Although the origins of Negro Leagues Baseball cover a wide expanse of teams and leagues dating back into the 1800s, many baseball historians and enthusiasts point to the inaugural season of the Negro National League in 1920 on this day as the official start of the Black Baseball’s “Golden Age.”
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Hall of Famer Andrew “Rube” Foster, a former player and owner of the Chicago American Giants, helped to guide the forming of an organized league comprised of a handful of teams from the Midwest. Calling itself the Negro National League, the first game of the 1920 season was held between Foster’s American Giants and the home team Indianapolis ABC’s. Although the American Giants would win the league championship that year, they would lose the opener to the hosting squad 4-2.
The establishment of the Negro National League spawned rival Black baseball leagues across the country, such as the Eastern Colored League (ECL) and the Negro American League (NAL). Major League Baseball (MLB) began to take notice of the talent and speed of Black players and began recruiting players directly from the scattered leagues. After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, the NAL suddenly experienced an exodus of its best players heading to play for MLB teams. The NAL would eventually end in 1960.
For more detailed information on the Negro Leagues, including team names and history, follow this link.