Moser: The legacy of the Chicago Leland Giants

From SABR member Zack Moser at Baseball Prospectus on June 22, 2017:

During the first decade of the 20th century, Chicago boasted a robust city baseball league. Chicago had harbored an intra-city league in the waning years of the 19th century, but the league had disbanded by 1895. Re-forming a few years after some of the best teams absconded for the greener financial pastures of independent barnstorming, the city league captured the rooting favor of enough Chicagoans to gain daily coverage in the Tribune, and the league’s top teams won quite a bit of local popularity. The Logan Squares gained a reputation as a renegade squad of organized baseball outcasts, and frequently bested the Cubs and White Sox in exhibition play. Anson’s Colts were the brainchild of the financially-strapped Cap Anson, former star of the Chicago White Stockings. The Gunthers, the West Ends, Rogers Park—all these clubs had significant local followings, and their local popularity was bolstered by their tendency to name their teams after the neighborhoods or parks in which they played.

The league housed another popular team however, that was unique. With a home at Auburn Park, the Leland Giants fielded a team of black ballplayers, making them the only black team in an otherwise all-white league. The park was located at the southern tip of Chicago’s Black Belt, the narrow strip of land stretching from roughly 12th Street to 79th Street along the State Street corridor that housed a majority of the city’s black population due to the fierce nature of Chicago’s neighborhood restrictive covenants and city-wide housing policies that barred blacks from moving to other parts of the city.

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Originally published: June 22, 2017. Last Updated: June 22, 2017.