The 1939 Baltimore Elite Giants, edited by Frederick C. Bush, Thomas Kern, and Bill Nowlin

SABR Digital Library: The 1939 Baltimore Elite Giants

The 1939 Baltimore Elite Giants, edited by Frederick C. Bush, Thomas Kern, and Bill NowlinAdd a new baseball book to your collection from the SABR Digital Library:

The 1939 Baltimore Elite Giants
Edited by Frederick C. Bush, Thomas Kern, and Bill Nowlin
Associate editors: Len Levin and Carl Riechers
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-960819-25-3, $24.95
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-960819-24-6, $9.99
8.5″ x 11″, 209 pages

This book on the 1939 Negro National League II champion Baltimore Elite Giants is the seventh in a series of SABR books about the great Negro League teams of the first half of the twentieth century. It is the collaborative work of 31 SABR members who have collaboratively and diligently researched and written each article, and is dedicated to the memory of editor Frederick “Rick” Bush.

The Giants were first formed in Nashville in 1921, but moved around from location to location over the years – Columbus and Washington, DC, became way stations for team founder Tom Wilson as he moved the team in search of a sizable and stable fan base that Nashville’s Black population did not offer. Eventually, in 1938, after a poor showing in Washington, he found what he was looking for – a receptive environment for his Elites – and moved the team one more time, to Baltimore, less than 50 miles up the road. The following year, 1939, the Baltimore Elite Giants struck pay dirt and won the Negro National League championship in a four-team playoff, besting first the Newark Eagles and then the juggernaut Homestead Grays. They remained in Baltimore for the duration of their existence, until the team folded in 1950.

This book provides a detailed account of the Elite Giants and an array of essays about the players and team officials behind them that resulted in Baltimore’s 1939 crown. A complete season timeline, the story of Oriole Park, where the Elites often played, the historical context of the time, and articles about some of standout games are also included. They offer a backdrop for Tom Wilson’s bio and player narratives ranging from the young Roy Campanella and the likes of Biz Mackey, Burnis “Wild Bill” Wright, Henry Kimbro, and player-manager Felton Snow to those serving as the supporting cast.

Contributors include: Malcolm Allen, Chris Betsch, Rich Bogovich, Frederick “Rick” Bush, Gary Cieradkowski, Matt Clever, Alan Cohen, Adam Darowski, Ken Draut, Darren Gibson, Margaret M. “Peggy” Gripshover, John V. Haynes II, Leslie Heaphy, Mike Huber, Jay Hurd, Bill Johnson, Thomas Kern, Norm King, Len Levin, Bob Luke, Skip Nipper, Bill Nowlin, Richard J. Puerzer, Chris Rainey, Carl Riechers, Doug Skipper, Bill Staples Jr., Jeb Stewart, David B. Stinson, Rick Swaine, and Dave Wilkie.


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About the SABR Digital Library

For more than 50 years, SABR and its members have led the way in publishing the best baseball historical and statistical research. Our publications program is shifting to take advantage of new methods of publishing. Not only will we continue to publish new books like Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts and Their Profession (2011); Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (2013); Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox (2015); Jackie Robinson: Perspectives on 42 (2021), ¡Arriba! The Heroic Life of Roberto Clemente (2022); and Nichibei Yakyu: US Tours of Japan (2023); which showcase the best efforts of SABR’s members, chapters and committees, but new technology makes it possible for us to bring out-of-print titles like When Boston Still Had the Babe: The 1918 World Champion Red Sox (2018); Green Cathedrals (2020); and The Miracle Has Landed: The Amazin’ Story of How the 1969 Mets Shocked the World (2021) back again.

Visit to find all past titles and download your favorites. Books will be available in digital formats as well as paperbacks produced by “print on demand” (POD).

SABR members can download all Digital Library e-book editions for free and save 50% on purchase of the paperback editions. If you’re not a member, click here to join SABR.

Stay tuned throughout the year for new (and old!) titles that we’ll be adding to the SABR Digital Library. To learn more about SABR Publications, contact Publications Editor Cecilia Tan at

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Originally published: May 21, 2024. Last Updated: May 20, 2024.