From Mary Craig at Beyond the Box Score on September 4, 2017:
On October 28th, 1886, a group of rain-soaked dignitaries gathered on Bedloe’s Island to witness the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. His vision obscured by the cold sheets of rain cascading from the skies, President Grover Cleveland addressed this privileged white male audience, declaring that from the torch, a “stream of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression until Liberty enlightens the world.” But the torch did not light that day, and the emission of light three days later did little to pierce through the thick fog of racism enveloping the country.
One month after Lady Liberty shone her light, a group of Black baseballers gathered in Pittsburgh to finalize plans for the first national Black baseball league, intending to capitalize on the relative success of amateur Black teams and Black baseball players in white leagues. Led by Walter S. Brown, a former Pittsburgh correspondent for the nation’s most prominent Black newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette, the National Colored Base Ball League came into being. It consisted of six teams: the Baltimore Lord Baltimores, the Boston Resolutes, Lousiville Falls City, the New York Gorhams, the Philadelphia Pythians, and the Pittsburgh Keystones. Rejecting membership offers were the established Black team, the Cuban Giants, as well as a Cincinnati investment group headed by Black baseball player J.W. “Bud” Fowler. Regardless, these six teams looked poised to usher in a new, fruitful era of Black baseball.
- Related link: Check out a new resource guide to the 1887 National Colored League by SABR member Ken Mars
Originally published: September 5, 2017. Last Updated: September 5, 2017.