Nath McClinic—Negro Leaguer, Southern Lawman

24 Aug

Nathaniel “Nath” McClinic (often incorrectly referred to as “Nat”) was humble about his abilities.  Every Negro League contemporary of McClinic I had the opportunity to speak with over the years described him as being one of the best centerfielders of the post-integration era Negro Leagues, possessing great speed and an excellent arm.

McClinic would simply say “I could run and throw, but I couldn’t hit the curveball.”

Born in Georgia in 1924, McClinic served in the Army on Iwo Jima and led the Army baseball team to island championships before his discharge in 1946.

Nathaniel “Nath” McClinic

Upon his return from the service, McClinic and fellow Georgian Earnest Long were signed by the Chattanooga Choo Choo’s in the Negro Southern League.  McClinic also spent time with the Cleveland Buckeyes and Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro American League.  The only official records for McClinic are two at bats with no hits for Cleveland in 1948.

McClinic settled in Rome, Georgia after his professional career, managing and playing for the Lindale Dragons in the semi-pro Georgia Negro State League—also called the Josh Gibson League—Lindale was one of the best semi-pro clubs in the south throughout the late forties and early fifties, and had great success against local white teams.

In 1965 McClinic became the first African-American police officer in Floyd County Georgia, a year later he became the first African American graduate of the Georgia State Police Academy.

McClinic often told the story of one of his first arrests after joining the force.  He and the only other African-American officer arrested a white man for public intoxication.  Upon bringing the man to the police station, McClinic was told, “Don’t ever arrest a white man, regardless of what you see him doing.” Later that year a new police chief was appointed and the order was rescinded.

McClinic served as an officer and investigator for the next twenty years, retiring in 1986.

Nath McClinic

After his retirement, McClinic was a regular attendee at Negro League reunions and was honored in Cooperstown in 1991 as one of the “Living Legends of the Negro Leagues.”

McClinic passed away April 3, 2004, in Rome, Georgia.

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