Tag Archives: Chicago Giants

“Negro Baseball is Here to Stay”

24 Jul

At the close of the first Negro National League season in 1920, The Kansas City Sun declared “Negro baseball is here to stay.”

The paper made several observations about the state of the league and its future and picked the league’s first all-star team.  Beginning with a bit of bragging, the paper said that in spite of the Chicago American Giants winning the pennant, “Kansas City proved to be the best Negro baseball city.”

The Chicago American Giants

The Chicago American Giants

As evidence of Kansas City’s dominance, The Sun said:

“One hundred thousand White and Negro fans attended the Monarch games at Association Park the past season without the least bit of friction…(and) played to more local fans than the Kansas City Blues (of the American Association)…Negro teams used to play for a keg of beer, but now they play for $5,000 gates.”

The league as a whole, according to the paper, drew “more than 700,000 fans.”

but, it was not all a glowing review, The Sun did acknowledge one of the league’s biggest difficulties in the inaugural season, “(They) did not discover any real Negro umpires the past season;” inconsistent umpiring would remain an issue in subsequent years.

Perhaps most importantly, The Sun said the current season “Made baseball a safe investment,” and “Made baseball contracts legal.”

The final point was overly optimistic, as contract jumping and player raids were a serious detriment to the league throughout its 11-year run.

The Sun also picked the league’s first all-star team:

Pitchers:  Charles“Bullet” Rogan, Monarchs, Bill Drake, St. Louis Giants

Bullet Rogan

Bullet Rogan

Catchers:  George “Tubby” Dixon, Chicago American Giants and John Beckwith, Chicago Giants

First Base: Ben Taylor, Indianapolis ABC’s

Second Base: Bingo DeMoss, Chicago American Giants

Third Base: Bartolo Portuondo, Kansas City Monarchs

Portuondo

Bartolo Portuondo, all-star third baseman

Outfield: Jimmie Lyons, Detroit Stars, Cristobal Torriente, Chicago American Giants, and Hurley McNair, Kansas City Monarchs

Utility:  John Donaldson and Tank Carr, Kansas City Monarchs.

Lost Advertisements–The Leland Giants’ New Ballpark

3 Apr

lelands

 

An advertisement for the opening of the Leland Giants’ newly refurbished ballpark, Normal Park, at 69th and Halsted Streets in Chicago, on May 15, 1910.  Just three weeks earlier, Cook County Judge Jesse Baldwin had given the team, managed by Andrew “Rube” Foster, the right to use the name Leland Giants.

Rube Foster

Rube Foster

May 15 would be the first regular season game for the Leland Giants after the split between Frank Leland and Foster over finances, which resulted in the formation of two separate teams–Leland’s team would be called the Chicago Giants.

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley, who had been one of Leland’s primary financial backers but sided with Foster in the split, became the business manager of the new club and represented the team in court.  Under Moseley and Foster’s leadership, the club retained many of the club’s stars and added John Henry Lloyd and Grant “Home Run” Johnson to the roster:

“To the most select audiences in the city.  Games with the best talent procurable.  Come and visit our park and see Rube Foster, the World’s Greatest 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, (Wesley) Pryor, (Fred) Hutchinson, Lloyd and Home Run Johnson, celebrities, who can only be seen on our diamond.”

1910 Leland Giants--Seated, left to right, Johnson, Booker, Payne, Strouthers, Duncan, Pryor; standing, left to right, Petway, Lloyd, Hill, Dougherty, Bill Lindsay, Wickware, and Foster.

1910 Leland Giants–Seated, left to right, Johnson, Booker, Payne, Strouthers, Duncan, Pryor; standing, left to right, Petway, Lloyd, Hill, Dougherty, Bill Lindsay, Wickware, and Foster.

While Foster and Moseley’s club consisted of several of the core players from the 1909 Leland Giants, who had won the championship of Chicago’s City League, the league’s members rejected their request for league membership in 1910;  Frank Leland’s Chicago Giants were accepted into the league and The Chicago Tribune said it would be the Chicago Giants who would “hoist the pennant” signifying the 1909 championship at their ballpark, Auburn Park, at 79th and Wentworth,  on May 15.

When the Chicago Giants played their first City League game on May 1, the Leland Giants were on what The Chicago Inter Ocean called “Moseley’s 9,000-mile trip;” a spring training tour that covered 9,073 miles and included games in 10 states.

While they were not members of the City League, the Leland Giants played games against league teams throughout the season; including the May 15 opener.

The Chicago Defender said:

“Those in doubt about the popularity and ability of the 1910 line-up of the Leland Giants, had that doubt dispelled last Sunday if they were at the giants’ new park…B.F. Moseley presented the entire line-up, together with Manager (William C. “Billy”) Niesen‘s team, the Gunthers (a member of the City League) to 4,000 enthusiastic fans, comprising some of the best citizens of Chicago.”

The Defender described Normal Park as “one of the swellest and best-equipped ballparks in the city…it is clean and accessible to the (street) car lines and a credit to the race.”

As part of the festivities, at Normal Park–and at roughly the same time Frank Leland was about to”hoist the pennant” at Auburn Park, Niesen, on behalf of the City League gave the Leland Giants their own championship banner:

“(Niesen) presented the pennant to Rube Foster, as the champions of the city, a march was then formed, headed by the First Regiment K of P (Knights of Pythius) Band to the rear of the grounds, where the pennant, a beautiful flag in maroon, properly lettered ‘Leland Giants, City Champions’ was hoisted and unfurled to the breeze amidst great applause and music.”

The Lelands beat the Gunthers 5 to 1 behind the pitching of Frank Wickware.

Frank Leland’s Chicago Giants, lacked some of the star power of 1909 and  finished in second place in the City League.

Foster and Moseley’s Leland Giants fared better.  The “best talent procurable” won 35 straight games until June 11; The Chicago Tribune said, “Lelands Defeated at Last–Gunthers break winning streak of colored players,” when, with Foster on the mound, they lost 3 to 1 to Niesen’s Gunthers.  It was a rare loss, the Leland giants won 106 games in 1910, with just seven losses.

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley

The next season, with an infusion of cash from a new business partner, a white Chicago tavern owner, John Schorling–another former partner of Frank Leland, who was sometimes identified as Charles Comiskey‘s son-in-law–the Leland Giants became the Chicago American Giants and moved from Normal Park to “Schorling’s Park” at 39th and Wentworth, the former home of the Chicago White Sox.

 

 

 

The Occidentals

14 May

Billed as the “Colored World Champions” during their barnstorming tours of the West, The Salt Lake City-based Occidentals were also members of the otherwise all-white Utah State League.  Despite being forced to play additional road games, the team was very competitive.  In 1908 The Deseret News said:

“The colored boys have paid no attention to handicaps under which they had to enter the league; they have played good, earnest ball and provide the fans with their money’s worth every time they play.”

The paper acknowledged that the team’s manager Frank Black was correct when he said the team could “make more money by traveling throughout the inter-mountain region on a pick-up schedule than he will make in the league,” and made a “plea for fair play to all men, no matter who they may be.”

In 1909, the Occidentals won the Utah State League and then headed west.

The team arrived in Los Angeles in late October.  The Los Angeles Herald said:

“The Occidentals are a colored team, and after cleaning up everything in sight in the Mormon state decided that Southern California would afford new fields to conquer.”

Among the players on the Occidentals’ roster were second baseman/manager Black and pitcher/outfielder Louis “Ad” Lankford (contemporaneous accounts, including coverage of his brief boxing career in Salt Lake City, usually call him “Langford”)—in December catcher/first baseman Bill Pettus joined the team.

The Occidentals--Frank Black is standing far left, Ad Lankford is seated second from left.

The Occidentals–Frank Black is standing far left, Ad Lankford is seated second from left.

The team opened their tour with a series with the Los Angeles Giants billed as the “Colored Championship of the Pacific Coast.”  The Occidentals swept the best of five series with 9 to 2, 7 to 1 and 4 to 2 victories.

After winning the series, the team from Salt Lake City played a team dubbed as the “Japanese All-Stars of Los Angeles,” organized by Los Angeles Angels catcher Jesse Orndorff—the team was all Japanese except for the battery which consisted of Orndorff and Angels’ pitcher Bill TozerThe Herald said, “The game was fast and witnessed by a crowd of 1500.” The Occidentals won 7 to 3.

Jesse Orndorff

Jesse Orndorff

Two days later the barnstormers lost 6 to 1 to the Angels (the team was billed as the Los Angeles Angels, but was more accurately a current and former Pacific Coast League all-star team), with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher John Raleigh on the mound.

The Occidentals spent another six weeks in Los Angeles and had three well-publicized games with  McCormick’s Shamrocks, managed by local pool hall operator and promoter Jim McCormick.  The teams met for the first time on Thanksgiving and were tied 0-0 after five innings when the game was called.  The two teams met again at Chutes Park on Christmas.

The two managers tried to build attendance with quotes in The Herald, and The Los Angeles Times.  Black said:

“If you want to be a few beans ahead when the sun goes down on Christmas day, put a few cartwheels on the colored boys to win from the Winter League aggregation.”

McCormick countered:

“Nothing to it but shouting, and we will win in a walk.”

McCormick promised to get the “Occidental’s goat.”

When the sun set on Christmas The Herald said: And Manager Black’s goat is still grazing unmolested at Chutes Park.”  The Occidentals won 3 to 2.

Frank Black poses at Chutes Park with Jim McCormick's "goat" after the victory.

Frank Black poses at Chutes Park with Jim McCormick’s “goat” after the victory.

After a New Year’s Day rain out, the teams met again on January 8.  The McCormick’s recruited Tozer from the Angels to pitch; the game was tied 1 to 1 when called after twelve innings.

The following day the Occidentals played another twelve inning game, this one a 0-0 tie against an all-star team composed of Pacific Coast League, California League and major league players, including William “Brick” Devereaux, Eli Cates, Ed McDonough, Charles “Truck” Eagan and Elmer Rieger.

According to The Herald the team was 14-2-2 on the California tour when they departed for San Diego on January 22, where they lost 1-0 in 10 innings.

The final game of the trip was played against the Santa Ana Winter League Team—the Yellow Sox– which was made up of Pacific Coast League players including Arnold “Chick” Gandil—then a second baseman, as well as St. Louis Cardinals outfielder George “Rube” Ellis and future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson on the mound.

Johnson shut out the Occidentals 2 to 0, striking out 15 (The Times said he finished the winter league season 9-0—with nine complete games, giving up just 21 hits and 5 runs in 81 innings) The Herald said the team “did not take very lovingly to the slants of the mighty Walter, who had them well in hand throughout the contest.”

The team was generally well received by fans on the coast—notwithstanding The Herald’s habit of referring to them as “the dinges.”

Black and the Occidentals returned to Salt Lake City and rejoined the Utah State League for the 1910 season, finishing in second place.

The following year Frank Leland’s Chicago Giants entered the California Winter League, posting a 10-7-2 record.