Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902-1931
The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Syracuse University Press
Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author
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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, baseball had been a special game among African Americans. The black game’s institutional development evolved as part of African American community building in the pre–Civil War era. It was transformed into a commercialized amusement by a generation of African American entrepreneurs who attempted to work within the parameters of a biracial institutional...
Part One Independent Ball,1902–1920
1 Continuity and Change
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On April 23, 1902, the Philadelphia Giants played the Camden City club at Columbia Park, the home of the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics. The Philadelphia Evening Item claimed the Giants possessed “some of the best players in America [today], and were it not for the fact that their skin [was] black, some of them would be . . . drawing fancy salaries in one or the other big leagues.” The Quaker club broke the...
2 Black Professional Baseball’s Growth and Expansion, 1906–1907
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Beginning in 1906, black professional baseball experienced tremendous growth and expansion. Several black clubs emerged in the East to challenge established teams like the Philadelphia Giants and Cuban X Giants for players and gate receipts. Many of these new teams, like the Brooklyn Royal Giants, were run by African American entrepreneurs who epitomized the new black middle class that arose in the early twentieth century. This black business and professional class left its mark in the...
3 Striving for Professionalism
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H. Walter Schlichter sought to expand his infl uence in both black and white professional baseball. In 1908, Schlichter became the manager of the Philadelphia club in the newly created Union League. The Union League was a minor league that operated outside of Organized Baseball’s structure and was classifi ed as an “Outlaw League.” Club owners within the circuit attempted to sign several star players like Ty Cobb ...
4 Years of Transition,1911–1913
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The 1911 season marked the beginning of a transition in the ownership of eastern and midwestern black baseball teams. Sol White left the Brooklyn Royal Giants and became the manager of the newly created Lincoln Giants. White assembled one of black baseball’s strongest teams, and it dominated black and white semipro clubs throughout the season. Turmoil among the Lincoln’s management team, however,...
5 Black Baseball and the Separate Black Economy
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The rise of black professional baseball in the early twentieth century occurred simultaneously with the emergence of black corporate America. The period from 1900 to 1930 witnessed the rise of major black capitalists who achieved millionaire status and established million-dollar enterprises. Their wealth exemplifi ed their success within a black economy that developed despite the exclusion of African Americans ...
6 The War Years: Toward the Rise of the Negro Leagues
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The United States had never prepared in advance for the wars it fought. For a year after the nation entered World War I, it contributed little to the manpower of Great Britain and France, the unoffi cial allies of the US against Imperial Germany. On May 18, 1917, Congress enacted a conscription law that aff ected all able-bodied American males between ...
Part Two: The Rise and Fall of the Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues, 1920–1931
7 Pitfalls of Baseball: The Rise of the Negro National League
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From November 1919 to January 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster made his third, and most passionate, plea for black baseball clubs to organize into professional leagues. Using Organized Baseball’s institutional structure as a model, Foster called for a national organization of eastern and western clubs to form into two leagues. He urged the club owners...
8 Black Baseball War: The Rise of the Eastern Colored League
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Rube Foster’s series of articles at the end of the 1921 season undoubtedly irritated his fellow club owners, many of whom could have assisted him in the creation of a national organization. On the other hand, many of the obstacles he highlighted surfaced throughout the 1922 season. Franchise shifting continued, and Charles Mills’s St. Louis Giants disbanded due to the apparently insurmountable debt the team accumulated....
9 Pursuing Peace
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The Colored World Series of 1924 was a response to a supposed demand of the fans and the black press and simultaneously became the means to formalize a peace settlement between the two warring leagues. Rube Foster seized the opportunity to seek a compromise with the ECL commissioners. The Colored World Series did not realize the large profits the black press had projected, but the event was promoted...
10 Caught in a Rundown
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The problems that the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League confronted during the 1925 season continued to plague both circuits the following year. Several changes were made to address these obstacles at the annual joint winter session. They included a salary cap and a ban on players who jumped their contracts. Rube Foster continued to juggle franchises in his NNL and along with Frank Young made the case for competent businessmen to own and operate league...
11 Before the Fall
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Beginning in 1925, several members from the black press, a club owner, and a prominent player-manager wrote a series of articles critically assessing the inner workings of the Negro National League and the Eastern Colored League. Some raised the familiar complaint regarding the lack of league statistics, while others focused on the need for both circuits to hire presidents who were unaffiliated with league clubs. Two...
12 The End of an Era
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The 1930 season proved cataclysmic for the majority of eastern black baseball clubs. The American Negro League disbanded, resulting in a return to independent ball. Hilldale experienced another hostile takeover, marking the start of the decline of Ed Bolden’s status as one of black baseball’s most prominent owners. Sagging attendance led to a call for the formation of a new league, although no action was taken....
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Page Count: 472
Illustrations: 24 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: Sports and Entertainment
Series Editor Byline: Steven Riess