updates Negro Leagues Database with 1937 Negro National League stats

We’re pleased to pass along this update from SABR member Gary Ashwill at on September 28, 2015:

Today we’re used to complaining that too much of the sports news takes place off the field of play—strikes, business deals, scandals, crimes. We may not realize it, but this is nothing new. The story of the 1937 Negro National League, the newest addition to the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, is a prime example.  The course of that season was largely determined by the political ambitions of a New York City special prosecutor, the underworld dealings of two owners, and the reelection campaign of a Caribbean strongman.

1) Gus Greenlee of the Pittsburgh Crawfords had been running short of cash the past couple of years as authorities in Pittsburgh put pressure on his numbers business (illegal lotteries, also known as the policy rocket). In 1938 he was finally forced to trade the best position player in black baseball, Josh Gibson, along with Judy Johnson to the Homestead Grays for Henry Spearman, Pepper Bassett, and $2500. Reportedly hurt by the Crawfords’ determination to get rid of him, Judy Johnson retired rather than report to the Grays. For their part, Cumberland Posey and the Grays found themselves able to afford Gibson because they had obtained funding from Rufus “Sonnyman” Jackson, another policy banker. Thus the transfer of baseball power from the Pittsburgh Crawfords to the Homestead Grays depended largely on the vagaries of underworld business deals.

2) Alexander Pompez, owner of the New York Cubans, like Greenlee and Jackson a numbers king, had been forced to flee the country as a result of an investigation by New York City Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey (later of “Dewey Defeats Truman” fame), who was running for District Attorney in Manhattan. Pompez was eventually tracked down in Mexico City, where he spent the summer fighting extradition back to the U.S. In his absence, the Cubans were forced to dissolve. The Black Yankees took the Cubans’ place as the home team at Harlem’s Dyckman Oval—the first time they landed a permanent home field within the bounds of New York City.

Read the full update here:

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Originally published: September 28, 2015. Last Updated: July 16, 2020.