March 31, 1901|
|Died: July 9, 1966
Newark, New Jersey
|1921, for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants|
|1944, for the Newark Eagles|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Election Method||Committee on African-American Baseball|
George "Mule" Suttles (March 31, 1901 – July 9, 1966) was an American first baseman and outfielder in Negro league baseball, most prominently with the Birmingham Black Barons, St. Louis Stars and Newark Eagles. Best known for his power hitting, Suttles was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Negro league career
Born in Edgewater, Alabama, Suttles played one game for the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants in 1921, and broke into the Negro National League in 1923 with the Birmingham Black Barons. Suttles was renowned for hitting for power as well as batting average. In five years with the Stars (1926–1930), he led the league in home runs twice and in doubles, triples, and batting average once each.
Suttles' final seasons were spent playing first base for the Newark Eagles' "Million Dollar Infield" with Dick Seay at second, Willie Wells at shortstop, and Ray Dandridge at third. He also managed, and was highly respected.
In 26 documented exhibition games against white competition, Suttles hit .374 with five home runs. He hit .329 with 129 home runs in Negro League competition, the latter number second on the all-time list in Negro League play, behind only Turkey Stearnes.
Suttles, who stood 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m), weighed in at 195 lbs, and used a 50-ounce bat, was known for his power, including several 500+ foot homers; a game against the Memphis Red Sox in which he blasted three homers in a single inning, and a home run at Havana, Cuba's Tropicana Park that flew over a 60-foot (18 m) high center field fence and landed in the ocean. Willie Wells saw the homer and remarked, "He hit this damn ball so far it looked like we were playing in a lot; it didn't look like no ball park." It was because of Suttles' strength that he got his nickname, and late in games when a big hit was needed his teammates would encourage him with cries of, "Kick, Mule!" Clarence Israel, an Eagles player, was quoted as saying, "He was considered my dad. Suttles was the most gentle person I ever saw."
Suttles died of cancer in Newark, New Jersey, at age 65. Lenny Pearson, who played with and for Suttles, recalled in John Holway's book Blackball Stars: "He told us, 'When I die, have a little thought for my memory, but don't mourn me too much.'"