Tag Archives: Frank Leland

“Who Cares about Color, when the Scores are Tied?”

6 Jan

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley was one of the primary financial backers of the Leland Giants and after the dispute which led to the departure of Frank Leland, he partnered with Rube Foster and served as business manager for the club when he and Foster won the right in court to continue using that name.

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley

Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley

In January of 1911, he wrote an open letter to the readers of The Broad Axe, what the paper called “A baseball appeal of a worthy undertaking by a worthy man to worthy men:”

“We are undertaking to organize a Negro National League of America, an enterprise that that needs no prospectus to convince one of its necessity to our people, who are already forced out of the game from a national standpoint, with the closing in and narrowing each year our opportunity to play with the white semi-pro teams, because of the organization of these teams into minor state and city leagues.

“Here in Chicago, the City League has barred all but possibly one colored club; this fact alone presages the day when there will be none, (unless) the Negro comes to his own rescue by organizing and patronizing the game successfully which would itself force recognition from minor white leagues to play us and share in the receipts; for with six or eight National Negro clubs playing clean, scientific baseball the public would soon ask itself the question which of the National Leagues are the stronger; just as it is queried about the world’s pugilistic championship until the promoters of the game were compelled to answer at Reno (Nevada), July 4th last (The Jack Johnson/Jim Jeffries fight).

Johnson and Jeffries in Reno

Johnson and Jeffries in Reno

“In that contest, just as in the coming contest of the world’s best ball clubs the Negro will be prepared, if he acts wise to take care of himself and be heralded again Champion of the World, so let these who serve the Race and assist it in holding its own back up and encourage the national  movement for with it goes the hope of the Race in more than one direction, for be it known that there are no greater leveler of men than manly sport such as baseball which is admired by white and black alike, appeals to their pride as athletes and to their senses as the best test of physical and mental superiority and here on the diamond before the frenzied anxious populace the Negro has the best opportunity of his present day advantage to display ability, that taken the ball player in Pennsylvania, and California to the Gubernatorial chair.”

John Kinley Tener, a major league player, had just been elected governor of Pennsylvania and George Cooper Pardee, who had made a name for himself as a college and amateur ballplayer served as California’s governor from 1903-1907.

Moseley then asked the most important question:

“Who care(s) about color, when the scores are tied and the home team is at bat in the ninth inning, with two gone and two on base?

“What is wasted is a man that can hit, be he blue, black, yellow, grizzle or gray, a hit that scores (runners) from 2nd and 3rd and the batter is thereafter a hero; hence, the importance of being a ‘hitter’ is a great asset, greater perhaps than any other I can now recall.

“So I appeal to all Race loving men in the cities in which it has been agreed to place a National League club to organize an effort to secure not only the franchise but the best club of ball players possible to the end, that nothing should retard the entire success of the national undertaking.  Hesitancy means ruin.  Procrastination has almost drove the talent from the fold and stagnation will surely set in if a business turn is not thrown over and around the game, $300 is a mere bagatelle for cities like St. Louis, Kansas City, Louisville, Memphis, New Orleans, Mobile and Columbus to raise, it is just $10 each for 30 men and yet this is sufficient to secure a franchise and guarantee the making of the circuit by each club, besides it should be the best investment  now apparent and make those who invest it proud by the returns due them at the end of the season.”

Mosley predicted that each team in an eight-team league could turn enough of profit to repay investors and create operating capital for the following season.

He made a final pitch:

“(O)rganize, get 1o of your Race men together and write at once for your franchise, hustle, the time is short.  The Schedule Committee must report on February 27th next and the organization must be complete and ready to play ball by Easter Sunday.  Men of the Race this appeal is to you for you and yours.  It is in vain or shall we have a Negro National Baseball League?”

His plea for an enduring league was in vain.

Rube Foster deserted Moseley before the 1911 season to form the Chicago American Giants; the failure to form a league has been posited as one of the reasons for the split.  Without Foster, the Leland Giants quickly faded from prominence.

Moseley’s brief tenure as a baseball executive was over after the 1911 season.  He returned to his many business interests, including land holdings in “The Black Eden,” Idlewild, Michigan.  He also owned the Idlewild Hotel and Dixie Land Park at 33rd and Wabash in Chicago–The Chicago Defender said of the Idlewild “It is one of the most pretentious hotels conducted for Colored people in the United States.”  And he continued to practice law–The Defender noted that upwards of “90 percent” of his clients were white–and remained a political force in Chicago’s Black Belt; Moseley also served as a presidential elector for Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party in 1912.

Ad for Moseley's Dixie Land Park

Ad for Moseley’s Dixie Land Park

It would be nearly a decade until the formation of a league, and Moseley would not live to see it.

Just two months before his former business partner, Foster and other team owners met at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City in February of 1912 to form the Negro National League, Moseley died of Influenza.  He was 54.

Rube Foster

Rube Foster

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.

“Topeka” Jack Johnson and the Negro National League

19 Jun

Ten years before Rube Foster organized it in 1920, Jack T. Jackson called for the creation of the Negro National League.  Johnson was variously nicknamed “Topeka Jack,” “Chicago Jack,” and “Kansas Jack,” and was occasionally confused with another Jack Johnson, the World Heavyweight Champion who also dabbled in baseball—“Topeka” Jack also did some boxing, further confusing the issue.

As a result of the common name and the confusion with his more famous namesake, there is very little biographical information available about him and no information survives regarding his birth or death, but for about a decade at the beginning of the 20th Century, he was an important figure in black baseball.

Jack T. Johnson

Jack T. Johnson

A shortstop and outfielder, he organized teams  in Topeka before going north and joining the Chicago Union Giants, and then the Minneapolis Keystones.  In 1909, he returned to Kansas to manage the Kansas City Giants, owned by Tobe Smith, and the following season he played for and managed the rival Kansas City (MO) Royal Giants owned by Kansas City businessmen M.B. Garrett and George Washington Walden.

George Washington Walden

George Washington Walden

On the eve of the 1910 season, with two rival franchises in Kansas City, and Chicago’s Rube Foster and Frank Leland battling over control of the Leland Giants, Johnson attempted to form a Negro National League.  He wrote an article which appeared in The Freeman, The Chicago Defender, and other papers:

“To my idea it will be one of the greatest things that has ever happened for the Negro, if it goes through.  There is no one that knows from the actual experience, better than I, under what trying conditions the Negro has been existing in baseball…in other words it has been very discouraging for the colored player.”

Johnson said the teams suffered at the box office because games were arranged on an ad hoc basis and often clubs would “show up with about one-half of the lineup being green youngsters that had never played a game together before,” and said many great players had quit the game because of the lack of organization.

“I contend that these conditions are not likely to occur with the clubs of the league as each club would practically be intact the season through, would have something to fight for and each manager would consequently show more interest.

“It has certainly been proven from the big leagues on down to the minors, that there is nothing in the world that beats organized baseball and harmony.  Of course we cannot expect to cope right along with the big leagues the first season or two, but we can follow their method and system as far as we go.  Good judgment can be used in adopting a schedule in regard to the shortest jumps, conflicting dates with white league clubs, etc…From the fact that most cities of the league would put out good, strong clubs, would be attractions that would draw at any time and at any place where baseball is known at all.  So many times the white fans have been heard to remark, ‘I would rather go to see those colored boys play than one of the big league games.’  To prove this look how they used to pass right by the White Sox gate at 39th Street to get to Auburn Park at 79th street to watch the Lelands.

“Then look at the prestige, standing and rating it will give each club under the heading ‘Negro National League.’  What a great thing it would be to have an official record and per cent kept of each club and player.  Then we will not have to argue and squabble as to the real merits (of Negro League players).”

The type of league Johnson envisioned was a decade away.

Johnson and George Washington Walden would have a bitter split after the 1910 season with Johnson leaving the Royal Giants and returning to the Kansas City (KS) Giants—the two resolved their differences the following year, according to The Freeman:

“At last war in Kansas City has come to a happy ending.  (Walden and Johnson) have at last got together and will give Kansas City the strongest baseball team she has ever had.”

Jack T. Johnson and George Washington Weldon, 1912

Jack T. Johnson and George Washington Weldon, 1912

The newly formed Kansas City club operated as an independent barnstorming team and faded away by the early teens; Jack Johnson also faded away, his date and place of death unknown.

Competing advertisements for the Kansas City Royal giants and Giants in The Freeman, 1910

Competing advertisements for the Kansas City Royal Giants and Giants in The Freeman, 1910

In 1920, while the former Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson was serving his sentence at Leavenworth, Kansas for violation of the Mann act, he fought two exhibition matches on November 25, knocking out a Chicago fighter named Frank Owens and then “sparring” four rounds with a fighter billed as “Topeka Jack Johnson.”  Some sources have identified the fighter as the same “Topeka Jack,” but, at least, three different professional fighters (and likely more) used that name between 1900 and 1925, and none of the newspaper reports indicate it’s the same Johnson.

jackjohnsonb

The other Jack Johnson, fighting Tommy Burns in 1908