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"Scrip" Lee

Holsey Scranton Scriptus Lee
Nicknames: Scrip, Script

Career: 1922-1934
Positions: p, 1b, of, umpire (Negro National League)
Teams: Norfolk Stars (1920-1921), Baltimore Black Sox (1922, 1929-1933), Hilldale Daisies (1923-1927, 1930), Richmond Giants, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (1933-1934), Philadelphia Giants ('26), Cleveland Red Sox (1934), Philadelphia Stars
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Height: 6'   Weight: 185
Born: January 29, 1899, Washington, D.C.
Died: February 13, 1974, Washington, D.C.

A submariner with a variety of curves, this right-hander pitched for the Eastern Colored League champion Hilldale teams of 1923-1925, registering a 24-8 record in 1923. He continued his superb pitching in the 1924 and 1925 World Series against the Kansas City Monarchs, recording a composite ERA of 2.30 in a total of 4 games. After losing to the Monarchs in 1924, Hilldale reigned victorious in 1925, and during the 1925 regular season Lee posted a 4-2 league ledger. In 1926, although Hilldale failed to retain their Eastern Colored League title, he posted an 18-5 record against all competition. In 1928 he left Hilldale in a dispute over money and signed with the Baltimore Black Sox.

Although best known for his curves, he also had a wide assortment of pitches, including a drop, screwball, knuckler, fastball, and changeup. His underhand delivery made his curve break up and his fastball break down, enhancing his effectiveness. In 1929 he played with another championship team, posting a 4-1 league record for the American Negro League champion Baltimore Black Sox while being credited with a 27-4 mark against all levels of competition. He spent several seasons with the Black Sox dating from 1922, when he recorded a 5-1 ledger while the Sox were still playing as an independent ballclub. In 1931, with the Sox once again playing as an independent, he posted a 7-1 record for the season.

He started playing baseball with broomsticks in a vacant lot as a youngster, went to school with Duke Ellington, and was a good football player. Lee was especially adept as a kicker, once drop-kicking a ball 100 yards. He played both football and baseball with an amateur team called the Georgetown Athletics, which also featured future Negro National League slugger Jud Wilson. In 1916 the teenager joined the National Guard and was sent to the Mexican border with General Pershing during Pancho Villa's uprising. When World War I started, he was with the 372nd Infantry attached to the 157th French Brigade. While serving in France he earned two Battle Stars and a Purple Heart, and he was discharged at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1919.

Nip Winters, a future star with Hilldale, was pitching with Chappy Johnson's Norfolk Stars and encouraged Lee to try out for the team. Johnson liked what he saw, and Lee began his professional career with the Stars in 1920 for $175 a month. In his second year in Norfolk he was ready to move up in competition and again joined Winters with Hilldale. In addition to his pitching skills, Lee was an outstanding bunter and excelled at squeeze plays. After his playing career ended he became a successful umpire in the Negro National League, continuing in this capacity through the 1943 season. Afterward he drove a taxi in Washington, D.C., and worked for the Veterans Administration for thirty-one years.

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