As a reminder: The Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame is in Kansas City, Missouri.
Click here to get Negro League merch.
I’m a baseball fan. I know, I know–Black, female, baseball fan. I don’t fit the mold. But with this month celebrating all things Black and excellent, I can’t forget my favorite group of superheroes.
With me being a fan of history, I have a lot of walking around information that would seem dumb to have to other people. Yet, but as a student of history and dedicated baseball fan, how could I not fall into the wealth of amazing that is the Negro Leagues! Here are some fast facts (for more info watch BASEBALL by Ken Burns, and click here for Dugout Mugs):
1.) The Negro Leagues played on Sundays, renting out the stadium or park in that city.
2.) The Negro Leagues were the first to play games at night.
3.) Joshua ‘John’ Gibson was supposed to be the first Black player to be drafted into the MLB; this was blocked by the commissioner at the time: Kennesaw Landis.
4.) The Negro National League was formed on February 13, 1920. Founded by Rube Foster, the league began with eight teams: the Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, and the St. Louis Giants.
5.) Josh Gibson led the Negro Leagues with 384 home runs in his Negro Leagues career and is believed to have hit nearly 800 including league and independent baseball throughout his 17-year career. Gibson was a 12x All-Star and 2x Negro League World Series Champion.
6.) One hundred years after their inception, the Negro Leagues were officially recognized as a Major League by Major League Baseball in 2020. This was a deeply impactful moment for the 3,400 players in the league from 1920 to 1948.
7.) The first game was contested on May 2, 1920, with the Indianapolis ABCs defeating the Chicago Giants 4-2 at Washington Park in Indianapolis.
8.) Leroy “Satchel” Paige was not only one of the best pitchers and players in Negro League history, but he’s also the oldest ever to play in a Major League Baseball game. He made his “rookie” debut at the age of 43, and played in his last game just days shy of his 60th birthday! Paige was also a part of history when he became the first African-American to pitch the American League as well as the World Series.
Some of the athleticism we see now in the MLB was first seen here! I can’t help but smile when I think about these men (and some women!) who learned how to play this game and took it over!
Baseball is Black history too.