On March 18, 1946, the Buckeyes left for Spring Training in Birmingham with a new left hand
pitcher, Eddie Klep, from Erie, Pennsylvania. Eddie was signed by Ernie Wright, the Buckeyes owner.
Eddie had pitched well in an exhibition game in Erie against the Buckeyes in 1945. What made Klep
an intriguing signing is that he was white, and may have been the first white player signed by a Negro
If you want to read a great article about Eddie Klep, I would recommend Elysian Fields Quarterly,
Volume 19, Number 2, where you will find a great article by Larry R. Gerlach about Klep.
Eddie ran into issues in Spring Training. When the Buckeyes were about to play an exhibition game
at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, the infamous Birmingham public safety commissioner,"Bull" Conner,
told the teams that no mixed race teams were allowed to play in Birmingham and ordered Klep to leave the
field and the dugout before the game could proceed.
Klep also ran into difficulties eating in segregated restaurants with his teammates as he was not allowed
to eat in all-black restaurants. Buckeyes' manager, Wilbur Hayes, decided it best to send Klep back to
Erie to work out with his previous team.
Upon Klep's return to Erie, Buckeye's owner Ernie Wright, went
back to Birmingham with Klep as he felt it unfair that Klep was not
able to play baseball with his teammates.
Now, I'm not sure what to make of Eddie Klep. Any issues
he might have faced certainly paled in comparison with the problems
Jackie Robinson had to contend with.
Klep also had a dubious background. He only went as far as sixth
grade in school, didn't particularly like to work and had long since
abandoned his wife and son. He couldn't hold a job and was known
to drink heavily. The only team of note that he played with in the
future was a prison team in Pennsylvania.
In June, 1946, manager Quincy Trouppe felt Klep could not
measure up to the level of play in the league and Klep was released.
It was reported that Klep was bitter about his release believing
he wasn't given enough opportunity to pitch.
In total, Klep only appeared in three games for the Buckeyes.
Two of the games were exhibition games, two innings against the
Atlanta Black Crackers in spring training and a four inning
appearance in an exhibition game in Grand Rapids against the
Chicago American Giants.
His only regular season appearance was against the
Indianapolis Clowns when he came into a bases loaded, one out jam
and gave up two hits and three runs before completing the inning.
His release came the following week.
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The Ballad of Eddie Klep by Chuck Brodsky