Negro League Baseball Teams 1920–50

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Map Code: Ax01953

Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (1920–44): ‘a wasted man with untidy white hair, an emaciated face in which two burning eyes are set like jewels, parchment-like skin split by a crack for a mouth, the face of Andrew Jackson three years dead’. The judge’s resolute opposition foiled attempts to integrate the sport, and thus prolonged the Negro Leagues into their World War II heyday. The first professional Negro baseball team was the Cuban Giants, founded in New York in 1885. The Leagues began in 1920, and seven were established over the next 30 years, with players often supplementing their income on ‘barnstorming’ exhibition tours. Proprietors were colourful and motley, ranging from numbers racketeer Gus Greenlee, to the scion of a riverboat magnate, Cumberland Posey. Celebrated players included ‘Goose’ Tatum, ‘Satchel’ Paige and ‘Rube’ Foster. Judge Landis’s demise signalled the end of the Negro Leagues, when integration rapidly ensued.

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