Sunday, July 4, 1999
A championship season with the Clowns
BY JOHN ERARDI
The Cincinnati Enquirer
James Jenkins, 72, was born and raised in Asheville, N.C.
Sharp-dressed James Jenkins, second from left, played in 1958 for Toronto in the Braves' system.
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At 24, he joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1951 and played with them until 1953. His second season, he hit three homers in the second game of a doubleheader in Baltimore against the Elite Giants. The first game was won on a homer by a teen-aged rookie from Mobile, Ala., who had to be un-taught his way of gripping the bat - cross-handed - to take advantage of his true power. His name: Henry Aaron.
The Clowns won the Negro American League Championship in '51.
Mr. Jenkins threw and batted left-handed and played the outfield. In 1955, he played a season in Salem, Va., in the New York Giants' system; in 1957, he played a year in Rochester, Minn., in the Brooklyn Dodgers' organization.
Even when his Negro League playing days were over, Mr. Jenkins barnstormed with a group of major leaguers and Negro Leaguers, including Satchel Paige. Mr. Jenkins had a daughter and four sons, all of whom played baseball, three on the college level and one professionally. During the early 1970s, Mr. Jenkins played right field in the Buncombe County (N.C.) League; his son, Bobby, played center.
"Daddy played ball until he was 58," Bobby said.
Negro League Stories