Ted Radcliffe, who earned the nickname "Double Duty" after catching the first game of a Negro leagues doubleheader and pitching a shutout in the second, has died at age 103. He was the oldest former professional baseball player, according to the Chicago White Sox.
Radcliffe, who caught, pitched or coached for 30 professional teams, died in Chicago of complications from cancer. He played in the Negro leagues from 1928 to 1950 and never appeared in the major leagues, which didn't have black players until Jackie Robinson in 1947.
Radcliffe threw out the first pitch of the season for the White Sox in each of the past five years. He had an estimated 4,000 hits and 400 home runs and won 500 games and struck out 4,000 batters as a pitcher during his professional career, according to the White Sox. He also threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals home game against the Chicago Cubs on May 13, in which he sat in a wheelchair at home plate and dropped the ball into Nationals first base coach Don Buford's glove.
" 'Double Duty' shared such a love for baseball and a passion for life," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "He leaves such a great legacy after experiencing so much history and change during his long life."
Radcliffe was born July 7, 1902, in Mobile, Ala., one of 10 children. He hitchhiked to Chicago with his brother in 1919 and signed with a semiprofessional team a year later. In 1928, he joined the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League.
He played in six all-star games and won the Negro American League most valuable player award at age 41.
Over his career, Radcliffe played with Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Smokey Joe Williams.
-- From News Services