James Clarence Cohen
Nickname: Jim, Fireball
Team: military service (1942-1946), Indianapolis Clowns (1946-1952)
Height: 5' 11'' Weight: 190
Born: March 26, 1918, Evergreen, Alabama
Died: April 23, 2002
A fastball pitcher with the Indianapolis Clowns in the post-World War II era, his primary asset on the mound was his fine control. While he also had a curve, slider, and change-up, he most often utilized a knuckleball as his off-speed pitch to keep batters off-stride for his fastball. He logged records of 3-8 with a 3.90 ERA in 1948 and 2-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 1950. The former season, he was in uniform for the East-West All Star game but did not get into the lineup. A second All Star game was played that season, and he pitched a three-inning stint. The following winter, 1948-1949, he played his only season in Latin American leagues, when he was with Vargas in Caracas, Venezuela.
As a youngster in Pennsylvania, he played football, basketball, and track in high school, but the school did not have a baseball team. However, he went into the coal mines after high school, and the coal camps had baseball teams, which gave him his start in baseball. He was drafted into the Army in 1942 and, while assigned to the Replacement Training Center at Camp Lee, Virginia, he played on the baseball team for four years, and was signed by the Clowns while still in service. After his discharge in January 1946, he went to spring training with Syd Pollock's Clowns.
During his years with the ballclub, he also served at times as bus driver and business manager, but when asked to take a pay cut in 1952, he quit baseball and took a regular job with the postal service in Washington, D.C., where he worked for 35 years until retiring in 1982.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"Fireball" Cohen, a fastball pitcher, was always in control. Posting records of 3-8 with a 3.90 ERA in 1948 and 2-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 1950, Cohen knew how to throw batters off guard. The crowning moment of Cohen's Negro Leagues career was pitching in the 1948 East-West All Star game.
While on the Clowns' roster, Cohen worked as the team bus driver and manager. After leaving baseball, he worked for 35 years as a postal clerk for the U.S. Postal Service, in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1982.
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.