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St. Croix in Pro Sports

The island of St. Croix has produced quite a few professional athletes. While many of you know that Tim Duncan is a proud Crucian, you may be surprised at the number of professional level sports players that have been born and/or raised on St. Croix. From baseball and basketball, to football and boxing, read all about the pros who have called this island home at one time or another.

We've compiled a slideshow featuring facts about, and photos, of the professional athletes St. Croix has produced over the past century plus...dating back to the first professional boxer who was born on St. Croix when it was still the Danish West Indies! Read on to learn more:

Alfonso Gerard

Born on July 26, 1916 in Christiansted, Alfonso 'Piggy' Gerard is the only ballplayer from the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the Negro Leagues (during Segregation in the majors). The outfielder also played in Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Alfonso was one of the men considered to break the MLB color barrier before they ultimately chose Jackie Robinson.
Years Played in NL: 1945, 1947-1949
Position: Outfield
Teams: New York Black Yankees, Indianapolis Clowns, Chicago American Giants
Career Highlights: Alfonso performed his best as a Negro Leaguer, hitting .340 and getting a reputation for handling the best fastball pitchers, such as Satchel Paige.
Later Career: He returned to St. Croix to manage local teams, as well as development and maintenance of fields for the V.I. government’s baseball development program.
Died: July 14, 2002 in Christiansted

Valmy Thomas

While he was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico on October 21, 1925, Valmy grew up in the Water Gut neighborhood of St. Croix and became the first man from the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the major leagues.
Years Played in Majors: 1957-1961
Position: Catcher
Teams: New York Giants, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Oriels, Cleveland Indians
Later Career: Valmy was a sports consultant with the Bureau of Recreation for six years, as well as a boxing promoter, and Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs on St. Croix. He served as president of St. Croix’s Turf Club in the 1970s and ’80s, and was a sports commentator on local radio and TV.
Died: October 16, 2010 in Christiansted, and is buried in the Veterans Section of Kingshill Cemetery

Joe Christopher

In 1959, Joe Christopher became the first player born in the US Virgin Islands to make the majors. Born on December 13, 1935 in Frederiksted, Joe was one of the original 'Amazin’ Mets'. In the 1960 World Series, Joe pinch-hit or pinch-ran in three games, scoring two runs and helping the Pirates to win the World Series.
Years Played in Majors: 1959-1966
Position: Outfielder, Pinch-hitter
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox
Career Highlights: 1960 World Series Champion. He also won several titles in Puerto Rico, plus two more as a playoff reinforcement in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Elmo Plaskett

Elmo Plaskett was born on June 27, 19387 in Frederiksted, St. Croix. He was known for his hitting skills, sunny nature and movie-star smile.
Years Played in Majors: 1962-1963
Position: Pitcher, Utility Player
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates
Later Life: Elmo served as one of the coaches for the Virgin Islands branch of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. He also gave input to the Major League Scouting Bureau on behalf of local prospects, and he instructed Jerry Browne and Midre Cummings who went on to careers in the majors.
Died: November 2, 1998 in Christiansted, and is buried in the Frederiksted Cemetery

Julio Navarro

While born January 9, 1934 in Vieques, Puerto Rico, Julio learned to play baseball on St. Croix. He attended St. Patrick’s Catholic school in Frederiksted and played ball with future Crucian major-leaguers, Joe Christopher and Elmo Plaskett. Julio appeared during six seasons in the majors (1962-66; 1970), but his minor-league career spanned 20 years (1955-1974) and he played 22 winters in Puerto Rico.
Years Played in Majors: 1962-1970
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Los Angles Angles, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves
Later Life: Julio was a scout for the Cubs for a couple of years after his major league career. Then he was a rookie-league coach with the Braves for about four years, then was with the Indians for several years.
Died: January 24, 2018 in Orlando, FL

Horace Clarke

Horace Clarke was born on June 2, 1940 in Frederiksted, St. Croix. In 1958 he signed with the New York Yankees when he was 17, and a student at Christiansted High School. He appeared in the most major-league games of any player from the Virgin Islands (1,272). His strongest offensive season came in ’69 when he hit a career-high .285 with an on-base percentage of .339 and 33 steals.
Years Played in Majors: 1965-1974
Position: Second Base
Teams: New York Yankees, San Diego Padres
Later Career: Horace returned to St. Croix, teaming with Elmo Plaskett as a government-paid instructor in the local baseball programs, and helping to coach future major league players Midre Cummings and Jerry Browne.
Died: August 5, 2020 on St. Croix

José Morales

José Morales was born in Frederiksted, St. Croix on December 30, 1944. He played professional baseball for over a decade, and in 1975 (for the first of four times) he led his league in pinch hits, recording 15 in 51 at-bats. José then went on to set his pinch-hit record of 25 in 1976.
Years Played in Majors: 1973-1984
Position: Pinch-hitter, Utility Player
Teams: Oakland Athletics, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers
Later Career: He had a productive second career as a batting coach in the majors during the 1980s and ’90s.

Henry Cruz

Henry Cruz was born in Christiansted, St. Croix on February 27, 1952. He played major league baseball for three years, then went on to play in the Mexican Baseball League and the Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL).
Years Played in Majors: 1975-1978
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox
Later Career: Post baseball, Henry worked as a scout for the Cleveland Indians and as a batting coach in the PRWL and for the Dodgers.

Jerry Browne

Jerry Browne was born on February 13, 1966 in Christiansted, St. Croix. In March 1983, a few months before he graduated from Central High School, the Rangers signed Browne as an undrafted free agent.
Years Played in Majors: 1986-1995
Position: Second Base, Utility Player
Teams: Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Florida Marlins
Career Highlights: Browne was the Rangers’ top rookie in 1987, and Rookie of the Year in the Puerto Rican Winter League in 1986-87. He also played in 982 games, second only to Horace Clarke on the lifetime list among Virgin Islanders.

Midre Cummings

Midre Cummings was born on St. Croix on October 14, 1971. He played professional baseball for over a decade, and helped the Arizona Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series.
Years Played in Majors: 1993-2005
Position: Outfielder, Pinch-hitter
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Baltimore Orioles
Career Highlights: 2001 World Series Champion
Later Career: Midre is now coaching baseball for boys 12 and under in Florida. In 2006, he noted, “It’s a little different working with kids now. You have to be very patient with them. Some of them respond well, some of them don’t. I just have to take the time to know the kids.” His patience paid off, as the 12U Florida Hit & Run baseball team from Tarpon Springs won the 2008 AAU state championship.

Hanik Milligan

Born on St. Croix on November 3, 1979, Hanik Milligan played college football at Houston. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 for his work on special teams with the Chargers.
Years Played in NFL: 2003-2007
Position: Safety, Special Teams
Teams: San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams
Career Highlights: Pro Bowl, All-Pro Team, 2 time All-Conference USA. Hanik was considered one of the best special teams players in the league, and his dominant play on special teams earned him the nickname 'Burdman'.

Linval Joseph

Born on St. Croix on October 10, 1988, Linval attended East Carolina University from 2007 to 2009, getting named first-team All-Conference USA (C-USA) as a junior in 2009. Linval was drafted by the New York Giants with the 46th overall pick in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Years Played in NFL: 2010-Present
Position: Defensive Tackle
Teams: New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers
Career Highlights: So far, Linval is a 2010 Super Bowl Champion, and two-time Pro Bowl player. He was also voted one of the top 100 players in the NFL in 2018.

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan was born on St. Croix on April 25, 1976 and played basketball for St. Dunstan's Episcopal in high school. After graduating from Wake Forest University, he spent his entire 19-year playing career with the Spurs and is widely regarded as the greatest power forward of all time (and one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history).
Years Played in NBA: 1997-2016
Position: Power Forward/Center
Teams: San Antonio Spurs
Career Highlights: Too many to list! Here are just a few: NBA Rookie of the Year; 5 time NBA Champion; 3 time NBA Finals MVP; 2 time NBA Most Valuable Player; 15 time NBA All-Star; NBA All-Star Game MVP
Later Career: Now Head Coach of the Spurs, and true ambassador for St. Croix.

Raja Bell

Born on St. Croix on September 19, 1976, Raja Bell was best known for his years starting for the Phoenix Suns. He also made it into six different NBA season playoffs.
Years Played in NBA: 2000-2012
Position: Shooting Guard
Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors
Career Highlights: Raja was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team twice. He was also a finalist for the 2016 Kenny Whetham Memorial Trophy for his off-court efforts in the community.
Later Career: Raja is Director of Player Administration for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Walt 'Clyde' Frazier

While he wasn't born or raised here, Walt Frazier has made St. Croix his second home for decades, so we had to include him! Born March 29, 1945, he grew up in Atlanta and accepted a college basketball scholarship to play for Southern Illinois University - becoming one of the premier collegiate basketball players in the country. In 1967, he was drafted by the New York Knicks.
Years Played in NBA: 1967-1980
Position: Point Guard
Teams: New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers
Career Highlights: 7 time NBA All- Star Player; 2 time NBA Champion; inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987; elected to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996
Later Career: Walt is a color commentator for telecasts of Knicks games on the MSG Network. Here on St. Croix, he is also an avid gardener!

Peter Jackson

While Peter Jakson was an Australian heavyweight boxer who had a significant international career, he was born in Christiansted, Saint Croix (DWI) on July 3, 1861.
Years Boxing: 1888-1892, 1899
Class: Heavyweight
Nicknames: Peter the Great, Black Prince
Career Highlights: He won the Australian heavyweight title in 1886, and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the inaugural 1990 class, as well as being the 2004 inductee for the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame in the Pioneers category.
Later Career: Peter gained some fame during his stay in America as an actor. He never got the role of 'Othello' he wanted but he starred in a touring production of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'.

'Sugar' Ray Seales

Sugar was born on St. Croix on September 4, 1952 while his father was stationed here in the Army. He earned a gold medal in the 1972 olympics, and went on to become a contender for the middleweight title during the late '70s and early '80s.
Years Boxing: 1980-2003
Class: Middleweight
Nicknames: Sugar
Career Highlights: 2 time NABF Middleweight Champion; USBA Middleweight Champion; 2005 inductee into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame; 2018 inductee into the Indiana Boxing Hall of Fame inaugural class
Later Career: Sugar later worked as a schoolteacher of autistic students at Lincoln High School in Tacoma for 17 years, retiring in 2004. In 2006, he moved to Indianapolis with his wife, and currently teaches at Indy Boxing and Grappling.

Livingstone Bramble

While Livingstone Bramble was born on Saint Kitts and Nevis on September 3, 1960, he was raised here on Saint Croix. In fact, he was set to represent the Virgin Islands at the 1980 Olympics but because of the U.S. boycott he missed out. He decided to make the transition to the pros, leaving the amateur stage with a record of 43-4 (27 knockouts).
Years Boxing: 1980-2003
Class: Lightweight
Nicknames: Ras-I-Bramble, Abuja Bramble
Career Highlights: WBA Lightweight Champion of the World; NABF Light Welterweight Champion
Personal Life: Livingstone is an avid marathon runner, and competes each year at the International Boxing Hall of Fame's celebrity marathon. He is also the subject of a biography by boxing journalist Brian D'Ambrosio called 'Rasta in the Ring: The Life of Rastafarian Boxer Livingstone Bramble' (released in 2016).

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St. Croix Pro Athletes Playlist

Want to see more highlights, shots, bouts, and more? Check out our YouTube playlist with videos featuring many of the athletes included in our slideshow above:

 

We love to celebrate all the amazing athletes that have have been part of the St. Croix community - so, we hope to continue adding to this list. If you know of someone we missed, please let us know so we can include them! To all of the pro athletes who have given back to the island of St. Croix, we thank you for your love and support.

 

Editors Note: Special thanks to our Contributing Editor,  Ben Solomon, the 13 year old nephew of GoTo's owner Wendy Solomon. This feature was Ben's idea, and he researched the players - their bios, stats, photos and clips. Ben is a sports fanatic and sports memorabilia collector from Long Island, NY, and he loves to visit St. Croix.  If you have old baseball cards you'd like to gift this young man, email us!

-Jennie Ogden, Editor


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