BY: JAMES SWIFT, JR.
On this day in Black history, the first of the Black major league baseball organization was established. Prior to 1920, there had been a number of Black baseball organizations in operation during the late 19th and early 20th century, but the Negro National League marked the first officially recognized attempt at a professional league.
The original Negro National League was established in 1920 by Chicago American Giants owner and manager Andrew “Rube” Foster. Prior to the League’s formation, Foster was an extremely skilled pitcher in different Black independent teams as well as one minor league white team. He was a player and manager with the Leland Giants—later the Chicago American Giants—until his retirement in 1917. From there he began building the groundwork for teams that would become a part of the Negro National League by sending veterans to different cities to serve as managers and the base for future teams.
The League started with eight teams: the Chicago American Giants, the Chicago Giants, the Cuban Stars, the Dayton Marcos, the Detroit Stars, the Indianapolis ABCs, the Kansas City Monarchs, and the St. Louis Giants. The League’s teams were based on the east coast and in the Great Lakes area, but a 1924 expansion saw several southern teams added from Birmingham and Memphis.
Of the original eight teams, only four—the Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, and St. Louis Stars—would remain in operation uninterrupted until 1931. In its 1920-1931 run, the league saw 24 teams at different times. Three teams in the League’s run won the League’s Colored World Series:
Chicago American Giants (1920-1922, 1926-1927)
Kansas City Monarchs (1923-1925, 1929)
St. Louis Stars (1928, 1930-1931)
With the integration of non-white players into Major League Baseball in the late 1940s, the Negro leagues as a whole started to fall into decline and the Negro National League had ceased operations. The League and its successor—also called the Negro National League—would produce a number of sports greats such as dual sports athlete Goose Tatum, one of the original Harlem Globetrotters and C winners Satchel Paige, Larry Doby and Jackie Robinson who would all go on to MLB and become World Champions.