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Harry Buckner

Harry Buckner
Nickname: Green River

Career: 1896-1918
Positions: p, of, c, ss
Teams: Chicago Unions (1896-1898), Columbia Giants (1890-1900), Philadelphia Giants (1903), Cuban X-Giants (1904-1905), Quaker Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants (1909-1910), New York Lincoln Giants (1911-1912), Smart Set (1912), Mohawk Giants (1913), Chicago Giants (1914-1918)

One of the leading players during the early years of black baseball, this talented and versatile athlete could pitch, catch, and play both infield and outfield. He was one of only a few Americans who played in Cuba during the first decade of the century, pitching for Almendares in the Cuban winter league of 1907. He began his career as a pitcher with W. S. Peters's Chicago Unions in 1896, and after three years joined the Columbia Giants for another two seasons on the mound. In 1901 Frank Leland combined the Unions and the Columbia Giants into a single team, the Chicago Union Giants, but Buckner opted to play in the East.

He was a smart pitcher and was called the "speed marvel" of the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1910. That season the Royals won the eastern championship for the second consecutive year and, along with Rube Foster, Dan McClellan, and Walter Ball, Buckner was considered to be "head and shoulders above" all other pitchers. In 1909 he also was a regular behind the plate, when not pitching, and in 1917 he was the regular right fielder and batted third in the lineup. In 1911, playing with the New York Lincoln Giants, he split a pair of decisions while batting .336. He pitched the next two seasons with the Smart Set and the Mohawk Giants of Schenectady, New York, before returning to Chicago to finish his career with the Chicago Giants.

During his 23 years in black baseball, he was associated with numerous teams in both the East and the Midwest. Buckner also was a keen judge of talent; he, Rube Foster, and Sol White discovered the great John Henry Lloyd in 1905.

Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.