Thread: When the Washington Nationals won the World Series last night, it was NOT DC's first since the Senators won it in 1924. The Homestead Grays won a World Series in 1948.
In fact, the full story is a fascinating story about racism in sports that is rarely told.
Again, the point of all this is never to learn a cool or inspiring story. It is about how history is interconnected and how one thing influences another.
1st of all, Jackie Robinson was NOT the first black Major League baseball player. The 1st was William E. White. He was the son of a plantation owner and an enslaved black woman. He moved north, passed for white and went to went to Brown, and Ivy League school.
In 1879, became the first black MLB player and the ONLY former slave to ever play in the Majors.
Mon May 1, 1884, Moses "Fleetwood" Walker became the second black player in the majors when he played for the Toledo Blue Stockings.
They sucked, though.
It wasn't Moses' fault, the white dudes kept getting hurt.
They were getting their asses kicked every game and damn near running out of players. So Moses told them he might know someone who could help them out who didn't live ffar away. You see, Moses had a little brother.
Unlike Moses, who used to skip school to play baseball, Moses' brother Weldy was smart AF. He was attending the University of Michigan's medical school when Moses asked him to help them show those white boys how to play.
On July 15, Weldy Walker became MLB's second black player.
Of course, the white folks didn't like this one bit. Later that season, they played the Chicago White Stockings (Now Cubs), who were owned by the most powerful baseball owner, Cap Anson*
When I say "most powerful," I mean, "racist."
When Anson saw the Walker brother's play, he refused to let his team compete unless they were benched. Now Fleetwood played catcher and his ribs were so hurt, he couldn't bend down, so he probably wasn't gonna play.
But when he heard what Anson said, he started at right field
Anson said: "We’ll play this here game, but won’t play never no more with the n****r in."
At the end of that 1884 season, the New York Metropolitans' owner, who won the American League, challenged the National League champion Providence Grays to see who was the best in the US
It worked out so well that the MLB owners decided to do it every year.
They saw that it could make a lot of money. Everyone was on board, except for one man:
He would only agree to do it if they outlawed black players.
It wasn't just his hatred for black players. His league also had teams in the south, which was just cranking up this little thing called Jim Crow.
Also, he hated black players.
Even Anson's biographer acknowledges that he was responsible for segregating baseball, writing: "Cap Anson, more than anyone else, was the man who wielded the infamous pen."
It would be another half-century before a black man played Major League Baseball.
The owners agreed with Cap to segregate the sport but baseball didn't create it's "color line" yet. See, Major League teams wasn't really one organization. They basically barnstormed during the regular season. Some independent pro teams and minor league teams had black players
The next year, with no black players in the league, Cap Anderson's Chicago team would win the National League pennant and play for the interleague championship.
But some black players would still play on minor league teams and in independent leagues, until two things happened:
After black players were banished from the league, a group of black men who worked together at a summer resort got together in 1885 and started their own team. They were so good that they beat ALL of the local teams.
Someone n saw them and suggested that they become a pro team
The black players thought this man, Walter Cook, was crazy, but y'all know white people are good at finding loopholes, so he came up with a crazy idea.
He hooked up with this black baseball manager, Stanislaus Govern, from LaCroix and they toured the Caribbean playing ball
They kicked ass all through Cuba, the Bahamas, etc. And when they came back, Cook told them that they were going to play white major league teams. (You gotta remember, there wasn't really an official baseball governing body yet)
The black players were like: "Man, those racist muhfuckas are too scared to play us," but Walt had some shit up his sleeve.
He told the opposing owners that the team was from Cuba!
And that's how the Cuban Giants became the 1st all-black pro baseball team.
Even though they were not in the American or National League, the Giants played all of the MLB teams.
And they kicked their ass!
They just barnstormed the country playing whoever wanted some smoke. I mean EVERYONE could get it—me, you, your cousin and your mama too.
It got so bad that when the new National League and American League Interleague Championship, everyone was like:
"I'mma let y'all finish, but there's a black team that would object to you calling yourselves "champions"
Well you know racists couldn't take it.
By 1887, Cap Anderson's team had been in two championships. It infuriated him that he would call his team the champions and everyone would say:
"But what about the Giants, tho?"
Both times Chicago played in the interleague championship, they played the St. Louis Browns, who also got mad when people dismissed their championship claims.
They hated it so much, that in 1887, 8 members of the St. Louis Browns refused to take the field against black players
A Philadelphia newspaper reported on it writing:
"for the first time in the history of base ball the color line has been drawn."
THAT'S how baseball got the term "color line."
So, why did St. Louis refuse to play against the black players?
Perhaps they were living in a country where segregation and Jim Crow were becoming part of the social fabric and...
Nah, I'm just bullshitting. They were just scared AF of the opposing team was going to beat the brakes off them. That opposing team?
You guessed it.
It was the Cuban Giants!
But they weren't alone. That same summer, a few miles away, Cap Anderson's team was about to play in NJ. Cap spottd a black player on the field and he was tired of this BS. He got angry again!
So Cap pulled his players off the field.
This wasn't even a major league team! It wasn't even a REAL GAME! It was a minor league exhibition game and Cap's team had just been to the 'ship! What player could make so angry and afraid to be embarrassed?
That player was Moses Fleetwood Walker.
And after that day, on July 14, 1887, the National League, the American League came together to unify its rules. At the urging of the two most important teams—the two time AL Champion St. Louis Browns...
And the 2-time NL championship manager Cap Anson, they would ban black people from major league baseball AND the minor leagues for more than half a century.
That same year, sportswriters noted that there were independent teams whose teams were demonstrably better than teams in major league baseball.
Everyone knew the Cuban Giants were so good that the major league champions were afraid to play them.
In fact, the Spalding Guide, which is the gold standard for baseball said the only way so-called "majors" could assert its dominance is if "a more grandiose name was required to describe the postseason showdown" so they made one up.
The 1887 guide was the first publication not to refer to the interleague contest between the National and American League as the "United States Baseball" championship.
They named it:
"The World's Series"
*correction: it's Cap Anson
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