As summer draws to a close, baseball season is winding down, we have been doing research on the buses used by the Negro Leagues Baseball Teams. Here is a great picture supplied to us by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located in Kansas City, MO.
African-Americans began to play baseball in the late 1800s on military teams, college teams, and company teams. They eventually found their way to professional teams with white players. Moses Fleetwood Walker and Bud Fowler were among the first to participate. However, racism and “Jim Crow” laws would force them from these teams by 1900. Thus, black players formed their own units, “barnstorming” around the country to play anyone who would challenge them. And how did they “barnstorm” around the country–ON A BUS!
In 1920, an organized league structure was formed under the guidance of Andrew “Rube” Foster—a former player, manager, and owner for the Chicago American Giants. In a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., Foster and a few other Midwestern team owners joined to form the Negro National League. Soon, rival leagues formed in Eastern and Southern states, bringing the thrills and innovative play of black baseball to major urban centers and rural country sides in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. The Leagues maintained a high level of professional skill and became centerpieces for economic development in many black communities.
I’ll blog more about this in the future–but wanted to share this great photograph of the Pittsburgh Crawfords lined up in front of their bus, a 1932 Mack bus on a school bus chassis