1952 at age 27.

Greason was 29 years old when he made his debut on the big leagues on May 31, 1954, with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played his final major league game on June 20th that year. He returned to the minors until 1959, ending his baseball career at age 34.

He began his professional career with the Nashville Black Vols in 1947 and began the next season with the Asheville Blues in the Negro Southern League prior to joining the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League.

His 6-4 record and ERA of 3.30 helped pitch the Barons to a pennant in 1948, and he was the workhorse of the 1948 Negro World Series, pitching in three games and pitching the team's only victory over the dominating Homestead Grays.

The following year, 1949, he dropped to 7-12 but pitched three shutout innings for the West in the All-Star game. In 1959, his last year with Birmingham, he rebounded with a 9-6 record and a 2.41 ERA and continued his artistry with the Charros de Jalisco in the Mexican League, where he was 10-1 with a 3.88 ERA.

He got his first trial in Organized Baseball with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League in 1951, but decided that he could make more money in the Mexican League than with Oakland's Class B Western International League farm team.

After slipping to a 1-4 mark in another season at Jalisco and a second hitch in the marines, he spent two years with the Oklahoma City Indians in the Texas League (9-1 at 2.14 and 16-13 at 3.62). On October 13, 1953, he was traded by Oklahoma City to the St. Louis Cardinals for minor leaguers Dan Lynch, Jack Cardey and Roy Broome. In 1954, he had a 10-13 season with the Columbus Red Birds of the American Association, before and after his brief fling with the Cardinals. The parent club brought up the 30-year old in May and he pitched in three games, losing his only decision.

The remainder of his career was spent with the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League, where he fashioned seasons of 17-11 and 10-6 in 1955 and 1956, and the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, where he managed a composite record of 16-18 for the years 1956-1959. During his career he also pitched winters in Cuba (2-2 in 1950-1951) and Puerto Rico (38-22 in 1953-1954, 1954-1955, 1955-156, 1956-1957 and 1957-1958).

He effectively mixed his fastball with a sharp-breaking curveball. Greason threw mostly overhand, but also dropped to three-quarters and sidearm.

In 1953, his best year in the minors, he was (16-13) with 193 strikeouts, 162 walks and 2 shutouts in 249 innings pitched with an ERA of 3.61. He led the Negro American League in walks (84) and earned runs (95) in 1949 and the Texas League in walks (162) in 1953. Overall in the minors, he was (78-82).

Greason served two hitches in the Marines (1943-1945 & 1951-1952). In addition to playing baseball, Greason pursued goals in higher education, receiving his Bachelor of Theology Degree, Bachelor of Arts Degree and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Birmingham Baptist Bible College. After retiring from baseball he became a minister as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL for more than 30 years. He was cited by the Alabama State Legislature for his life's work in 2001. [1] He celebrated his 81st birthday at his residence in Birmingham in 2005.


Principal sources for Bill Greason include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (none) (WW), old Baseball Registers (none) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley; The Negro Leagues Book by Dick Clark and Larry Lester; The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers by Bill James and Rob Neyer; The Texas League in Baseball, 1888-1958 by Marshall D. Wright; The Southern Association in Baseball, 1885-1961 by Marshall D. Wright; The International League: Year-by-year Statistics, 1884-1953 by Marshall D. Wright; The American Association: Year-By-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NAL Shutouts Leader (1948)

Related Sites[edit]