Artie Wilson
Artie Wilson
oil on canvas with wood and found objects
35 x 30
Collection of the Negro Southern Leagues Museum, Birmingham, AL
Arthur Lee “Artie” 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 1940’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 “cup of coffee” 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 1950’s, playing for teams in Seattle, Portland Sacramento and Oakland. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .312 in the minors.