That's what I was, declared Willie Wells shortly before his death in 1989. "I just wanted to be the best. I never wanted to lose." This determination translated into a twenty year career as black baseball's finest shortstop.
While compiling a lifetime batting average around .300, often taking the Negro National League batting title (hitting .403 in 1930), Wells displayed fielding talents which earned him 8 nominations to the East-West all-star game. This remarkable feat was accomplished despite the fact that Wells had played nine of his finest seasons before the inaugural All-Star Game in 1933.
During the early 1940s Wells spent four seasons playing in Mexico where his legendary fielding skills prompted frustrated hitters to dub his El Diablo (The Devil).
Against white major league squads Wells hit a handy .410 in exhibition games and impressed Hall-Of-Famer Charlie Gehringer as a fierce competitor. "Wells was the kind of player you always wanted on your team, Gehringer recalled in 1989. "He played the way all great players play - with everything he had."
Moving from the "Million Dollar Infield" of the Newark Eagles into a post as player-manager, Wells finished his career as a respected teacher of the game, developing such young players as Monte Irvin and Don Newcombe.