During a time when most African-Americans were limited to playing games on “colored” teams, the Negro Leagues were professional baseball leagues predominantly made up of African-Americans.
The following are some of the most popular teams of the Negro Leagues.
Indianapolis ABCs – This team was most popular before World War I, when players such as Oscar Charleston, Elwood “Bingo” Demoss, and “Cannonball” Dick Redding gave them their initial claim to fame. The team was named after their sponsor, the American Brewing Co.
Indianapolis Clowns – From 1946 to 1962, the Indianapolis Clowns were a solid team. In 1952, they won the Negro American League championship.
Atlanta Black Crackers – Playing in Atlanta’s historic Ponce de Leon park when the white Minor League Atlanta Crackers were away, this team played in Birmingham, Nashville, Little Rock, New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis and Chattanooga.
Chicago American Giants – As one of the premier teams during World War I, this team was owned and managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster, and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cincinnati Tigers – DeHart Hubbard, the first African-American to win an individual Gold Medal in the Olympics, was the founder of the Tigers. Many of the Tiger games played at Crosley Field were more heavily attended than Cincinnati Reds games, with 10,000 to 15,000 attendees per game.
Saint Louis Stars – Playing 12 seasons within the years of 1922 and 1939, the team reigned as world champions in 1928, 1930 and 1931. The Stars had two of the fastest men to play baseball – James “Cool Papa” Bell and George Giles.
The New York Black Yankees – This team originated in Harlem and eventually settled in Albany, N.Y. Some of this team’s stars were Clint Thomas, Fats Jenkins and Dewitt “Woody” Smallwood.
New York Cubans – Originally titled “The Cuban All Stars,” this team was the first Latino team to play against the Negro Leagues. By 1910, the Cuban All-Stars became a permanent fixture in the Negro Leagues. In 1947, the Cubans beat the Cleveland Buckeyes for the Negro World Series championship.
Baltimore Elite Giants – Originally titled the Nashville Standard Giants, the team had a strong reputation throughout the South. In 1921, they changed their name because of the team’s success and popularity.
Philadelphia Stars – Originally called the Hilldale Giants, this team played from 1934 to 1948. They won the 1934 Negro National League pennant.
Homestead Grays – Originally titled the “Blue Ribbons,” this team would grow to be a Negro National League franchise and set unprecedented records.
Seattle Steelheads – The team was one of the first African-American professional baseball teams to play in the West Coast.
Birmingham Black Barons – This team was the cornerstone of professional Negro baseball in the South for more than 30 years. The club became a charter franchise in the Negro South League in 1920.
Pittsburgh Crawfords – Originally, the Pittsburgh Crawfords were composed of amateurs. Later, they became one of the most formidable and dominating teams of the mid-1930s. They won the 1935 Negro National League championship.
Memphis Red Sox – Periodically playing between the years of 1924 and 1962, this franchise sent four players into the big leagues with teams such as the Dodgers and the White Sox.
Newark Eagles – This team played 13 seasons between the years of 1936 and 1948 and had many standout players including Larry Doby, the first Black player in the American League, and Don Newcombe, Brooklyn Dodgers rookie of the year.
Cleveland Buckeyes – This team was in Cincinnati from 1943-1949. The main attention grabber for this team was Quincey Trouppe, who helped the team win both halves of the Negro American League pennant.
Dayton Marcos – the Dayton Marcos were part of the Negro National Leagues, the first organized Black league to survive a full season.
Detroit Stars – Starting in the 1920s, the Detroit Stars played in historic Mack Park until it burned down in 1929. They continued by playing in the Hamtramck Stadium, playing 15 full seasons total.
Jacksonville Red Caps – This team joined the Negro American League in 1938. After its first year, it moved to Cleveland and played as the Cleveland Bears.
Kansas City Monarchs – This team, starting in 1920, played 37 seasons and was the longest running franchise in Negro League history.
Brooklyn Royal Giants – One of the premier professional teams before World War I.
Nashville Elite Giants – Originally titled the “Nashville Standard Giants,” the team played between 1921 and 1926.