Birmingham Black Barons
|Birmingham Black Barons|
|League||Negro Southern League and Negro National League|
|Home field||Rickwood Field|
The Birmingham Black Barons (originally the Birmingham Stars or All-Stars) played professional baseball for Birmingham in the Negro Leagues from 1919 to 1960 when the Major Leagues successfully integrated. They alternated home stands with the Birmingham Barons in West End's Rickwood Field, usually drawing larger crowds and equal press.
Drawing largely from a successful ACIPCO Industrial League team, Frank Perdue's Stars defeated the Atlanta Cubs to claim a Colored Southern Championship in 1919. Perdue led efforts to organize a Negro Southern League for the 1920 season and renamed his team as a nod to the popular white Barons.
In 1923 hotel owner Joe Rush purchased the team from Perdue. Led by a strong pitching rotation, the Black Barons won the league title that year. For the next season, Rush secured a membership for the club in Rube Foster's larger Negro National League. The Black Barons were unable to maintain their membership due to irregularities with the team finances and returned, along with the Memphis Red Sox, to a re-organized Negro Southern League in 1926 and ended up beating Memphis for the 1927 league title.
For the next several years, the Black Barons alternated between leagues, and played only intermittently during the worst years of the Great Depression. The club joined the newly-formed Negro American League in 1937. League President Robert R. Jackson stripped Henry L. Moore of his ownership of the Black Barons in a dispute over his involvement in an unauthorized East-West All Star Game.
The Black Barons were bought by Memphis funeral home director Tom Hayes in 1939 and hired "Candy Jim" Taylor as manager. They returned to the National League for good in 1940. Early in the decade the team was sold again to Abraham Saperstein who also owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In 1943 they won their first of three pennants. Starting in 1945, they became full members of the Negro National League and enjoyed great success, winning their third pennant in 1948 and losing three world series to the Homestead Grays, with whom they developed a notable rivalry. As the Major Leagues started signing talented African Americans, the Black Barons helped form a new Negro American League which played four seasons from 1956 to 1960 before folding. The Black Barons played their last game in 1960.
On February 26, 2006 ESPN Classic broadcast a throwback game from Rickwood Field featuring amateur players in the uniforms of the Birmingham Black Barons and Bristol Barnstormers. The style of play, the equipment, and the umpires all reflected the 1940s game. Willie Mays attended along with former Negro League player and country music singer Charley Pride. The Black Barons rallied to break an eighth inning tie and win the game 9-8.
Hall of Famers
Other notable players
- This is a partial listing of notable players by when they debuted for the Black Barons. See Birmingham Black Barons rosters for more complete listings:
- Edgar Cason
- Jessie "Bumpie" Edwards
- Henry Kimbroe
- John Kemp
- Lester Lockett
- Buford "Geech" Meredith
- Harry Salmon
- Sam Streeter
- John "Sunshine" Taylor
- Gordon Ziegler
- Pepper Bassett, catcher
- Lyman Bostock Sr, first baseman
- Piper Davis, player 1942-, manager 1948-
- Willie Greason, pitcher 1948-1951
- Sam Hairston, catcher, infielder 1944
- Jehosia Heard
- John Markham, pitcher
- Gread McKinnis, pitcher
- Willie Patterson, catcher/infielder 1946-1947
- Bill Powell
- Ted Radcliffe
- Tommy Sampson
- Alfred Saylor, pitcher
- Goose Tatum
- Winfield Welch, manager 1943-1944
- Sam Williams, pitcher
- Artie Wilson, short stop
- Jim Zapp, right field
- Vic Harris, manager
- Henry Kimbro, left field
- Jessie Mitchell, center field
- John Mitchell, left field
- Charley Pride, pitcher, outfield
- Ed Steele
- Rosel Williams, shortstop 1954
- Willie Patterson, catcher/infielder 1951, 1955
- Fullerton, Christopher D. (1999) Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons. Birmingham: R. Boozer Press. ISBN 0963612824.
- Dixon, Phil & Patrick J. Hannigan. (1992) The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History. Ameron House. ISBN 08848804252
- Birmingham Black Barons at the Birmingham-Pittsburgh Traveler page - accessed April 3, 2006
- "Still in the Game" (April 2006) Southern Living.
- Jordan, Phillip. (February 23, 2006) "Nine Innings in Rickwood" Birmingham Weekly
- Powell, Larry (2009) Black Barons of Birmingham: The South’s Greatest Negro League Team and Its Players. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland ISBN 0786438061
- Kilma, John (2009) Willie's Boys: The 1948 Birmingham Black Barons, The Last Negro League World Series, and the Making of a Baseball Legend. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley ISBN 0470400137
- ESPN Classic Vintage Live Negro League Baseball press kit with team rosters.
- Birmingham Pro Sports website