2015 oil on canvas with wood and found objects 35 x 30 Collection of the Negro Southern Leagues Museum, Birmingham, AL
Arthur Lee â€śArtieâ€ť Wilson was born in Springville, Alabama and, in his youth, played in the famed Birmingham Industrial Leagues for the Acipico Pipe Company, where he worked part-time while attending high school. He lost a thumb there in a factory accident. Later, when playing his Negro League years with the Birmingham Black Barons in the 1940â€™s, he was considered the best shortstop in black baseball. He helped his team win three pennants and made appearances in the East-West All-Star game four out of his five years in the Leagues.
His talents at the plate and in the field earned him a look from the Majors and he had a â€ścup of coffeeâ€ť in 1951 with the NY Giants but, given his age and the unwritten quota system during the early years of integration, he was sent down to the minors where he became a legendary hitter in the Pacific Coast League for much of the 1950â€™s, playing for teams in Seattle, Portland Sacramento and Oakland. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .312 in the minors.