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The Kings of Casino Park

Black Baseball in the Lost Season of 1932

Thomas Aiello

Publication Year: 2011

In the 1930s, Monroe, Louisiana, was a town of twenty-six thousand in the northeastern corner of the state, an area described by the New Orleans Item as the “lynch law center of Louisiana.” race relations were bad, and the Depression was pitiless for most, especially for the working class—a great many of whom had no work at all or seasonal work at best. Yet for a few years in the early 1930s, this unlikely spot was home to the Monarchs, a national-caliber Negro League baseball team. Crowds of black and white fans eagerly filled their segregated grandstand seats to see the players who would become the only World Series team Louisiana would ever generate, and the first from the American South.
 
By 1932, the team had as good a claim to the national baseball championship of black America as any other. Partisans claim, with merit, that league officials awarded the National Championship to the Chicago American Giants in flagrant violation of the league’s own rules: times were hard and more people would pay to see a Chicago team than an outfit from the Louisiana back country. Black newspapers in the South rallied to support Monroe’s cause, railing against the league and the bias of black newspapers in the North, but the decision, unfair though it may have been, was also the only financially feasible option for the league’s besieged leadership, who were struggling to maintain a black baseball league in the midst of the Great Depression.
 
Aiello addresses long-held misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Monarchs’ 1932 season. He tells the almost-unknown story of the team—its time, its fortunes, its hometown—and positions black baseball in the context of American racial discrimination. He illuminates the culture-changing power of a baseball team and the importance of sport in cultural and social history.

 

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

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Introduction: The 1932 Negro Southern League: Depression Baseball, Black Monroe, and the Meaning of Sport

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pp. 1-6

Fred Stovall stayed long hours at the drilling company in 1932, as he had the year before and the year before that. such was the nature of hard work, the same hard work he had been taught from his earliest days, before the oil fields of Texas had given way to the gas fields of north Louisiana, and before those had given way to the wealth that so many found bubbling underneath the earth. but...

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1. The Horror: Race Culture in the “Lynch Law Center of Louisiana”

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pp. 7-15

at 2:30 on Tuesday afternoon, April 30, 1919, George Bolden lay on a cot in a baggage car of the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific railroad, on his way to Shreveport, Louisiana. The wounds that had taken off his right leg were new, as were the memories of three attempts on his life in fewer than forty hours...

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2. The Jazz Age and the Depression: The Different Trajectories of Monroe and Black Baseball in the 1920s

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pp. 16-24

in the decade spanning Bolden’s murder and the 1932 successes of the Monroe Monarchs, American sports reached new heights of popularity. on September 23, 1926, 130,000 people watched Jack Dempsey fight Gene Tunney for the world’s heavyweight championship at sesquicentennial stadium in Philadelphia— the...

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3. The Flood: Water, Race, and the Monarchs in Early 1932

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pp. 25-34

The first week of January 1932, government forecasts predicted a high watermark of forty- six feet on the Ouachita River. “it is unfortunate,” read an editorial in the Monroe Morning World, “that the task of dealing with high water should be added to the general economic difficulties which are common throughout...

Images

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pp. 35-46

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4. The Monarchs and the Major Leagues: The State of Black Baseball in 1932

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pp. 47-58

“With the primary election over and spring making its appearance, all eyes are now turning toward America’s greatest pastime, baseball,” declared a 1932 Chicago American Giants press release. “There is no ‘depression’ on when a base ball fan desires to see a good team play.”1...

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5. Spring Training: The Monarchs, the Crawfords, and the Negro Southern League

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pp. 59-65

“Casino Park is the first word of Monroe and the state of Louisiana,” reported the Shreveport Sun. “People know Monroe mostly by the monarchs and the Casino Park, as the monarchs have played the brand of base ball for the past two years that have attracted the attention of the entire base ball world.”1 There were...

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6. The First Half: April–July 1932

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pp. 66-80

The Negro Southern League began its regular season on Easter weekend, and with it came a hope that matched the holiday. as children across the country waited impatiently for the Easter Bunny to arrive, Southern League teams reported healthy ticket sales and appeared confident. They were setting out in an...

Tables

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pp. 81-94

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7. The Southern against the South,/em>: The first- Half Pennant Controversy

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pp. 95-108

long before the season began, before any of the monarchs’ first- half victories, their application for league membership had been a point of significant contention among the teams from other, larger cities. “Chief among the problems and issues discussed [at the Nashville meeting] were the fates of Louisville, which...

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8. The Second Half: July–August 1932

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pp. 109-123

Everything seemed to be chaos. The confusion engendered by the first- half champions debacle bred confusion throughout the rest of the season. its remainder seemed in doubt, as only four black newspapers published a second- half schedule for the league.1 Only five papers maintained consistent baseball coverage through the rest of the season...

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9. The World Series: September–October 1932

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pp. 124-133

The monarchs were working through a series of graduated championships in august. They were the state champions of Louisiana. They were Dixie series champions. and as they climbed each rung of that hastily constructed ladder, the fans of Monroe—particularly the black fans of Monroe—basked in the reflected pride of those victories. The team lived there, of course, and as such moved...

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10. After September: The Season, the Monarchs, and Monroe in the Popular and Historical Mind

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pp. 134-144

When the World series concluded, it was harvest time in northeast Louisiana. “‘Twenty cents a hundred pounds, and one meal; twenty- five cents a hundred pounds, and feed yourself!’ is the theme song of the poverty- stricken army of cotton pickers who are now beginning their annual assault upon the snowy locks...

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Conclusion: “We Have Yet to Find a Moses”: Monroe as the Exception to Various Rules, Baseball and Otherwise

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pp. 145-148

At the close of 1932, William “Dizzy” Dismukes, writing for the Pittsburgh Courier, lamented the loss of Rube Foster. Things had not been the same since his retirement in 1926 and death in 1930. “His guiding influence was keenly felt by his fellow league members the moment illness forced him out of active contact with league matters...

Appendix 1. 1932 Monroe Monarchs Schedule and Results

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pp. 149-155

Appendix 2. Timeline of 1932 Player/Personnel Acquisitions

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p. 156-156

Appendix 3. Monroe Monarchs Roster Breakdown and Comparison

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pp. 157-161

Appendix 4. Statistical Analysis of the Available Data for the 1932 Monroe Monarchs

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pp. 162-175

Notes

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pp. 177-224

Bibliographic Essay

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pp. 225-234

Index

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pp. 235-245


E-ISBN-13: 9780817385682
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817317423

Page Count: 245
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Monroe Monarchs (Baseball team) -- History.
  • Baseball -- United States -- History.
  • Racism in sports -- Louisiana -- Monroe -- History.
  • Negro leagues -- Louisiana -- Monroe -- History.
  • African American baseball players -- Louisiana -- Monroe.
  • Discrimination in sports -- Louisiana -- Monroe -- History.
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