“If the League Should Rejoice Because they got $850”

15 Feb

The concern that baseball writers for black newspapers, led by Wendell Smith of The Pittsburgh Courier, had over the need for a powerful commissioner with “full and complete authority,” were long standing—even before there were two leagues.

They were borne out of incidents like the one Cum Posey related in the pages of The Courier regarding the finances related to the 1935 East-West All-Star Game—and how only two teams profited.

Posey Cum 1345.72 crop PD

Cum Posey

According to Posey:

“To think about the East West Game of 1935 is a headache. It was a very good idea for Mr. (Gus) Greenlee (owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords) and Mr. (Robert) Cole (owner of the Chicago American Giants) to give the (Negro National) league fifty percent of the profits for that game.  They should have given the league all the money cleared.”

Posey claimed Greenlee and Cole took that cut despite:

“The plain facts (are that) the league treasury furnished every cent for promotion.  The gross receipts of the game were approximately $14,000.  All the league clubs were idle on that day.  The expenses were padded so strong that $1700 was cleared (according to Greenlee and Cole).  If the league should rejoice because they got $850 out of a $14,000 promotion with six of the eight clubs lending their players and only two clubs profiting, then the league is only made up of two clubs.”

Posey said the passing of a resolution that winter was intended to ensure that the league received all profits from events they promoted, but similar schemes and the lack of a strong leader with no financial interest in a ballclub would plague the Negro Leagues through integration and beyond.

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