The Negro National League Established in Baseball


In 1920 on February 13 and 14, the Negro National League came into being during talks in Kansas City, Missouri. African-Americans had been playing baseball in organized teams going back to the 1860s. In the 1880s, the first organized professional black teams came into being, the first of which was the Babylon Black Panthers in 1885. A white businessman saw them playing, and renamed them the Cuban Giants so as to attract more fans. That same year, the Southern League was created as a league for Black baseball teams from Southern cities. It initially consisted of ten teams. By 1887 a second league, the National Colored Base Ball League (NCBBL) was formed consisting of six east coast teams. The Southern League lasted one year before collapsing from significant debt. The NCBBL, within a month and a half of its first season, was down to three teams. Many of the early African-American baseball teams and leagues were short lived. With World War I, many African-Americans moved North from the South, particularly toward urban areas, taking over manufacturing and production jobs. This created a more affluent, urbanized African-American population, which in turn meant a greater audience for African-American baseball. At the end of the war, a pitcher turned manager and businessman, Rube Foster, saw the perfect opportunity for a new African-American baseball league. The Negro National League was distinct from its predecessors in that it achieved some measure of circuit stability and lasted more than one season. Its initial eight teams were midwestern, although in 1924 it added teams in Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tenessee. The Negro National League included some of the most popular Black teams of all time, including the Kansas City Monarchs. In 1924, the Negro World Series became a championship event between the Negro National League team and the Eastern Colored League. In 1932, the Negro National League folded, although a new league was founded with the same name one year later. The Negro leagues faded into obscurity in the late 1940s when Major League Baseball integrated.

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