Charlie “Whip” Davis and Johnny Washington honored
By Frederick Dakarai
This past Saturday, July 9 marked the Milwaukee Brewers’ 6th Annual Negro League Tribute Game event. As part of the Negro Leagues Tribute, the Brewers wore reproductions of uniforms worn by the Milwaukee Bears, the city’s 1923 representative in the Negro National League. The Cincinnati Reds wore uniforms of the 1936-37 Cincinnati Tigers.
Charlie ‘Whip’ Davis and Johnny Washington were honored at this year’s event. Washington known as a left-handed pitcher with huge love for the game and beautiful memories of playing Negro League Baseball, talked glowingly about playing baseball as a Black man in 1949 immediately after graduating high school. In 1951, he joined the U.S. Marines and served in Korea and received two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. After the war injuries, and doctors opinions that he would never play again, Washington played in the minor leagues from 1954-60.
After retiring in ’56 to spend more time with the family and baseball in his blood, Johnny “Lefty” Washington, played semipro as a hobby for many years, leading his team in batting and pitching for 8 years.
Currently “Lefty” is promoting and teaching baseball to African American youth in the Chicagoland area.
Charlie “Whip” Davis pitched six seasons with the Memphis Reds Sox from 1950-55. “Whip” made the East-West All-Star Game in 1953 with a 17-0 record, but didn’t get to start because he was on the team with Satchel Paige. Following his playing career, he managed the Rockdale Rawhide team from 1958-59 in the Georgia/Alabama Amateur League.
Whip in pitching terms means Walks and Hits divided by number of innings pitched. It shows how many base runners the pitcher on average allows. The lower the whip means less base runners which most likely translates to lower number of opponents crossing home plate.
Although the abbreviation WHIP is a relatively newer baseball term and not used in the 1950’s, Charlie Whip Davis name originated by the fact hitters swung hard missing the ball causing their body to “whip and twist”.
With a 17-0 record, Davis’ nickname was well earned!
Other Negro League players present were Carl Long of Birmingham Black Barons 1952-1953, Nathan Weston of the Birmingham Black Barons who played with Willie Mays, and Hank “Baby” Presswood who is one of the eldest living Negro League players at age 88 and played infield for the Cleveland Buckeyes & Kansas City Monarchs 1948 – 1952.
Don’t miss this historic opportunity next year to enjoy a great family baseball experience at Miller Park, an inspirational tribute pre-game ceremony. And a chance to “meet & greet” a number of former Negro Leagues players.
Remember, all these great historic players are legends… take advantage of this unique opportunity that Milwaukee has to offer before these players can only be read about!