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Negro National League (the first)

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Title: Negro National League (the first)  
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Subject: Rube Foster, Negro league baseball, 1922 in sports, Cool Papa Bell, Pittsburgh Crawfords, 1926 in sports, 1928 in sports, Eastern Colored League, Kansas City Monarchs, John Henry Lloyd
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Negro National League (the first)

Negro National League
Sport Baseball
Founded 1920
No. of teams 24
Country United States
Ceased 1931
Most titles

The Negro National League (NNL) was one of the several Negro leagues which were established during the period in the United States in which organized baseball was segregated.

League history


Led by Rube Foster, owner and manager of the Chicago American Giants, the NNL was established on February 13, 1920 by a coalition of team owners at a meeting in a Kansas City YMCA.[1] The new league was the first African-American baseball circuit to achieve stability and last more than one season. At first the league operated mainly in midwestern cities, ranging from Kansas City in the west to Pittsburgh in the east; in 1924 it expanded into the south, adding franchises in Birmingham and Memphis.


The two most important east coast clubs, the Hilldale Club of Darby, Pennsylvania, and the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, were affiliated with the NNL as associate clubs from 1920 to 1922, but did not compete for the championship. In 1923 they and four other eastern teams formed the Eastern Colored League (ECL) and raided the NNL for many of its top players, including John Henry Lloyd, Biz Mackey, George Scales, George Carr, and Clint Thomas, and signing Oscar Charleston, and Reuben Currie in 1924. The war between the two leagues came to an end in 1924, when they agreed to respect each other's contracts and arranged for the Colored World Series between their champions.

Difficulties and demise

The NNL survived controversies over umpiring, scheduling, and what some perceived as league president Rube Foster's disproportionate influence and favoritism toward his own team. It also outlasted Foster's decline into mental illness in 1926, and its eastern rival, the ECL, which folded in early 1928. The NNL finally fell apart in 1931 under the economic stress of the Great Depression.


The Negro American League, founded in 1937 and including several of the same teams that played in the original Negro National League, would eventually carry on as the western circuit of black baseball. A separate Negro National League was organized in 1933, but eventually became concentrated on the east coast. To distinguish between the two unrelated leagues, they are usually referred to as the first Negro National League (or NNL I) and the second Negro National League (or NNL II).

Negro National League franchises

Annual final standings: 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931

Member timeline

DateFormat = yyyy ImageSize = width:800 height:500 PlotArea = left:20 right:50 bottom:20 top:20

Colors =

id:majorGridColor value:rgb(0.9,0.9,0.9)
id:lineColor   value:gray(0.6)
id:nl1         value:gray(0.9)
id:inactive    value:gray(0.5)
id:gold        value:rgb(0.99,0.72,0.15)
id:brown       value:rgb(0.36,0.20,0.10)
id:vegasgold   value:rgb(0.80,0.72,0.49)
id:green       value:rgb(0,   0.51,0.28)
id:darkgreen   value:rgb(0,   0.20,0   )
id:orange      value:rgb(1   ,0.39,0   )
id:redorange      value:rgb(1   ,0.20,0   )
id:red         value:rgb(0.80,0.01,0.07)
id:red2        value:rgb(0.90,0.01,0.07)
id:darkred     value:rgb(0.50,0   ,0   )
id:iceblue     value:rgb(0.20,0.60,0.80)
id:lgray        value:gray(0.1)
id:gray        value:gray(0.3)
id:gray2       value:gray(0.5)
id:sand        value:rgb(0.94,0.89,0.77)
id:navy        value:rgb(0   ,0   ,0.30)
id:teal        value:rgb(0   ,0.65,0.65)
id:teal2       value:rgb(0   ,0.45,0.45)

Period = from:1920 till:1932 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal format:yyyy ScaleMajor = start:1920 increment:1 gridcolor:majorGridColor

BarData =

bar:CAG   # Chicago American Giants
bar:CHG   # Chicago Giants
bar:CSW   # Cuban Stars (West)
bar:DAY   # Dayton Marcos
bar:DET   # Detroit Stars
bar:IND   # Indianapolis ABCs
bar:KCM   # Kansas City Monarchs
bar:SLG   # St. Louis Giants
bar:STL   # St. Louis Stars
bar:COL   # Columbus Buckeyes
bar:CTS   # Cleveland Tate Stars
bar:TOL   # Toledo Tigers
bar:PIT   # Pittsburgh Keystones
bar:MIL   # Milwaukee Bears
bar:BIR   # Birmingham Black Barons
bar:CLB   # Cleveland Browns
bar:MEM   # Memphis Red Sox
bar:CLE   # Cleveland Elites
bar:CLH   # Cleveland Hornets
bar:CLT   # Cleveland Tigers
bar:NAS   # Nashville Elite Giants / Cleveland Cubs
bar:IN2   # Indianapolis ABCs (II)
bar:LOU   # Louisville White Sox

Define $Up = shift:(,1) Define $Left = anchor:from align:right shift:(-1,) Define $Right = anchor:till align:left shift:(2,) Define $Right2 = anchor:till align:right shift:(-25,) Define $Down = shift:(,-10) Define $UpLeft = anchor:from align:right shift:(-1,1) Define $UpLeft2 = anchor:from align:left shift:(-1,1) Define $UpRight2 = anchor:till align:right shift:(-1,1) Define $UpRight = anchor:till align:left shift:(2,1) Define $DownRight = anchor:till align:left shift:(2,-10) Define $DownLeft = anchor:from align:left shift:(2,-10) Define $UpUpRight = anchor:till align:left shift:(2,10)

PlotData =

anchor:middle # other options are anchor:from anchor:till
align:center  # other options are align:left  align:right
  1. Note on dates: A team's bar begins with the season that team played its first game, and ends with the season after that team played its last game. For example, the Cleveland Tate Stars played their first game in 1922 and played their last game in 1923. Therefore, their bar goes from 1922 to 1924.
bar:CAG  from:1920 till:1932 color:orange       text:"Chicago American Giants"                           $Right2
bar:CHG  from:1920 till:1922 color:oceanblue    text:"Chicago Giants"                                    $Right
bar:CSW  from:1920 till:1921 color:sand         text:"Cuban Stars~(West)"                                $UpRight2
bar:CSW  from:1921 till:1922 color:sand         text:"Cincinnati~Cubans"                                 $UpRight2
bar:CSW  from:1922 till:1931 color:sand         text:"Cuban Stars (West)"                                $Right2
bar:DAY  from:1920 till:1921 color:purple       text:"      "                                            $Right
bar:DAY  from:1926 till:1927 color:purple       text:"Dayton Marcos"                                     $Right
bar:DET  from:1920 till:1932 color:iceblue      text:"Detroit Stars"                                     $Right2
bar:IND  from:1920 till:1927 color:green        text:"Indianapolis ABCs"                                 $Right
bar:KCM  from:1920 till:1932 color:yellow       text:"Kansas City Monarchs"                              $Right2
bar:SLG  from:1920 till:1922 color:darkred      text:"St. Louis Giants"                                  $Right
bar:STL  from:1922 till:1932 color:redorange    text:"St. Louis Stars"                                   $Right2
bar:COL  from:1921 till:1922 color:brown        text:"Columbus Buckeyes"                                 $Right
bar:CTS  from:1922 till:1924 color:red          text:"Cleveland Tate Stars"                              $Right
bar:TOL  from:1923 till:1924 color:navy         text:"Toledo Tigers"                                     $Right
bar:PIT  from:1922 till:1923 color:teal2        text:"Pittsburgh Keystones"                              $Right
bar:MIL  from:1923 till:1924 color:gray         text:"Milwaukee Bears"                                   $Right
bar:BIR  from:1924 till:1926 color:gold         text:"      "                                            $Right
bar:BIR  from:1927 till:1931 color:gold         text:"Birmingham Black Barons"                           $Right2
bar:CLB  from:1924 till:1925 color:blue         text:"Cleveland Browns"                                  $Right
bar:MEM  from:1924 till:1926 color:red2         text:"      "                                            $Right
bar:MEM  from:1927 till:1931 color:red2         text:"Memphis Red Sox"                                   $Right2
bar:CLE  from:1926 till:1927 color:kelleygreen  text:"Cleveland Elites"                                  $Right
bar:CLH  from:1927 till:1928 color:yelloworange text:"Cleveland Hornets"                                 $Right
bar:CLT  from:1928 till:1929 color:gray2        text:"Cleveland Tigers"                                  $Right
bar:NAS  from:1930 till:1931 color:skyblue      text:"Nashville Elite Giants"                            $Right2
bar:NAS  from:1931 till:1932 color:skyblue      text:"Cleveland~Cubs"                                    $UpRight2
bar:IN2  from:1931 till:1932 color:teal         text:"Indianapolis ABCs (II)"                            $Right2
bar:LOU  from:1931 till:1932 color:vegasgold    text:"Louisville White Sox"                              $Right2

  • 1920: Formation of NNL consisting of 8 teams — Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, St. Louis Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos and Chicago Giants.
  • 1921: Dropped Dayton Marcos; Added Columbus Buckeyes.
  • 1922: Dropped Columbus Buckeyes, Chicago Giants, St. Louis Giants; Added Cleveland Tate Stars, Pittsburgh Keystones, St. Louis Stars.
  • 1923: Dropped Cleveland Tate Stars (mid-season), Pittsburgh Keystones; Added Toledo Tigers (mid-season), Milwaukee Bears.
  • 1924: Dropped Toledo Tigers, Milwaukee Bears, Indianapolis ABCs (mid-season); Added Cleveland Browns, Birmingham Black Barons, Memphis Red Sox (mid-season).
  • 1925: Dropped Cleveland Browns; Added Indianapolis ABCs.
  • 1926: Dropped Memphis Red Sox, Birmingham Black Barons; Added Cleveland Elites, re-added Dayton Marcos.
  • 1927: Dropped Dayton Marcos, Indianapolis ABCs; Re-added Birmingham Black Barons, Memphis Red Sox.
  • 1929: Dropped Cleveland Tigers.
  • 1930: Added Nashville Elite Giants.
  • 1931: Dropped Memphis Red Sox, Birmingham Black Barons, Cuban Stars; Added Louisville White Sox, (new) Indianapolis ABCs. League fell apart before season end.

League champions

Pennant winners

From 1920 through 1924, and also in 1929 and 1931, the team in first place at the end of the season was declared the Pennant winner. Due to the unorthodox nature of the schedule (and little incentive to enforce it), some teams frequently played many more games than others did in any given season. This led to some disputed championships and two teams claiming the title. Generally, the team with the best winning percentage (with some minimum number of games played) was awarded the Pennant, but other times it was the team with the most victories. The "games behind" method of recording standings was uncommon in most black leagues.

  • 1920 – Chicago American Giants
  • 1921 – Chicago American Giants
  • 1922 – Chicago American Giants
  • 1923 – Kansas City Monarchs
  • 1924 – Kansas City Monarchs‡
  • 1925 – Kansas City Monarchs†‡
  • 1926 – Chicago American Giants†‡
  • 1927 – Chicago American Giants†‡
  • 1928 – St. Louis Stars†
  • 1929 – Kansas City Monarchs
  • 1930 – St. Louis Stars†
  • 1931 – St. Louis Stars (season did not finish; Stars had best record among league members and were declared the champions,[2] though non-member Pittsburgh Crawfords disputed title)

† – Pennant was decided via a split-season schedule with the winner of the first half of the season playing the winner of the second half of the season.
‡ – Pennant winner went on to play in the Colored World Series.

League play-offs

From 1925 through 1928, and again in 1930, the NNL split the season into two halves. The winner of the first half played the winner of the second half for the league Pennant. As mentioned above, disputes also occurred in the split season finishes.

  • 1925 – Kansas City Monarchs (first half champions) beat St. Louis Stars (second half champions), 5 games to 3 games
  • 1926 – Chicago American Giants (2nd half) beat Kansas City Monarchs (1st half), 5 games to 4 games
  • 1927 – Chicago American Giants (1st half) beat Birmingham Black Barons (2nd half), 4 games to 0 games
  • 1928 – St. Louis Stars (1st half) beat Chicago American Giants (2nd half), 5 games to 4 games
  • 1930 – St. Louis Stars (1st half) beat Detroit Stars (2nd half), 4 games to 3 games

Colored World Series

Main article: Negro World Series

For the duration of the league, a Colored World Series took place four times, from 1924 through 1927. The NNL Pennant winner met the champion of the rival Eastern Colored League. Three out of the four years, the Negro National League team (below in bold) prevailed.

  • 1924Kansas City Monarchs beat Hilldale Club, 5 games to 4 games (1 tie)
  • 1925 – Hilldale Club beat Kansas City Monarchs, 5 games to 1 game
  • 1926Chicago American Giants beat Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 5 games to 4 games (2 ties)
  • 1927Chicago American Giants beat Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, 5 games to 3 games (1 tie)



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