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Lorenzo “Piper” Davis was an African-American, professional baseball player. He was born in 1917 in Piper, Alabama, A small coal mining town. Piper was a natural athlete. He excelled in both baseball and basketball. His basketball skills afforded him a scholarship to Alabama State Teachers College in Montgomery, Alabama. After attending one year, he was forced to leave due to financial reasons, and he returned home to work in the coal mines in Piper, Alabama.

 

Shortly after, he toured with the Omaha Tigers in the mid-1930s.  This began Piper’s professional baseball career. Following his second season with the Tigers, he returned to Birmingham and went to work for the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company, where he continued to play baseball. In the late 1930s, he was recruited to work at American Cast Iron Pipe Company (ACIPCO) in Birmingham so he could play on their baseball team in the Birmingham Industrial League (BIL). Piper excelled on the baseball diamond and it didn’t take him long to become one of the team’s leading hitters as their starting first baseman. One of the many highlights of Piper’s career in the BIL came in 1942 when he helped lead ACIPCO to a BIL championship with an amazing 49-1 record. Piper played five seasons with ACIPCO from 1939 to 1943 before signing with the Birmingham Black Barons to play in the Negro American League in 1942.

 

Piper’s play for ACIPCO in the Birmingham Industrial League got him recognized by the Negro Leagues. In late 1942, the manager of the Birmingham Black Barons offered Piper $5.00 per game or $7.50 for a double header to play part time with the Black Barons. Piper signed with his home team, the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League. When the 1943 season opened, Piper had made the roster for the Birmingham Black Barons and was given a full time contract. In 1945, Piper was recognized by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a Negro League player with Major League talent but was never signed. In 1947, the St. Louis Browns took out an option on Lorenzo, but he was never signed. In 1950, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox and played only 15 games at Scranton before being released. Piper played baseball year round and for five winters during his prime; he played professional basketball in the off-season. Piper was one of the most versatile players in baseball during his day. He could field any position on the base field diamond equally well. When he moved to the Negro American League, he made five straight Negro league All Star teams as the West Squad’s starting second baseman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: (Forgotten Heroes: Lorenzo “Piper” Davis; Center for Negro League Baseball Research; Dr. Layton Revel & Luis Monoz.

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