James Larry Strong
Jimmy Strong was a long-time presence in European baseball.
Strong's father was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. Jimmy was on an Army team that won a baseball title and won several boxing titles. Strong was with the 19th Artillery during World War II and served in Italy. After the war ended, he remained in Italy as a basketball, rugby and baseball player. In 1948, he led Libertas Bologna to the first Serie A1 title.
Strong coached 100 meter gold medal winner Harrison Dillard in the 1948 Olympics. In the 1952 Olympics, he coached the US 100 meter relay team and the Swiss basketball team.
In 1956, he led Serie A1 with 3 homers.
In 1956-1957, Strong was the head coach of the Italian national team; both years, they won Bronze in the European Championship. Strong managed two Italian teams - Bologna and Rimini - to Serie A1 titles and once won three straight Manager of the Year awards in Italy.
Strong finished his baseball playing career in Italy in 1962, having hit only .191/.286/.294 in 17 games at age 43.
In 1976, Strong moved to the Netherlands and managed the Amsterdam Pirates starting in 1978. While the Pirates fell from Hoofdklasse shortly thereafter, Strong helped produce three future members of the Dutch national team - Marcel Joost, Frank Koot and Ronald Stoovelaar.
After retiring from baseball, Strong coached basketball and American football in the Netherlands. Outside of athletics, he was known for his sense of humor and love of jazz.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Italian Baseball Hall of Fame. That year, he suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. He died a year later at age 89.