Poles was generally recognized as one of the fastest players of his day. His speed was said to be compared to that of Cool Papa Bell, a Negro League star of the 1930s, and Ty Cobb. He was a left-handed batter with a noted eye, who hit for high batting averages.
Poles soon followed White to the New York Lincoln Giants in 1911, where he blossomed into a star; in his first four seasons with the Lincoln Giants, 1911–1914, Poles attained batting averages of .440, .398, .414, and .487 against all levels of competition.
Poles then spent the next few seasons jumping among the New York Lincoln Stars, Brooklyn Royal Giants, and the Hilldale Daisies. While Poles was with the Daisies, he joined the Army369th Infantry Regiment (Harlem Hellfighters), attached to the French Army, to serve duringWorld War I, earning decorations (five battle stars and a Purple Heart) for his combat experience in France as a sergeant. He returned home and continued a successful baseball career, playing for the Lincoln Giants from 1919 to 1923.
He is credited with a lifetime batting average of over .400 against all competition, and hit .319 in four winters in Cuba. A tantalizing aspect of his career is his success against white major league teams. Poles hit .610 against these teams, including three consecutive hits off Grover Cleveland Alexander. Poles spent his post-baseball years as a taxi cab operator and working atOlmsted Air Force Base in Middletown, Pennsylvania, enabling him to retire comfortably. Because of his Army service, Spottswood Poles was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.Bio #2
Many experts on black baseball say that Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell was the fastest man who ever played in the Negro Leagues, but some who remember the early years say that Spotswood Poles was even faster. The 5'7" 165-lb Poles, a bowlegged, switch-hitting outfielder, played in an era(;-h)h)h)from which most statistics have been lost, but an indication of his great talent was his nickname, The BlackTy Cobb.
Poles broke in as the centerfielder and leadoff hitter for the powerful 1909 Philadelphia Giants. He moved on to the New York Lincoln Giants in 1911, when he batted .440 and stole 41 bases in only 60 games. He hit .398 in 1912, and .487 in 1914. With the Lincoln club in the 10-game 1915 Black World Series, he batted only .205 (9-for-44), but, because of his baserunning ability, scored 11 runs. He averaged .319 in four winters in Cuba. In ten exhibition games against major league opposition, he collected 25 hits in 41 at-bats for an amazing .610 average.
Poles enlisted in the 369th Infantry in 1917 at the age of 30, and earned five battle stars and a Purple Heart fighting in France. He resumed his baseball career after WWI, but became tired of the constant travel and retired in 1923. He died in 1962 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.