Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 1942 Negro League World Series - Monarchs vs Grays

As one of the most renowned franchises in Negro League baseball history, the Kansas City Monarchs were Negro League World Series Champions twice.  In 1924, the Monarchs of the Negro National League (NNL) defeated the Hilldale Club of Darby, Pennsylvania who represented the Eastern Colored League (ECL) in the inaugural Negro League fall classic.  And it was during this week in 1942, on September 29th, the franchise won its second.
After the Chicago American Giants (NNL) defeated the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City (ECL) in the 1927, the Negro League fall classic was discontinued. The ECL‘s financial problems became fatal and it went out of business before the next season.  Also, the NNL had administrative problems due to the lengthy illness of founder Andrew “Rube” Walker.  By the time Foster died in 1930 and the country was in the midst of the worst economic depression in history, Negro League baseball began the new decade having no formal functioning league.

However, by 1942 the state of black baseball had improved to the point that the Negro League World Series was reinstated.  The Negro NNL was resurrected in 1933, this time consisting of teams along the eastern seaboard.  The Negro American League (NAL) was established in 1937 consisting of teams in the upper midsection and the southern segments of the country.  With the beginning of World War II in 1941, the overall economic condition for African Americans in northern and eastern cities of Negro League franchises improved due to the rise of military defense industry jobs.  It was the beginning of the best years financially for Negro League teams as game attendance increased.

The stage was set in 1942 for the Kansas City Monarchs of the NAL to battle the Homestead Grays of the NNL for the Negro League World Series championship.  Each had consistently dominated their league during recent years.  Since the NAL’s beginning in 1937, the Kansas City Monarchs had won five of the first six league pennants only losing it in 1938 to the Memphis Red Sox.  The Homestead Grays also had won five NNL pennants since 1937.  Although professional baseball was segregated at the time, seven of the players in this Series would eventually be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York:  Satchel Paige, Willard Brown, and Hilton Smith of the Monarchs and Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Raymond Brown, and Jud Wilson of the Grays. 
The Monarchs won the Series 4 games to 0.  Monarch pitchers Paige, Smith, and Jack Matchett stymied the powerful bats of the Grays.  For the Series, Leonard hit .250 and Gibson .206.  Willard Brown, Buck O’Neil, and other Monarch hitters hammered the Grays starting pitchers; Ray Brown, Roy Partlow, and Roy Welmaker.  They outhit the Grays .345 to .206 and scored 34 runs to the Grays’ 12.

After the Monarchs were ahead three games to none, Grays’ owner Cum Posey took drastic action.  For Game Four, his team’s line up included three players from the Newark Eagles; including Hall of Fame pitcher Leon Day, and one from the Philadelphia Stars.  With Day pitching for his team, Posey’s Grays won 4 – 1.  But, the Monarch’s filed an official protest because the Grays used players from other teams.  Posey claimed he had prior approval from the Monarch’s for the roster changes because the sudden loss of players due to injury and the military draft had decimated the Grays.  Monarch owner J. L. Wilkinson denied he gave Posey   such approval and the protest was upheld; the Grays victory was voided.
After arriving at the ballpark late for Game Four supposedly due to being stopped and given a traffic ticket, Paige was not the Monarch’s starting pitcher.  However, he entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with the Grays winning 5 – 4.  He held them scoreless the final five innings and the Monarchs rallied to win the game 9 – 5 and complete the Series sweep.      

Read more about the journey of Negro League baseball in my book “Last Train to Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era”.  For more information, go to  or

Friday, September 18, 2015

Captain of the ship - Andrew "Rube" Foster

Calvert, Texas is located between Bryan/College Station and Waco, on State Highway 6.  Travelling that route a few times, I remember that the main section of Calvert is slightly east of the highway.  In this small town in the central part of the “Lone Star State, Andrew “Rube” Foster was born on September 17, 1879.  Considered “the father” of Negro League baseball, Rube Foster is not given the credit deserved for his impact on professional baseball as a whole.

 Foster’s success as a league organizer and team manager overshadowed an early career as a dominant pitcher.  He was one of the best pitchers on first the Cuban X Giants and then the Philadelphia Giants, two of the best black baseball teams in the “dead ball” era of the early 20th Century.   Foster received the nickname “Rube” after defeating the Philadelphia A’s future Hall of Fame pitcher “Rube” Waddell in an exhibition game.  He then went on to become owner and manager of the Chicago American Giants, one of the most successful black teams from 1911-1919. 

 In 1920, Foster formed the first official Negro professional baseball league, the Negro National League (NNL).  It was the fulfillment of his vision patterned after Major League baseball which at that period of time due to racism banned African American and dark skinned Latino ballplayers.  Prior to the NNL, several black leagues were organized, but none operated long enough to be historically significant.

“We are the ship, all else the sea”, is what Foster said to describe the NNL.  He saw it as a ship travelling through the sea troubled by the stormy strong winds of racial segregation and discrimination.    Long term, Foster hoped the success of the NNL would highlight the talents of African American and Latino ballplayers; eventually leading to the breaking down of the racial barriers and integrating the Major Leagues. 
The league structure Foster set up for black baseball continued despite his death in 1930.   Through the racially oppressive 1920s, the worst economic depression in this country’s history during the 1930s, and the largest global military war in world history from 1939 - 1945; Negro League baseball survived.  And just as Foster hoped, it gave African Americans and dark skinned Latinos ballplayers the opportunity to professionally express their God given talent; the opportunity not given them by white organized baseball.         

Also; what Foster hoped became reality when Jackie Robinson, a former Negro League player, in 1947 became the first African American to play Major League baseball in the 20th Century.  Fifty other former Negro League players had Major League baseball careers after Robinson erased the “invisible color line”. 
Andrew “Rube” Foster was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

Read more about the journey of Negro League baseball in my book “Last Train to Cooperstown:  The 2006 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees from the Negro League Baseball Era”.  For more information, go to  or