An update from SABR member Kevin Johnson at the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database on September 7, 2012:
Contrary to popular belief, blackball teams playing in a ‘real’ league did not begin in 1920. In 1886, there was an attempt to start a 10 team “Southern Colored Base Ballist” league. In 1887, the National Colored Baseball League managed to play 13 league games before folding. The 1906 “ILIP League” (International League of Independent Professional Clubs) probably wouldn’t qualify as an actual league under a strict definition, but was more a loose assocation of teams like subsequent “Negro Leagues” in the 1908-1919 time period, plus it included two white teams. But in 1907, the National Association of Colored Professional Clubs of the United States and Cuba was a REAL league, and most likely can claim being the first real Negro Baseball League. It played a full, although short, season, crowned a champion, and probably contained the country’s four best Negro League teams (the Cuban X-Giants having folded after the 1906 season).
The league was won by the Philadelphia Giants, who had also been the best team in 1906. Philadelphia was an offensive powerhouse led by 21 year old C Bruce Petway, Hall of Fame LF Pete Hill, and left-handed P/CF Danny McClellan. In addition, Hall of Famer John Henry Lloyd played SS.
Other notable items:
We get 19 year old pitcher Johnny Bright, who in addition to being notable for having the same name as his team’s owner (John M. Bright), becomes notable in a tragic way the next year when, having returned to Cleveland to play for the Star-Light Champs team, he is killed in a factory accident.
To view the Seamheads Negro Leagues Database, visit http://www.seamheads.com/NegroLgs/index.php
Related link: Read our Q&A with Gary Ashwill about the Negro Leagues Database (September 14, 2011)
Originally published: September 10, 2012. Last Updated: July 16, 2020.