Homestead Grays (1912-1950)




Homestead Grays (1912-1950)The
Homestead Grays was one of the most successful of the professional Negro League
baseball teams.  They won ten Negro
National League Titles (1937-1945, 1948) and three Negro League World Series
Titles (1943-1944, 1948), where they played the champion of the Negro American
League.  The team was based in Homestead, Pennsylvania,
but played their home games at both Forbes Field in Pittsburgh
and at Griffith Stadium in Washington,
D.C.

In
1900, a group of black men from Pittsburgh formed
the Blue Ribbon Industrial League Team, where they played pick-up games against
some of the best sandlot teams in the Pittsburgh
area.  The Blue Ribbon Industrial League
Team was active for 10 years but when the managers retired, the players renamed
the team the Murdock Grays.  They continued
to play sandlot teams as the Murdock Grays for a season, but in 1912, Pittsburgh businessman Posey
Cumberland transformed them into the Homestead Grays.

The
Grays participated in four different Negro Leagues throughout their
professional baseball career: Independent (1912-1928, 1930-1931), the American
Negro League (1929), the East-West Negro League (1932), and the Negro National
League (1935-1948).  The Grays were active
from 1912 until they disbanded in 1950.

Much
of the success of the Homestead Grays is attributed to the power hitting from
longtime catcher Josh Gibson and first baseman Buck Leonard who were nicknamed
the "thunder twins."  The Grays also had "Smokey"
Joe Williams, an ace pitcher who once struck out 26 batters in a 12 inning
game.   Other star players included many
future baseball Hall of Famers such as "Cool" Papa Bell (outfield),
Judy Johnson (third base), and Martin Dihigo (utility).

The
Grays continued to play for two seasons after the Negro National League broke
up in 1948 but finally disbanded in 1950.

Source:

Brad Snyder, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball (Chicago: Contemporary Books, 2003); James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994): http://www.nlbpa.com/homestead_grays.html