Adventures in Barnstorming

3 Sep

By 1908, Andrew “Rube” Foster was probably the best known African-American pitcher in the country.  The previous season, he and Pete Hill had jumped Sol White’s Philadelphia Giants to join the Leland Giants of Chicago, turning the Leland’s into a powerhouse.

As was the custom, the Leland Giants would play a number of games against small town teams when traveling to and from games against other professional teams and their 21 games against other National Independent Clubs teams.

In August of 1908, The Freeman related a story (apocryphal perhaps, but a good story nonetheless) about one of those small town games.

“On their way back from Cleveland, where they had been playing an engagement, they had an agreement to play a little ‘woods town’ team called ‘The Cow Boys,’  The contract called for the great Rube Foster to pitch.”

The story goes on to say that Foster noticed upon arriving that the locals knew him on sight.  Scheduled to pitch against a better team the following day, Foster instructed his team to begin calling the team’s catcher, James “Pete” Booker (who also jumped to the Leland’s from Philadelphia), “Foster.”

The story continues:

“Booker went in to pitch and Foster did the catching.  It worked fine, score 23-0.  The Cow Boys were more than delighted, as they had gotten five hits during the game…Everything went well until a commercial traveler who knows each player on the Leland Giants very well remarked ‘My friends, had Foster pitched that game he would have struck out every man.’ The whole town was in a rage in a little while, and it was a good thing the Lelands (sic) didn’t stop for supper, for those country people would have broke that team up.”

Leland Giants–Pete Hill, far left standing, Pete Booker, standing third from left, and Rube Foster, standing far right.

Hall of Famers Foster and Hill have been written about extensively and their prominent place in Dead Ball era Negro League Baseball is firmly established.  Less has been written about Booker, overshadowed by Hall of Famer Louis Santop and Bruce Petway (arguably the best defensive catcher ever, whose presence with the Leland’s in 1910 pushed Booker to first base), he was an excellent hitter and solid defensively behind the plate and at first.

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11 Responses to “Adventures in Barnstorming”

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “A Historical Account of a Great Game of Ball” | Baseball History Daily - March 5, 2013

    […] 1907 above an article written by Frederick North Shorey in The Freeman regarding a series between Andrew “Rube” Foster’s Leland Giants and Mike Donlin’s All-Stars “an aggregation composed of such noted players as […]

  2. Charles Mills and the St. Louis Giants | Baseball History Daily - March 25, 2013

    […] contributing factor).  In 1920 Mills was present at the YMCA on 18th and Vine in Kansas City for Rube Foster‘s meeting to form the Negro National League; his Giants finished 6th in 1920 and 3rd in 1921 […]

  3. “Fans Inclined to be Fair find it Difficult to side with Wickware” | Baseball History Daily - October 7, 2013

    […] July 17 the Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants were to begin a five-game series with the Lincoln Giants in New […]

  4. The Color Line and the PCL | Baseball History Daily - January 22, 2014

    […] the spring of 1913 Walter “Judge” McCredie brought Rube Foster’s Chicago American Giants to the West Coast to play five games against his Portland Beavers of […]

  5. “Fatty Weakened and Portland scored four runs” | Baseball History Daily - January 24, 2014

    […] were much different.  Foster, and most of the rest of the pitching staff were injured, and catcher Bruce Petway missed most of the games with a bad […]

  6. “The Best First Sacker in the Game” | Baseball History Daily - November 27, 2014

    […] (James “Biz”) Mackey, (Bruce) Petway, (George “Tubby”) Dixon; pitchers George Wilson of the Page Fence Giants, Nip Winters, Joe […]

  7. Lost Advertisements–The Leland Giants’ New Ballpark | Baseball History Daily - April 3, 2015

    […] Pitcher, assisted by (Frank) Wickware and (Charles) Dougherty, the season’s sensation, (Bruce) Petway and (Pete) Booker, the stars (Pete) Hill and (Andrew) Payne, outfield phenomenon, (Frank) Duncan, […]

  8. Lost Advertisements–American Giants in Nashville | Baseball History Daily - October 16, 2015

    […] In addition to Foster, the primary drawing card was Bruce Petway: […]

  9. Cum Posey’s “All-Americans” | Baseball History Daily - November 18, 2015

    […] Right Field: Pete Hill […]

  10. Cuban X-Giants In Washington D.C., 1901 | Baseball History Daily - December 7, 2015

    […] 1901 advertisement for the Cuban X-Giants, managed by Soloman “Sol” White, in Washington D.C.  The team played the Capital City–described by The Washington Times as […]

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