Ashwill: Looking at wages for Negro Leagues players

From SABR member Gary Ashwill at Agate Type on September 4, 2017:

We’re used to thinking about Negro leaguers as ballplayers—but on this Labor Day, let’s think about them as workers. They were, after all, trying to make a living, and Negro league baseball would not have existed had it not been a business that paid its workers.

There were vast differences between the black leagues and the white majors—differences in playing conditions, job security, the ease of traveling around the country and finding accommodations. But the starkest contrast can be found simply in how much players in the two organizations were paid.

In 1923 the Indianapolis ABCs were a pretty good team, finishing fourth in the Negro National League with a 44-32 record—finishing only percentage points out of third place, and just five games back of the champion Kansas City Monarchs. They had (among other players) center fielder/first baseman Oscar Charleston, who hit 11 home runs, drove in 94 runs, and stole 25 bases in 84 games; pitcher Darltie Cooper, who went 14-4; slick-fielding third baseman Henry Blackmon, who batted .296, slugged .448, and finished second on the team with 7 homers; veteran leadoff hitter George Shively (.300); and second baseman Connie Day (.294, 18 doubles).

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Originally published: September 5, 2017. Last Updated: September 5, 2017.