01 Aug

history lesson

Ran across an interesting tidbit while reading a story about the Laurel Black Cats’ first appearance in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. You might know of the semi-pro team’s rich history. It traces its roots to an independent Negro League franchise founded in the 1930s and claims the great Satchel Paige as an alumnus. Also mentioned in The Wichita Eagle article is a player named Ted Nicholson. Ever heard of him? In addition to playing for the Black Cats, Nicholson apparently played a little ball at Oak Park, the pre-integration black high school in Laurel. (Olympic gold medalist Ralph Boston also went there.) Nicholson was impressive enough to be drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1969. In the first round. Third overall. A third baseman at Oak Park, the 6-foot-4, 197-pound Nicholson was moved to the outfield in pro ball. He played parts of three seasons in the minors – his career was interrupted by military commitments, according to some sources – and hit a respectable .252 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs. But he never got past the Class A Midwest League and never played another game in affiliated ball after 1973. As the third overall pick – behind Jeff Burroughs and J.R. Richard in that ’69 draft – Nicholson would have to be deemed a bust as a pro. Still, he owns the distinction of being the highest draftee ever out of a Mississippi high school over 52 years of MLB drafts. Seems like Ted Nicholson would be – or should be — more well-known.

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