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Negro Baseball dates back as far as 1860. But it was during the early part of the 20th century that black teams, often white owned, proliferated and organized in to official leagues. In 1920 the Negro National League and its governing body, the National Association of Colored Professional Base Ball Clubs was formed, led by legendary player turned league president, Rube Foster.

While the teams and even the leagues themselves changed over the next thirty-eight years, what remained consistent and was particularly noteworthy given the time period, was that most of these teams were black owned. The leagues thrived, both popularly among black and white fans alike, as well as financially. Major League Baseball made enormous sums of money renting out their parks to Negro League teams, who also barnstormed the country, including the deep South, providing a much needed source of pride as well as entertainment for the blacks who lived in these rural areas. The teams spent the winter months playing with and against teams all over Latin America, where the black players were exalted and treated with the kind of respect denied them back home.

The Negro Leagues caliber of play rivaled that of Major League Baseball, a fact that was inconveniently (for MLB) proven repeatedly in the All Star exhibitions the two organizations often played.


After Jackie Robinson's hiring by the Dodgers in 1946 and his ascendancy into MLB the following year, both major leagues began signing the best players away from their Negro counterparts, which ultimately rendered the need for a Negro League unnecessary. By 1958, the Leagues, having thus been reduced to minor league caliber, dissolved.