updates Negro Leagues Database with 1939 stats

We are pleased to pass along this update from SABR member Gary Ashwill at on March 21, 2016:

This week we’re adding further results of our collaboration with the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group (Larry Lester and Wayne Stivers) with the unveiling of the 1939 Negro league season. We’ve got both leagues, the Negro National League and Negro American League, plus the postseason series. This represents the first NAL season we’ve done for the database—we’ll be going back to fill in the NAL’s 1937 and 1938 seasons soon.

The NAL had started in 1937 with its two oldest charter members, the Kansas City Monarchs and the Chicago American Giants, facing off in the playoffs. The next season saw something of an upheaval as, for the first time in the history of the black majors, two Southern teams contested the championship, the Memphis Red Sox defeating the Atlanta Black Crackers for the pennant. For 1939, the Indianapolis ABCs moved to St. Louis to become the latest incarnation of the St. Louis Stars; the Atlanta Black Crackers, 1938’s runners up, became the Indianapolis ABCs; and the Jacksonville Red Caps played as the Cleveland Bears.

The two playoff teams from 1938 had rough times in 1939. For the Memphis Red Sox, it was a case of first to worst, as the defending champions collapsed to last in the league. Meanwhile, the ABCs/Black Crackers couldn’t even secure a home field in Indianapolis. After playing a round of league games on the road, they returned to Atlanta, where they entertained NAL teams in mid-June. The league, which had evidently counted on cutting travel expenses, was not pleased, and demoted them to associate membership. The ABCs/Black Crackers dissolved shortly thereafter, and their players were scattered all over the league.

The Monarchs, led by Hilton Smith, Willard Brown, Ted Strong, and the veteran Turkey Stearnes, dominated the first half, and ended with by far the best overall record in the league. In the playoffs they dispatched the St. Louis Stars, winners of the second half, with ease. (We are still missing a considerable number of Stars’ home games, so at this point our stats don’t reflect fairly on the Stars and their players.)

Read the full update here:

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Originally published: March 22, 2016. Last Updated: July 16, 2020.