James E. Wilkes
Nickname: Jimmy, Seabiscuit
Positions: cf, lf, if
Teams: Newark Eagles (1945-1948), Houston Eagles (1949-1950), minor leagues (1950-1952), Indianapolis Clowns (1952)
Height: 5' 8'' Weight: 160
Born: October 1, 1925, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A batter with only modest power, this fleet-footed center fielder was the leadoff hitter for the 1946 Negro National League champion 1946 Newark Eagles, and hit .272 in the regular season and .280 in the ensuing World Series victory over the Kansas City Monarchs. He hit .317 the previous year as a rookie, and a .234 the following season. A hustler, he was an excellent defensive player, with outstanding range and a good arm. He had a good eye at the plate, was a pretty good contact hitter, had excellent speed, and was a good base stealer, which made him a good leadoff batter. While with the Eagles, the little speedster was given the nickname "Seabiscuit" after the famous racehorse.
After a change in ownership, the Eagles moved to Houston in 1949, and Wilkes batted .254 for the year. In 1950 he started slowly, batting only .199 with the Eagles before entering organized baseball. He split the remainder of the season between Elmira in the Eastern League, where he hit .281, and Three Rivers in the CanAm League, where he managed only a minuscule .180 average. The next season he again split the year between two teams, hitting .273 with Elmira and .231 with Lancaster. In 1952 he played only 4 games with Great Falls in the Pioneer League before returning to the Negro Leagues to play with the Indianapolis Clowns for the remainder of the year.
Baseball Career Highlights:
"I was the leadoff hitter for the 1946 Negro National League Champion Newark Eagles. I hit .272 in the regular season and .280 in the ensuing World Series victory over the Kansas City Monarchs. My teammates were Leon Day, Larry Doby, Monte Irvin and Max Manning."
"I worked for the City of Brantford, Ontario (Canada) for 34-1/2 years. While in the Intercounty League from 1965-1988, I played ball for the Red Sox for 10 years and umpired for 23 years. The Red Sox won the championship five times."
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships,
• City of Brantford, Ontario (Canada) Hall of Fame
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.