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George "Mule" Suttles (March 31, 1900 - July 9, 1966 in Newark, New Jersey) was an American first baseman and outfielder in Negro league baseball, most prominently with the Birmingham Black Barons, St. Louis Stars and Newark Eagles. Suttles was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Born in Blocton, Alabama, Suttles played one game for the New York Bacharach Giants in 1921, and broke into the Negro National League in 1923 with the Birmingham Black Barons. Suttles was renowned for hitting for power as well as batting average. In five years with the Stars (1926-30), he led the league in home runs twice and in doubles, triples, and batting average once each.

In five East-West All-Star Games, he batted .412 with an .883 slugging percentage. He also hit the first ever home run in the history of the East-West game.

In 26 documented exhibition games against white competition, Suttles hit .374 with five home runs. He hit .327 with 133 home runs in Negro League competition, the latter number second on the all-time list in Negro League play, behind only Turkey Stearnes.

Tales are plentiful about Suttles, who stood 6' 6", weighed 250 pounds, and used a 50-ounce bat, including several 500+ foot homers; a game against the Memphis Red Sox in which he blasted three homers in a single inning, and a home run at Havana, Cuba's Tropicana Park that flew over a 60-foot (18 m) high center field fence and landed in the ocean.

Willie Wells saw the homer and remarked, "He hit this damn ball so far it looked like we were playing in a lot; it didn't look like no ball park."

It was because of Suttles' strength that he got his nickname, and late in games when a big hit was needed his teammates would encourage him with cries of, "Kick, Mule!"

Suttles' final seasons were spent playing first base for the Newark Eagles' "Million Dollar Infield" with Dick Seay at second, Wells at short, and Ray Dandridge at third. He also managed, and was highly respected; Clarence Israel, an Eagles player, was quoted as saying, "He was considered my dad. Suttles was the most gentle person I ever saw."

Suttles died of cancer in Newark, New Jersey at age 66. Lenny Pearson, who played with and for Suttles, recalled in John Holway's book Blackball Stars: "He told us, 'When I die, have a little thought for my memory, but don't mourn me too much.'"

Suttles was interred in Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield, New Jersey.[1]

References

  1. ^ George "Mule" Suttles, Find A Grave. Accessed August 22, 2007.

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