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John B. Holway

Foster, Rube (17 September 1879–09 December 1930), baseball player and executive, was born Andrew Foster in Calvert, Texas, the son of the Reverend Andrew Foster, presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal churches in southern Texas. His mother’s name is unknown. At age seventeen the six-footer pitched batting practice against white major league clubs doing spring training in Fort Worth, Texas. Foster played with the black Leland Giants of Chicago. In 1902 he joined the Cuban Giants, actually a misnamed Philadelphia team of American blacks. He recalled pitching for $40 a month, plus fifteen cents for meals, and confidently called himself “the best pitcher in the country.” He reportedly won his nickname, Rube, by defeating the Philadelphia Athletics pitching ace Rube Waddell, probably in 1902, when he ranked among the best pitchers, black or white, in America.

John McGraw manager of the New York Giants ...

Article

Gerald Early

Rube Foster was born Andrew Foster in Calvert, Texas, the fifth child of the Reverend Andrew Foster, presiding elder of the American Episcopal Church of Calvert, and his wife. Growing up in a post-Reconstruction world of strictly enforced racial segregation backed by white terrorist violence, Andrew attended the segregated school in Calvert. As a boy Andrew had a knack for baseball, the most popular sport in America at the time. His father, a devout churchman, tried to discourage him from playing, but he persisted and even organized a team while he was still in grade school. Indeed, he was so drawn to the game that he quit school after the eighth grade to pursue baseball as a career.

Foster began pitching for the Waco Yellow Jackets, becoming a star pitcher by the time he was eighteen. By 1902 he had a reputation for being a tough pitcher ...

Article

Gerald Early

baseball player, manager, and entrepreneur, was born Andrew Foster in Calvert, Texas, the fifth child of Sarah (maiden name unknown) and the Reverend Andrew Foster, presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Calvert. Growing up in a post-Reconstruction world of strictly enforced racial segregation backed by white terrorist violence, Andrew attended the segregated school in Calvert. As a boy Andrew had a knack for baseball, the most popular sport in America at the time. His father, a devout churchman, tried to discourage him from playing, but young Andrew persisted and even organized a team while he was still in grade school. Indeed, Andrew was so drawn to the game that he quit school after the eighth grade to pursue baseball as a career.

Foster started pitching for the Waco Yellow Jackets, becoming a star pitcher by the time he was eighteen. By 1902 he had ...

Article

Rob Fink

African Americanpitcher, manager, owner and founder of the Negro National League. No one person exemplified Negro League baseball more than Andrew Foster. He began his career as a powerful pitcher in the Texas semi-professional ranks. From there, he developed into one of the most dominant pitchers in professional black baseball for the first decade of the twentieth century. As black baseball grew more popular, Foster single-handedly developed the first Negro National League, and his death, coincidentally, came at the same time that his league closed.

The son of a minister in central Texas, Foster began his baseball career with the semiprofessional Waco Yellow Jackets, after dropping out of school following the eighth grade. Foster dominated the Texas black baseball scene during the late 1800s. Then, in 1902 he moved north to Chicago and joined Frank Leland s Leland Giants The dominant pitcher of his era Foster ...

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Joe Dorinson

baseball player, was born Monford Merill Irvin in Halesburg, Alabama, the seventh of ten children of Cupid Alexander Irvin and Mary Eliza Henderson, sharecroppers. When his father challenged a white sharecrop boss, the family had to flee, first to Albany, Georgia, and then to Bloomfield, New Jersey. The Irvins ended their flight in Orange, New Jersey. There Monte attended integrated schools. But the restaurants were segregated, and movie theaters confined blacks to the balcony. Like Paul Robeson and Jackie Robinson, with letters in football, track, basketball, and baseball, Irvin earned a reputation as his high school's greatest athlete. On graduation night, however, Monte and his date, along with two other black couples, could not eat at a local restaurant near school because of their color.

Sports provided opportunity A scout from the University of Michigan offered Irvin a football scholarship Unfortunately he lacked the funds to reach ...

Article

Byron Motley

baseball player, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, to Willie Kimbro, a sharecropper and grave keeper, and Sally King, a domestic worker.

Kimbro grew up on the outskirts of Nashville, which made it difficult for him to attend the distantly located all-black high school. Thus his education ended after elementary school.

Often referred to as the “black Ty Cobb,” Kimbro, like Cobb, earned a reputation for his explosive and unruly personality. Kimbro insisted that his lack of education made him self-conscious and extremely defensive.

Throughout his youth, Kimbro played the sandlots around Nashville and with a local semipro team. In 1935 he married Nellie Bridges. The following year their son Larry was born. For years Kimbro declined offers to leave Nashville to play with other teams. However, in 1936 desperately in need of more income Kimbro was convinced to leave home for the first time ...

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Luke Nichter

dentist, politician, and Negro Baseball League officer, was born in Memphis, Tennessee. A member of a prominent Memphis family with four brothers who all played roles in baseball in that city and beyond, John B. Martin, a dentist, was a co-owner and a club officer of the Memphis Red Sox and the Chicago American Giants. He also served as the president of three different leagues: the Negro Southern League (NSL), the Negro American League (NAL), and the Negro Dixie League.

Together with his brother, B. B. Martin, also a dentist, John B. Martin took over the Memphis Red Sox in the late 1920s from funeral director Robert S. Lewis and built a ballpark they called Martin Stadium Martin also owned a hotel next to the park and operated the concession stand Beyond baseball Martin also served the community as a pharmacist dentist real estate ...

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John B. Holway

Negro League baseball player, was born Norman Stearnes in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Will S. Stearnes and Mary Everett. Although his daughter once said that he acquired his nickname because he flapped his elbows when he ran, Stearnes believed a protruding stomach during childhood was the reason. One of five children, he pitched for Pearl High School until “around 15 or 16 years old,” when his father died. He then worked at any job he could find, including slopping pigs, driving wagons, delivering groceries, and general cleaning.

In 1921 Stearnes played professionally with the Montgomery Alabama Gray Sox in the Negro Southern League a sort of black minor league After playing for a year in Memphis Tennessee he was picked up by the Detroit Stars of the Negro National League one of the two major black leagues The Stars players worked in an automobile factory when ...

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Shterna Gurkow

was born John Arthur Taylor, Jr. in Hartford, Connecticut to John Arthur Taylor, Sr. and Etta Taylor. John Arthur, Sr., a Virginia-born lather in the building trades, came from a large accomplished family of ten children, most of whom excelled in the arts. His mother, Etta, grew up in South Carolina.

Johnny, as the younger Taylor was best known, started his pitching career in Hartford’s Junior League with The Hornets in 1931; however, he later joined the track team at the city’s Bulkeley High School, where he took part in the high jump and pole vault competitions. In his senior year Taylor switched back to baseball under the tutelage of coach Babe Allen. On 2 June 1933 Taylor was pitching perhaps the most famous game of his high school career in which he struck out twenty five batters in nine innings while only giving up one hit In ...

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Paul A. Frisch

hotel waiter, baseball entrepreneur, and social activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of the three children of Sarah Thompson. His father's name and occupation are not recorded.

In 1871 Thompson began his career as a hotel waiter at the Ocean House in Cape May, New Jersey. The last decades of the nineteenth century were a time of increasing de facto and legal racial segregation. Most black nonagricultural workers were engaged in unskilled labor, as they were excluded from more highly paid skilled occupations. The occupation of hotel waiter held a high level of prestige in the black community because such employment was relatively clean, safe, and steady, but more intangibly, because it offered access to a privileged stratum of white society that on occasion presented further opportunities for advancement. By 1878 Thompson had been promoted to head waiter. In October 1884 Thompson joined the Hotel Brotherhood ...

Article

Sarah L. Trembanis

professional Negro League catcher and major league baseball talent scout, was born in Dublin, Georgia, to Mary and Charles, a sharecropper. Troupe was the youngest of ten children. The Troupe family joined the Great Migration of African Americans fleeing the South for greater opportunities in urban centers in the North. Following a difficult encounter with a white overseer, Troupe's father and two of his older brothers moved to St. Louis in order to find work and secure enough money to bring the rest of the family to Missouri. Troupe stayed behind with his mother and other siblings, and when Troupe was ten years old, his father sent money for train fare, and the family was reunited in St. Louis. The family soon settled in Compton Hill where Troupe attended Touissaint L'Overture Elementary School and Vashon High School in the 1920s.

Troupe competed on both his high school and ...

Article

Christopher Devine

baseball player and activist, was born Welday Wilberforce Walker in Steubenville, Ohio. He was the fifth of six children born to Moses W. Walker, a physician and minister. He was reared, along with the rest of his siblings, by Caroline (O'Harra) Walker, but Weldy's death certificate lists his mother as Maria Simpson. This information was supplied to the coroner by Walker's nephew Thomas Gibson, who in the early 1920s claimed not to know Weldy's mother's identity. It is unclear whether the change in Gibson's information evidences newfound knowledge, a disclosed Walker family secret, or fiction. Walker's first name likely paid homage to the local pioneer Alexander Welday (although when and why Walker changed its spelling is unknown), and his middle name likely honored the English abolitionist William Wilberforce.

Steubenville where Walker would spend most of his life was a racially progressive town known for ...