Many of you may know that the Negro League was established on February 13, 1920, at a YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri. Andrew “Rube” Foster, the man who organized the league, served as its president.
Foster was known as “the father of Black baseball.” This first league was known as the Negro National League with member teams in the South and Midwest. The NNL operated successfully until 1931. With the help of Edward Bolden as it chair, on December 16, 1923 the Eastern Colored League was formed and in 1924 the very first Negro World Series was played between the ECL and the NNL champions. The ECL collapsed in the spring of 1928 but the member teams reemerged in 1929 as the American Negro League.
The depression brought difficult times for Black baseball. In 1932, the East-West League was formed, but folded before the season ended. The Negro Southern League was the only Black professional league to survive the 1932 season. The NSL was a minor league before and after the 1932 season.
In 1933, the Negro National League was formed again. This was the only Black professional league operating until 1937. The league included teams from the East and the Midwest through 1935. By 1936, the NNL was operating exclusively in the East. As in the white major leagues, the Negro Leagues had their own World Series. Over the years, eleven inter-league Black World Series were held. The NNL and ECL played from 1924 through 1927. Champions from the second NNL and the NAL competed from 1942 through 1948. Also in 1933, the Black teams began all-star game competition. The game was known as the East-West game and was played each summer at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. This game was considered more important than the World Series and annually attracted between 20,000 and 50,000 fans.
What wasn’t uncommon about baseball then was women took part in Negro League baseball, among them Toni Stone, Mamie Johnson and Connie Morgan. Stone played from 1949 until 1955 with such outfits as the New Orleans Creoles and the Indianapolis Clowns. Johnson (nicknamed “Peanut”) was the first woman to pitch in the Negro Leagues, and built an impressive record of 38 wins and only 8 losses for her career. Morgan started in an all-women’s league (where she had a .368 batting average) before joining the Clowns in 1954.
The Museum of Uncut Funk celebrates the players and history of the Negro Leagues.The Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection includes a complete set of original pins from the Negro Leagues. Below are a few pins from the collection.
Sources: Negro Leagues Ball Players Association, Black Baseball and The Negro League Museum
Negro League Map – Bill Turianski, www.billsportsmaps.com