Negro League Baseball

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Willie Mays, signed Ron Lewis Card
Willie Mays, signed Ron Lewis Card
 H.O.F.er Max Carey's invitation to the Hall of Fame ceremony in 1971, from Max's estate. Inducted that year was Leroy "Satchel" Paige.
H.O.F.er Max Carey's invitation to the Hall of Fame ceremony in 1971, from Max's estate. Inducted that year was Leroy "Satchel" Paige.
Baseball signed by 33 players including Negro League stars Buck O'Neil and Monte Irvin.
Baseball signed by 33 players including Negro League stars Buck O'Neil and Monte Irvin.
Satchel Paige signed silk cachet.
Satchel Paige signed silk cachet.
Double Duty Radcliffe signed sweet spot card #'d to 150.
Double Duty Radcliffe signed sweet spot card #'d to 150.
Photo of Satchel Paige's All Stars signed.
Photo of Satchel Paige's All Stars signed.
Hank "The Hammer" Aaron
Hank "The Hammer" Aaron
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson auto. Peanut was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, along with Connie Morgan and Toni Stone.
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson auto. Peanut was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, along with Connie Morgan and Toni Stone.
James "Cool Papa" Bell.
James "Cool Papa" Bell.
Judy Johnson signed postcard.
Judy Johnson signed postcard.
Prototype for the 1951 Wheaties card of Roy Campanella,
Prototype for the 1951 Wheaties card of Roy Campanella,
Actual 1951 Roy Campanella Wheaties card.
Actual 1951 Roy Campanella Wheaties card.
Ron Lewis card signed by Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson Jr.
Ron Lewis card signed by Buck Leonard and Josh Gibson Jr.
Orestes "Minnie" Minoso.
Orestes "Minnie" Minoso.
Mr. Wilmer Fields.
Mr. Wilmer Fields.
Negro League bat signed by 61 players.
Negro League bat signed by 61 players.
The bat is # 616 of only 1000 made!
The bat is # 616 of only 1000 made!
Jackie Robinson card.
Jackie Robinson card.
Double Duty signed poker chip.
Double Duty signed poker chip.
Larry Doby card.
Larry Doby card.
Great Baltimore pitcher Leon Day. A card of 100 made with a piece of Leon's glove.
Great Baltimore pitcher Leon Day. A card of 100 made with a piece of Leon's glove.

When Only The Ball Was White

Edsall Walker was the first black baseball player in the late 1800's, but it wasn't until 1920 that the Negro league began when renowned pitcher and owner of the Chicago American Giants Andrew "Rube" Foster called teams together in Kansas City for a meeting that would result in the forming of the Negro National League. The League began the 1920 season on May 2 with the following teams on board: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs and Cuban Stars.
Later that year The Negro Southern League begins play in the South. League cities include Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans and Chattanooga. In 1923 Ed Bolden (owner of the Hilldale Club) and Nat Strong (Brooklyn Royal Giants owner) organize the Eastern Colored League.

The six-team league begins its inaugural season with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, Hilldale Club, Bacharach Giants, Lincoln Giants, Baltimore Black Sox and Cuban Stars (East).
In 1924 The first Negro World Series is played between the Kansas City Monarchs (Negro National League Champions) and the Hilldale Club (Eastern Colored League Champions).

Kansas City wins the series championship 5 games to 4.
In 1931 The Negro National League plays its final season before succumbing to financial pressures. Then in 1932
The Negro Southern League is the only "major" black league in operation. The league begins its seasons with only five teams — Chicago American Giants, Cleveland Cubs, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs amd Louisville White Sox.

In the East a failed effort was made to reestablish an organized league. The East-West league, which included the Baltimore Black Sox, Cleveland Stars, Cuban Stars, Hilldales, Homestead Grays and Newark Browns, failed to complete the season. The league disbanded in June. In 1933 A new Negro National League is formed. Organized by Pittsburgh bar owner, Gus Greenlee, the league launches its inaugural season with seven teams — Cole's American Giants, Monroe Monarchs, Nashville Elite Giants, Montgomery Grey Sox, Louisville Black Caps and Indianapolis ABCs.

The first East-West Colored All-Star Game is played at Chicago's Comiskey Park before 20,000+ fans. The West defeated the East 11-7. In 1937 The Negro American League is formed. The new league brings together the best western and southern teams. The NAL begins its inaugural season with seven teams — Kansas City Monarchs, Chicago American Giants, Cincinnati Tigers, Memphis Red Rox, Detroit Stars, Birmingham Black Barons, Indianapolis Athletics and St. Louis Stars.

The Homestead Grays begins its 9-year reign as the champions of the Negro National League with the power-hitting tandem of Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard. 1946 Jackie Robinson is signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers organization and debuts with the Montreal Royals as the first black player in organized baseball in half a century.

Legendary homerun king Josh Gibson dies at the age of 35. In 1947 Jackie Robinson made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. That year Robinson was named Rookie of the Year for the pennant winning Dodgers. Later the same year Larry Doby was signed by The Cleveland Indians, making him the first black player in the American League. Some say that breaking the color barrier in the major leagues led to the demise of the Negro Leagues, which continued until 1952. By that time all the top players had moved on and the watered down version of the Negro League folded. A lot of great players played in the Negro League and many never had the chance to play in the majors during a shameful part of American History. One of my favorite stories and players was Wilmer Fields. Wilmer started as a football player before being asked to try out for the Washington Homestead Grays. After playing 11 seasons Wilmer was called to the Army. He returned from WWII in 1946 and had his best year as a pitcher and went on to be named MVP 8 times with various teams. It wasn't until Wilmer was beyond his best years that he was offered a major league contract, which he promptly turned down. Wilmer went on to be the player rep for Negro Leaguers', trying to get them their due. Wilmer died from heart failure in the early 90's having never had the chance to showcase his talents in major league baseball and in my opinion it was baseball's loss. This is some of my personal collection of Negro League items that I've amassed over the years. If you like baseball please take the time to read more about the ones "Who played and never got paid"!! Hope you enjoy the hub.

Comments 21 comments

SwiftlyClean profile image

SwiftlyClean 6 years ago from Texas

Great article,and great history.

Peace!

Sharon Smith


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042 Author

Thanks Sharon, we can't let history repeat itself. Black players have dwindled in the major leagues in recent years.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

What a nice collection you have! Thanks for bringing this league to life. I remember the movie about the Negro League, it starred James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams. It was my first introduction to the league.


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042 Author

Thanks Jen, this is a very small part of my collection. I'm so passionate about it I'll probably do more hubs.


A.M. Gwynn 6 years ago

Great hub justom! I love reading a hub and learning something new.

A lot of unsung heroes out there isn't there.

Enjoyed this!


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042 Author

Thanks A.M. it's all still very exciting and I too love learning. Peace!!


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

I have an autographed ball from Hank Aaron. It's the only thing I've ever bought from and online auction. God bless!


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042 Author

That's a good ball to have. We got most of our stuff from a couple of guys that promoted Negro Lg. shows and some straight from the source. Peace!!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid we, as a nation, used to be. I wonder what all that we accept now will be looked at as horrible fifty years from now? At least we can all play, and compete together now. It has to make us all better.


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042 Author

I totally agree Todd. I have a friend who said his dad stopped following baseball when Jackie Robinson got to the bigs. How stupid is that! Sports always seem to be a place where folks come together. Have a great Thanksgiving man! Peace!!


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 5 years ago from Southern California

Tom, I'm ashamed to say I know nothing about any of these people, but just reading the little you provided was so helpful. This makes me eager to read more. Tom you're great with hubs like this. I'll be back.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042 Author

Freta, it is a good history lesson that we have to keep in our minds so this kind of stuff never again happens in our country. Nothing to be ashamed of though, there's always time to learn. I try to do it every day! Peace!! Tom


N.E. Wright profile image

N.E. Wright 5 years ago from Bronx, NY

Hey Tom,

Informative, and well written.

My father was not into sports, and did not speak to us about any sports figure of any race that I can remember.

Though I do remember him smile when I once asked him about Willy Mays. He would only say, "Say hay." Nothing more. LOL. I was confused. LOL.

I really did not know much about the Negro League. Still, when I do think about Black baseball players I want to know more about Satchel Page.

I thank you so much for sharing this great history of America.

Take Care,

N.E.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042 Author

Hi N.E., it's strange to me how many folks aren't familiar with these guys. My appreciation and affection for these guys (and girls!)is deep. The strange thing is when they finally got their due it killed the Negro Leagues and caused undo hardships for the people that were doing the right thing. Thanks for your interest. Peace!! Tom ***"Say Hey" was my all time favorite ball player and I was lucky enough to have seen him play in person.


mastershops profile image

mastershops 5 years ago from Branson, Missouri

It has always made me wonder how many home runs Josh Gibson would have hit if he were allowed to play in the Major Leagues. All the stories that I have read is that he was amazing to watch and would have put up Babe Ruth type of numbers in the Majors just like he did in the Negro Leagues.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042 Author

Hi mastershops. I think anyone who knows that story wonders that same thing but there were many great players in the Negro Lgs. who never got the chance. Thanks for reading and commenting!


Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie Mullinger 2 years ago from Ohio

Tom! What a great story and great information and history! Your collection is outstanding. I knew that this was somewhat a passion of yours, but I had no idea to what extent. Good on you for all of this!

BTW...I loved your summary!


justom profile image

justom 2 years ago from 41042 Author

Thanks again Sallie, I told you about the baseball thing. This is a very small example of the collection I spent almost 3 years on (not to speak about the $) but the value has skyrocketed if I can ever part with any of it. Did you notice the 3 women who played? Justin got to actually talk to Mamie Johnson when we ordered some of her signed cards, he was like a little kid again when he told me.


Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie Mullinger 2 years ago from Ohio

I doubt that I would be able to sell this outstanding collection of memorabilia. It must have taken you a long while to collect all of this and you mention that you have so much more!

And yes, I did notice the 3 women. And not to trivialize them, but it reminded me of the movie A League of Their Own and even for white women how difficult it was to get anyone to take them seriously.

I didnt know until just recently, but the part of "Dottie" in that movie, played by Geena Davis, was loosely modeled on a woman from Norwood who actually played in that league.


justom profile image

justom 2 years ago from 41042 Author

I know all about the white girls too :-) I have a set of cards (or 2 or 3) with all of them. Ted Williams put them out I think in the 90's. There was another from Cheviot who's name is not coming to me. You shoulda' known, it's baseball.


Sallie Mullinger profile image

Sallie Mullinger 2 years ago from Ohio

Hahaha...Im a baseball fan. Just not as ardent a one as you!

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