The Obit For Sidney Wynn

Sidney Wynn Remembered

The Miami Herald Posted
Saturday, 11/29/08

Sidney Wynn was never one to brag, even though he was hard to beat at any sport or game of skill.

That said, bystanders could expect to hear the following after a particularly impressive shot at the pool table or on the golf course: ``My daddy named me Wynn because I win all the time.''

An all-around athlete and veteran of the segregated professional baseball system that produced superstars like Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella and Willie Mays, Wynn played pro ball on and off for nearly a decade -- World War II intervening.

And for one season, the shortstop/third baseman made the big time, with the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs in 1952.

Wynn died of cancer on Nov. 22 at the North Miami home he shared with son Vincent Wynn. The retired Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department recreation manager -- once divorced, once widowed -- was 84.

In addition to golf and ping-pong, Wynn excelled at tennis, basketball, football, swimming, fast-pitch softball, volleyball, even marbles.

''I watched that man do the things in basketball that they do today,'' said lifelong friend and barber, Leo Pender.

But Wynn loved baseball above all. Watching games on television, ''he'd sit there like a manager and tell you what ball is going to come,'' said Vincent. 'They play a `peewee' game, he'd watch it.''

Thadis Green of Fort Lauderdale, another lifelong friend, called Wynn ``a student of the game. He understood the science of baseball. He knew when he could steal a base from the moment the pitcher started winding up. He was quick as a cat, and graceful.''

Wynn's tenure with the Monarchs was his claim to local fame, earning him citations, honors, a City of Miami Sidney Wynn Day -- Oct. 22, 1999 -- spots on the Virrick Park Wall of Fame and under the Tree of Knowledge, at Northwest 65th Street and 18th Avenue.

''That's where old and retired men gather and talk about the past,'' Pender said. ``Anyone who wanted to know something about the history of Miami would come there and ask questions.''

Wynn 'would talk about the Kansas City Monarchs . . . and how he was so successful in the things he did. He would say, `Just plain being old me.' ''


Born to sharecroppers in Ocilla, Ga., Sidney Wynn was raised by his maternal grandparents in Coconut Grove. His sister, Connie Cason Hamm, said Wynn quarterbacked Miami's Carver High School football team.

Wayne Stivers, a Negro League specialist with The Society for American Baseball Research, interviewed Wynn in the mid-1990s, and cautioned that documentation is spotty for the league, even more so for the independent teams, so an exact chronology of Wynn's career isn't possible.

Wynn told Stivers he started playing in 1940 with the independent Coconut Grove Spiders. Drafted for WWII, he played for the 3rd Army Quartermaster Corps.

After the war, Wynn enrolled at what was then Florida Normal and Industrial Institute in St. Augustine -- now Florida Memorial University -- where he played baseball and football.

In 1946, he joined the independent Miami Giants. At some point, sister Connie said, he also played for the Palatka Blue Caps of the Negro League.

With the Monarchs, there was glory, if not riches. His top salary was $250 a month; Vincent said he made more signing autographs.

''People would give us just enough to go to the movies after a game, or buy popcorn,'' Wynn told The Miami Herald in 1994. ``Once, I used a whole game's pay to buy shakes for my girl, Miselene, and me. I still love those shakes.''