Taylor: Negro Leagues centennial: ‘We are the ship, all else the sea’

From Shakeia Taylor at Baseball Prospectus on February 13, 2020:

On February 13, 1920, a group of African-American baseball team owners, led by Andrew “Rube” Foster, gathered in the meeting room of a Kansas City, Missouri YMCA to form the Negro National League. The meeting was a result of Foster’s seven-part op-ed “The Pitfalls of Baseball” in the Chicago Defender, in which he listed the many issues facing Black baseball teams: high operating expenses, inability to pay fair salaries to players already maintaining full-time jobs, and an ever-growing concern over the treatment of fellow owners and players. He wrote, “for anything to be successful we must do it as a whole,” urging the owners to come together to form a league for their own benefit. “I’m going to make the effort, willing to let bygones be bygones: arrange to have all the owners in the West to meet all the owners in the East, either at Chicago or New York; pick an arbitration board from experienced men of business, and from this agreement draw a working agreement for all of us to abide by the signers to such an agreement to deposit $500 in good faith that they will live up to such an agreement. It is not a proposition to exchange players. Each club will retain their players, but cement a partnership in working for the organized good of baseball.”

Foster showed up to meet the owners of seven Negro baseball teams from Detroit, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Dayton, and Chicago with an official charter document for the Negro National League already in hand. The league was incorporated in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland. “The aim and object of the meeting was discussed and the plan for a circuit for the season of 1921 came under consideration. Every manager was very enthusiastic and said he would carry the same enthusiasm back to his home town. The outlook for 1921, they claim, would be the greatest history of baseball.” At that meeting, Rube Foster was elected temporary president. In announcing the new league Foster declared, “We are the ship, all else the sea” and baseball history was forever changed.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/57009/we-are-the-ship-all-else-the-sea/

Originally published: February 13, 2020. Last Updated: February 13, 2020.