Photo credits: Negro Leagues Baseball c/o The New York Public Library
To a lesser extent, Latin Americans were also involved in the Negro Leagues baseball organizations. The “Negro League” term is used broadly to describe professional black teams outside the originally established leagues. It may also be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues, which began on February 3, 1920. These particular baseball unions are sometimes termed “Negro Major Leagues”.
In 1885, the Cuban Giants formed the first black professional baseball team. The first league, formerly known as the National Colored Base Ball League, was organized strictly as a minor league. However, it failed in 1887 after only two weeks due to low attendance. After integration, the quality of the Negro leagues slowly deteriorated. The Negro American League of 1951 is generally considered the last major league season.
The last professional club, the Indianapolis Clowns, operated as a humorous sideshow rather than competitively from the mid-1960s to the 1980s. In December 2020, Major League Baseball announced that it was classifying the first seven “Negro Major Leagues” as major league teams.
The new classification recognizes the statistics of approximately 3,400 players who played from 1920 to 1948.
*BlackThen.com writer/historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.