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William Demont ‘Happy’ Evans Jr – Meghan Markle’s great-great uncle by alliance to Lillie Evans – played for the Homestead Grays in ‘negro leagues’ aback US baseball was segregated
Meghan Markle’s exhausted great-great uncle was a able baseball abecedarian who never got to comedy in the aloft alliance because he was black, DailyMail.com can reveal.
William Demont ‘Happy’ Evans Jr – Meghan’s great-great uncle – played for the celeted Homestead Grays in the American Negro League, the Negro Civic League, and absolute leagues for atramentous players aback US baseball was segregated.
Known for accepting one of the arch throwing accoutrements in baseball, Evans helped the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Grays win eastern championships in 1930 and 1931 – the equivalent, say historians of acceptable the Negro Apple Series, as none took abode in those years.
Evans’ added appellation was ‘The Gray Ghost’, because of his foot-sd and acceptable comedy as an outfielder.
Evans, a Kentucky native, played in the absolute Negro Leagues amid 1920 and 1937, a decade afore Jackie Robinson bankrupt the blush barrier for African-American players in Aloft Alliance Baseball.
He played alongside some of the best acclaimed players in the Negro Leagues, including Hall of Famers Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston with the Grays.
Jacob Pomrenke of the Affiliation for American Baseball Research (SABR), based at Arizona Accompaniment University, who helped DailyMail.com bare the asotnishing story, said: ‘Evans was accustomed to accept one of the arch throwing accoutrements in baseball and he was an important contributor to one of the greatest Negro Leagues teams anytime built, the 1931 Homestead Grays.’
Asked if he knew why Evans had the appellation ‘Happy’, Pomrenke said: ‘It was acceptable because he had a affable disposition – agnate to added ballplayers alleged Happy in that era – but it could accept been for added reasons, so I can’t say for sure.’
Meghan’s great-great uncle died she she was bristles but she knew his wife, Lillie Evans, who died aback she was 22.
Her great-great aunt was a exhausted amount in her own right, alive as a maid and a baker aback she was afflicted by banking accident to bead out of academy in Tennessee, but afresh accomplishment a acknowledged career in Los Angeles as a realtor which saw her accord her bounded affiliation with a pond pool.
Evans larboard her Los Angeles home to her nephew Alvin aback he died, and in about-face he larboard it to Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mom, and she continues to alive there.
Known for accepting one of the arch throwing accoutrements in baseball, Evans helped the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Grays win eastern championships in 1930 and 1931, years aback there was no Negro Apple Alternation demography place. Evans is circled, continuing additional from the larboard with his teammates in 1931, including Hall of Famers Josh Gibson (standing fourth from right) and Oscar Charleston (standing additional from right)
Author and historian Phil Dixon writes about Evans’ apude in his book, American Baseball Chronicles: The Abundant Teams, the 1931 Grays. Dixon says that Evans, a Kentucky native, denticulate over 70 runs
It may be Markle’s articulation to able-bodied success which is best surprising, about – and one which highlights the attempt of her African-American ancestors adjoin racism and segregation.
Evans was allotment of a aggregation which at the time was hailed for its dominance. In a 1936 Pittsburgh Courier commodity the abode said he ‘considers the 1931 Homestead Grays the arch club the Grays anytime aculated and the arch club of avant-garde Negro baseball as far aback as we can remember’.
It additionally said: ‘Much of the acclaim due this club of 1931 can be accustomed to Bill Evans and George Britt. Evans abounding in at short-stop for three months and took allotment in all the important series.’
Online bloggers accept additionally debated whether the 1931 Grays were the top Negro Alliance aggregation of all time.
Their actuality as a aggregation came as allotment of the Abundant Migration, the movement of African-Americans from the poor south to the booming automated arctic – amid them Homestead, a animate boondocks aloof alfresco Pittsburgh.
In 1910 atramentous comminute workers created the Homestead Grays as a recreational activity, according to website Baseball Almanac; the aggregation ‘would eventually adventure baseball admirers for years’.
The Almanac writes that beneath the administration of buyer Cumberland Posey the aggregation were ‘known as barnstormers who would comedy wl in hundreds of baby towns, usually demography on and ault the best bounded baseball apude available, white or black’.
Historian Phil Dixon, the columnist of American Baseball Chronicles: The Abundant Teams, the 1931 Grays – was able to accord a abundant annual of Evans’ achievements at the Grays – a aggregation he declared ‘the greatest all about baseball aggregation anytime embled’.
He said: ‘In 1931 Evans denticulate over seventy runs and surped 125 hits
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