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Negro League World Series, opening game Oct. 11, 1924, Kansas City, Mo.

Bristol Base Ball Club, 1890
Bristol Base Ball Club, 1890


Overview of the Negro Leagues

Homestead Grays at Forbes Field in 1913
Homestead Grays at Forbes Field in 1913

Negro Leagues History, from the Negro Leagues Museum

Link also to the Negro Baseball Leagues e-Museum with resources for teachers and students.

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In the 20 years after the Civil War, about 200 African American baseball teams were formed.

They mostly played each other, since only a few areas allowed interracial playing. African Americans began to play baseball in the late 1800s on military teams, college teams and company teams. They eventually found their way to professional teams with white players. Moses Fleetwood Walker and Bud Fowler were among the first to participate. However, racism and "Jim Crow" laws would force them from these teams by 1900




In 1890, the National Association of Baseball Players forbade African Americans from playing. This formally banned black teams from the organized leagues for 50 years.
  • However, the African American teams kept playing. They continued to play each other and occasionally faced white teams.
1920 Detroit Stars
1920 Detroit Stars

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Rube Foster Biography
  • In 1920, Rube Foster (owner of Chicago American Giants) created an all black league: The Negro National League.
    • This league consisted of Midwestern teams. The North and South regions also created their own leagues. These leagues were successful but fell apart.


ORGANIZED LEAGUES:

Negro National League--1920-31

Southern Negro League --1920

Eastern Colored League --1923-28

Negro Southern League--1926, 32, 45

American Negro League--1929

East-West League--1932

Negro National League--1933-48

Negro American League--1937-60



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  • After the Depression, the National League formed to replace the African American regional teams.
    • The first African American player to be signed to a Major League team was Jackie Robinson in 1946, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
      • Slowly, other Major League teams signed African American players and National League disbanded. The last of the National League's African American teams broke up in 1960. Link here for more information from PBS.


Kansas City Monarchs, 1945
Kansas City Monarchs, 1945

primary_sources.PNGPrimary Sources


The Exclusion of African Americans from the National Association of Base Ball Players, Philadelphia, 1867

Baseball Primary Source Set, Middle Tennessee State University

Negro League Baseball Primary Source Set, Digital Public Library of America

Smithsonian Negro League Images

Multimedia.pngMultimedia Resources


Ken Burns has a documentary, "Baseball: the Tenth Inning" that features information on African American baseball players. Link here for the PBS companion site.

For a short quiz, go to Baseball in Black and White

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 12.30.24 PM.pngHidden Histories and Untold Stories of African Americans and Baseball


Baseball and Race in the United States, a lesson plan from the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History

Moses Fleetwood Walker


Fleet Walker from Society for American Baseball Research
  • Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first African American to play in the major leagues of professional baseball in 1884 until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Effa Manley



The Secret History of Black Baseball Players in Japan, NPR (July 14, 2015)



Declining Numbers of African Americans in Baseball


Click here for an ESPN article from April 19, 2013, on why African Americans are participating less in professional baseball.
Multimedia.pngClick here to watch a short youtube video on the decline of African Americans in baseball


rotating gif.gifConnections to History Standards