Whirty: The Keystones, Steel City pioneers

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Home Plate Don’t Move on April 28, 2016:

Without a doubt, Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley make up one of the most important and influential spots in the country when it comes to segregation-era, African-American baseball.

In addition to being the stomping grounds of Hall of Fame catcher and famed pitch-crusher Josh Gibson, Pittsburgh played home to some of the best Negro Leagues teams in history before Jackie Robinson broke the Major League color line in 1947. In the 1940s, the Homestead Grays — featuring eventual Cooperstown immortals like Gibson, Buck Leonard and Jud Wilson — dominated black baseball, and the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords, with their five Hall members, are considered by some the best team in baseball history, regardless of race or era.

But decades before that, way back before the turn of the century, another Steel City squad was studded with future Hall of Famers and left an indelible imprint on the history of African-American baseball — the Pittsburgh Keystones, who competed against some of the top black hardball teams during the two decades before 1900, even finishing second in a national blackball tourney in 1888 and launching the careers of legends like Sol White and Pete Hill.

However, unlike 20th-century squads like the Grays and the Crawfords, the Keystones, like many other pre-20th century baseball teams, are in many ways largely overlooked, especially because of the praise and study that have been lavished on the Allegheny Valley teams that came later.

Read the full article here: https://homeplatedontmove.wordpress.com/2016/04/28/the-keystones-steel-city-pioneers/

Originally published: April 29, 2016. Last Updated: April 29, 2016.