Negro Leagues
Negro Leagues
1860 through 1960

The Barrier Breakers



Posted July 2022

Negro Leagues The Barrier Breakers
The Barrier Breakers
Going the Distance
In 1945, Major League Baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs. Robinson became the African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League roster.

While this historic event was a key moment in baseball and civil rights history, it foreshadowed the decline of the Negro Leagues. The best black players were recruited by Major League teams, and black fans followed. The last Negro Leagues teams folded by the early 1960s.

Over the 12 year period from 1947 to 1959, more than 100 African American and Latino men endured the grueling process of integrating Major League and Minor League Baseball organizations. Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, Willard Brown, and Dan Bankhead immediately followed Robinson in 1947. Over a decade later, in 1959, Elijah "Pumpsie" Green broke through the Boston Red Sox' barrier.
Many of these players encountered hardships similar to those that Jackie Robinson had faced, but with their perseverance, they opened the doors for future minority players. Having honed their skills in the Negro Leagues, these men went on to become some of the greatest Major League players of all time.

Negro Leagues Minnie Minosa
Orestes "Minnie" Minosa
Cuban-born Minnie Minoso was a star player in Latin American and for the New York Cubans before being recruited by the Cleveland Indians. He made his Major League debut in 1949 and went on to become a seven-time All-Star reaching the peak of his fame with Chicago White Sox.

Negro Leagues Dan Bankhead
Dan Bankhead
Bankhead was one of the five baseball-playing brothers from the Negro Leagues. He became the first black pitcher to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Negro Leagues Larry Doby
Larry Doby
Doby was the first African American to play in the American League in July 1947 and helped lead the Cleveland Indians in the 1948 World Series. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998.

Negro Leagues Mamie Peanut Johnson
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson pitched for the Indianapolis Clowns in the mid 1950s. Although considered a novel experiment to attract fans, the recruitment of women in the last few days of the Negro Leaques introduced to the game a new crop of strong, competitive baseball players.

Negro Leagues Satchel Paige
Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige Apocryphal stories surround Paige, who was born July 7, 1906 in Mobile, Alabama. He began his professional career in the Negro Leagues in the 1920s after being discharged from reform school in Alabama. The lanky 6-foot-3 right hander quickly became the biggest drawing card in Negro baseball, able to overpower batters with a buggy-whipped fastball. Paige was one of the greatest stars to play in the Negro Baseball Leagues. Thrilled millions of people and won hundreds of games, struck out 21 Major Leagues in an exhibition game. Helped pitch the Cleveland Indians to the 1948 Pennant in his first big league year at the age of 42. His pitching was legendary among Major League Hitters.

Negro Leagues Satchel Paige

Negro Leagues Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey
Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey
Jackie Robinson signed a minor league contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in Fall of 1945, beginning the process of integrating baseball after more than 50 years of segregation.

Negro Leagues Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

Negro Leagues Cleveland Buckeyes
Cleveland Buckeyes
The Cleveland Buckeyes, featuring Al Smith, Quincy Troupe, and Sam Jethroe, were the 1946 Negro Leagues champions.

Negro Leagues Brooklyn Dodgers
Brooklyn Dodgers
Jackie Robinson was the lone black player on the 1947 Dodgers until pitcher Dan Bankhead joined the club that September.

Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs
Kansas City Monarchs
The talented and popular Kansas City Monarchs won several pennants in the 1940s, led by Hilton Smith and Buck O'Neil.

Negro Leagues Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
In 1948, with the addition of Larry Doby and Satchel Paige, the Cleveland Indians won their first World Series Championships in 28 years.

Negro Leagues Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks began his professional baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1950. He was the first African American player for the Chicago Cubs.

Negro Leagues Baltimore Elite Giants
Baltimore Elite Giants
Originally established in Nashville, the Elite Giants had their greatest success after moving to Baltimore, where they won a Negro Leagues championship in 1949.

Negro Leagues Jack Jackie Robinson
Jack "Jackie" Robinson
The success of former Negro League infielder Jackie Robinson in the Major Leagues paved the way for the steady flow of black talent to integrate baseball.

Negro Leagues Jackie Robinson Dodgers
Jackie Robinson
After a difficult start, Jackie Robinson was accepted as an integral part of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He appears here with teammates (from left) John Jorgenson, Pee Wee Reese, and Ed Stanky.

Negro Leagues Birmingham Black Barons
Birmingham Black Barons
The Black Barons traveled the American south and practiced very successful baseball in spite of harsh segregation in the region. Among the team's leaders were Lloyd "Pepper" Bassett and Lorenzo "Piper" Davis.

Negro Leagues Elijah Pumpsie Green
Elijah "Pumpsie" Green
Although too young to have played in the Negro Leagues, Pumpsie Green made history in 1959 as the first African-American player for the Boston Red Sox, the last team to integrate.

Negro Leagues Philadelphia Stars
Philadelphia Stars
The Stars continued the long tradition of black baseball in Philadelphia, which dates back to before the creation of the Negro Leagues.

Negro Leagues New York Black Yankees
New York Black Yankees
The Black Yankees played at Hinchcliffe Stadium in New Jersey and occasionally appeared at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. They were owned for a time by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.

Negro Leagues Willie Mays
Willie Mays
One of baseball's all-time greats, Willie Mays began his career as a teenager in the Negro Leagues. In 1948, he helped the Birmingham Black Barons win a pennant and advance to the Negro League World Series.

Negro Leagues Jackie Robinson and Connie Morgan
Jackie Robinson and Connie Morgan
Indianapolis Clowns second baseman Connie Morgan (shown with Jackie Robinson) was one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues in the 1950s.

Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs 1956
Kansas City Monarchs 1956
The Monarchs, led by Michigan-based baseball promoter Ted Rasberry, hit the road in their custom bus.

Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs 1956

Negro Leagues Henry Hank Aaron
Henry "Hank" Aaron 1934-2021
Hank Aaron began his baseball career as a teenager, playing infield for the Indianapolis Clowns in the early 1950s. The talented youngster was signed by the Boston Braves in 1954, and embarked on his long, distinguished career as one of baseball's all-time greats.

Negro Leagues John Buck O'Neil
John "Buck" O'Neil
Buck O'Neil led the Kansas City Monarchs as first baseman and manager in the 1940s. The popular O'Neil parlayed his experiences into a scouting and coaching career in Major League Baseball.