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Cincinnati Clowns

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The Cincinnati Clowns (sometimes known as the Cincinnati Ethiopian Clowns) were members of the Negro Major Baseball League during 1942, its only season. Managed by Bunny Downs, they were said to have won the NMBL championship, though no standings were published. Playing occasional home games in Cincinnati's Crosley Field, they were primarily a barnstorming club throughout the mid-western U.S. While reportedly the best team in the NMBL, they had a sub-.400 record that year in exhibitions against teams in the Negro American League.

The Clowns won the Denver Post Tournament in 1941, earning the claim to being the best semi-pro baseball club in the country.

In 1943 they joined the NAL. They were known as the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns, though they dropped that name for 1945. They moved to Indianapolis in 1946 and becoming the Indianapolis Clowns thereafter.

Known for their focus on showmanship and comedy, the team finished last in 1943 at 15-18. Fred Wilson managed the team. Among the team's notable "acts" were Pepper Bassett (who occasionally caught in a rocking chair) and Goose Tatum (the .369-hitting first baseman was a long-time Harlem Globetrotter).

The team was widely criticized by much of the Negro press for what was viewed as degrading and racially stereotypical clowining. Among the nicknames it assigned players were "Mofike", "Askari", "Kankol", "Sardo", "Yahoodi", "Nyasses", "Selassie", "Siki", and "Tarzan".


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