Stephen F. Austin State University

Former Baseball Great Hails From 1800s Polk County (September 2011)

Former Baseball Great Hails From 1800s Polk County
By Wanda Bobinger

Jesse Hubbard was one of the greatest pitchers in Negro League baseball. He has been compared to the great Satchel Paige. Hubbard was a light skinned mulatto who was kept out of the major leagues because of his race.
The New York Giants sent him to their farm team, but no one was willing to risk breaking racial barriers to sign him, according to the Negro League Baseball Players Association.
Jesse was born July 18, 1895 in the sawmill town of Bering, Polk County, Texas. He completed the fifth grade, but never attended high school. At age l6, he went to work in a sawmill and started pitching ball. By l9l5, he was playing with the Houston Black Oilers.
Jesse was also a good hitter, left-handed, but threw right-handed.
In 1918, Hubbard entered the Army and was put on the Red Cross Team at Camp Dix, New Jersey. He was a stand-out with the ability to throw three ways: side arm, overhand and underhand.
In 1919, Jesse's Black League played the New York Giants and beat them. The next year, they played the Washington Senators in Griffith Stadium. In San Francisco, Hubbard played Joe DiMaggio.
He pitched against Babe Ruth and trained with Lou Gehrig every spring in New York. He played with the Baltimore Black Sox.
Jesse made good money for the time, averaging $600 a week or $1,000 per game for benefits.
He owned a restaurant in Baltimore, was said to have been handsome and a sharp dresser. He was a ladies' man and had a lasting preference for big cigars and bigger Cadillacs.
He continued to play baseball until 1938 and always maintained great popularity with the fans.
Jesse was the son of Robert Hubert and Priscilla Thorpe of Polk County.