BlackPast.org Facebook BlackPast.org Twitter

Donate to BlackPast.org BlackPast Blog
  • African American History
  • African American History in the West
  • Global African History
  • Perspectives

NOTE: BlackPast.org will not disclose, use, give or sell any of the requested information to third parties.

1 + 6 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Rock the Vote

NAAAS & Affiliates 27th Joint National Conference

Shop Amazon and help BlackPast.org

Blackpast.org in the Classroom

Birmingham Black Barons

Birmingham Black Barons, 1950
Birmingham Black Barons, 1950
Image Ownership: Public Domain
The Birmingham Black Barons was a professional baseball team active in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960.  They played their home games at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama.   The team had its greatest success in the 1940s, winning three Negro National League pennants (1943, 1944, and 1949).  Unfortunately, the Black Barons lost all three Negro League World Series games to the Homestead Grays of Pennsylvania.

The Birmingham Black Barons, formed in 1920 by Birmingham businessman Frank Perdue, was one of the first eight teams invited to join the Negro National League in 1924.  They were also the first southern team in the league.  Most of the Barons players came from poor areas in and around Birmingham.  For these players the Black Barons became a path to escape poorly paid jobs.  

The Black Barons played in three different Negro Leagues throughout their 40-year baseball career, including the Negro Southern League (1920-1923, 1931-1940), the Negro National League (1924-1930, 1941-1955), and the Negro American League (1956-1960).  In the 1930s, the team was bought by Tom Hayes in Memphis, Tennessee which forced the Black Barons to move back to the Negro Southern League.  However, in 1940, the ownership switched again to Abraham Saperstein, who moved the Black Barons back up to the Negro National League.  Under Saperstein's ownership, the team flourished in the Negro National League, winning three Negro National League pennants.  Much of the credit of the Black Barons' success can be given to all-star pitcher Satchel Paige and rookie outfielder Willie Mays.

In the 1950s, the Negro Leagues began their decline after Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier for baseball.  Many of the great African American players who played in the Negro Leagues made the jump to play in Major League Baseball (MLB).  The Black Barons continued to play in the Negro National League, but never won any pennants.  Finally in 1956, the Negro American League was formed, but the attendance was down and most of the players signed Minor League contracts.  The new league lasted only four seasons.  The Black Barons played their final season in 1960 when the Negro Leagues disbanded. 

The Birmingham Black Barons carried four players that have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, including Willie Mays (Outfield, 1948-1950), Satchel Paige (Pitcher, 1927-1929), Bill Foster (Pitcher, 1925), and Mule Suttles (First Base, 1923-1926).

Sources:

Christopher D. Fullerton, Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons (Birmingham: R. Boozer Press, 1999); John Klima, Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, the Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009); http://northbysouth.kenyon.edu/2000/baseball/BBB_intro.htm; http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1665

Contributor:

University of Washington, Seattle

Entry Categories:

Copyright 2007-2017 - BlackPast.org v3.0 NDCHost - California | blackpast@blackpast.org | Your donations help us to grow. | We welcome your suggestions. | Mission Statement

BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.