All Time Lists: 20 Greatest Players of the Negro Leagues

All Time Lists: 20 Greatest Players of the Negro Leagues

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Bullet Rogan, Pitcher

Charles Wilber “Bullet” Rogan, also known as “Bullet Joe” (July 28, 1893 – March 4, 1967), was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and moved with his family to Kansas City, Kansas. He began playing baseball in 1911 as a catcher with the semi-pro Fred Palace’s Colts. Later that year, he enlisted in the Army, and was honorably discharged in 1914. He reenlisted, with the 25th Regiment in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and was enlisted to join the regiments famous “Wreckers” baseball team. He joined a number of other Negro League stars, like Dobie Moore, Heavy Johnson, and Lemeul Hawins, and helped the team win over the next three seasons the Post League Championship, the U.S. Army Series, and the Oahu League title. On furlough for several months in 1917, he played professionally with the Los Angeles White Sox, the Kansas City Giants, and J. L. Wilkinson’s All Nations Club.

In 1918, the 25th Infantry were moved to Camp Little in Nogales, Arizona, and there caught the eye of player/coach Casey Stengel, who recommended him to the Kansas City Monarchs in the new Negro National League. Rogan join the team in July 1920, and quickly became its star pitcher and the biggest box-office draw of the young league. By 1923, he hit .364, with 16 wins and 151 strikeouts to lead the Monarchs to their first pennant. He did even better the following season, batting .395 while winning 18-6 games and leading the Monarchs to their second pennant. He starred in the first Black World Series, leading the Monarchs with 13 hits and winning two games as Kansas City defeated the Eastern Colored League team Hilldale.

He peaked in 1924, hitting .381 with a 17-2 pitching record, bringing his team to their third consecutive pennant. During the playoffs against the St. Louis Stars, he hit .450 and won three of the games, including one shutout. However, he suffered a nee injury rough housing with his son and was forced to sit it out to watch his team lose the World Series in six games to the Hilldale team.

In 1925 he took over as manager, and as late as 1928, at the age of 34, Rogan was still one of their best players. In 1929, he led the team to the best record in league history, 62-17, but Rogan was soon hospitalized and remained off the lineup for an entire year. After that, he continued to play for different pro and semi-pro teams in the US, and toured with the Philadelphia Royal Giants as a exhibition team to Hawaii and the Philippines. He played until 1936, at the age of 43,

After retirement, he went on as an umpire in the Negro National League until 1946, then worked in a post office. He died in Kansas City, Missouri at the age of 67. He was honored by his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

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