--Sunny Jim Echols
Sunny Jim Echols
A fine right-handed curveball pitcher with a happy disposition, "Sunny" Jim Echols played pro baseball in the South for 12 years.
skills on the sandlots of Atlanta playing for semipro teams such as "The Icehouse Gang" which passed a hat after each game to make enough money to buy baseballs and second-hand equipment.
Echols was a good outfielder as a youngster, but as he grew taller and didn't fill out, he concentrated on pitching and became a good one.
had a good fastball, but was better known for a wide-sweeping roundhouse curve.
"A pitcher that don’t have no moves and motions ain’t much of a pitcher!
"I’m telling you ‘cuz them big suckers up there with that bat--he up there with a stick and you out there with a ball.
If you ain’t got no moves you ain’t gonna do nothing!"
In 1936, Sunny Jim's childhood dream came true when he
was signed by his
hometown Black Crackers, joining such men as Red Moore, Pee Wee Butts and Joe Greene.
picked up his nickname from Atlanta World sportswriter Jule Smith who loved the pitcher's sunny disposition.
In 1938, the Atlanta Black Crackers won the second half pennant in the Negro American League
as a member of its pitching staff with Chin Evans, Bo Mitchell, Bullet Dixon and Telosh Howard.
credited Howard with teaching him a secret to pitching: watching batting practice.
"You watch the team taking batting practice and you got to be able to memorize how the batters hit the pitches," said Echols
Chin Evans, like Echols, was a tall righthanded curveball expert, and in the opening game of the 1938 playoffs that year he
pitched against Double Duty Radcliffe and the Memphis Red Sox.
Radcliffe beat Evans and the Red Sox won the second game before the two teams couldn't agree on when and where to finish the series and no more games were played.
was content playing with his
hometown Black Crackers when he
was given some advice by Josh Gibson after a game against the Homestead Grays.
“Echols, you get rich traveling!” Gibson told the youngster.
Soon after, Echols joined the Norfolk Stars who played across 42 states and Canada.
had many career highlights, including a gem he
pitched against the New York Black Yankees in Yankee Stadium.
struck out 22 batters without a walk.
After baseball, Echols worked for the Atlanta Post Office until his retirement.