Every once in a while I need a baseball vacation to recharge and re-energize. This past weekend I took a quick trip to Memphis and Little Rock. It was a whole lot of baseball in a very short weekend. But well worth it.
The first stop was Memphis, Tennessee. Known to most folks for its music and civil rights history, to me it’s also known as a minor league baseball town. The Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, have played there since 1998. But that’s just the most recent team in the city’s rich baseball history. The Memphis Chicks, Blues, Chickasaws, Red Sox, Turtles, Lambs, and many more have represented the city. Even the Memphis Fever Germs made an appearance in 1893 (a reference to the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1878?).
As The Baseball Sociologist, however, I can’t help but think about the history of Negro League Baseball in Memphis. The first professional league of black teams, the Southern League of Colored Base Ballists, fielded not one but two teams in Memphis in its only year of existence: the Memphis Eurekas and the Memphis Eclipses. In 1920, the Negro Southern League returned black baseball to Memphis with its Memphis Red Sox. The Red Sox would represent several other Negro Leagues by mid-century. So, from 1923 to 1950, there were two teams in town: the Red Sox and the Chickasaws.
I neglected to search for Red Sox history when I was in Memphis, so I’ll have to go back and do more research. I need to know more about the Eclipses, the Eurekas, and the Red Sox. However, the Red Sox were mentioned briefly during our tour of AutoZone Park. But since I’ve digressed, I’ll have to save that for another day.
To be continued…