Negro Baseball Beginnings:

 

IN THE PERIOD OF RECONSTRUCTION AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, BLACK AND WHITE BALLPLAYERS OFTEN PLAYED ON THE SAME TEAMS. SOON AFTER, HOWEVER,THE COLOR LINE WAS BEING DRAWN ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, SEPARATING WHITES AND BLACKS. AND BY 1899, JIM CROW LAWS AND AN UNOFFICIAL "GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT" HAD PUSHED NEGRO PLAYERS AND ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR COMPLETELY OUT OF ORGANIZED BASEBALL

 

Negro Americans played baseball throughout the 1800’s, and by the 1860’s notable black amateur teams such as the Colored Union Club, in Brooklyn and the Pythian Club, in Philadelphia had formed. All-black professional teams began in the 1880s, among them the St. Louis Black Stockings and the Cuban Giants (of New York). Reflecting American society in general, amateur and professional baseball remained largely segregated

During the 1890s, most professional black players were limited to playing in exhibition games on "colored" teams on the barnstorming circuit. Players on major league teams also barnstormed in cities and towns after the regular season was over. In some places black teams and white teams played each other, and some blacks played for all-black teams in otherwise all-white leagues.

  • 1878: Bud Fowler, becomes the first Negro player to cross the color barrier as a pitcher for the Lynn, Mass. Live Oaks of the International League.
  • 1883: Moses Fleetwood “Fleet” Walker, joins  the minor league Toledo Blue Stockings as a catcher.  When the Blue Stockings joined the American Association in 1884, Walker became the first Negro major leaguer.
  • 1885: the (NY) Cuban Giants became the very first salaried professional black baseball team.
  • 1887: In July of 1887, the International League banned future contracts with black players, although it allowed black players already under contract to stay on with their teams.
  • 1894: Bud Fowler forms an independent Page Fence Giants team in Adrian, Michigan.
  • 1901: In an attempt to bypass the color barrier, Baltimore Oriole manager John McGraw introduced his new player as Chief Charlie Tokohama, a full blooded American Indian.  McGraw’s plan backfired when fans in Chicago recognized the ‘Chief’ as actually being Charlie Grant, a well known star for the Page Fence Giants.
  • 1907: Pitcher Rube Foster begins his managerial career with the Leland Giants as a player-manager.
  • 1920: On February 14, Rube Foster organizes the first black professional baseball league (Negro National League) consisting of eight teams: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABC’s, Kansas City Monarchs, St. Louis Giants, and the Cuban Stars.
     

 

The first successful organized Negro League was established on February 13, 1920, at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri. Andrew "Rube" Foster was the driving force behind the organization of this league and served as its president.

 

 

As a result of his leadership role in the early years of the leagues, Foster is known as "the father of black baseball." This first league was known as the Negro National League with member teams in the South and Midwest. The NNL operated successfully until 1931.

 

Three years after the founding of the NNL, the Eastern Colored League was formed on December 16, 1923, with Edward H. Bolden serving as chairman. In 1924, the very first Negro World Series was played between the ECL and the NNL champions. The ECL collapsed in the spring of 1928 but the member teams reemerged in 1929 as the American Negro League.

The depression years were especially difficult times for black baseball. In 1932, the East-West League was formed, but folded before the season ended. The Negro Southern League was the only black professional league to survive the 1932 season. The NSL was a minor league before and after the 1932 season.

In 1933, a second Negro National League was formed, and was the only black professional league operating until 1937. The league included teams from the East and the Midwest through 1935. By 1936, the NNL was operating exclusively in the East.

In 1937, teams in the South and the Midwest formed the Negro American League. The NAL and the NNL coexisted through the 1948 season. In 1949, the NNL was absorbed in the NAL, which operated as the last black major league through 1960.

As in the white major leagues, the Negro leagues had their own World Series. Over the years, eleven inter-league Black World Series were held. The NNL and ECL played from 1924 through 1927. Champions from the second NNL and the NAL competed from 1942 through 1948. Also in 1933, the black teams began all-star game competition. The game was known as the East-West game and was played each summer at Chicago's Comiskey Park. This game was considered more important than the World Series and annually attracted between 20,000 and 50,000 fans.

 

THE LEAGUES

 

 

  • ANL-  American Negro League 1929.  After the collapse of the ECL in the spring of 1928,  the member teams reemerged in 1929 as the American Negro League.
  • ECL-  Eastern Colored League 1922-1928. On December 16, 1922, the Eastern Colored League (chartered as the Mutual Association of Eastern Colored Baseball Clubs) is formally organized. The league will complete five seasons before folding in midsummer of 1928
  • IND -  (I) Independent Club, no league affiliation.
  • LCBC - League of Colored Baseball Clubs; formed in 1887 and consisted of eight teams in Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Louisville, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington. The league is recognized as an official minor league and protected under baseball's National Agreement, but it folded 13 games into its only season.
  • MSL - Middle States League 1889, a mixed color  league (reorganized as the Eastern Interstate League in 1890) had the New York Gorhams and the Cuban Giants as member clubs. Unfortunately the Eastern Interstate League died mid-season with the Cuban Giants resurfacing in the Connecticut State League. That league also folded (1891) and the Cuban Giants returned to independent status.
  • NAL-  Negro American League 1937-1950.
  • NNL-  Negro National League 1920-1948
  • NSL-  Negro Southern League 1932 - The Negro Southern League was the only major circuit to complete its schedule in 1932. The NSL was a minor league before and after the 1932 season.
  • NEWL - Negro East West League. Formed in 1932 and folded during its only season.
  • WCNBL- West Coast Negro Baseball League 1946
  •  

     

    THE TEAMS

     

    • Algona Brownies of Iowa (IND) 1902-1903
    • All Nations Team (IND) 1912-1918
    • Argyle Hotel Athletics (IND) 1885
    • Atlanta Black Crackers (IND, NSL, NAL) 1938
    • Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (IND) 1916-1922, 1930-1933, (ECL) 1923-1928, (ANL) 1929, (NNL) 1934
    • Baltimore Black Sox (IND) 1916-1922, (ECL) 1923-1928, (ANL) 1929, (I) 1930-1931, (EWL) 1932, (NNL) 1933 1934
    • Baltimore Elite Giants (NNL) 1938-1948, (NAL) 1949-1950
    • Birminghham Black Barons (NNL) 1924-1925, 1927-1930, (NSL) 1926, 1931-1936, (NAL) 1937-1938, 1940-1950
    • Brooklyn Eagles (NNL) 1935
    • Brooklyn Royal Giants 1905-1942
      (I) 1905-1922, 1934-1941,
      (ECL) 1923-1927, (NNL) 1933
    • Chicago American Giants 1911-1950 (IND) 1911-1919, 1936, (NNL) 1920-1931, 1933-1935, (NSL) 1932, (NAL) 1937-1950
    • Columbia Giants of Chicago (I) 1899-1900
    • Chicago Giants 1910-1921
      (I) 1910-1919, (NNL) 1920-1921
    • Leland Giants (I) 1905-1910
    • Chicago Unions (I) 1888-1900
    • Chicago Union Giants (I) 1901-1904
    • Cincinnati Buckeyes (NAL) 1942
    • Cincinnati Clowns (NAL) 1943
    • Cincinnati-Indpls Clowns (NAL) 1944-1945
    • CincinnatiTigers 1934-1937 (I) 1934-1936, (NAL) 1937
    • Cleveland Bears (NAL) 1939-1940
    • Cleveland Browns (NNL) 1924
    • Cleveland Buckeyes (NAL) 1943-1948, 1950
    • Cleveland Cubs (NNL) 1931
    • Cleveland Elites (NNL) 1926
    • Cleveland Giants (NNL) 1933
    • Cleveland Hornets (NNL) 1927
    • Cleveland Red Sox (NNL) 1934
    • Cleveland Stars (EWL) 1932
    • Cleveland Tate Stars (NNL) 1922
    • Cleveland Tigers (NNL) 1928
    • Cole's American Giants 1932-1935
      (NSL) 1932, (NN) 1933-1935
    • Columbia Giants (I) 1933
    • Columbus Blue Birds (NNL) 1899-1900
    • Columbus Buckeyess (NNL) 1921
    • Columbus Elite Giants (NNL) 1935
    • Cuban Giants 1885-1899 (I) 1885-1888, 1892-1899, (MSL) 1889-1890,
      (CSL) 1891
    • Cuban Stars (East) 1916-1929 (IND) 1916-1922, (ECL) 1923-1928, (ANL) 1929
    • Cuban Stars (West) 1907-1930 (IND) 1907-1919, (NNL) 1920-1930
    • Cuban X-Giants (I) 1897-1907
    • Dayton Marcos 1919-1926
      (I) 1921-1925, (NNL) 1919,1926
    • Denver White Elephants  (IND)
    • Detroit Cubs  1935 (IND)
    • Detroit Stars 1919-1931 (IND) 1919, (NNL) 1920-1931, 1933, (NAL) 1937 
    • Detroit Wolves (EWL) 1932
    • Ethiopian Clowns (IND)
    • Harlem Stars
    • Harrisburg Giants 1922-1927 (IND) 1922-1923, (ECL) 1924-1927
    • Harrisburg-St.Louis Stars (NNL) 1943
    • Havana Red Sox (I) 1917
    • Havana Stars (I) 1917
    • Hilldale Daisies 1916-1932 (IND) 1916-1922, 1930-1931 (ECL) 1923-1928, (ANL) 1929, (EWL) 1932
    • Homestead Grays 1912-1950 (IND) 1912-1928,1930-1933,1949-1959, (ANL) 1929, (NNL) 1934-1938
    • Houston Eagles (NAL) 1949-1950
    • Indianapolis ABCs 1913-1926, 1931-1933, 1938-1939 (IND) 1913-1919, (NNL) 1920-1926,1931,1933, (NSL) 1932, (NAL) 1938-1939
    • Indianapolis Athletics (NAL) 1937
    • Indianapolis-Cincinnati Clowns (NAL) 1944
    • Indianapolis Clowns (NAL) 1943-1950
    • Indianapolis Crawfords (NAL) 1940
    • Jacksonville Red Caps (NNL) 1938, 1941-1942
    • Kansas City Kansas Giants (I) 1909-1915
    • Kansas City Monarchs 1920-1950 (NNL) 1920-1931, (I) 1932-1936, (NAL) 1937-1950
    • Little Rock Black Travelers (IND)
    • Long Branch Cubans (I) 1915-1916
    • Louisville Black Caps (NSL) 1932
    • Louisville Black Colonels
    • Louisville Buckeyes (NAL) 1949
    • Louisville White Sox (NNL) 1931
    • Memphis Red Sox 1923-1950 (IND) 1923, (NNL) 1924-1930, (NSL) 1926,1932, (NAL) 1936-1950
    • Miami Ethiopian Clowns (IND)
    • Milwaukee Bears (NNL) 1923
    • Mohawk Giants (IND) 1913-1915
    • Mobile Black Bears (IND)
    • Monroe Monarchs (NSL) 1932
    • Montgomery Grey Sox (NSL) 1932
    • Nashville Elite Giants 1921-1934 (IND) 1921-1925, (NSL) 1926-1929, 1932 (NNL) 1930, 1933-1934
    • New Orleans Eagles
    • New Orleans-St.Louis Stars 1940-1941 (IND) 1940, (NAL) 1941
    • New York Black Yankees 1932-1950 (IND) 1932-1950, 1949-1959, (NAL) 1936-1948
    • New York Cubans 1935-1950 (NNL) 1935-1936, 1939-1948, (NAL) 1949-1950
    • New York Gorhams (I) 1887-1891
    • New York Harlem Stars (IND)
    • New York Lincoln Giants 1911-1930 (IND) 1911-1922, 1927,1930, (ECL) 1923-1926, (ANL) 1929
    • New York Lincoln Stars (IND) 1914-1916
    • Newark Browns (EWL) 1932
    • Newark Dodgers 1933-1935 (IND) 1933, (NNL) 1934-1935
    • Newark Eagles (NNL) 1936-1948
    • Newark Stars (ECL) 1926
    • Page Fence Giants (I) 1894-1898
    • Philadelphia Giants (I) 1902-1916
    • Philadelphia Pythians (IND)
    • Philadelphia Stars 1933-1950 (IND) 1933, (NNL) 1934-1948, (NAL) 1949-1950
    • Philadelphia Tigers (ECL) 1928
    • Pittsburgh Crawfords 1931-1938 (IND) 1931-1932, (NNL) 1933-1938
    • Pittsburgh Keystones (I) (LCBC) 1887
    • Pittsburgh Keystones (II) (NNL) 1922
    • St.Louis Giants 1909-1921 (IND) 1909-1919, (NNL) 1920-1921
    • St.Louis Stars (I) (NNL) 1922-1931
    • St.Louis Stars (II) 1937-1943 (NAL) 1937, 1939, 1941 (I) 1940 (NNL) 1943
    • St.Paul Gophers (I) 1909
    • Stars of Cuba (I) 1910
    • Toledo Crawfords (NAL) 1938
    • Toledo Tigers (NNL) 1923
    • Washington Black Senators (NNL) 1938
    • Washington Elite Giants (NNL) 1937-1938
    • Washington Pilots (EWL) 1932
    • Washington Potomacs 1923-1924 (IND) 1923, (ECL) 1924
    • Wilmington Potomacs (ECL) 1925
    • Zulu Cannibal Giants (I) 1934-1937
       

    The remaining teams listed below may also have hosted colored players or played independently.

    Ligon All-Stars, Houston Buffaloes, House of David, Boston Giants, Bismarck, Acme Giants, Gilkerson's Colored Giants, Muskogee Cardinals, Harlem Queens, Nashville Stars, Hollywood Beavers, Jacksonville Eagles, Brooklyn Cuban Giants, Buchanan All-Stars, New Orleans Creoles, Florida Cubans, San Francisco Cubs, Havana Cuban Giants, Omaha Rockets, New York Harlem Black Yankees,  Havana La Palomas, Cincinnati Crescents, Texas Jasper Steers, Louisiana Travellers, Twin City  Gophers, Ethiopian Clowns. Piney Woods Collegians, San Antonio Black Missions, House of Alexander Wiskered Wizards, Dunseith Giants, Colored House of David

     

     

     

    THE ABOVE INFO WAS PROVIDED BY

    The Negro League Baseball Players Association

    WWW.NLBPA.COM