Former Negro Leagues player Toles dies at 90

Staff report


Services for Negro Leagues baseball player Ted Toles Jr., 90, will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Third Christian Church, 241 First St. S.W.

Toles’ death was posted Tuesday on his Facebook page by his biographer, Michael Swank. “Living on Borrowed Time: The Life and Times of Ted Toles Jr.” was published in 2015.

Toles was born on Dec. 4, 1925. A native of Newton Falls, he played in the Negro Leagues for five years as well as the minor leagues for three seasons.

In a 2008 interview, Toles said he “didn’t make a million bills” during his career but he “had a million thrills” on the ballfield.

Toles graduated from Braceville High School in 1943. He also boxed and was a track and field star.

His first baseball stop after high school was to play for manager Charlie Caffie and the Warren GC’s.

A left-handed pitcher, outfielder and switch-hitter, Toles toured with the Cleveland Buckeyes, Pittsburgh Crawfords and two other clubs in the Negro Leagues.

Things began to change for him after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color line in 1947 by playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson’s success led to the demise of the Negro Leagues, with some of their players going to Major League Baseball and its farm clubs.

Eventually, Toles was a minor league player with the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Athletics and New York Yankees from 1951-53.

Among the teams he played for were the New Castle Indians (Middle Atlantic League) in 1951, the Magic Valley Cowboys (Pioneer League) in 1952 and the Trois-Rivieres Yankees and St. Hyacinthe A’s (Provincial League) in 1953.

After his baseball career ended, Toles returned to Trumbull County and worked in a steel mill.

Decades after his playing days ended, Toles was mostly forgotten. Then in 2006, he was one of four former Negro League players to be chosen for a baseball card produced by the Topps Baseball Card Company.

“They will make 200 cards,” Toles said in 2007. “I signed a contract for $1,000.”

Toles’ story became popular one with baseball fans and history buffs.

In 2010, Toles participated in an event honoring the Negro Leagues at Progressive Field in Cleveland. A collection of memorabilia from the Josh Gibson Foundation was on display while Toles and the other players attending the event fielded questions from fans.

In 2010, Toles was inducted in the Trumbull County Sports Hall of Fame. He also was inducted into the Ebony Lifeline All Sports Hall of Fame.

He and his wife, Jean, raised seven children: daughter Evelyn and sons Theodore III, Nelson, Leslie, Robert, Lonnie and Larry.