The Negro Leagues

Baseball: America's Home Run

By 1890 Black players were excluded from professional baseball by agreement among White team owners. African Americans and Latino Americans instead found playing opportunities in the various Negro Leagues, as well as in Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Major League Baseball integrated in 1947 by hiring the Negro Leagues' best players, leading to the eventual collapse of Black baseball. In 2020, Major League Baseball recognized the Negro Leagues as major leagues, and announced that Negro Leagues player statistics would be incorporated into MLB’s record books.

Display case containing memorabilia in the wood paneled Postmasters Suite gallery
refer to caption
"First Colored World Series Opening Game," Kansas City, Missouri, October 11, 1924
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
refer to caption
Picture postcard from Rube Foster, 1911
Loan from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

During his time as a pitcher in the Negro Leagues, Andrew Benjamin "Rube" Foster (1879–1930) regularly sent postcards home to his wife Sarah and son Earl. He excelled as an owner-manager and organizer, leading two Black baseball teams, forming the first Negro National League in 1920, and organizing the first Negro World Series in 1924.

Documents related to Edward Bolden's career, 1941–1944

Post Office Department Statement of Employee Record for Edward Bolden
Loan from Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
				Cover from Mobile Colored Baseball Association to Edward Bolden
Loan from Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
				Letter from Mobile Colored Baseball Association to Edward Bolden
Loan from Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

Many professional baseball players, White and Black alike, held regular jobs to supplement their modest salaries. Some found postal employment, including Edward "Ed" Bolden (1881–1950), manager of the Negro Leagues' Hilldale Athletic Club and a special clerk in Philadelphia's central post office.

Approved 32 cent stamp art featuring Jackie Robinson catching a ball at a base

In December 1943, actor Paul Robeson and several Black newspaper publishers met with Major League Baseball’s team owners — who had barred African American players since 1884 — to persuade them to integrate.