From Logan Jaffe at WBEZ on May 31, 2016, with mention of SABR members Leslie Heaphy and Jeremy Krock:
This story starts with a question. It comes to Curious City from two sisters who’d asked about their family history, and how Negro League baseball fits in:
We are curious about the history of the Chicago Independent Giants Negro League baseball team. Our grandfather was a manager of the Chicago Independents in the early 1920s.
Their grandfather’s name was Fred Goree, and he was killed in St. Louis on a summer night in 1925. I didn’t know that at the time they asked their question. But the more I learned about him, Chicago baseball, and how the story of his killing intertwines with the present, I decided to veer from our typical format. Often, our stories are bookended by questioners; they provide personal anecdotes about what prompted their curiosity and their takeaways at the end.
This is not the treatment here.
I chose to start with a particular family’s story and never lose sight of it because the answer to the questions the sisters have about African-American baseball in Chicago are bound to the death of a particular man. And that death, it turns out, is tied to the inextricable fact that in 1925, African-Americans who loved baseball were forced to run their own separate baseball institutions.
And my takeaway, after interviews with the sisters and historians: You may think you know about African-American baseball if you’ve heard about the Negro Leagues and names like Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell or even Jackie Robinson. But you should know the all-stars owe a lot to people you haven’t heard of, like our questioners’ grandfather, Fred Goree.
Originally published: May 31, 2016. Last Updated: May 31, 2016.