Exploring Portland’s African American Baseball Teams

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By 1920, the success of African-American teams was undeniable, and a group of Midwestern team owners, led by Andrew “Rube” Fostergathered at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri, to form the first all-black league called the Black National League.

“You’ve got enough fans, you’ve got enough teams and there’s been pressure to form stronger league structures. That’s what happened at a meeting of Midwest team owners to Kansas City to form the National Negro League,” Dr. Doswell said. “Having a league structure meant stability for the teams. They could have a regular schedule, they knew when they could play and make money.”

Shortly after the formation of the National Negro League, the Southern Black League and Eastern Color League began to form in the south and east. The game was an instant hit, with thousands of people attending matches every week. It only stimulated Black economies even more and created more business opportunities for African Americans.

Learn more about the game differences between the major leagues and the black leagues here:

The success of the leagues in other parts of the country eventually led to the creation of the West Coast Baseball Associationa black league created in 1945.

According to a speech delivered by Dr. Amy Essington from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016, “Members of the Navy social club were trying to bring the Negro League to the West Coast to employ African American players and because they believed they would benefit from the demographic changes that brought increased numbers of minorities to the West Coast during World War II.

Learn more about the impact of war on African American baseball here:

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