Whirty: Look back at 1929 game brings meaning to Black History Month in Billings
From SABR member Ryan Whirty at the Billings Gazette on February 24, 2014:
When the McCoy-Nolan Colored Giants arrived in Billings from their home base in Milwaukee in September 1929, they became the first traveling all-black baseball team to visit the Magic City in Billings history.
Although Billings had apparently had locally based, sandlot African-American teams as far back as the early 1910s, the McCoy-Nolans represented the beginning of Billings’ eventually lengthy reputation as a host to barnstorming “colored” hardball teams in the years before and just after Jackie Robinson integrated organized baseball in 1946.
When the Milwaukee club came to Billings late that summer to face a local amateur aggregation sponsored by Home Bakery, the black team was nearing the end of a long, grueling traveling schedule that began with spring training Bogalusa, La., in April, wound its way through the Midwest to the Canadian border and, finally, to the Magic City for a two-game set with the Home Bakery vanguard.
As Montana and the rest of the country now celebrates the annual Black History Month each February, the Milwaukee team’s arrival in Billings takes on added significance.
The McCoy men — named after their benefactor, influential Milwaukee businessman John R. McCoy and managed by one C.L. Gooch — brought with them a reported season record of 142-17 — a mark that seems somewhat dubious given that it came against a serious slew of amateur, semi-pro, independent and minor league teams across the South and Midwest, including franchises in Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas.
This page was last updated February 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm MST.