Hall of Fame Inductee - 2006
|Full Name: Louis "Top" Santop
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Weight: 240 lbs.
Born: Jan 17, 1890 in Tyler, TX
Died: Jan 22, 1942 in Philadelphia, PA
The original "Black Babe Ruth," Louis Santop was a solid catcher but was more famous for his power. In a 1912 game, he was credited with a tape-measure 500-foot bomb -- not only well before the juiced ball, but well before the dead ball had died.
Receiving for Negro League legends Smokey Joe Williams and Cannonball Dick Redding, Santop played for the New York Lincoln Giants after beginning his career with the Fort Worth Wonders, Oklahoma Monarchs and Philadelphia Giants in 1909. In 1910 he collaborated with Redding for the first time under manager Sol White.
From 1911-1914, Santop not only demonstrated power, but hit for high averages, hitting .470, .422, .429 and .455.
After a brief stint with the Chicago American Giants, Santop returned to New York, this time to play for the Lincoln Stars, where he played with Spots Poles, John Henry Lloyd and Redding. He returned to the Lincoln Giants in 1918, and lost in the championship game against the American Giants.
Stories of his good nature abound. According to The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues, Santop was the recipient of a knockdown pitch from ex-New York Giant Jeff Tesreau in an exhibition game. Both Tyler, Texas natives, Santop yelled to Tesreau, "You wouldn't throw at a hometown boy, would you?" But the gentle giant could become perturbed if provoked. On another occasion, he broke three of Oscar Charleston's ribs in an altercation.
Santop joined the Hilldale Daisies in 1917, joining the team for a three-game series against a Major League All-Star team. Facing pitchers Chief Bender and Bulleg Joe Bush, Santop collected six hits as the Daisies won two of the three matches. In all, Santop hit .316 against big league hurlers.
After serving in World War I (1918-1919), Santop returned to spend the remainder of his career with Hilldale, and was well paid for it. He was the league's biggest drawing card and received $500 a month, one of the highest salaries paid. They won pennants from 1923-25, but an error in the 1924 Negro World Series basically ended Santop's career.
With Hilldale leading a game 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Santop dropped a popup that would have ended the game. On the next pitch, the batter delivered a bases-loaded game-winning hit to win the game. In addition to the embarrassment, Santop was berated by his manager, Frank Warfield, in a profanity-filled tirade. The following year, Biz Mackey took over as starting catcher, and Santop was released the next season.
Santop became a broadcaster and eventually a bartender in Philadelphia after retiring from the game, before falling ill and eventually dying in a naval hospital in 1942.