Negro league baseball

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The Negro leagues were United States professional baseball leagues comprising teams predominantly made up of African Americans and, to a lesser extent, Latin Americans. The term may be used broadly to include professional black teams outside the leagues and it may be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues beginning in 1920 that are sometimes termed "Negro Major Leagues".

In 1885 the

  • Black Baseball's Negro Baseball Leagues
  • Negro League Baseball Players Association
  • Negro Leagues Baseball Museum web site
  • Center for Negro League Baseball Research
  • Negro League Baseball Project (3 interviews) via Western Historical Manuscript Collection – University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • St. Louis Negro League Ballplayers
  • For Negro Leagues Players, A Final Recognition, The New York Times, 30 June 2010
  • Black Diamonds: An Oral History of the Negro Leagues (six audio programs)

External links

  • Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness. Mark Ribowsky. Biography.
  • Josh and Satch by John Holway. ISBN 0-88184-817-4.
  • Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of the Game. Mark Ribowsky. Biography.
  • Maybe I'll Pitch Forever by Satchel Paige. ISBN 0-8032-8732-1.
  • Dixon, Phil S. Andrew "Rube" Foster: A Harvest on Freedom’s Fields. Xlibris. 
  • I Was Right On Time by Buck O'Neil. ISBN 0-684-83247-X.
  • Dixon, Phil S. John "Buck" O’Neil: The Rookie, The Man, The Legacy, 1938. Authorhouse. 
  • Dixon, Phil S. Wilber "Bullet" Rogan and the Kansas City Monarchs. McFarland. 
  • Blackball Stars, as told to John Holway; a collection of first-person accounts of the Negro leagues by the men who played in them. ISBN 0-88736-094-7.
  • Some Are Called Clowns by Bill Heward & Dimitri Gat (1974). The first white player with the Indianapolis Clowns tells of his 1973 season of barnstorming. ISBN 0-690-00469-9.
  • Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants & Stars: Umpiring in the Negro Leagues & Beyond, by Bob Motley. First-hand account of umpiring in the dying days of Negro league ball. ISBN 1-59670-236-2.

Biographies and autobiographies

  • Carroll, Brian (2007). When to Stop the Cheering?: The Black Press, the Black Community, and the Integration of Professional Baseball. Studies in African American history and culture. New York: Routledge. p. 271.  
  • Clark, Dick; Lester, Larry;  
  • Dixon, Phil S. The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History, 1867–1955. Amereon House.  1992 winner of CASEY Award for best baseball book.
  • Dixon, Phil S. The Monarchs 1920–1938 Featuring Wilber "Bullet" Rogan The Greatest Ballplayer in Cooperstown. Mariah Press. 
  • Heaphy, Leslie (2003). The Negro Leagues, 1869–1960 (illustrated ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 375.  
  •   2008 winner of CASEY Award for best baseball book.

Histories and encyclopedias

Further reading

  • Hauser, Christopher (2006). The Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Black Baseball, 1920–1948. London: McFarland & Company. 
  • Hogan, Lawrence B.;  
  • Holway, John (2001). Johnson, Lloyd; Borst, Rachel, eds. The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues: The Other Half of Baseball History. Foreword by  
  • Lanctot, Neil (2008) [First published 2004]. Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution (illustrated ed.). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 512.  
  • Malloy, Jerry (2005). Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 
  • Ribowsky, Mark (1995). A Complete History of the Negro Leagues. Carol Publishing Group. 
  • Riley, James A. (1994). The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. Carroll & Graf.  


  1. ^ a b Riley 1994, p. XVII.
  2. ^ a b Holway 2001, p. 21.
  3. ^ Lanctot 2004, p. 4.
  4. ^ Hogan 2006, p. 6.
  5. ^ Lanctot 2004, p. 3-4.
  6. ^ Riley 1994, p. 4.
  7. ^ Lanctot 2004, p. 3.
  8. ^ Riley 1994, p. 294.
  9. ^ Riley 1994, p. 808.
  10. ^ Malloy 2005, p. 3.
  11. ^ Hoganfirst 2006, p. 89.
  12. ^ a b Holway 2001, p. 474.
  13. ^ a b Hauser 2006, p. 5.
  14. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 6.
  15. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 5-6.
  16. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 15.
  17. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 72.
  18. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 71-72.
  19. ^ Hauser 2006, p. 75.
  20. ^ Hogan 2006, p. 284-285.
  21. ^ Holway 2001, p. 404.
  22. ^ a b "West Coast Baseball Association". Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations.  
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Ribowsky 1995, p. 279.
  25. ^ Tim Brown, "Winfield's Brainchild Thrills Negro Leaguers," Yahoo! Sports, June 4, 2008.
  26. ^ "New stamps honors Negro Leagues Baseball". PRNewswire-USNewswire. July 17, 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  27. ^ Krueger, Anne (May 6, 2010). "Negro Leagues players get stamp on history".  


See also

On July 17, 2010, the U.S. Postal Service issued a se-tenant pair of 44-cent U.S. commemorative postage stamps, to honor the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to about 1960. The stamps were formally issued at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, during the celebration of the museum's twentieth anniversary.[26][27] One of the stamps depicts Rube Foster.

Postage stamp recognition

The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located in the 18th and Vine District in Kansas City, Missouri.


On June 5, 2008, Major League Baseball held a special draft of the surviving Negro league players to acknowledge and rectify their exclusion from the major leagues on the basis of race. The idea of the special draft was conceived by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.[25] Each major league team drafted one player from the Negro leagues. Bobo Henderson, Joe B. Scott, Mule Miles, Lefty Bell, James "Red" Moore, Mack "The Knife" Pride and Charley Pride (who went on to a legendary career in country music), were among the players selected. Also drafted, by the New York Yankees, was Emilio Navarro, who, at 102 years of age at the time of the draft, was believed to be the oldest living professional ballplayer.

2008 Major League Draft

Buck O'Neil was the most recent former Negro league player to appear in a professional game when he made two appearances (one for each team) in the Northern League All-Star Game in 2006.

Minnie Miñoso was the last Negro league player to play in a Major League game when he appeared in two games for the Chicago White Sox in 1980.

Hank Aaron was the last Negro league player to hold a regular position in Major League Baseball.

Last Negro leaguers

The committee reviewed the careers of 29 Negro league and 10 Pre-Negro league candidates. The list of 39 had been pared from a roster of 94 candidates by a five-member screening committee in November, 2005. The voting committee was chaired by Fay Vincent, Major League Baseball's eighth Commissioner and an Honorary Director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Effa Manley, co-owner (with her husband Abe Manley) and business manager of the Newark Eagles (New Jersey) club in Negro National League, is the first woman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pre-Negro league executive, manager, player, and historian (1)
Sol White
Negro league executives (4)
Effa Manley; Alex Pompez; Cum Posey; J.L. Wilkinson
Pre-Negro league players (5)
Frank Grant; Pete Hill; José Méndez; Louis Santop; Ben Taylor
Negro league players (7)
Ray Brown; Willard Brown; Andy Cooper; Biz Mackey; Mule Suttles; Cristóbal Torriente; Jud Wilson

In February 2006, a committee of twelve baseball historians elected 17 more people from black baseball to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, twelve players and five executives.

From 1995 to 2001, the Hall made a renewed effort to honor luminaries from the Negro leagues, one each year. There were seven selections: Leon Day, Bill Foster, Bullet Rogan, Hilton Smith, Turkey Stearnes, Willie Wells, and Smokey Joe Williams.

Other members of the Hall who played in both the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball are Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, Willie Mays, and Jackie Robinson. Except for Doby, their play in the Negro leagues was a minor factor in their selection: Aaron, Banks, and Mays played in Negro leagues only briefly and after the leagues had declined with the migration of many black players to the integrated minor leagues; Campanella (1969) and Robinson (1962) were selected before the Hall began considering performance in the Negro leagues.

At first, the Hall of Fame planned a "separate but equal" display, which would be similar to the Ford C. Frick Award for baseball commentators, in that this plan meant that the Negro league honorees would not be considered members of the Hall of Fame. This plan was criticized by the press, the fans and the players it was intended to honor, and Satchel Paige himself insisted that he would not accept anything less than full-fledged induction into the Hall of Fame. The Hall relented and agreed to admit Negro league players on an equal basis with their Major League counterparts in 1971. A special Negro league committee selected Satchel Paige in 1971, followed by (in alphabetical order) Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Martín Dihigo, Josh Gibson, Monte Irvin, Judy Johnson, Buck Leonard and John Henry Lloyd. (Of the nine, only Irvin and Paige spent any time in the major leagues.) The Veterans Committee later selected Ray Dandridge, as well as choosing Rube Foster on the basis of meritorious service.

In his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech in 1966, Ted Williams made a strong plea for inclusion of Negro league stars in the Hall. After the publication of Robert Peterson's landmark book Only the Ball was White in 1970, the Hall of Fame found itself under renewed pressure to find a way to honor Negro league players who would have been in the Hall had they not been barred from the major leagues due to the color of their skin.

See also Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, 2006 and Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, 1971

The Negro leagues and the Hall of Fame

‡ The Negro American League is considered a major league from 1937 until integration diminished the quality of play around 1950. Riley's Biographical Encyclopedia draws the line between 1950 and 1951.

† The Negro Southern League was considered a de facto major league in 1932 because it was the only league to play a full season schedule, and many players (and a few teams) from the original Negro National League played there. A new Negro National League was established in traditionally "major" cities for 1933, also attracting the elite players and teams from the NSL.

At least ten leagues from the major-league era (post-1900) are recognized as Negro minor leagues, as is the one of two 1940s majors that continued after 1950:

Early Negro leagues were unable to attract and retain top talent due to financial, logistical and contractual difficulties. Some early dominant teams did not join a league since they could pull in larger profits independently. The early leagues were specifically structured as minor leagues. With the

Eventually, some teams were able to survive and even profit by barnstorming small towns and playing local semi-pro teams as well as league games.

Early professional leagues cannot be called major or minor. Until the twentieth century, not one completed even half of its planned season.

Negro minor leagues

The NNL(II) and NAL also met in a World Series, usually referred to as the "Negro World Series" from 1942 to 1948 (1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948).

The NNL(I) and ECL champions met in a World Series, usually referred to as the "Colored World Series", from 1924 to 1927 (1924, 1925, 1926, 1927).

Colored and Negro World Series

While organized leagues were common in black baseball, there were only seven leagues that are considered to be of the top quality of play at the time of their existence. None materialized prior to 1920 and by 1950, due to integration, they were in decline. Even though teams were league members, most still continued to barnstorm and play non-league games against local or semi-pro teams. Those games, sometimes approaching 100 per season, did not count in the official standings or statistics. However, some teams were considered "associate" teams and games played against them did count, but an associate team held no place in the league standings.

Negro major leagues

The last All-Star game was held in 1962, and by 1966 the Indianapolis Clowns were the last Negro league team still playing. The Clowns continued to play exhibition games into the 1980s, but as a humorous sideshow rather than a competitive sport.

The Negro National League folded after the 1948 season when the Grays withdrew to resume barnstorming, the Eagles moved to Houston, Texas, and the New York Black Yankees folded. The Grays folded one year later after losing $30,000 in the barnstorming effort. So the Negro American League was the only "major" Negro League operating in 1949. Within two years it had been reduced to minor league caliber and it played its last game in 1958.

First a trickle and then a flood of players signed with Major League Baseball teams. Most signed minor league contracts and many languished, shuttled from one bush league team to another despite their success at that level. But they were in Organized Baseball, that part of the industry organized by the major leagues.

Some proposals were floated to bring the Negro leagues into "organized baseball" as developmental leagues for black players, but that was recognized as contrary to the goal of full integration. So the Negro leagues, once among the largest and most prosperous black-owned business ventures, were allowed to fade into oblivion.

End of the Negro leagues

These moves came despite strong opposition from the owners; Rickey was the only one of the 16 owners to support integrating the sport in January 1947. Chandler's decision to overrule them may have been a factor in his ouster in 1951 in favor of Ford Frick.

The Negro leagues also "integrated" around the same time, as Eddie Klep became the first white man to play for the Cleveland Buckeyes during the 1946 season.

Early in 1946, Rickey signed four more black players, Campanella, Newcombe, John Wright and Roy Partlow, this time with much less fanfare. After the integration of the major leagues in 1947, marked by the appearance of Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers that April, interest in Negro league baseball waned. Black players who were regarded as prospects were signed by major league teams, often without regard for any contracts that might have been signed with Negro league clubs. Negro league owners who complained about this practice were in a no-win situation: they could not protect their own interests without seeming to interfere with the advancement of players to the majors. By 1948, the Dodgers, along with Veeck's Cleveland Indians had integrated.

Pressured by civil rights groups, the Fair Employment Practices Act was passed by the New York State Legislature in 1945. This followed the passing of the Quinn-Ives Act banning discrimination in hiring. At the same time, NYC Mayor La Guardia formed the Mayor's Commission on Baseball to study integration of the major leagues. All this led to Rickey announcing the signing of Robinson much earlier than he would have liked. On October 23, 1945, Montreal Royals president Hector Racine announced that, "We are signing this boy."[24]

To throw off the press and keep his intentions hidden, Rickey got heavily involved in Gus Greenlee's newest foray into black baseball, the United States League. Greenlee started the league in 1945 as a way to get back at the owners of the Negro National League teams for throwing him out. Rickey saw the opportunity as a way to convince people that he was interested in cleaning up blackball, not integrating it. In midsummer 1945, Rickey, almost ready with his Robinson plan, pulled out of the league. The league folded after the end of the 1946 season.

On August 28, 1945, Jackie Robinson met with Rickey in Brooklyn, where Rickey gave Robinson a "test" by berating him and shouting racial epithets that Robinson would hear from day one in the white game. Having passed the test, Robinson signed the contract which stipulated that from then on, Robinson had no "written or moral obligations"[24] to any other club. By the inclusion of this clause, precedent was set that would raze the Negro leagues as a functional commercial enterprise.

In March 1945, the white majors created the Major League Committee on Baseball Integration. Its members included Joseph P. Rainey, Larry MacPhail and Branch Rickey. Because MacPhail, who was an outspoken critic of integration, kept stalling, the committee never met. Under the guise of starting an all-black league, Rickey sent scouts all around the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico, looking for the perfect candidate to break the color line. His list eventually was narrowed down to three, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Jackie Robinson.

After Landis' death in 1944, Happy Chandler was named his successor. Chandler was open to integrating the game, even at the risk of losing his job as Commissioner. He later said in his biography that he could not in good conscience tell black players they couldn't play baseball with whites when they'd fought for their country.

Judge Kenesaw M. Landis, the first Commissioner of Major League Baseball, was an intractable opponent of integrating the white majors. During his quarter-century tenure, he blocked all attempts at integrating the game. A popular story has it that in 1943, Bill Veeck planned to buy the moribund Philadelphia Phillies and stock them with Negro League stars. Supposedly, when Landis and National League president Ford Frick learned of Veeck's plan, they scuttled it by engineering the Phillies' sale to William B. Cox. However, this story is arguably false, based on press accounts of the time; notably, Philadelphia's black press mentioned nothing about any prospective Veeck purchase.[23]

Integration era

In 1946, Saperstein partnered with Jesse Owens to form another Negro League, the West Coast Baseball Association (WCBA); Saperstein was league president and Owens was vice-president and the owner of the league's Portland (Oregon) Rosebuds franchise.[22] The WCBA disbanded after only two months.[22]

Just like the major leagues, the Negro leagues saw many stars miss one or more seasons while fighting overseas. While many players were over 30 and considered "too old" for service, Monte Irvin, Larry Doby and Leon Day of Newark; Ford Smith, Hank Thompson, Joe Greene, Willard Brown and Buck O'Neil of Kansas City; Lyman Bostock of Birmingham; and Lick Carlisle and Howard Easterling of Homestead all served.[21] But the white majors were barely recognizable, while the Negro leagues reached their highest plateau. Millions of black Americans were working in war industries and, making good money, they packed league games in every city. Business was so good that promoter Abe Saperstein (famous for the Harlem Globetrotters) started a new circuit, the Negro Midwest League, a minor league similar to the Negro Southern League. The Negro World Series was revived in 1942, this time pitting the winners of the eastern Negro National League and midwestern Negro American League. It continued