Today’s Random Player From the Baseball Project That May or May Not Amount to Anything is Luke Easter. Easter was born in 1915 and was raised on a farm in Mississippi. When his mother died in 1922 his father moved the family to St. Louis and he worked in a glass factory. He dropped out of high school as a freshman and started working a variety of odd jobs. In 1937 he joined the St. Louis Titanium Giants, a semi-pro team. He continued to play in the Negro Leagues until Indians’ owner Bill Veeck got a recommendation from Abe Saperstein, who is more famous for being the owner of the Harlem Globetrotters. That was 1949, when Easter was 34 years old with bad legs – lucky for him he only had two of them – but he had power. He was big for his day (6’-4”, 240 lbs.) and he hit the ball a long way. He hit 86 homeruns in three seasons – ages 34, 35, and 36 – and had 307 RBI in that stretch. He only managed seven more homers for the rest of his major league career, one that was far too short. He played in the minors until he was 50. Hal Lebovitz measured one of his homeruns at 477 feet which was painted red and noted as the longest homerun at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
After his playing days he returned to Cleveland and tried a few business ventures, including his own sausage company (the slogan was “If you want to hit like Luke you’ve got to eat like Luke”) and eventually worked as a steward for TRW. He was known as a kind hearted man who did everything for everyone else. Lebovitz wrote in a 1979 column that his bosses at TRW believed he was the best person to be a steward not just because of his work ethic, but because of the way he treated people and that his co-workers felt they had someone on their side. On March 29, 1979 he was cashing in around $40,000 in payroll checks for his workers so they would have actual cash instead of checks with the Easter holiday coming up. On his way out of the bank he was gunned down by two robbers with shotguns. In 1980 Woodland Hills Park was renamed Luke Easter Park in his honor.