Hilton Smith
Born: (1907-02-27)February 27, 1907
Giddings, Texas, U.S.
Died: November 18, 1983(1983-11-18) (aged 76)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Negro leagues debut
1932, Monroe Monarchs
Last Negro leagues appearance
1948, Kansas City Monarchs
Negro leagues[a] statistics
Win–loss record70–38
Earned run average2.92
Negro leagues
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee

Hilton Lee Smith (February 27, 1907[b] – November 18, 1983) was an American right-handed pitcher in Negro league baseball. He pitched alongside Satchel Paige for the Kansas City Monarchs and Bismarck Churchills between 1932 and 1948. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Early life

Born in Giddings, Texas, Smith began his career in black baseball's equivalent of the minor leagues with the Austin Black Senators in Austin, Texas. Smith made the dean's list as a student at Prairie View A&M College in 1928 and 1929. He was an outfielder in his first college season and a pitcher in his second year.[2]

His big league debut was with the Monroe Monarchs of Monroe, Louisiana in 1932. In 1934, Smith wed Louise Humphrey. They had two children.[3]

Semi-pro career

From 1935 to 1936, Smith pitched for the Bismarck semi-professional team organized by Neil Churchill. In 1935, his teammates included Satchel Paige, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Quincy Trouppe, Barney Morris, and Chet Brewer. In August, the team won the national semipro championship in Wichita, Kansas. In 1936, Paige, Radcliffe, and Brewer departed and Smith became the ace of the Bismarck team. They returned to the national championship, where Smith won four games, but Bismarck failed to repeat as champions.[4]

Negro league career

In late 1936, Smith signed with the Kansas City Monarchs. From 1937 until his retirement in 1948, Smith was a star pitcher on the Monarchs. He possessed an outstanding curveball, but was overshadowed by his more flamboyant teammate Satchel Paige. Often Paige would pitch the first three innings of a game, leaving Smith to pitch the remaining six. Also, unlike Paige, Smith was a very good hitter.

Post-playing career and death

After retiring from baseball, Smith worked as a schoolteacher and later as a steel plant foreman. He also scouted for the Chicago Cubs. Smith had a quiet, reserved temperament, but in his later years he stood up for Negro leaguers in their struggle to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1983 in Kansas City, Missouri. It was not until 2001 that he was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ On December 16, 2020, Major League Baseball declared the Negro leagues, from the span of 1920–1948, to be a "Major League".[1] Smith's statistics reflect his time in the Negro leagues from 1932 and from 1937 until the end of his career.
  2. ^ During his lifetime, Smith claimed that his birth-date was 1912, which is the date shown in several references such as Riley, p. 723. Nearly 20 years after his death, however, historian Larry Lester discovered information and confirmed that his actual birth-date was February 27, 1907; see Thornley, p. 136.


  1. ^ "MLB officially designates the Negro Leagues as 'Major League'". MLB.com. December 16, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  2. ^ "Hilton Lee Smith inducted into the Prairie View A&M Sports Hall of Fame". Prairie View A&M University. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  3. ^ Porter, David, ed. (2000). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Q-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1434–1435. ISBN 0313311765. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  4. ^ McNary, Kyle P. (2001). "North Dakota Integrated Baseball History". Pitch Black Baseball. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2009.