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The Negro Leagues

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What would baseball be without such names as Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, or Bernie Williams? These men are able to play the game in way that wasn't possible in the early and mid twentieth century. They are able to play with different players of different races. That wasn't the case just a mere sixty to sixty-eight years ago. Black men had their own league. A league entitled the Negro League. The league left a great mark in baseball history, from its versatile players, to its numerous amounts of teams. Most importantly the Negro leagues played a key role in the shaping of Black History.

First I would like to discuss some of the Negro leagues history. In 1920, the Negro league was formed under the direction of Andrew "Rube" Foster, a former player, manager, and owner for the Chicago American Giants. In a conference held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster convinced seven other midwestern team owners to join him in forming the Negro National League. Soon, rival leagues shaped in eastern and southern states, bringing the thrills and original play of black baseball to major metropolitan centers in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. The Negro Leagues maintained a high level of specialized skill and became centerpieces for financial expansion in many African-American communities. Three years later, in 1923, Ed Bolden formed the Eastern Colored League. In 1933, the Negro leagues formed two different leagues, the Negro national league, and the Negro American league. Just as in regular baseball the Negro leagues had a World Series and they also had all-star games, which became a nation wide spectacle to all Negroes around the United States. The leagues shining moment was in 1947 when Jackie Robison made it to the big leagues playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Negro Leagues eventually failed due to the expansion of black players in major league baseball. The league officially closed in 1948 although teams still tried to play professionally. Furthermore, the Negro leagues reshaped baseball, as we know it today.

Now I will mention and pay homage to some of the players from the Negro Leagues that made it to Cooperstown, Ohio, and are now in the baseball hall of fame. First, there is one of the greats, which is Satchel Paige. He played from 1926-1950 and was a pitcher. He pitched the Kansas City Monarchs to five straight pennants and one World Series. He was also the first black player from the Negro league to be inducted into the major league hall of fame. Next there is Josh Gibson, who is considered not only to be the best hitter in the history of the Negro leagues, but even the best hitter of all time in any league. Gibson is said to have hit 965 home runs in his 17-year career, which is absolutely astonishing. Sadly, Gibson died and the young age of thirty-five, which cut short an already unbelievable career. Thirdly, there is Buck Leonard who was a teammate with Gibson in Homestead. Like Gibson, Leonard was a power hitter, who played first base and batted left-handed. He played from 1933-1950, but because of his poor health was never able to play in the big leagues. Next is a man by the name of Monte Irvin, whom played from the Newark Eagles, and is compared to the present day Ken Griffey Jr. He also played eight successful years with the New York Giants in the major leagues. Then there is the man who is considered to be the fastest player to ever play and kind of major league baseball and his name is Cool Papa Bell. He played from 1922-1946. He had two unbelievable accomplishments. He once was timed running the bases in twelve seconds and also stole a remarkable 175 bases in only 200 games. Finally there are the rest of the players who are in the baseball hall of fame, whom are, Judy Johnson, Oscar Charleston, John Henry Lloyd, Martin Dihigo, Rube Foster(the creator of the Negro League), Ray Dandridge, Leon Day, Willie Foster, Willie Wells, Bullet Foster, Smokey Joe Williams, Turkey Stearnes, and Hilton Smith.

Now I will discuss some of the teams of the Negro Leagues and the importance they played. First there was the Atlanta Black Crackers. In 1938 they captured the second-half championship for the Negro American League. Next there is the Baltimore Black Sox. They won the Negro national title in 1939 and 1949. Thirdly there is the Birmingham Black Barons. They were the Negro American league champions in 1943, 1944, and 1948. Next there is the Chicago American Giants. The one the Negro National League titles from 1920-1922. Then there was the Cuban Giants. They were the 1903 Colored League champions, which was the league they played in before the Negro leagues were formed in 1920. Next was the Homestead Grays, who won nine consecutive pennants from 1937-1945. Next there was the Hillsdale Daisies, who captured their first championship in 1923. There also was the Indianapolis ABC's who posted the best record in the Negro Leagues, which as a 46-33 mark in 1922. Next was the Indianapolis Clown, who won the 1952 American League championship with a team the featured future home run king Hank Aaron.



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