The Negro Leagues
Courtesy of Library of Congress.
Though a number of Negro League teams found success and large followings simply by playing ball, some teams were forced to turn to gimmicks to keep the fans in the seats. Among these novelty acts was the Indianapolis Clowns, the only team of its kind admitted into the Negro Leagues. The Clowns—formerly the Ethiopian Clowns—mixed comedic antics with skillful baseball play. Indeed, the club signed Hank Aaron in 1951 and was the first professional franchise to field a female player, the formidable Toni Stone. In 1952, the Clowns captured the Negro American League championship.