Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

Newt Allen

Author: 
David Conrads
Newt Allen
Newt Allen. Courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.

For most of his 23-year baseball career, Newt Allen was an integral component of the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the most storied teams in the history of Negro league baseball. A solid hitter and stellar defensive player, Allen was arguably the best second baseman in black baseball during the 1920s and early 1930s.

Henry Newton Allen was born in Austin, Texas, in 1901. He moved to Kansas City from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1910 and attended Lincoln High School with future teammates Frank Duncan and Rube Currie. The three organized an amateur team they called the Kansas City Tigers, named after the school mascot. In 1921 he joined the semi-pro Omaha Federals, where he was spotted by J. L. Wilkinson, owner of the Monarchs and the All-Nations, a mixed-race team. Wilkinson assigned Allen to the All-Nations in 1922 and promoted him to the Monarchs at the end of that season.

Allen was 20 years old when he joined the Monarchs, and his teammates nicknamed “Colt” because of his youth. A small man—he stood just five feet, seven inches tall—Allen earned a reputation as a versatile and sure-handed infielder, an excellent bunter, and a tough, aggressive base-runner. He was captain of the Monarchs for several years and managed the team in 1941. He was popular with the fans, who four times selected him to appear in the annual East-West All-Star Game.

Except for parts of the 1931 and 1932 seasons, Allen played his entire career in Kansas City. He played winter ball with teams in California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, and toured parts of Asia in 1933 with a Negro league all-star team.

Allen retired from baseball after the 1944 season, and then returned to manage the Indianapolis Clowns for the 1947 season. He remained in Kansas City for many years, where he was a foreman at the Jackson County courthouse and active in the local Democratic Party. He died in Cincinnati in 1988.

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A version of this article previously appeared at http://www.kchistory.org/content/biography-newt-allen-1901-1988-baseball...