Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball


IMG_4766This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to the Hubert V. Simmons Museum of Negro Leagues Baseball. The Museum is located in the Owings Mills Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library in Owings Mills, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Simmons, a former Negro Leagues pitcher and outfielder, launched the idea in 2008.

By 2009, the Museum was opened in a temporary location in the annex of the Lochearn Presbyterian Church. In November 2013, the Baltimore County Executive announced that the Museum would be give a permanent location as part of the Owings Mills library. The Museum celebrated its grand opening in  2014.

Check out the pictures below, and if you’re ever in Maryland, check out the Museum!

~ baseballrebecca

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Stat-urday, 2/15/2020


The 1920 Detroit Stars

Due to lost records, poor record-keeping, and lack of media coverage, statistics are often incomplete for the Negro Leagues. Modern day sources often provide contradictory information. However, below are some stats from 1920, the inaugural year of the Negro National League (from The Negro Leagues Book, by Dick Clark and Larry Lester, as reported on Baseball Reference):

NNL Teams Wins Losses Win %
Chicago American Giants 32 13 0.711
Detroit Stars 35 23 0.603
Kansas City Monarchs 41 29 0.586
Indianapolis ABCs 39 35 0.527
St. Louis Giants 25 32 0.439
Cuban Stars 21 24 0.467
Dayton Marcos 8 18 0.308
Chicago Giants 4 24 0.143

Although there wasn’t another formal Negro League to compete against, the NNL teams often played independent teams, including those in the table below (stats from The Complete Book of Baseball’s Negro Leagues, by John Holway, as reported by Baseball Reference):

Independent Teams Wins Losses Win %
Brooklyn Royal Giants 5 4 .556
Philadelphia Hilldales 7 6 .538
Bacharach Giants 12 12 .500
Baltimore Black Sox 3 8 .273
Cuban Stars 1 4 .200
New York Lincoln Giants 0 4 .000

Also founded in 1920 was the Negro Southern League, a loosely organized Negro minor league (these stats also are from John Holway’s The Complete Book of Baseball’s Negro Leagues, as reported by Baseball Reference):

Negro Southern League Teams Wins Losses Win %
Knoxville 55 21 0.724
Montgomery 47 39 0.547
Atlanta Black Crackers 45 39 0.536
Birmingham Black Barons 43 39 0.524
New Orleans Black Pelicans 43 39 0.524
Nashville Giants 40 40 0.500
Jacksonville Red Caps 18 26 0.409

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

The Negro Leagues Centennial


The 1919 Chicago American Giants, owned by Andrew “Rube” Foster (top row, Center), founder of the Negro National League

Tomorrow celebrate the centennial of the Negro Leagues in baseball. On February 13, 1920, owners of African American baseball teams met in Kansas City to discuss the prospect of starting their own league. The main proponent of the idea was Rube Foster, former pitcher and owner of the Chicago American Giants. Foster had been advocating for a league comprised of African American teams owned by African Americans for some time, stating, “The wild, reckless scramble under the guise of baseball is keeping us down and we will always be the underdog until we can successfully employ the methods that have brought success to the great powers that be in baseball of the present era: organization.” In 1919, he wrote in the Chicago Defender of the need to “create a profession that would equal the earning capacity of any other profession… keep Colored baseball from the control of whites (and) do something concrete for the loyalty of the Race.”

At the conclusion of the meetings on February 14, the Negro National League was born; its slogan was, “We Are the Ship, All Else the Sea.” The original members of the league were the Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, St. Louis Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, and Chicago Giants. Opening Day was May 2, 1920, with the home team Indianapolis ABCs beating the Chicago American Giants 4-2.

Several teams entered and exited the Negro National League throughout its 11-year history. Unfortunately, the league folded after the 1931 season in the wake of the Great Depression. Other leagues were formed to take its place. These included the East-West League, which was founded in 1932, and a new Negro National League, established in 1933. Four years later, in 1937, the Negro America League was created. Some of the Negro minor leagues were: the Negro Southern League, the Negro American Association, the East Texas Negro League, and the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas League.

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947, the Negro Leagues began a second decline. By 1949, the Negro American League was the only major Negro League still in operation. It became a minor league a couple years later and folded in 1958. A few teams survived after that, but were no longer organized into leagues. The Indianapolis Clowns continued to play exhibition games in to the 1980s, but mostly as an entertaining sideshow similar to their roots as the Ethiopian Clowns, who have often been likened to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Born in a time of segregation and disbanded due to integration, the Negro Leagues played an important role in U.S. history. Stay tuned throughout this year’s celebration of the Negro Leagues Centennial for more about the Negro Leagues.

~ baseballrebecca

 

The 1924 Colored World Series

 

 

Leon Ruffin


Leon Ruffin, photo courtesy of Seamheads.com

Happy Birthday to Leon Ruffin, who was born on this date in 1912. Ruffin was a catcher in the Negro Leagues and the Mexican League in the 1930s and 1940s.

Charles Leon Ruffin was born on February 11, 1912, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He began his Negro League career in 1935 at the age of 23 with the Brooklyn Eagles. When the team was purchased in 1936 and merged with the Newark Eagles, he became a member of the Newark team. Ruffin was traded to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, where he played in 1937, 1938, and the beginning of 1939 before being traded back to the Eagles in May 1939. Later that year he was traded to the Philadelphia Stars, where he also played in 1940 before joining the Mexican League. Ruffin played for the Algodoneros de Union Laguna in Torreon through 1941.

Ruffin returned to the Eagles for the 1942 through 1944 seasons. However, he played only a few games in 1944 as he had enlisted in the Navy in 1943, serving from 1943 to 1945. Ruffin returned to the Eagles in 1946. That year he was named to the East All-Star team (along with Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, and Leon Day, among others) and played in the all-star game in Washington and the East-West Classic in Chicago. He also caught all seven games of the 1946 Negro League World Series. In his 10 years in the Negro Leagues Ruffin had 478 at-bats with a batting average of .201. He had 96 hits, four of which were home runs.

Ruffin returned to the Mexican League in 1947, playing for the Diablos Rojos del Mexico. According to one Baseball-Reference page, Ruffin played in St. Jean, Quebec, Canada, for the St. Jean Braves of the independent Provincial League in 1948. He played his last two seasons with the Houston Eagles in 1949 and 1950.

After his career, Ruffin worked as a presser at a dry cleaners in his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia. He also was a manager and occasional player for local semipro teams. Ruffin suffered a stroke and died on August 14, 1970.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

African American History Month and Baseball


Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, 1915. (18f7565bf62142c0ad7fff83701ca5f6).jpg

Carter G. Woodson in 1915

February is a good month to celebrate African American History Month. The observation created by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, after he attended a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S. The 1915 celebration lasted for three weeks and included a variety of exhibits depicting the history of African Americans. In response, Woodson founded what is now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In 1924, Woodson’s fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, created “Negro Achievement Week.” In 1926, Woodson’s Association for the Study of African American Life and History designated the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” They chose that week because it encompasses the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass (February 12 and 14, respectively).

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially declared February “Black History Month,” urging the nation to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Each president since then has recognized African American History Month.

The 2020 African American History Month commemorate several important events: this year marks the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. Passed by Congress February 26, 1869, and ratified February 3, 1870, the 15th amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote. (This year will also be the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.) It is also the 60th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, an important part of the Civil Rights Movement, which occurred from February to July 1960.

Rube Foster in 1924

More importantly for baseball fans, on February 13th we will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League. On that date in 1920, Rube Foster invited a group of independent African American baseball team owners to a meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. There is more to come as we approach this important anniversary.

In February we also celebrate the birthdays of several Negro Leaguers, including: Hank Aaron (Feb. 5), John Donaldson (Feb. 20), Elston Howard (Feb. 23), and Monte Irvin (Feb. 25).

Happy African American History Month!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

Stat-urday, 10/26/2019


Luke Easter 1953.jpg

Former Homestead Gray Luke Easter with the 1953 Cleveland Indians (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Last Stat-urday, I noted that the average age of the current Washington Nationals is 31.1 years old. The average age of the 1948 Homestead Grays was also around 31 years. Because records weren’t always accurate, we don’t know the actual ages of all of the members of the 1948 team.

Below are some additional stats for the 1948 Homestead Grays (courtesy of Baseball Reference). Enjoy!

Happy Stat-urday! Go Nats!

~ baseballrebecca

Players Age PA AB Runs Hits HR RBI BA
Ted Alexander 35 2 2 0 0 0 0 0.000
Sam Bankhead 37 40 37 4 6 0 2 0.162
William Bell 50 4 4 0 2 0 1 0.500
Garnett Blair* 26 1 1 1 1 0 0 1.000
Bob Boston 25 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.000
Clarence Bruce 23 26 25 1 3 0 1 0.120
Luther Clifford 5 5 0 0 0 1 0.000
Luke Easter 32 44 39 7 13 3 12 0.333
Red Fields 25 23 23 5 5 0 1 0.217
Erwin Fowlkes 24 13 12 1 1 0 0 0.083
Charles Gary 17 15 0 4 0 4 0.267
Robert Gaston 38 3 3 0 0 0 0 0.000
Buck Leonard 40 40 34 5 9 3 8 0.265
Luis Marquez 22 56 52 11 20 2 11 0.385
Eudie Napier 35 20 19 5 4 0 2 0.211
Tom Parker 36 19 18 2 3 0 0 0.167
Bill Pope 29 3 3 1 1 0 2 0.333
Dave Pope 27 4 4 1 1 1 2 0.250
Ramon Sosa 29 3 3 0 0 0 0 0.000
Frank Thompson 29 2 2 0 1 0 0 0.500
Bob Thurman 31 31 31 7 11 0 2 0.355
R.T. Walker 33 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.000
Pitchers Age W L
Ted Alexander 35 2 1
William Bell 50 0 0
Garnett Blair 26 0 1
Clarence Evans 1 0
Red Fields 25 4 1
Tom Parker 36 2 0
Willie Smith 0 0
Frank Thompson 29 0 1
Bob Thurman 31 2 0
Bob Trice 21 0 0
R.T. Walker 33 1 0

 

Charley and Mack Pride


A while back I posted the list of former Negro Leaguers who were “drafted” by Major League Teams in the 2008 MLB Negro Leagues Player Draft. According to MLB.com, the draft was “a continuation of baseball’s effort to fix a historical wrong.” Each team selected a surviving former Negro Leagues player to represent all players who were denied the opportunity to play Major League Baseball. Charley Pride and his brother Mack were drafted by the Texas Rangers and the Colorado Rockies, respectively. This list of “drafted” players appears below.

Yesterday, I summarized the baseball career of country singer Charley Pride. But he wasn’t the only athlete in the family. His older brother, Mack Pride, Jr., also was a pitcher in the Negro Leagues. Mack Pride played for the Memphis Red Sox in 1955 and the Kansas City Monarchs in 1956. According to the Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum, Mack Pride, “has sung in night clubs, at weddings, funerals and on television ministry programs. He coached little league baseball for six years. He has held various occupations for the past 30 years.”

Mack Pride was featured along with other Negro Leaguers in a traveling exhibit titled, “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience” in 2011.

~ baseballrebecca

Player Drafted By
Bob Mitchell Arizona Diamondbacks
James “Red” Moore Atlanta Braves
Bert Simmons Baltimore Orioles
Jim Colzie Boston Red Sox
Walter Owens Chicago Cubs
Hank Presswood Chicago White Sox
Charlie Davis Cincinnati Reds
Otha “Li’l Catch” Bailey Cleveland Indians
Mack Pride, Jr. Colorado Rockies
Cecil Kaiser Detroit Tigers
Enrique Maroto Florida Marlins
Bill Blair Houston Astros
Ulysses Hollimon Kansas City Royals
Neale “Bobo” Henderson Los Angeles Angels
Andrew Porter Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Scott Milwaukee Brewers
Bill “Lefty” Bell Minnesota Twins
Robert Scott New York Mets
Emilio “Millito” Navarro New York Yankees
Irvin Castille Oakland Athletics
Mahlon Duckett Philadelphia Phillies
James Tillman Pittsburgh Pirates
Walter McCoy San Diego Padres
Carlos Manuel Santiago San Francisco Giants
John “Mule” Miles Seattle Mariners
Walter Lee Gibbons Tampa Bay Rays
Charley Pride Texas Rangers
Harold Gould Toronto Blue Jays
Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Washington Nationals

 

The Negro Southern League Museum


DSCN7495If you’re ever in Birmingham, Alabama, you must visit the Negro Southern League Museum. In fact, you should just plan on taking a trip to Birmingham specifically to visit this museum. It is simply one of the best baseball museums in the country.

According to the museum’s website, their mission is “to present the history of African-American baseball in an unsurpassed manner by maintaining a world-class facility that recognizes the League’s impact on Birmingham, Alabama and the world of professional baseball.” The museum also states it has the nation’s largest collection of artifacts from the Negro Leagues. A visit just to the website provides links to suggested readings and other resources, such as the Center for Negro League Baseball Research.

DSCN7553The Negro Southern League was established in 1920 and survived for three decades. The original teams were the Atlanta Black Crackers, Birmingham Black Barons, Jacksonville Stars, Knoxville Giants, Montgomery Grey Sox, Nashville White Sox, New Orleans Caulfield Ads, and Pensacola Giants. Other teams included the Memphis Red Sox and the Indianapolis Cardinals. Players such as Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, and Turkey Stearnes played in the league.

Visitors to the Negro Southern League Museum begin their visit in a replica of a stadium dugout that features a video describing the origins of the museum. Along the walls are more than 1,500 baseballs signed by Negro League players. Other exhibits include a game-used uniform belonging to Satchel Paige, a 1907 player contract for the Cuban League, Bullet Joe Rogan’s jacket, memorabilia from the Huntsville Stars, and exhibits dedicated to Jackie Robinson, Bo Jackson, and other Major Leaguers.

To understand the history of baseball in Alabama and the Negro Leagues, all one needs to do is visit this amazing place. And while you’re in Birmingham, check out Regions Field and the Birmingham Barons.

~ baseballrebecca