1948 Birmingham Black Barons

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The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons

The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons were the Birmingham Black Barons team which represented Birmingham in the Negro Leagues in 1948. The 1948 Black Barons were owned by Tom Hayes and managed by Lorenzo "Piper" Davis, in his first year.

The team went 55-21 (.724) for the season and won the 1948 Negro American League pennant in a close, 7-game playoff against the Kansas City Monarchs. They were defeated four games to one by Pittsburgh's Homestead Grays in the 1948 Negro Leagues World Series, the last series before the Negro National League folded.

The team's opening day roster included pitchers Bill Powell, Joe Bankhead, Nat Pollard, Bill Greason, Sammie C. Williams, Alonzo Perry, Jehosie Heard, and Jimmy Newberry; catchers Herman Bell and Pepper Bassett, infielders Joe Scott, Piper Davis, Johnny Britton, Wiley Griggs, Artie Wilson, and Jay Wilson; and outfielders Jim Zapp, Norman Robinson, Pijo King and Ed Steele. Lyman Bostock and a 16-year-old Willie Mays joined the team during the season. Roosevelt Atkins served as the team's trainer.

Leadoff hitter Artie Wilson hit .402 for the season, seven years after Ted Williams finished a season over .400. Both hitters often faced exaggerated outfield shifts intended to counter their hitting tendencies. Wilson, Powell and Davis were selected for that year's All-Star Team.

The 1948 season was used as the basis for the fictional story The Journal of Biddy Owens, which relates life in Birmingham and in the Negro Leagues to a young audience through the eyes of a teenaged equipment manager.


  • Cary, Tim, "Slidin’ and Ridin’: At Home and on the Road with the 1948 Birmingham Black Barons." Alabama Heritage, Fall 1986.
  • Fullerton, Chris (1999) Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons. Birmingham: R. Boozer Press. ISBN 0963612824
  • Myers, Walter Dean (2001) The Journal of Biddy Owens: The Negro Leagues: Birmingham, Alabama, 1948. My Name is America Series. New York: Scholastic, Inc. ISBN 0439095034