Ted Radcliffe was once considered the most exciting baseball player to watch in the Negro League. Radcliffe was born in Mobile, Alabama, and was one of ten children. His brother Alex Radcliffe was also a renowned ballplayer playing third base.
In 1919, the family moved to Chicago. A year later, Radcliffe signed on with the semi-pro team, the Illinois Giants. From 1928 through 1950, Radcliffe played with more than 15 clubs, including the acclaimed 1932 Pittsburgh Crawfords team.
Radcliffe was known as the man with many different talents. He was a three-time all-star catcher and received a three-time all-star nomination as a pitcher. In the 1932 Negro World Series, he caught Satchel Paige in the first game of a doubleheader, then pitched a shutout in the second game. This performance gave him the nickname “Double Duty.”
Throughout his career, Radcliffe exercised an entrepreneurial spirit, often forming all-star teams of Negro League stars to independently book exhibition games against white major league stars.
During the late 1930s, Radcliffe took on managerial responsibilities as the player-manager of the integrated Jamestown Red Sox of North Dakota from May to October 1934. This made him the first black man to manage white professional players. He also played for the Chicago American Giants in that season. He later managed the Memphis Red Sox, and in 1942, the Chicago American Giants. Known for his bubbly personality, excitement on the field, and the fact that he was ranked second only to Satchel Paige, Radcliffe was one of the crowd’s favorite players.
In 1997, Radcliffe was inducted into the “Yesterday’s Negro League Baseball Players Wall of Fame” at County Stadium in Milwaukee. In 1999, he became the oldest player to appear in a professional game. Ted Radcliffe died in 2005, at the age of 103.