In 1959, Bahamian Tony Curry was named the MVP of the Eastern Minor League, leading with 179 hits, 108 runs and 49 doubles. This got Curry noticed by sports talent scouts, eagerly on the look out, for the next negro, who could top the feats of Willy Mays. By 1960, Tony Curry was the rising star; a newly discovered talent, in the field of professional baseball.

If truth be told though, Tony Curry was a talented cricket player, not a baseball player. What Curry had was good arm and he could run. Curry’s arm could throw anything and catch anything. In 1960, that arm and raw Bahamian sports talent, honed on rough makeshift cricket pitches by kids on the back streets of Nassau, got Curry his big break in professional American baseball. He was picked up by the major league team the Philadelphia Phillies.

As a Bahamian negro, playing sports on American soil, Tony Curry was oddity for sure. There were only a handful of negro baseball players in the entire major league of professional baseball in 1960.

Racism and the colour barriers which existed in professional baseball, as the civil rights push was happening across America and the Caribbean, would have an impact on Tony Curry in ways that he couldn’t imagine


Book Excerpt: God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen By Mitchell Nathanson (2016) University of Pennsylvania Press.

Book Excerpt: God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen By Mitchell Nathanson (2016) University of Pennsylvania Press.


Confusingly, in 1961, Curry did something that defied all logic, for someone yet to really prove his talent in the high stakes world of professional major league sports.

Curry played a poker hand that he didn’t seem to have the ace cards to support.

In the end, his career in professional baseball was short, perfunctory, and lost to Bahamian sports history.


1960 – PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES DISCOVERS NEW BAHAMIAN TALENT

George Anthony “Tony” Curry (December 22, 1937 – October 16, 2006) was a Bahamian professional baseball player, an outfielder who appeared in Major League Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies (1960–61) and Cleveland Indians (1966). Tony, as he known to everyone, was, in 1961, the second Bahamian to reach the major leagues after Andre Rodgers.

Curry was an all round sportsman. He played cricket and association football in Nassau before turning to baseball.

In 1960, he was the diamond in the rough, a fresh new talent, waiting to be moulded and shaped into a legend.

(Valley Times, California, Saturday, 25 June 1960)

1961 – TONY CURRY publicly announced he had quit the major league Philadelphia Phillies over a $3,000 pay dispute

In 1961, then just 23 years old, Tony Curry, publicly announced he had quit the Philadelphia Phillies. Curry promptly left the training camp, and returned to Nassau. News that the MVP, the expected superstar talent had left, sent shockwaves across the American baseball leagues.

Curry said he was going home to Nassau to see his fiancé Norma Saunders and would not return until they (Philadelphia Phillies) gave him what he wanted.

What Curry wanted was $3,000!

Curry had been offered a $6,000 season contract; this was $1,000 under what was expected across the baseball league at his level. Tony Curry had asked for a $9,000 season contract. This was based on his new prized value having earned the MVP title from the Eastern Minor League in 1959 and his growing player confidence in 1960 season.

When Curry went back to training camp, after his very public quitting, things just weren’t the same. Curry seemingly won the battle, but lost the war. He was traded shortly after.

(Wisconsin State Journal, Wednesday, 22 March, 1961)

Book Excerpt: God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen By Mitchell Nathanson (2016) University of Pennsylvania Press.

Book Excerpt: God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen By Mitchell Nathanson (2016) University of Pennsylvania Press.


TONY CURRY AFTER 1961 AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT HAD ONLY HAD ONE GOOD SEASON WITH THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES. HE WAS TRADED IN 1962!

Tony Curry’s career in professional baseball lasted about 12-years from 1957 to 1968. By the time he was 31 years old, Curry was permanently benched from American professional baseball.

Curry had one of the most enviable promising beginnings to a professional career in a time when negroes in sports faced relenting racism and discrimination.

“He batted .333, .293 and .313 during his first three minor league seasons, with extra-base power. In 1959, in the Class A Eastern League, Curry belted 49 doubles, nine triples and 23 home runs, with 90 runs batted in. He led the Eastern League in runs scored and hits, and was named Most Valuable Player.”

“The following year, 1960, Curry spent the entire season on the Phillies’ MLB roster and appeared in 95 games played, starting 55 games in the Phillies’ outfield.

Benefitting from a torrid start, he batted .336 in his first 42 games, through June 23. He was still hitting above .300 on July 6, but slumped at the plate and ended the season batting .261 with 64 hits, six home runs and 34 runs batted in. It would be his only full season in the majors. During spring training in 1961 he briefly walked out of the Phillies’ camp in a contract dispute.

Then, when the regular season began, he collected only seven hits in 36 at bats before being demoted to Triple-A.

As events turned out, his Philadelphia career was over.

Curry was traded to the Cleveland Indians’ organization in March 1962, and he spent much of the rest of his pro career in Triple-A.

A strong performance for the Portland Beavers in 1966 earned Curry a six-week call-up to Cleveland in June, but he collected only two hits and three bases on balls in 19 plate appearances as a pinch hitter in his last appearance in the majors.

In all or parts of three big-league seasons, Curry played in 129 games and had 297 at bats, 33 runs, 73 hits, 16 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 40 RBI, 20 walks, .246 batting average, .295 on-base percentage, .374 slugging percentage, 111 total bases, 1 sacrifice hit, 1 sacrifice fly and 2 intentional walks.

He died in his home city of Nassau at the age of 68.”

TONY CURRY Wikipedia

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