Rap Dixon
Rap Dixon
oil on canvas with found frame
24.5 x 40
Collection of SABR historian Ted Knorr
Herbert Albert “Rap” Dixon was a stylish and complete five-point player, equally as good in the outfield as he was at the plate and on the base paths. He got his nickname for being able to “rap” the ball. He put up numbers at the plate in each of his 14 years of play that would have earned him triple crown status, with eye-popping highlights such as a 14-game hitting streak in 1929, which is two hits more than the longstanding Major League record. His lifetime batting average has been assessed at .325.
He started playing with Harrisburg Giants in 1922, and was lured away by the Negro National League’s founder, Rube Foster, for a year in 1926 to play for his team, the Chicago American Giants. During the Spring of 1927, Dixon travelled to Japan with a team of All-Stars and hit the longest homerun ever recorded in the country. So impressed was the young Emperor Hirohito by his all-around play, he presented Dixon with a loving cup at the end of their tour.
When the Harrisburg Giants disbanded in 1928, Dixon continued his career with several Negro League teams including the Baltimore Black Sox, Hilldale Daisies, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Philadelphia Stars, New York Cubans and the Homestead Grays.
After his retirement from baseball, Dixon returned to Steelton, PA, to work for the Bethlehem Steel Company, the town where he began his playing career as a 14-year-old with the semi-pro club the Keystone Giants. A few years later, Dixon would follow his wife, Edith, out to Detroit, MI, where he was going to manage a baseball team. While on a trolley car on July 18, 1944, Rap suffered a heart attack and died two days later at age 41; legend has it, he was in uniform and on his way to a game at the time.