Celebrating Rochester's Rocky Simmons: The Natural Athlete

Celebrating Rochester's Rocky Simmons
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The Natural Athlete

“In his early years living in the south, he and all other African Americans were not allowed to play in established baseball leagues. He played on the Negro league teams Bogalusa Tigers, and the Chicago American Giants as a catcher. He once caught for the great Satchel Paige. Rocky became manager of the Atlantic City Foley All-stars and the Utica Monarchs. He also managed the New York Black Yankees which finished its last season in 1948 in Rochester. The Rochester American Giants, a Negro minor league team was also managed by Rocky.”

--Roxie Simmons Sinkler

Rocky was a natural athlete excelling at both baseball and football. Here we see Rocky as a student at Wiley College where he was awarded an athletic scholarship. Wiley College located in Marshall, TX is one of the oldest historically black colleges west of the Mississippi.

Rocky Simmons, at right, as manager of the Utica Monarchs.

Rochester American Giants in the dugout of the Buffalo Bison’s home park. Rocky Simmons is standing in the middle with Alpheus Vallot in hat, circa 1940s. Players seated on bench are unidentified except for the player in the satin jacket believed to be pitcher Lemuel Jeffries.
Photo by Maxwell, Grand Photographer I.B.P.O.E.W. 34 Centre Pk., Rochester, NY.

Southern Negro league team, Rocky Simmons at right.

Rocky Simmons with the football team he coached in Rochester.

Rochester American Giants, team photograph. Rochester, NY. Circa 1950.
Photo by Rocky Simmons.

McAlary, Mike. “A Look Back at Satchel: Ex-teammate adds to the gaining legend” in Rochester Democrat & Chronicle June 10, 1982.

“The Rochester American Giants at the Buffalo Bison’s home park, circa 1940s. Players from left to right in the bottom row include Lemuel Jeffries, Nate Harris, Walter Williams, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified, Victor Wright, John Bruce, Gilbert Taylor, Gordon Terrell, unidentified, team manager Rocky Simmons and business manager Mr. A. Vallot. The two players in the back row are Roy Phillips and Charles Cleveland.”

Baseball in the 19th Century, Part Four - Rochester's Last Two Seasons of Amateur Baseball,” by Astifan, Priscilla Rochester History Vol. 63 No(s) 2 (Spring 2001); Photo by Maxwell, Grand Photographer I.B.P.O.E.W. Rochester, NY.

Jones, Jack. “Black baseball star 'played from the heart,' on and off field” in Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Circa 1985.

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