“A Loud Mouthed Nuisance”
“Sunday baseball is wrong…
In Bryan negroes are the offenders. But be it known, however, that if the offenders were white, The Eagle would be just as emphatic in its protestations.
We saw yesterday afternoon a crowd of negro baseball players walk from one of the depots the full length of Main street with bats, gloves, masks and other baseball accessories, on their way to the Westside park where the game was to be played. It was a disgrace and calculated to create a very poor impression of Bryan upon the mind of the “stranger within our gates.”
This was bad enough, but when the game got under way, it was worse. The shouts of the crowd of spectators could be heard from one end of the city to the other.
It sounded like we were living in a heathen land instead of a city of schools and churches.
It was a burning shame and should not be tolerated.
Here is work for the principal of the colored school and the pastors of the colored churches. In their teaching, looking to the elevation of their race, Sabbath observance should be emphasized in every way possible.
The disgraceful scenes, disgraceful howling and whooping of yesterday will be continued throughout the summer, if given free rein.
The Eagle asks for the co-operation of the law-abiding people of Bryan in protecting the Sabbath day against the violence of Sunday baseball.”
Excerpt – Bryan Daily Eagle and Pilot April 14, 1913.
In Bryan, Texas, not only did being black provide a severe disadvantage at the time but playing baseball on Sunday meant that you would spend eternity in that special place in Hell, away from those that went to Hell just for being black. As if things weren’t bad enough, the Bryan Daily Eagle showed that making something of yourself, especially in a white man’s sport, was never going to be in the cards. And in 1913, they wouldn’t be wrong for at least another 30 plus years.
Pick up leagues like these in Bryan were common across the country during the dawn of the 20th Century, and many talented blacks of the time went on to play full time in the hundreds of junior circuits in America, some on their way to teams such as the Kansas City Monarchs or Homestead Greys.
Tens of thousands didn’t make it to the Negro Majors. Possibly hundreds of thousands. Those men formed teams, played games, created stories, and made history in not only semi-professional leagues, but broken leagues from the Atlantic to the Pacific from the mid-1880’s to the late-1950’s. These stories are, at best, a generation away from being lost forever. Lost with the passing of family members that have had those stories passed down to them. Lost with the newspaper clippings and chicken-scratched lineups and family photos being thrown away after the loss of a family member.
I will try to focus on one or two per article as information allows.
“If Donaldson were a white man, or if the unwritten law of baseball didn’t bar negroes from the major leagues, I would give $50,000 for him – and think I was getting a bargain,” legendary John McGraw said of John Donaldson
after seeing him pitch several games in Cuba.
Donaldson, considered far better than the white giants of the time such as Walter Johnson and Grover Alexander, once threw 30 consecutive hitless innings and struck out 30 or more in a game twice. His nearly two strikeout average per inning is still considered better than 99% who have ever played, either Negro, White, or combined.
He is also credited with more than 400 career wins, 5,000 career strikeouts, 13 no-hitters and a perfect game. With that talent, especially noted in his exhibition domination of major leaguers at the time, put him in the discussion when talking about the greatest pitcher who ever took the mound.
If you have any leads or information, or would like to spit in my face, we would love to hear from you. We also have a GoFundMe account
set up to help with expenses associated with this project. Feel free to either support or share, any help is greatly appreciated.