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PHOTO ESSAY

The Negro Leagues

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Batter Up!

Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Batter Up! The first of the great American Negro Leagues, the Southern League of Base Ballists, was founded in 1885, and with its success more such leagues were to follow. In 1887 came the National Colored Base Ball League. In 1920 the Negro National League was created. Soon followed the Negro Southern League, the Eastern Colored League, and the American Negro League, among several others. Until Jackie Robinson broke Major League baseball's color line in 1947 (after which the Negro Leagues began to die off), and despite early attempts to integrate professional baseball, African Americans who wished to play baseball at the professional level had to do so in these all-black organizations. Among the great teams of the Negro Leagues were the Kansas City Monarchs, the Chicago American Giants, the Ethiopian (later Indianapolis) Clowns, the Atlanta Black Crackers, the Baltimore Black Sox, the Washington Elite Giants, the Philadelphia Stars, the Cuban Giants, and the Austin Black Senators. Scores of baseball's greats got their start in the Negro Leagues: Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige, and Hank Aaron, to name just a few of dozens. The heyday of the Negro Leagues represents the triumph of skill, sportsmanship, and entrepreneurial ingenuity over the narrow-mindedness of racial prejudice and intolerance.

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