Jerry Benjamin

From BR Bullpen

Jerry Charles Benjamin

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 165 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jerry Benjamin was a three-time All-Star outfielder in the Negro Leagues.

Benjamin debuted in 1932, hitting .273 as the second baseman for the Memphis Red Sox. He moved to center field in 1933 with the Detroit Stars and would occupy that position for the remainder of his career (even when he was in the same outfield as Cool Papa Bell in the mid-1940s); he hit .296 that year. He played in 1934 for the Birmingham Black Barons.

Benjamin finally found a stable home in 1935 with the Homestead Grays. His first year there, he hit .394, 4th in the East-West League behind Leroy Morney, Turkey Stearnes and Alejandro Oms. He tied Sammy Bankhead and Martin Dihigo for fourth with four triples, trailing Ray Dandridge, Cool Papa Bell and Lázaro Salazar.

Jerry fell to .280 in 1936. He batted .283 in 1937 with a league-best 16 doubles. He was 1 for 16 versus the Chicago American Giants in the postseason, though. He got 43,436 votes for the 1937 East-West Game, second among all players behind only Ted Strong. Hitting leadoff and playing right field for the East, he was 1 for 5.

Benjamin hit only .250 in 1938 and 1939. The latter year, he was traded to the Newark Eagles for Dandridge, but refused to report. He played for the Toledo Crawfords under an assumed name (Christopher) until the deal was canceled, allowing him to return to Homestead.

Jerry rebounded to hit .305 in 1940 but fell to .224 in 1941. Between those two seasons, he was 7 for 46 with 4 steals and six runs for the Almendares club in the Cuban Winter League. In 1942, he hit .252 then batted just .211/.211/.211 in the 1942 Colored World Series, in which Homestead was swept by the Kansas City Monarchs.

Benjamin batted .370 in 1943 with a league-best six steals. His 16 doubles were third behind Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. He entered the 1943 East-West Game as a 9th-inning pinch-hitter for Jose Vargas. He was retired by Theolic Smith in a 2-1 loss.

The Alabama native hit .342 in 1944 and .315 in the 1944 Negro World Series, which Homestead won. He remained productive at age 35, hitting .315 in 1945. He was 3 for 13 in the 1945 Negro World Series for the second-best average on a Homestead squad that was shut down offensively by the Cleveland Buckeyes. During that Series, Benjamin had a higher average than four teammates who would wind up in the Hall of Fame. Jerry was 1 for 5 with a run and a RBI as the leadoff hitter and center fielder for the East in the 1945 East-West Game.

Benjamin was aging by 1946, falling to .239. He did tie for second in the league with four triples, trailing only Larry Doby. He batted .208 in 1947 and wrapped up his career in 1948. He briefly managed in the Negro American League that year as well.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NNL All-Star (1937, 1943 & 1945)
  • 4-time NNL At-Bats Leader (1937 & 1942-1944)
  • 2-time NNL Singles Leader (1943 & 1944)
  • 2-time NNL Triples Leader (1936 & 1938)
  • NNL Bases on Balls Leader (1937)
  • 3-time NNL Stolen Bases Leader (1936, 1937 & 1940)
  • Won two Negro World Series with the Homestead Grays in 1943 and 1944


Related Sites[edit]