Notable Alumni: Dan Bankhead, Jehoise Heard, Marshall Bridges, Neil Robinson, Carl Glass and Bob Boyd
There weren’t many Negro League teams that were able to span over 30 years of operation, but the Memphis Red Sox were one of them. Owned by two brothers/dentists, Dr. J.B. Martin and Dr. B.B. Martin, the Red Sox weren’t goliaths of the Negro Leagues, but they did have their high points.
In 1937, the Memphis Red Sox were one of eight founding members of the Negro American League, and the following year they were on the cusp of achieving the franchise’s first league title. They had secured the Negro American League first-half championship with a record of 21-4, and were scheduled to play a series against the Atlanta Black Crackers, the second-half champions, to determine who would take home the title of league champion. The Red Sox won their first two games against the Black Crackers, but unfortunately for Memphis, the two teams would not play again, as a clash between Red Sox and Black Crackers management prevented them from finishing the series.
Though the Red Sox were never known for fielding titans of the game, they did send four players to the Major Leagues, including pitchers Dan Bankhead, Jehosie Heard and Marshall Bridges, who played for the Dodgers, Orioles and Cardinals, respectively, and first baseman Bob Boyd, who played for the White Sox and Orioles. Other Memphis Red Sox who were said to have Major League potential included Verdell Mathis, Marlin Carter, Joe Scott, Frank Pearson and Charley Pride, who would achieve fame as a country western singer.
The Memphis Red Sox were never the most heralded bunch, but three decades of Negro League baseball was still a major victory that very few teams could claim.