From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Minneapolis City Pages on April 1, 2015:
In the spring of 1907, Phil Reid trekked to Hot Springs, Arkansas, drawn by supposedly curative waters that made it a vacation paradise for people of means.
“Daddy” Reid, as he was known, was the definition of a self-made man. He was born in 1854 in Frankfort, Kentucky, quite possibly into slavery. He gradually made his way north, working as a hotel waiter, bartender, insurance agent, and entertainer.
By the time he headed south that spring, he’d become one of St. Paul’s most prominent black businessmen. A saloon owner and Democratic Party operative, he had a rare wealth that allowed him to tour Europe and flee the melting snow for the resort lands of Arkansas.
But Reid had an ulterior purpose in mind. On his way, he detoured to Nashville to recruit “the best colored ball players that money can secure,” according to the Duluth News Tribune.
His creation would be known as the St. Paul Colored Gophers. And his ambition was simple, wrote the Nashville Globe: “to outclass all of the white semi-professionals of that section of the country.”
Originally published: April 3, 2015. Last Updated: April 3, 2015.