Sergeant, United States Army
Negro Leagues Baseball Star
an assist by Sammy J. Miller, Negro League Baseball Historian And Writer:
"Many experts on black baseball say that Poles was one of the greatest outfielders to have ever played the game. The 5'7" 165 pounds Poles, a bowlegged switch hitting outfielder, played in an era from which most Negro League statistics are lost, but an indication of his greatness was his nickname, "The Black Ty Cobb".
He broke into professional black baseball as the center fielder and lead off hitter for the powerful 1909 Philadelphia Giants. He moved on the New York Lincoln Giants in 1911, where he batted .440 for the season and stole 41 bases in only 60 games. He hit .398 in 1912, .414 in 1913, and .487 in 1914. With the Lincoln club in the 10 game 1915 black championship, Poles batted only .205, but because of his speed and base running ability scored 11 runs. In a 15 year Negro League career, Poles is credited with a .400 lifetime batting average and a .319 average for the four winter seasons he spent in Cuba. He is also credited with a .610 batting average in exhibition games against major league competition, many of which took place while Poles was in Cuba.
Poles enlisted in the 369th Infantry, United States Army, in 1917 at the age of thirty, and earned five battle stars and a Purple Heart while fighting in France.
He resumed his baseball career following the war but, tired of the constant travel that was part of the Negro League player's life, he retired in 1923. After leaving the game, Poles opened his own taxi service and later worked with his wife Bertha, who is also buried at Arlington, at Olmsted Air Force Base.
Poles died in 1962 and lies buried in Section 42 of Arlington National Cemetery.
In the on going effort by Negro League historians to get the National Baseball Hall of Fame to induct more Negro League players, Poles is a player whose name often appears."
Updated 11 March 1999 Updated: 14 June 2003 Updated: 6 September 2004