Old Yankee Stadium

Black Baseball at Yankee Stadium: The House That Ruth Built and Satchel Furnished (with Fans)

This article was written by James Overmyer

This article was published in the From Rube to Robinson: SABR’s Best Articles on Black Baseball


Editor’s note: This article appeared originally in Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal, Vol. 7 (McFarland & Co., 2014).

Old Yankee Stadium

The long relationship between Negro League baseball and Yankee Stadium that provided the Black leagues with both income and prestige began in 1930 when a millionaire lent his prized major league ballpark to a man who ran a union dedicated to bringing other rich men to heel.

The generous millionaire was Jacob Ruppert, Jr., president of a brewery hobbled by Prohibition, but also owner of the New York Yankees, then dominating the American League as winners of six pennants and three World Series in the 1920s. The team’s Yankee Stadium, only in its eighth season and seating 62,000, was a gem among the revolutionary modern steel and concrete ballparks built since the turn of the century. Despite its enormous capacity the Yankees were able to keep it full, thanks primarily to their main attraction, star slugger Babe Ruth. The Babe homered on opening day in 1923, and sportswriter Fred Lieb labeled the park “The House That Ruth Built.”1

The recipient of Ruppert’s “loan” of his fabled ballpark was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a five-year-old union seeking to represent the African American men who staffed the Pullman sleeping cars on the passenger trains that provided most of the intercity transportation of the day. The porters’ union had no other ties to baseball—this was just one of several major entertainment-related fundraisers to provide operating cash. And Ruppert, despite this gracious offer, had no other known connections with the Brotherhood.

But the tradition of Black baseball at the Stadium begun through Ruppert’s beneficence would continue for nearly 20 years, interrupted only in the depths of the Great Depression. From the Porters’ games on July 5 through the end of the 1948 season, when Negro League ball began to fail, a total of 225 games with at least one Black team involved were played, showcasing the best teams and players and putting money in the pockets of both the Negro Leagues and the Yankees organization.

Jacob Ruppert (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)With construction loans from White-owned banks scarce for African American enterprises, few Negro League teams could afford to build their own parks. Instead they usually rented grounds, often from a team in White organized baseball. Some of the most successful of these arrangements were enduring. The Homestead Grays rented the Washington Senators’ Griffith Stadium for 10 years until the team went of business in 1948, the Newark Eagles used the Yankees’ minor league Ruppert Stadium (named after Jacob Ruppert) for 13 seasons through that same year, and the Kansas City Monarchs played in that city’s American Association minor league park (first called Muehlebach Field, although it later had other names) from 1937 until 1961. And the Negro Leagues’ annual star attraction, the East-West All-Star Game, was played annually at Comiskey Park in Chicago beginning in 1933.2

But the Negro Leagues’ long-term relationship with Yankee Stadium was broader in scope. The Stadium served as a home venue not for just one Black team, but as a showcase for all of Black big-league baseball, especially the Eastern teams in the second Negro National League, which began play in 1933. Twenty-one different Negro League teams, or squads considered to have been of equivalent ability in the years when there was no Black major league on the East coast, took the field at the Stadium in addition to several formal or ad hoc Black all-star teams. It is unlikely that any organized baseball park was the site of a more varied menu of Black ball.

Jacob Ruppert was descended from German brewers and had taken over running the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company from his father late in the nineteenth century. Under Jacob, Jr.’s control the Manhattan Brewery was making more than a million barrels of beer when the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the accompanying Volstead Act legislation went into effect in 1920. Many breweries closed but Ruppert stayed in business, making legally allowable weak beer (with only 0.5 percent alcohol content) while riding out the nation’s relatively brief dry experience.

A lifelong bachelor and man about town, Ruppert had extensive real estate holdings, including an apartment in Manhattan and an estate north of the city in the town of Garrison. He was captivated by show animals and owned racehorses and prize-winning St. Bernard dogs. But his favorite extracurricular activity was his ball team. Ruppert had tried to buy a big-league club since the turn of the twentieth century, losing out on the New York Giants and turning down a chance to buy the Chicago Cubs, because “I wasn’t interested in anything so far from Broadway.” In 1915 he bought a half share in the Yankees, who had never won a pennant since being founded in 1903 and became sole owner before the 1923 season. Ruppert was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, joining nine other figures from the Yankees’ powerful teams of the ‘20s. At one time the National Guard aide de camp to New York’s governor, he liked to be called “colonel.”3

Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, had a nickname, too. A devout and outspoken pacifist during World War I, someone in Woodrow Wilson’s administration had called him “the most dangerous Negro in America.”4 Neither Randolph nor his union looked threatening in 1930, though. The Brotherhood had been trying for five unsuccessful years to organize the African American porters on the famous Pullman sleeping cars and would have five more years of hard work before it reached a labor agreement with the company. The firm’s founder, George Pullman, had a vision in the years following the Civil War of making his cars rolling hotels, with as many amenities as possible. His concept included a staff of employees who would ride the cars along with the passengers and provide them with hotel-like service. As Pullman saw it in the mid-nineteenth century, those service employees should be Negroes.

As a day-to-day businessman Pullman kept a tight hold on his dollars. He was utterly opposed to having any of his employees unionized, and his porters were no exception. He died in 1897, but his attitudes were faithfully adhered to by his corporate successors. Efforts had been made to organize the porters, but progress, such as it was, was limited. Unionization attempts in the company’s headquarters city of Chicago died out, but Pullman porters were based all over the country and a group of veterans in New York City founded the Brotherhood. They hired Randolph as their president in 1925 even though he had never been a porter, nor ridden in a Pullman sleeping car. Up to then Randolph, an erudite native of Jacksonville, Florida, had an unprepossessing record as a union organizer who was never able to get a union on its feet, a Socialist political candidate who never won an election, and the publisher of a Negro monthly, “The Messenger,” that was chronically struggling to be profitable. But he thrilled 500 porters crowded into a Harlem Elks hall in August with a vision of what a strong union could do for them, and the Brotherhood became more than a dream.5

Now Yankee Stadium would be the site of a fundraising doubleheader for the union over the 1930 Fourth of July weekend, pitting two top-ranked Negro teams against each other. The likely explanation for this strange matchup of Colonel Ruppert and the Brotherhood involves the distinctive nature of New York City politics at the time. In addition to his business and pleasure pursuits Ruppert had served four terms in Congress (from 1898 to 1907), backed by the city’s Tammany machine. New York’s political hierarchy was pretty simple in those days. The Tammany Society controlled the Democratic Party from its Manhattan headquarters known as Tammany Hall, and the Democrats usually controlled the city. Tammany’s leadership, increasingly dominated by immigrants, especially the Irish, won the votes of the city’s newcomers by explicitly catering to their needs for work, relief in hard times, and recognition in their new home. The tradeoff was more of a bargain between the politicians and the populace than an explicit campaign of social progress (the trade was a better existence for the voters in exchange for power and the spoils that went with it for the politicians). But Tammany’s outreach was inclusive among potential Democratic voters, and New York’s African Americans were included, too.

Brotherhood secretary-treasurer Roy Lancaster, one of the union’s founders who had hired Randolph, was a political creature who belonged to Tammany Hall’s Black wing. Lancaster was a longtime porter who Pullman officials had considered the most intelligent employee representative at a 1924 conference that resulted in a wage increase. Nonetheless, the company fired him in 1925 when his unionizing efforts became too enthusiastic. Lancaster then came to be regarded during this founding period as perhaps the second most important union leader after Randolph.6

It is not a stretch of the imagination to picture Lancaster working his way through the Tammany hierarchy to get the colonel to partner up for July 5. In fact, he later told a fellow Brotherhood official, C. L. Dellums of California, that was just what he had done: “I remember Roy telling me his [Ruppert’s] name and that he couldn’t be reached. No Negro seemed to have a chance to get anything put on in that park—for free, particularly. But Roy had enough connections to get that park.” It appears he got an assist from Harlem Alderman Fred B. Moore, who, although a newly re-elected Republican, wrote a note of introduction to Ruppert for Lancaster, allowing the union man to get his foot in the door. So reported the Harlem Black weekly the New York Age, and although Moore was its publisher and there is the possibility his paper embellished his role, there is probably truth to the claim.7

There was also another relationship that may have contributed to the Stadium’s loan, or at least made it more possible for the Yankees to actually consider. Prior to major league baseball rule 3.17, which bans non-team personnel from dugouts during games, celebrities were regularly seen sitting on the benches and chatting with the uniformed personnel. Black sportswriter Al Monroe, listing some of these instances in 1933, claimed that Negro League star John Henry Lloyd and Babe Ruth were friends, and when Lloyd “has an off day you’ll always find the big Race man seated in the Ruthian dugout.”8

The success of the fundraiser was significantly aided by the selection of the teams. The Lincoln Giants, one of the best-known Black ball clubs in New York, were the home team and the Baltimore Black Sox the visitors. The teams had been charter members of the Eastern Colored League and then the American Negro League, the two Negro Leagues on the East Coast until they went out of business just prior to the Great Depression.

Each team had an eventual member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame at first base. Lloyd, the Babe’s friend, was also field manager for the Lincolns and Jud Wilson played first for the Sox. The Giants’ outfield of Fats Jenkins in left, Clint Thomas in center, and Chino Smith in right was all-star caliber. The Black Sox infield that included Dick Lundy at shortstop and Frank Warfield at second base in addition to Wilson was mostly the same. Appropriately, the teams split the doubleheader. The Lincolns pounded Sox pitching in the first game for a 13-4 win. The Giants’ Smith, Lloyd, and third baseman Orville Riggins each had three hits. Smith’s were two homers and a triple. Baltimore left fielder Rap Dixon ripped two home runs in the second game, driving in all but one of the Sox runs while right-hander Lamon Yokely pitched a complete game for a 5-3 win.

The Brotherhood also staged a small track meet for the fans’ further diversion. Sol Furth, a New York University track star, won the 100-yard dash, but a star Black runner, Phil Edwards, also from NYU and also a medal winner for Canada in the 1928 Olympics, lost the half mile to Fred Lorz, Jr., who had been spotted a 10-yard lead as a handicap. The best-known entrant, at least to New Yorkers, had no running medals to his name. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the actor and tap dancer of Broadway and movie fame, given a 25-yard head start, ran the rest of a 100-yard dash backwards and beat some of the field (running forward) who had run the straight dash.9

The Giants and the Black Sox split before as many as 20,000 fans. The Brotherhood announced a profit of $3,500 (an amount with $48,000 in purchasing power in 2013).10 Then the Lincolns made a mid-September appearance at the Stadium for a doubleheader against the Cuban Stars, another New York club playing, as were the Lincolns, as an independent outfit following the collapse of East Coast Negro League ball the year before. The games only drew about 3,000 fans, however.

But then, during the last week of September, a 10-game matchup between the Giants and the Homestead Grays of Pittsburgh, the “race championship” of that year, included six games at the Stadium. Since league ball had folded in the East no one could prevent any two teams from calling their competition a “championship series,” though in fact these were clearly two of the strongest Black squads in the East. The Grays had won three of the four games played in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but the Lincoln Giants split each of the three Yankee Stadium doubleheaders on September 21, 27, and 28 to make the series competitive down to its very last innings.

The teams were so razor close in the New York games that an injury to one of the Lincolns’ stars in the final contest may well have tipped the series in the Grays’ favor. The Giants had won the first game of the final doubleheader on September 28, 6-2, led by ace starter Bill Holland, and were trailing by only 1-0 in the fifth inning of the nightcap when second baseman Rev Cannady and right fielder Smith collided on a short fly ball. Smith was hurt, and he was replaced in the lineup by Luther “Red” Farrell, a left-handed pitcher who played the outfield when not on the mound. Farrell was a prodigious slugger, but not a particularly adept fielder. With two out in the top of the eighth he misjudged a fly ball that Smith likely would have caught, which turned into a double. Then Homestead third baseman Judy Johnson ripped a triple between the lumbering Farrell and centerfielder Clint Thomas, and the Grays were on their way to a four-run inning and the championship.11

Cumberland Posey (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)Homestead owner Cumberland Posey had equivocated for weeks about accepting the challenge of Lincoln owner James Keenan, but finally agreed to the series in early September. According to the Negro sporting press, Jacob Ruppert was impressed enough by the Lincolns’ play to make the Stadium available to them again. This may have been true, but there were some more important angles to this agreement. Use of the Stadium was no longer free, for example. With no charity involved now blackball would pay the Yankees’ standard rates.

The team regularly rented its park for other profit-making sporting events (college football, championship boxing, and track and field, for example), and had taken $1,000, 40 percent of the gate, for the Giants-Cubans doubleheader. The requirement to pay rent was actually a positive recognition of Black baseball’s growing status in New York—it was seen by the Yankee organization as a professional endeavor that could stand with the other sports using the Stadium.12

Ruppert may have admired Jim Keenan’s Giants, but a more likely explanation for the championship series landing at the Stadium was that Roy Lancaster was again involved on the business side. He seems to have served as “matchmaker” and promoter and took away a share of the profits. Attendance ran to more than 10,000 for the first and third doubleheaders, both on Sunday, traditionally the big day for Black baseball attendance. Importantly for the future of Negro ball in the Bronx, the teams and the promoter walked away with $9,100. Posey’s Grays got a little more than $3,335, Keenan’s Giants took $3,964 and Lancaster was paid $1,799, although he would have incurred advertising and other promotional expenses out of that share that do not show up on the Yankee ledgers. The Yankees’ share of $4,243 ($3,237 after paying for ticket printing and game day payroll expenses), was 31 percent of the gross gate. This was very good money for the Black teams and a nice “bonus” for the Yankees for use of the park while the team was on the road.13

Black ball at the Stadium was off to a good start for everyone. The venerable ex-player and manager Sol White, now writing on baseball for African American newspapers, opined that “now is the time for men of the race to take hold of this grand old game and push it up to where it belongs…We know of no safer investment for a few thousand dollars at this time than stock in a team of race players that can and would strut their stuff on grounds of the Yankee Stadium.”14 White was a venerated baseball man, but his advice failed to take the Depression into account. Negro baseball was about to take a calamitous nosedive. Before the 1932 season major league Black baseball had folded everywhere, not just in the East, and the pickings were as slim for Black ballplayers as for many other Americans.

The Yankee Stadium results reflected this. The Harlem Stars, a successor team to the Lincoln Giants, who had gone out of business shortly after their 1930 series against Homestead, played three doubleheaders in 1931 that drew only about 13,000 fans in all. The final date, on August 16, was another Sleeping Car Porters benefit, which flopped. Almost all the advantages the union had in its 1930 benefit vanished the next year. Internal union politics had cost Lancaster his officer’s job the previous September. Romeo Dougherty, the sports editor of the New York Amsterdam News, who was to replace Lancaster, reportedly became ill, and afterwards had little good to say about the less-experienced people who had stepped in for him: “In the account of expenses we found items calling for certain sums which we would not have sanctioned had the Statue of Liberty decided to give an imitation of Snakehips [Black dancer Earl Tucker, the “Human Boa Constrictor”] at the Polo grounds [sic] for our personal benefit.”

The planners also made a serious error in picking the day of the game—it was staged head-to-head with a New York Giants’ doubleheader at the Polo Grounds, just across the East River, which drew 58,000 fans. The game at Yankee Stadium drew only 1,975 paid admissions and the final balance sheet showed the Porters had lost $187.97 on the undertaking. The losses would have been substantially greater except that the Harlem Stars, who unwisely had agreed to play for a percentage of the profits, didn’t get paid, since there were no profits. The visiting team, Hilldale of Philadelphia, was paid a $500 visitors’ guarantee and the Yankees made $687, one-third of the gate, as stadium rental.15

After that debacle there were no Black games at the Stadium until 1934. Then William “Gus” Greenlee, who led the revival of league baseball by founding the second Negro National League, which included his Pittsburgh Crawfords, began to rent the Yankees’ home. Greenlee had also spearheaded the annual East-West games in Chicago. Historian Neal Lanctot says that “perhaps more than any other owner, Greenlee realized the importance of presenting Black baseball in a major league venue, transcending the usual White perception of Black baseball as semi-professional in caliber.”16

 

1936 Pittsburgh Crawfords

1936 Pittsburgh Crawfords. From left: O. Charleston, J. Crutchfield, D. Seay, S. Bankhead, B. Harvey, S. Streeter, B. Perkins, C. Williams, T. Smith, H. Kincannon, J. Johnson, Cool Papa Bell, L. Matlock, E. Carter, J. Gibson, J. Washington, S. Paige, E. Dunkin. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)

 

The return to the Stadium was on September 9 with a doubleheader that was a fundraiser for the Colonel Charles Young American Legion post in Harlem. About 25,000 fans turned out, reportedly from as far away as Pennsylvania. Unsurprisingly, Greenlee’s Pittsburgh Crawfords were represented—they played the Philadelphia Stars to a 1-1 tie, called due to darkness. That game featured the Stadium debut of the best draw throughout Negro baseball’s entire run there. Satchel Paige pitched for the Crawfords and dueled Slim Jones of the Stars in the nine-inning tie. Jones only gave up three hits and struck out nine men, while Paige, yielding six hits, fanned 12.

The opening game that day also had some significance. It was the Stadium debut of the Yankees’ black namesake, the New York Black Yankees. A successor to the Lincoln Giants and Harlem Stars, the Black Yanks had been in existence since 1932, and were part of a tradition in which Negro League teams laid claim to the name of a strong local White professional club, amending it by inserting the word “Black” at the beginning of the name. The Birmingham Black Barons and the Atlanta Black Crackers are other examples. In this case, though, the tie between the White and Black teams was strengthened by the fact that one of the reasons for the Black Yankees deciding on this name was the team’s first set of uniforms, secondhand suits originally worn by their White counterparts.17

The Black Yankees joined the second Negro National League in 1936 and remained a member until the league went out of business after the 1948 season. Despite the distinguished origin of the team name, they were never a very good squad. Proving that clothes don’t, in fact, make the man (or team of men), in the 13 seasons they were in the NNL their White namesakes won the American League pennant eight times, while the Black Yankees never copped a flag. Nonetheless, the Black Yanks, sometimes claiming the Stadium as one of their home parks, played in 93 games there between 1934 and 1948, the most appearances of any Black team. But their .432 winning percentage was the worst of the Eastern Negro League teams that regularly played at the Stadium.

The two matchups from September 9 were repeated on the 30th, and Paige and the Crawfords topped Jones and the Stars, 3-1. Paige gave up only five hits, while Jones yielded only seven. The Black Yankees squeezed out a 3-2 win over Chicago in the second game.

From 1935 through 1938 Greenlee’s Negro National League booked one or two doubleheaders a season. Three of the dates functioned as fundraisers for civic purposes that either directly involved the New York African American community (a Black Elks lodge) or institutions that significantly contributed to Blacks (the Police Athletic League and the Greater New York Fund, a predecessor to the city’s current United Way charity). The games were well attended and competitive, averaging from 15,000 to 20,000 fans per date, except when Paige came to town again on September 26, 1937. Satchel, the pitching mainstay of Greenlee’s Crawfords, had deserted with other stars that spring for a rich offer from the Dominican Republic’s league. The departure of Paige and the others was the beginning of the end for Greenlee’s team, and his Crawfords were out of business by 1938.

But Paige and his fellow defectors were still useful to Greenlee, who paid $3,000 to the Yankees to stage a game between a team of Negro National League All-Stars that included future Baseball Hall of Famers Biz Mackey and Jud Wilson and the “Santo Domingo Stars,” the players who had jumped south that spring. As many as 30,000 fans attended as Paige and the Dominican stars won, 9-4, and a second game ended in a 1-1 five-inning tie called by darkness.18

Although Greenlee faded from the Black big-league scene, his idea of playing Negro League games in Yankee Stadium persisted. His arrangement with the Yankees had one major drawback—the Yanks charged from $2,500 to $3,000 per date. But prior to the 1939 season the Negro National League hired Philadelphia sports figure Ed Gottlieb as its booking agent for Stadium games. Gottlieb, although White, was as a part owner of the NNL’s Philadelphia Stars, an insider at the league’s councils. He also was one of the leading bookers of semi-professional games on the East Coast and could walk into Yankee President Edward Barrow’s office and work out a deal that reduced the Yanks’ rental charge in exchange for many more playing dates. Although no written agreements between Gottlieb and the Yankee organization appear to survive, analysis of the date-by-date financial transactions from 1939 on appear to show that the Yankees changed their financially challenging flat-rate rent to 25 percent of gross revenue, with a $1,000 minimum charge.19

The Yankees also offered the Ruppert Memorial Trophy, named after the recently-deceased team owner, to the Negro National League team winning the most games at the Stadium each year. It was hardly a selfless gesture since the Yankee organization was profiting from the games, too. But the combination of Gottlieb’s new deal and the trophy caused Black usage of the park in 1939 to leap to six dates, a total of 11 games, with an estimated total attendance of about 79,000. And use of the Stadium just kept increasing. From 1940 through 1946, the financial heyday of the Black leagues, there were a total of 145 games played on 75 different dates, drawing an estimated 984,000 fans. The World War II seasons were difficult for White professional baseball—major league attendance declined and many minor leagues suspended play for the duration of the war as young potential players were drafted or enlisted instead. But paradoxically the Negro Leagues never had it better in terms of attendance and profits, although they, too, lost many of their best players to the military. The turning of the mighty manufacturing sector in Northern cities into a defense industry drew new workers, including African Americans, from the less-industrialized South, providing a large increase to blackball’s fan base.

Harlem’s population had been growing even before the war. In 1940, 65 percent of New York’s Black population lived in the borough of Manhattan, mostly in Harlem. The number of Blacks in Manhattan had increased by more than 30 percent between the 1930 and 1940 U.S. censuses, and the number of Black males 21 and over—the demographic group most likely to be fans, had jumped by more than 20 percent.20 The Stadium was well located to attract the Black New York baseball fan, only four subway stops north of 125th Street, Harlem’s business and entertainment center. Experience proved that the closer a Black ballgame in New York City was to Harlem, the better its chance of making money.

The New York Giants’ Polo Grounds, opposite Yankee Stadium on the Manhattan side of the East River, was actually one subway stop closer. Many games were played at the Polo Grounds when Negro League ball in the city was in its heyday during World War II, (Gottlieb said the park came into use when the Stadium couldn’t meet the increased demand for dates).21 But the Negro National League usually turned to the Yankees when making up its New York schedule, certainly in part because of Gottlieb’s close relationship with management there. As to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, Black baseball there was tried seriously twice, by the Bacharach Giants in the early 1920s and the Brooklyn Eagles in 1935, but it never prospered due to the park’s distance from the fan base in Harlem and heavy competition from nearby prime White semi-pro teams.

Negro League games at Yankee Stadium were mostly a showcase for the National League, the only ones, for example, competing for the Ruppert Trophy. But as the annual number of games steadily increased, from 11 (on six different dates) in 1939 to 30 (on 14 dates) in 1946, teams from the Negro American League, located in the Midwest and South, got onto the schedule when they made Eastern barnstorming swings, playing their National League counterparts in exhibition games. The first appearance of the American League was August 27, 1939, when the Negro Leagues staged a second East-West All-Star Game in New York, a money-making follow-up to the main East-West game played in Chicago on August 6. The East team, composed of NNL stars, avenged an earlier loss in Chicago with a 10-2 victory as Ed Stone of the Newark Eagles had three hits and Bill Wright of the Baltimore Elite Giants and Buck Leonard of the Homestead Grays two each. The attendance of 20,000 was the best for a Black game at Yankee Stadium that year. The two leagues again reprised the East-West game at the Stadium in 1948, the NNL’s last year of existence, and the Easterners again won, 6-1.

The leagues would also occasionally use this big venue for important championship games. The Baltimore Elite Giants beat the Grays, 2-0, on September 24, 1939, to wrap up the NNL pennant playoffs, and the Negro World Series, which was usually partially played in cities other than the homes of the contenders, visited the Stadium in 1942 and 1947. Individual NAL teams began to play there in the latter part of the 1940 season when the Memphis Red Sox and St. Louis Stars showed and were regularly appearing at the Stadium by 1941. The most important Midwestern visitors were the Kansas City Monarchs. The Monarchs were one of the strongest teams in the NAL, it was true, but they real reason they were so welcome is that they brought Satchel Paige, a major drawing card all by himself, back to Yankee Stadium.

The legendary Paige made 20 starts in Yankee Stadium for Black teams. (He made one more, against the Yankees as a Cleveland Indian in 1949, after major league integration.) Crowds for those games averaged about 20,400 per date, nearly double the 11,600 average for the rest of the dates. When he pitched on May 11, 1941 (on loan from his Kansas City Monarchs to the New York Black Yankees), the Negro League game at the Stadium outdrew the New York Giants contest at the Polo Grounds across the East River by 6,000, an occurrence repeated more than once in later games that featured Paige. On August 2, 1942, a four-team doubleheader including Satchel and the Monarchs drew 30,000, more than either the Giants at the Polo Grounds or the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. A reappearance at the Stadium on August 26, 1944, produced a crowd of 28,000 that nearly tripled the attendance at a Dodgers-Giants game across the river at the Polo Grounds.

 

Satchel Paige (THE RUCKER ARCHIVE)

Satchel Paige (THE RUCKER ARCHIVE)

 

Paige was so in demand that he was able to command his own fee for showing up, separate from his team’s share of the gate. For example, he received a personal fee of $500 for pitching “on loan” from the Monarchs for the Black Yankees in 1941. Not only was his very presence notable, but so was his absence. Greenlee’s new program of Yankee Stadium promotions suffered a setback on September 22, 1935, when his Crawfords arrived for a doubleheader, but Satchel was not with the club. Paige was engaged in continuing salary battles with Greenlee, who was forced to explain to the New York baseball press that the pitcher had “stopped off in Chicago en route east and while there was offered $500 to pitch for the Kansas City Monarchs on Sunday. This caused him to forget all about his agreement to appear in New York.”22

Satchel had three dominating games at the Stadium in the 1930s, (two complete game wins and the 1-1 tie against Slim Jones in 1934), but he was in his own mid-30s by the beginning of the 1940s and rarely went a full nine innings anymore. He only threw a complete game in two of his 17 Stadium starts in the ‘40s, usually yielding to a reliever after five or six innings. Nonetheless, very little enemy offense blossomed when he was on the mound. He allowed less than two runs and seven hits per nine innings in the 19 starts for which statistics exist. His teams won 13 of his 20 starts (there were two ties, and only five losses). Paige himself got credit for 11 wins, against only two defeats.

But he was not the only Negro League workhorse at the Stadium. Little right-hander Dave Barnhill was the New York Cubans staff ace in the early 1940s. The Cubans, owned by Alejandro Pompez, born in Florida to well-off Cuban immigrants, were the team with most of the good dark-skinned Latin American players in the NNL. But Pompez would gladly sign United States-born talent, too, as witnessed by his recruitment of North Carolinian Barnhill in 1941. Like the Black Yankees, the Cubans claimed Yankee Stadium as one of their home parks in the New York area and played 71 games there from 1935 through 1948. From 1941 through 1943 Barnhill was the regular Cuban starter for the coveted Sunday dates at the Stadium. He made 20 starts and one relief appearance in those three years, earning 11 wins against eight losses and a save. His pitching was curtailed by injuries for the rest of the war years, but he pitched in the Stadium again in 1946 and 1948, splitting four more decisions for a career record of 12-10 in the big ballpark. Barnhill, who unlike Paige was in his physical prime during the ‘40s, finished 17 of his 23 starts, which included two two-hitters, two four-hitters and three five-hitters. He won five of seven starts in 1943, his last start a head-to-head matchup with Paige in which Barnhill produced a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts for the victory.

Josh Gibson is pictured with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in the mid-1930s. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY)Josh Gibson was another legendary Negro Leaguer who excelled at the Stadium. He made several appearances, the first in the championship series of 1930 and the last in August 1946. In the mythology of Black baseball Gibson is famous for something he didn’t actually do—hit a fair ball out of the cavernous park. This failure puts him in good company though, since no one else ever did, either. But Josh, historically the Negro Leagues’ most prolific home run hitter, crashed seven homers there. His second, on September 27, 1930, the next-to-last day of the big Grays-Lincoln Giants series, was among the longest shots there by any player. He was an 18-year-old rookie with the Grays and while he was the regular catcher he hadn’t yet graduated to the position of “main man” in the Homestead batting order. He batted sixth on this day. Gibson had hit an opposite-field homer to right in the first game, which the Lincolns won, 9-8. Homestead jumped right on Giants starter Connie Rector in the first inning of the nightcap and the young catcher came up with two men on. Rector pitched, and Gibson launched a shot to left field that the Chicago Defender reporter pegged at 460 feet.23

Gibson went out at the Stadium in 1946 with the same sort of flourish, bombing a 430-foot shot to center to help beat the Black Yankees, 7-0, in the May 26 game, and doubling in a run in his last appearance there August 30. Josh, who could still hit for power although his all-around skills were decaying at only age 34, was closer to the end than anyone imagined. He suffered a stroke in early January of 1947, and never played again.

The career path of Gibson, who reportedly was gravely disappointed in not being chosen to help integrate the White majors, parallels the late 1940s history of the Negro Leagues, which went into sudden and irreversible decline after the color barrier was broken in 1947. Black baseball at Yankee Stadium went down with it, as attendance plummeted to about 7,000 per date in 1947 and 8,000 in 1948. The Negro National League went out of business after the 1948 season, with most surviving teams huddling in the Negro American League and the New York Cubans surviving as an independent. Pompez, the Cubans owner, had become a Latin American scout for the New York Giants, and his team played at their Polo Grounds. From then on the Negro League presence at the Stadium was intermittent, at best. A search of the sports pages after 1948, hampered by the lack of coverage in the major Black weeklies, themselves in decline, turns up only a pair of doubleheaders in each of 1950 and 1954. By then opportunities for the best Black players were steadily becoming available in the formerly White major and minor leagues, and the one surviving Black league, the American, could no longer be considered to have top-level ball.

Of the 450 team appearances at Yankee Stadium through the end of the 1948 season (the 225 games times two teams per game), 415 of them, 92 per cent of the total, were Negro League or equivalent teams, plus the Negro League all-star teams. The two local teams that played there the most, the Black Yankees (48-50-5) and the Cubans (35-34-2), only had middling records. Among the regular Negro League competitors, the top won-lost marks were held by the Homestead Grays (26-11-1) and the Elite Giants from Nashville and then Baltimore (23-11-1).

In the last three years of high-quality Black games, lesser-ranked regional Black teams such as the Richmond Giants; Jacksonville Eagles; and Asheville, North Carolina, Blues played, usually in the preliminary game of a four-team Sunday doubleheader. Occasionally, a White team would provide an opponent. The 1946 season ended on October 6 with a game between the Satchel Paige and Bob Feller all-star squads as the two well-known hurlers brought their 20-game postseason barnstorming show, top Black players against top Whites, to New York. Although Feller’s team had the better overall record, the Paige All Stars won, 4-0, at the Stadium. Paige threw five shutout innings before more than 27,000, the largest crowd of the year there for a Black game.

It’s clear that the games at the Stadium added a great deal to the competitive nature of Negro baseball, and helped popularize it in what was then the biggest city in the U.S. But what were they worth, financially, to all involved? Anything approaching precise information on Negro League finances is sorely lacking today, even more so than complete player statistics. Financial records were usually lost when the Black teams went out of business, and sports page accounts of the business of the Negro Leagues were usually confined to “it was a good year,” or “it was a bad year” types of reports. But, in two donations in 1955 and 1970 the New York Yankees gave the National Baseball Hall of Fame many of their business and financial records, plus many of those of the team’s minor league affiliates, the whole run of data ranging from 1913 to 1950. These gifts have been enthusiastically mined by researchers for salary figures and other data helping to reconstruct the front office life of the Yankees.

But the Yankee cash ledgers also contain reports of cash receipts and expenditures for nearly all the blackball games played at the Stadium. Cash accounting for the Black games runs from 1930 through 1944. When compared to the game accounts found in the major Black weeklies consulted for this project (Pittsburgh Courier, Chicago Defender, New York Amsterdam News and New York Age), plus the New York Times, which covered many games, the cash ledgers seem to include financial data for each playing date. The Yankee data stops after 1944, but Negro League ball was still very popular for the next few years, and the newspapers still provided strong coverage, so the assumption is made here that the papers continued to report every contest at the Stadium. After the Negro National League folded following the 1948 season games at the Stadium became much fewer and far between, since many of the Eastern teams had gone out of business and Pompez had moved the Cubans to the Polo Grounds.

The erosion of the Negro Leagues, combined with the lack of Yankee ledger information, led to the decision to cut off the games included in this project at the end of the 1948 season. For the record, a doubleheader was discovered in each of 1950 and 1954. On May 28, 1950, the Philadelphia Stars beat the Kansas City Monarchs twice, 3-0 and 3-1, before a reported 4,000 fans. On July 11, 1954, the Indianapolis Clowns defeated the Monarchs, 5-1, and then the Monarchs turned the tables, 6-4, before 7,500 fans.

An accompanying table uses the Yankee financial records available in the Hall of Fame Library as a base for calculations. It also depends upon attendance figures to help reach financial results, since in the years before Gottlieb began representing Black baseball in 1939 the team ledgers sometimes only record what the Yankees were paid for the Stadium’s use. A total revenue figure in those instances was established by averaging reported game day attendance from the major Black weeklies, plus that from the New York Times, which frequently carried shorter stories on the games. After establishing an attendance figure for each date and making some assumptions based on what the average ticket price might have been for Black games, it appears that through 1944, the last full year of Yankee records, the collaboration brought in a gross amount of about $426,000 dollars. After subtraction of the federal 10 percent entertainment tax on each ticket sold and Stadium game day expenses, there was a net of about $372,000. Of that amount, the Negro Leagues and the independent teams that sometimes played took away about 70 percent, $255,000. The Yankee organization kept about 30 percent. The $115,000 the Yankees made over 13 years isn’t much for a team that was usually leading its league in attendance each season, but the money was a windfall, a small profit made while the Stadium would otherwise be sitting idle.

On the other hand, the money going to the Negro Leagues was an impressive sum for them. During the heyday years of 1939 through 1944 the Black leagues had an estimated income from the Stadium of $32,500 per season. In comparison the Newark Eagles, considered one of the higher salaried Black teams, and one of the few clubs whose records survive, had an annual payroll of $22,500 toward the end of that period. So, a relative handful of games at Yankee Stadium in the prime seasons cleared more than the entire Eagles payroll for players and other employees, with plenty left over.24

All of this is not to say that Yankee Stadium clearly was the most important venue for Negro League baseball. It shares the honor with Comiskey Park, the site of the East-West Games. From the first game in 1933 through 1948, the last year included in this study, the East-West game in Chicago drew an average of 36,500 fans per game. This was more than three times the average attendance at the Stadium’s Black games (a figure even more impressive when it is taken into account how much greater the Stadium attendance was than that for the average Negro League game elsewhere). More people went to an East-West game than attended a game at Yankee Stadium even when the matchless Paige was starting. And the East-West Game produced dozens of thrilling games and individual performances that have become part of Black baseball lore.25

But the Stadium games, held in the leading city in the United States, in the park of the leading baseball team, provided important prestige for the Negro Leagues in addition to a financial shot in the arm for the Black majors. Essentially, the title for most influential Negro League game of the year was regularly won by Chicago, while the crown for sustained influence rested in New York.

JAMES OVERMYER writes and lectures on baseball history, primarily African American. He is author of “Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles,” “Black Ball and the Boardwalk: The Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, 1916–1929,” and more recently “Cum Posey of the Homestead Grays: A Biography of the Negro Leagues Owner and Hall of Famer.”

 

Click here to scroll down to the appendices below:


Attendance and Profits

Year Games Dates Attendance Gross
Rev
Net
Rev
NYY
Share
Black
Share**
1930* 10 5 39,700 $15,898 $14,660 $3,989 $10,671
1931 6 3 12,200 $4,666 $3,747 $1,376 $2,323
1934 4 2 50,000 $31,241 $27,367 $5,000 $22,367
1935 4 2 37,500 $15,000 $12,775 $6,000 $6,775
1936 2 1 15,000 $6,000 $5,273 $3,000 $2,273
1937 4 2 42,500 $17,000 $14,729 $5,500 $9,229
1938 4 2 31,700 $12,667 $11,189 $5,000 $6,189
1939 11 6 79,100 $30,611 $26,758 $6,554 $17,744
1940 14 7 75,000 $28,537 $24,814 $7,153 $17,662
1941 16 8 144,000 $58,429 $51,696 $11,929 $39,768
1942 19 10 170,900 $68,333 $59,907 $20,712 $39,195
1943 20 10 135,900 $57,389 $49,566 $17,750 $31,816
1944 24 12 139,300 $80,563 $69,244 $20,588 $48,656
1945 22 12 131,300
1946 30 16 188,400
1947 20 13 56,800
1948 15 8 57,300
TOTALS 225 119 1,406,600 $426,333 $371,726 $114,550 $254,668
            31% 69%

* Not including Sleeping Car Porters benefit

** Includes a few payments to White opponents

 


Black Games at Yankee Stadium, 1930-48

1930

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
5-Jul Lincoln Giants Baltimore Black Sox 13-4 16,700 1st Porters’ games
5-Jul Baltimore Black Sox Lincoln Giants 5-3 1st Porters’ games
11-Sep Cuban Stars, East Lincoln Giants 13-3 3,000  
11-Sep Lincoln Giants Cuban Stars, East 5-1    
21-Sep Lincoln Giants Homestead Grays 6-2 10,000 “Race Championship”
21-Sep Homestead Grays Lincoln Giants 3-2 “Race Championship”
27-Sep Lincoln Giants Homestead Grays 9-8 “Race Championship”
27-Sep Homestead Grays Lincoln Giants 7-3 “Race Championship”
28-Sep Lincoln Giants Homestead Grays 6-2 10,000 “Race Championship”
28-Sep Homestead Grays Lincoln Giants 5-2 “Race Championship”
        39,700 (total)  

 

1931

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
10-May Harlem Stars Lancaster Giants (W) 17-0 8,500  
10-May Harlem Stars Philadelphia Pros (W) 8-6    
12-Jul Harlem Stars Brooklyn Royal Giants 7-2 1,200  
12-Jul Harlem Stars Brooklyn Royal Giants 4-3    
16-Aug Harlem Stars Hilldale 3-1 2,500 2nd Porters’ games
16-Aug Harlem Stars Hilldale 11-3 2nd Porters’ games
        12,200 (total)  

 

1934

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
9-Sep Chicago American Giants New York Black Yankees 4-3 25,000 American Legion Fundraiser
9-Sep Pittsburgh Crawfords Philadelphia Stars 1-1 A.L. fundraiser; Paige start; tie game  
30-Sep Pittsburgh Crawfords Philadelphia Stars 3-1 25,000 Paige start
30-Sep New York Black Yankees Chicago American Giants 3-2    
        50,000 (total)  

 

1935

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
22-Sep Nashville Elite Giants New York Cubans 4-3 20,000  
22-Sep Pittsburgh Crawfords Philadelphia Stars 12-2    
13-Oct Major League All-Stars (W) Negro National All-Stars 3-0 17,500  
13-Oct Major League All-Stars (W) Negro National All-Stars 1-0    
        37,500 (total)  

 

1936

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
16-Aug Philadelphia Stars Newark Eagles 15-7 15,000 Police Athletic Lg. benefit
16-Aug New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 2-1    
        15,000 (total)  

 

1937

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
16-Aug New York Black Yankees Pittsburgh Crawfords 4-1 12,500 Elks benefit
16-Aug Pittsburgh Crawfords Philadelphia Stars 5-0 Elks benefit
26-Sep Santo Domingo All-Stars Negro National All-Stars 9-4 30,000 Paige start
26-Sep Negro National All-Stars Santo Domingo All-Stars 1-0    
        42,500 (total)  

 

1938

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
26-Jun Philadelphia Stars Baltimore Elite Giants 8-7 16,700 Greater NY Fund benefit
26-Jun Pittsburgh Crawfords New York Black Yankees 5-3 Greater NY Fund benefit
31-Jul Newark Eagles Birmingham Black Barons 7-5 15,000  
31-Jul Homestead Grays Memphis Red Sox 9-1    
        31,700 (total)  

 

1939

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
4-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 7-3 12,300  
4-Jun New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 5-4    
2-Jul Newark Eagles Philadelphia Stars 8-1 12,500  
2-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 4-0    
23-Jul Homestead Grays Philadelphia Stars 11-2 12,500  
23-Jul New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 4-0    
13-Aug Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 11-1 12,500  
13-Aug Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 11-5    
27-Aug Negro National All-Stars Negro American All-Stars 10-2 20,000 2nd All-Star Game
24-Sep Baltimore Elite Giants Homestead Grays 2-0 9,300 NNL Championship
24-Sep Negro National All-Stars Minor League All-Stars (W) 1-1 Tie game  
        79,100 (total)  

 

1940

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
19-May New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 4-2 11,000  
19-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 8-0    
26-May Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 8-1 6,000  
26-May Homestead Grays Philadelphia Stars 8-3    
16-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 5-4 8,800 16 innings
16-Jun New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 5-3    
7-Jul Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 5-3 11,000  
7-Jul Philadephia Stars New York Cubans 4-0    
28-Jul Homestead Grays Baltimore Elite Giants 5-0 11,700 Elks Day
28-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants Homestead Grays 15-6    
4-Aug Memphis Red Sox New York Black Yankees 3-0 11,800  
4-Aug St. Louis Stars Baltimore Elite Giants 6-4    
8-Sep Homestead Grays Memphis Red Sox 3-1 14,700  
8-Sep Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 3-0    
        75,000 (total)  

 

1941

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
11-May New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 5-3 19,300 Paige start for Yanks
11-May Philadelphia Stars New York Black Yankees 4-1    
30-May New York Black Yankees Newark Eagles 6-5 22,000 Memorial Day;
Joe Louis threw 1st pitch
30-May New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 6-3    
8-Jun New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 3-2 12,000 Gehrig Memorial Service
8-Jun Philadelphia Stars Newark Eagles 6-3    
29-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants Philadelphia Stars 4-0 12,000  
29-Jun Homestead Grays New York Cubans 3-2    
20-Jul Kansas City Monarchs New York Cubans 7-2 27,200 Paige start
20-Jul New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 3-1    
10-Aug Birmingham Black Barons New York Black Yankees 2-1 16,500 Elks Day
10-Aug New York Cubans Memphis Red Sox 7-4 Elks Day
24-Aug Kansas City Monarchs Newark Eagles 6-1 22,500 Paige 1-hitter
24-Aug New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 4-3    
11-Sep Homestead Grays New York Cubans 20-0 12,500  
11-Sep Homestead Grays New York Cubans 5-0    
        144,000 (total)  

 

1942

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
17-May New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 5-3 12,000  
17-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 5-0    
24-May Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 9-2 30,000  
24-May New York Black Yankees Homestead Grays 3-2    
31-May Baltimore Elite Giants Philadelphia Stars 5-3 14,500  
31-May Newark Eagles New York Cubans 8-3    
21-Jun Homestead Grays Philadelphia Stars 3-2 12,000  
21-Jun New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 3-2    
28-Jun Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 3-0 12,000  
28-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 7-3    
4-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants Newark Eagles 8-4 12,000  
4-Jul New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 7-2    
26-Jul New York Black Yankees Chicago American Giants 8-0 18,700 Elks Day
26-Jul New York Cubans Birmingham Black Barons 5-2 Elks Day
2-Aug Philadelphia Stars Baltimore Elite Giants 7-4 30,000  
2-Aug Kansas City Monarchs New York Cubans 9-0 Paige start  
16-Aug Memphis Red Sox New York Black Yankees 2-2 4,000 10 inning tie, called by rain
13-Sep Kansas City Monarchs Homestead Grays 9-3 25,700 World Series, Paige start
13-Sep Kansas City Monarchs Homestead Grays 5-0 7-inning exhibition  
        170,900 (total)  

 

1943

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
16-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 12-2 11,000  
16-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 5-5 Tie game, called darkness
23-May New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 9-2 7,500  
23-May New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 10-3    
13-Jun St. Louis Stars New York Black Yankees 12-0 7,000  
13-Jun St. Louis Stars Philadelphia Stars 6-3    
27-Jun New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 6-2 22,000  
27-Jun Kansas City Monarchs New York Cubans 6-3 Paige start
4-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 13-0 9,500  
4-Jul New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 10-0    
11-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants Philadelphia Stars 4-1 6,000  
11-Jul Newark Eagles New York Black Yankees 6-5    
8-Aug New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 7-0 24,700  
8-Aug New York Cubans Kansas City Monarchs 8-5 Paige start
15-Aug New York Black Yankees Atlanta Crackers 9-1 16,700 Elks Day
15-Aug New York Black Yankees St. Louis Stars 7-2 Elks Day
22-Aug Birmingham Black Barons New York Black Yankees 3-1 12,000  
22-Aug New York Cubans Birmingham Black Barons 5-0    
12-Sep New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 7-1 19,500  
12-Sep New York Cubans Kansas City Monarchs 2-0 Paige start
        135,900 (total)  

 

1944

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
30-Apr Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 15-3 16,700  
30-Apr Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 10-0    
28-May Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 9-3 8,500  
28-May New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 6-3    
4-Jun Birmingham Black Barons Philadelphia Stars 9-0 12,000  
4-Jun Birmingham Black Barons New York Black Yankees 13-0    
11-Jun New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 4-3 8,000  
11-Jun Cincinnati Clowns New York Black Yankees 3-1    
25-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 9-8 5,000  
25-Jun New York Cubans Baltimore Elite Giants 4-3    
23-Jul New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 3-2 9,100  
23-Jul New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 13-4    
30-Jul Philadelphia Stars Baltimore Elite Giants 5-1 14,000  
30-Jul Newark Eagles New York Cubans 6-2    
6-Aug Atlanta Black Crackers New York Black Yankees 6-0 7,000  
6-Aug New York Black Yankees Atlanta Black Crackers 6-5    
26-Aug Kansas City Monarchs New York Cubans 4-2 28,700 Paige start
26-Aug New York Cubans Birmingham Black Barons 4-3    
10-Sep New York Black Yankees Boston Colored Giants 9-0 11,000  
10-Sep Philadelphia Stars Jacksonville Red Caps 6-1    
24-Sep New York Black Yankees N. Carolina All-Stars 6-3 7,000  
24-Sep Philadelphia Stars S. Carolina All-Stars 12-0    
1-Oct Homestead Grays Birmingham Black Barons 5-2 12,300  
1-Oct Homestead Grays Birmingham Black Barons 8-5    
        139,300 (total)  

 

1945

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
6-May Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 13-3 3,700  
13-May Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 5-2 8,000  
20-May Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 8-2 8,400  
20-May Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 4-0    
17-Jun Philadelphia Stars New York Black Yankees 7-1 13,700  
17-Jun Kansas City Monarchs Philadelphia Stars 3-1 Paige start
1-Jul Philadelphia Stars Newark Eagles 4-1 9,000  
1-Jul New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 8-5    
8-Jul Miami Giants Boston Giants 11-9 14,000  
8-Jul New York Black Yankees Cincinnati Clowns 6-0    
5-Aug Boston Giants Miami Giants 10-0 11,500 Elks’ Day
5-Aug New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 4-2 Elks’ Day
12-Aug Birmingham Black Barons Philadelphia Stars 5-1 19,000  
12-Aug Kansas City Monarchs New York Black Yankees 4-1 Paige start
19-Aug Chicago American Giants New York Black Yankees 1-0 16,000  
19-Aug Baltimore Elite Giants Memphis Red Sox 5-0    
2-Sep Philadelphia Stars Cincinnati Clowns 4-1 10,000  
2-Sep New York Black Yankees Birmingham Black Barons 3-2    
3-Sep New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 5-4 10,000  
3-Sep Cincinnati Clowns Birmingham Black Barons 5-0    
23-Sep Homestead Grays Cleveland Buckeyes 7-1 8,000  
23-Sep Homestead Grays Cleveland Buckeyes 7-1    
        131,300 (total)  

 

1946

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
27-Apr Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 10-0 8,000  
27-Apr Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 10-0    
19-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 5-1 7,000  
19-May New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 2-1    
26-May Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 7-0 12,000  
26-May New York Black Yankees Newark Eagles 3-1    
23-Jun Nashville Cubs Jacksonville Eagles 12-11 12,000  
23-Jun Baltimore Elite Giants New York Black Yankees 11-3    
4-Jul Newark Eagles New York Black Yankees 3-1 10,000  
4-Jul Asheville Blues Boston Giants 15-8    
7-Jul New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 4-1 15,000  
7-Jul New York Black Yankees Kansas City Monarchs 4-3 Paige start
28-Jul Cincinnati Crescents House of David 13-2 16,000  
28-Jul New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 6-2    
1-Aug Kansas City Monarchs New York Black Yankees 10-0 8,900 Paige start, night game
4-Aug Newark Eagles Cleveland Buckeyes 3-2 13,000  
4-Aug Memphis Red Sox New York Black Yankees 1-0    
18-Aug Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 6-0 12,000  
18-Aug New York Black Yankees Indianapolis Clowns 3-1    
30-Aug Philadelphia Stars Homestead Grays 3-1 9,000 1st Twi-Nite Doubleheader
30-Aug New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 10-7    
1-Sep Newark Eagles New York Black Yankees 3-2 11,000  
1-Sep New York Cubans Philadelphia Stars 6-5    
10-Sep New York Black Yankees Indianapolis Clowns 8-2 10,000  
10-Sep New York Black Yankees Kansas City Monarchs 6-3    
15-Sep Philadelphia Stars Indianapolis Clowns 5-1 11,000  
15-Sep New York Black Yankees Kansas City Monarchs 3-1 Paige start
29-Sep Philadelphia Stars Asheville Blues 7-4 6,000  
29-Sep New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 2-0 5 innings, darkness
6-Oct Paige All-Stars Feller All-Stars (W) 4-0 27,500 Paige, Feller start
        188,400 (total)  

 

1947

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
20-Apr New York Black Yankees Homestead Grays 3-3 4,000 9-inning tie, called darkness, cold
11-May New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 7-0 9,300  
11-May New York Black Yankees New York Cubans 4-3 14 innings  
27-May Homestead Grays New York Black Yankees 7-1    
29-Jun Newark Eagles New York Black Yankees 9-8 7,000  
29-Jun New York Black Yankees Newark Eagles 6-5    
11-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 6-3 Twi-nite Doubleheader
11-Jul Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 0-0 Tie game, 7 innings
13-Jul New York Cubans New York Black Yankees 8-0 7,500  
13-Jul New York Cubans Memphis Red Sox 9-1    
18-Jul New York Black Yankees Homestead Grays 9-8 Night game
20-Jul Philadelphia Stars New York Black Yankees 16-1 7,000  
20-Jul Philadelphia Stars Birmingham Barons 4-3    
8-Aug New York Cubans Kansas City Monarchs 8-3 7,500 Paige start
10-Aug Asheville Blues Tampa Rockets 2-1    
10-Aug Memphis Red Sox New York Black Yankees 2-2   12 inning tie, darkness
24-Aug New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 6-4 5,500  
24-Aug New York Black Yankees Kansas City Monarchs 0-0 9 inning tie; Paige start
27-Aug Indianapolis Clowns New York Black Yankees 5-2 Urban League benefit
21-Sep Cleveland Buckeyes New York Cubans 10-7 9,000 World Series game 2
        56,800 (total)  

 

1948

Date Winner Loser Score Est Att Comments
2-May New York Cubans Homestead Grays 7-1 10,300  
2-May Philadelphia Stars New York Black Yankees 5-2    
23-May Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 3-2 5,000  
23-May Baltimore Elite Giants New York Cubans 9-6    
20-Jun San Juan Stars Winston-Salem Giants 8-6 9,000  
20-Jun New York Cubans Asheville Blues 7-6    
5-Jul New York Black Yankees Philadelphia Stars 9-8 7,000 10 innings
5-Jul New York Cubans Newark Eagles 2-0    
11-Jul San Juan Stars Richmond Giants 7-6 5,000  
11-Jul Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 8-3    
8-Aug Harlem Globetrotters Honolulu Hawaiians 7-4 5,000  
8-Aug Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 4-3    
24-Aug Negro National All-Stars Negro American All-Stars 6-1 16,000 2nd All-Star Game
12-Sep Philadelphia Stars New York Cubans 10-8    
12-Sep Madison Colonials Miami Hobos 4-1    
        57,300 (total)  

 


Yankee Stadium Won-Lost Records: Negro League Teams

  Games W L T PCT
Atlanta Black Crackers 3 1 2 0 .333
Baltimore Black Sox 2 1 1 0 .500
Baltimore/Nashville Elite Giants 35 23 11 1 .676
Birmingham Black Barons 14 5 9 0 .357
Brooklyn Royal Giants 2 0 2 0 .000
Chicago American Giants 4 2 2 0 .500
Cincinnati/Indianapolis Clowns 8 3 5 0 .375
Cleveland Buckeyes 4 1 3 0 .250
Cuban Stars, East 2 1 1 0 .500
Harlem Stars 6 6 0 0 1.000
Hilldale 2 0 2 0 .000
Homestead Grays 38 26 11 1 .703
Kansas City Monarchs 17 10 6 1 .625
Lincoln Giants 10 5 5 0 .500
Memphis Red Sox 9 2 5 2 .286
NY Black Yankees 93 38 50 5 .432
NY Cubans 71 35 34 2 .507
Newark Eagles 18 9 9 0 .500
Philadelphia Stars 58 25 32 1 .439
Pittsburgh Crawfords 6 4 1 1 .800
St. Louis Stars 4 3 1 0 .750
  406 200 192 14 .510
           
Other Teams          
  Games W L T PCT
Asheville Blues 4 2 2 0 .500
Boston Giants 4 1 3 0 .250
Cincinnati Crescents 1 1 0 0 1.000
Dominican All-Stars 2 1 1 0 .500
Feller All-Stars 1 0 1 0 .000
Harlem Globetrotters 1 1 0 0 1.000
Honolulu Hawaiians 1 0 1 0 .000
House of David 1 0 1 0 .000
Jacksonville Eagles 1 0 1 0 .000
Jacksonville Red Caps 1 0 1 0 .000
Lancaster, PA, Giants 1 0 1 0 .000
Madison Colonials 1 1 0 0 1.000
Major League All-Stars 2 2 0 0 1.000
Miami Giants 2 1 1 0 .500
Miami Hobos 1 0 1 0 .000
Minor League All-Stars 1 0 0 1  
Nashville Cubs 1 1 0 0 1.000
Negro American All-Stars 2 0 2 0 .000
Negro National All-Stars 7 3 3 1 .500
North Carolina All-Stars 1 0 1 0 .000
Paige All-Stars 1 1 0 0 1.000
Philadelphia Pros 1 0 1 0 .000
Richmond Giants 1 0 1 0 .000
San Juan Stars 2 2 0 0 1.000
South Carolina All-Stars 1 0 1 0 .000
Tampa Rockets 1 0 1 0 .000
Winston-Salem Giants 1 0 1 0 .000
  44 17 25 2 .405
Total 450 217 217 16  

 

 


Notes

1 Michael Gershman, Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 138.

2 Philip J. Lowry, Green Cathedrals, The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks, New York (Walker & Company, 2006), 110, 142 and 235.

3 “Ruppert, Owner of Yankees and Leading Brewer, Dies, New York Times, January 14, 1939; Dan Levitt, “Jacob Ruppert,” SABR Baseball Biography Project, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/b96b262d; Elizabeth L. Bradley, Knickerbocker, the Myth Behind New York, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rivergate Books, 2009), 121-23.

4 Larry Tye, Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004) 114.

5 Tye, Rising from the Rails, 112-13; “Randolph Leads Fight for Porters,” New York Amsterdam News, August 26, 1925; “500 Enthusiastic Porters Loudly Cheer Proposed Porters’ Union,” New York Amsterdam News, September 2, 1925.

6 Willliam Hamilton Harris, Keeping the Faith: A. Philip Randolph, Milton P. Webster, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 1925–1937 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1977), 26, 73.

7 C.L. Dellums, interview by Joyce Henderson, oral history transcript for The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA, at Online Archive of California (http:www.oac.cdlib.org); “Roy Lancaster ‘Puts Over’ Big Benefit Event,” New York Age, July 19, 1930.

8 Al Monroe, “The Big League,” Abbott’s Monthly, April 1933, 7.

9 “‘Bojangles’ Wins, But Phil Edwards is Beaten in Half-Mile Handicap at Yankee Stadium Porters’ Benefit,” New York Age, July 12, 1930; “Thousands at Yankee Stadium,” New York Amsterdam News, July 9, 1930.

10 http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare.

11 “Grays Win Eastern World Series, Pittsburgh Courier, October 4, 1930.

12 “Posey Signs With Keenan for the Championship Series Between Lincoln Giants and Homstead (sic) Grays at Stadium,” New York Amsterdam News, September 10, 1930; “Lincolns in Yankee Bowl Next,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 6, 1930; American League Base Ball Club of New York. Records. 1913–1950. A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY.

13 American League Base Ball Club records.

14 Sol White, “Baseball Notes,” New York Age, December 20, 1930.

15 Romeo L. Dougherty, “In the Whirl of Sport, New York Amsterdam News, August 19, 1931; William E. Clark “A. Philip Randolph Explains Why Stars Got No Money from Porter’s Benefit,” New York Age, August 29, 1931.

16 Neil Lanctot, Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 38.

17 Lanctot, 15.

18 American League Base Ball Club records.

19 Art Rust Jr., “Get that Nigger Off the Field!”: A Sparkling, Informal History of the Black Man in Baseball (New York: Delacorte Press, 1976), 55; American League Base Ball Club records.

20 Historical Census Browser, University of Virginia Library, (http://mapserver.lib.virginia.edu/).

21 Rust, “Get That Nigger Off the Field,” 55.

22 Nat Trammell, “Satchel Likes Jim Semler’s Personality,” New York Amsterdam News, May 17, 1941; William E. Clark, “Satchel Paige Fails to Show Up,” New York Age, September 28, 1935.

23 “Homestead Grays Defeat Lincoln Giants 6 Out of 10 Games for Eastern Title,” Chicago Defender, October 4, 1930.

24 Newark Eagles Business Papers, Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ.

25 The Negro Leagues Book, Dick Clark and Larry Lester, eds. (Cleveland: Society for American Baseball Research, 1994), 242-254.

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