Negro League Baseball

Basketball and football are more interesting to me than baseball, but baseball's segregation and the response of America's African-American community to it is compelling. So I can't tell you what makes one team great and another not so great, but these sites make all those arguments. I just like the history.

Black Baseball has a history which says, "However, black ballplayers were excluded from participation by the National Association of Baseball Players on December 11, 1868 when the the governing body voted unanimously to bar "any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons." This was the first appearance of an official "color line" in baseball.

When baseball attained professinal status the following season, pro teams were not bound by the amateur association's ruling, and during the 19th century black ballplayers appeared on integrated teams and some black teams played in integrated leagues. Two brothers, Moses Fleetwood Walker and Welday Walker, even played in the major leagues in 1884. But gradually, black players began to be excluded from the white leagues and by the beginning of the new century, there were no black players in organized baseball."

Negro League Baseball has a great FAQ.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum notes, " The last Negro Leagues teams folded in the early 1960s, but their legacy lives on through the surviving players and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum."

Negro Leagues Baseball Players Association has a timeline that says the most to me in the fewest words.

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.

Comments

Karla said…
PBS had a series on this that I heard was great. Also, the same director did a series on Jazz that explores similar themes.

The black and white baseball teams playing each other reminds me of the balck and white jazz musicians jamming together after hours.

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