Historiography of Black Baseball & Negro Baseball Leagues

by Gary Gillette

Painting of Sol White by Graig Kreindler Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide, initialy published in 1907, has been republished and expanded multiple times since. Art by Graig Kreindler. Used with the permission of Jay Caldwell.

Analogous to the lack of attention paid until recently to the game of Black Baseball itself, the historiography of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues has in many ways not been adequately chronicled. A full treatment of this important and complex subject would require a weighty book, but an outline of the historiography is valuable as well. This article presents a draft of the history of scholarship of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues before the re-integration of the formerly White major leagues in the late 1940s.

First, however, a few words about what is not included here. There are many fine works about Integration and re-integration in baseball—a subject deserving its own historiography—but most of them deal with the long, segregated history of the game only in passing. Even with that restriction, not everything can be included, starting with the hundreds of worthy articles on the Negro Leagues published in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and on the internet. That part of the historiography would be longer than this part. Nor are academic theses and dissertations included unless they were published in book form. With a few exceptions, biographies and team histories are not included. There are many worthy examples of both—with, thankfully, more being published every year—but unless the biographies or team histories were early exemplars or are especially significant, they are not shown. What biographies are included are of transcendent figures and which cover the full lives of their subjects, not just their playing careers or other segments of their lives.

Documentaries, television series, and movies are not included, even though the list of them is fairly short. They are a different medium than print and require different treatment. Works that do not add much to the canon because they are essentially derivative or because they have significant flaws are also not included. Nonetheless, appropriate allowances are made for works that pushed the historical envelope or were precocious in other ways. And works primarily intended for juvenile readers are not included, with two exceptions because their beautiful illustrations have made them attractive to adults as well.

The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues Logo We have dramatically expanded our coverage of the Negro Leagues and Black major league players.

Finally, while I consulted with other scholars on this compilation, the judgment calls, choices made, omissions, and mistakes made are my own responsibility.

This article is divided into three sections. The first organizes the historiography by theoretical eras and lists prominent actors in each era along with a few organizations of special import. The second is a chronological list of important written works covering Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues. The third is an alphabetical list of people and organizations mentioned in the first two sections, with a brief description of why they were selected.

Historical personages represented are mostly authors, journalists, and historians. A few important ballplayers and executives are also included because of their public advocacy.

Eras of Historiography with Prominent Figures from Each Era

Cover of Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide by Sol White, 1907

Prehistory, 1858–1907

From the advent of Black Baseball until publication of Sol White’s “Where would we ever be without it?” History of Colored Baseball.

  • Octavius Catto, Sol White.

Classical Age, 1908–1948

Extensive coverage in the African American press along with very spotty coverage in the mainstream press of the founding and flowering of the Negro Leagues, the Negro World Series, the East-West Classic All-Star Game, and the re-integration of so-called “Organized Baseball.”

  • Dave Wyatt, Rube Foster, Ed Bolden, Wendell Smith, Sam Lacy, Fay Young, Ches Washington, Joe Bostic, Rollo Wilson, Tweed Webb, Dan Burley, Ric Roberts, Mal Goode, Teenie Harris.

Dark Ages, 1949–1969

Virtual disappearance of the legacy of Black Baseball & the Negro Leagues from mainstream media and White public consciousness during the struggle to truly integrate the National Pastime.

  • Lacy, Smith, Doc Young, E.B. Henderson, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Ted Williams, Shirley Povich, MLB Special Records Committee.
Cover of Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams by Robert Peterson, 1970

Middle Ages, 1970–1993

Publication of the groundbreaking Only the Ball Was White, Negro Leaguers inducted into Hall of Fame, early oral histories, first Negro Leagues Players Reunions, Negro Leagues tribute baseball card sets, Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) Negro Leagues Committee, founding of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM).

  • Robert Peterson, Bob Davids, Don Lowry, Merl Kleinknecht, John Holway, Jerry Malloy, Dick Clark, Larry Lester, Phil Dixon, James Riley, Donn Rogosin, Ocania Chalk.

Renaissance, 1994–2005

Publication of seminal Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues and SABR Negro Leagues Book, Buck O’Neil emerges as the face of Black Baseball via Ken Burns’ PBS series Baseball, opening of NLBM’s beautiful new facility in Kansas City, Black sportswriters finally win Spink Awards, first annual Jerry Malloy Conferences, new SABR and academic scholarship, major- and minor-league Negro Leagues tribute games.

  • Dixon, Clark, Riley, Holway, Lester, Ken Burns, Buck O’Neil, Ted Knorr, Don Motley, Leslie Heaphy, Ray Doswell, Rob Ruck, Adrian Burgos, Jeremy Krock.

Enlightenment, 2006–2019

Negro League Researchers and Authors Group and 2006 Hall of Fame elections, Seamheads.com Negro Leagues Database launch in 2011, Agate Type Blog, Baseball Reference adds HoF Negro Leagues data and Seamheads pre-league data, Hall of Fame restores periodic NLB elections

  • Lester, Heaphy, Knorr, Dixon, Gary Ashwill, Scott Simkus, Kevin Johnson, Sean Forman, Bob Kendrick.

The Promised Land? 2020–????

Pandemic submerges most NNL centennial celebrations, but MLB belatedly fully recognizes Major Negro Leagues. New MLB record book to come. Baseball Reference debuts new Negro Leagues architecture and content.

  • Ashwill, Lester, John Thorn, Todd Peterson, Ben Lindbergh, Bryant Gumbel, SABR Negro Leagues Task Force.

Timeline of Important Black Baseball and Negro League Histories and Reference Works

Significant new editions noted separately. Otherwise, republication dates and earlier publication dates noted after the slash

Cover of Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues by John Holway, 1975
  • Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide, 1907, a/k/a History of Colored Baseball. The granddaddy of ‘em all, a unique history of Black Baseball in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Republished in 1984 and 1990; expanded editions published in 1995 and 2014, q.v.
  • Henderson’s Negro in Sports, 1939. A masterpiece of scholarship written when research was extremely difficult. A fundamental study of Black athletes. Revised in a 2nd ed. in 1949; 3rd ed. with new preface and introduction published in 2014.
  • Henderson’s The Black Athlete: Emergence and Arrival, 1968. Henderson’s belated follow-up to his 1939 masterpiece.
  • Peterson’s Only the Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams, 1970
  • Holway’s Voices from the Great Black Baseball Leagues, 1975. Popular and eye-opening; the first major set of Black Baseball oral histories. Revised edition published 1992; republished with new foreword in 2010.
  • Chalk’s Pioneers of Black Sport, 1975. According to the book’s introduction, it is “A Study in Courage and Perseverance.” Chalk’s diligently researched work fits that billing nicely.
  • Chalk’s Black College Sport, 1976. Includes a very comprehensive chapter on “Black Stars on White College Baseball Teams.”
  • Manley’s & Hardwick’s Negro Baseball Before Integration, 1976. Effa Manley’s autobiography; a trenchant look at both the success and the dysfunction of the Negro Leagues from the inside. Republished in revised and expanded edition in 2006.
  • Rogosin’s Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues, 1983. Excellent popular history of the Negro Leagues—still in-print four decades later and still holds up today.
  • Riley’s All-Time All-Stars of Black Baseball, 1983. Forerunner of the now popular genre of “all-time, all-star” selections by a leading Black Baseball historian.
  • Bruce’s Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball, 1985/1987. The first book-length history of one of the trailblazing Black Baseball teams.
  • Wilson’s play Fences, 1985 (first performance)/1986 (published). A brilliant autopsy of the discrimination’s destructive demons and the flipside of fame via the portrait of an embittered former Negro Leaguer. Indelibly etched into the American consciousness by James Earl Jones, who originated the role of Troy Maxon on Broadway in 1987. Made into a major Hollywood movie in 2016 with director Denzel Washington starring alongside Viola Davis.
  • Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, 1st ed., 1986. The wellspring of ballpark history and data from which flowed the information cited by almost every other source since its publication. Lowry perspicaciously treated Negro League parks as major-league from the beginning. Revised & updated 2nd ed. published in 1992; slightly revised 3rd ed. published in 1993. Substantial updates in 4th and 5th editions in 2006 and 2020.
  • Riley’s Dandy, Day, and the Devil. 1987. Short biographies of Ray Dandridge, Leon Day, and Willie Wells that helped all three great players get elected to the Hall of Fame.
Cover of A Hard Road To Glory: A History Of The African American Athlete A Hard Road To Glory: A History Of The African American Athlete by Arthur Ashe, 1988
  • Ashe’s Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1988/1993 (three volumes). Popular and influential, this inclusive set put Black sports history on the map for many Americans who knew nothing about it.
  • Holway’s Blackball Stars: Negro League Pioneers, 1988. The second of Holway’s popular oral histories.
  • Holway’s Black Diamonds, 1989. The third set of oral histories compiled by Holway.
  • Tygiel’s “Black Ball” article in Thorn’s & Palmer’s Total Baseball, 1st thru 7th ed., 1989–2001.  Substantive article by renowned scholar Tygiel in the new king of baseball reference works. Revised and updated Total Baseball 2nd ed., 1991, added Lowry’s “Ballparks” section that included Negro League ballparks.
  • Seymour & Seymour’s Baseball: The People’s Game, Part V of which dealt with the history of Black amateur, college, and military baseball. 1990. The graphical illustration in the front matter of “The House of Baseball Before World War II” is priceless.
  • “Negro League Register” in Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, 8th–10th ed., 1990–1996. A selected register of great Black ballplayers of import mostly because it was published in the beloved reference work universally known as “Big Mac.” Macmillan’s8th ed. was the official MLB encyclopedia; updated 9th and 10th editions were no longer official.
  • Holway’s Josh & Satch, 1991. Early biography of the Negro Leagues demi-gods.
  • Dixon’s & Hannigan’s Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History, 1867–1955, 1992. The first thoughtfully curated Negro Leagues photo collection worth of being paired with the word history.
  • Tygiel’s “Black Ball”, Gershman’s “100 Greatest Players”, Lowry’s “Ballparks”, and Clark’s & Lester’s “Negro Baseball Roster” in Thorn’s & Palmer’s Total Baseball, 3rd ed., 1993. A collection of articles by weighty authors that positioned Black Baseball more fully in the encyclopedia’s picture. Revised and updated 4th ed., 1995, as official MLB encyclopedia. Revised & updated official 5th edition, 1997, dropped the Negro Baseball Roster. 
  • Ashe’s Hard Road to Glory/Baseball: The African-American Athlete in Baseball, 1993. Synthesis of baseball-related content from the original three-volume set.
Cover of Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James A. Riley, 1994
  • Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, 1994. Slightly updated edition published in 2001. This massive, 928-page magnum opus provided the base of knowledge about most Negro League players for two decades. Its research has been widely quoted and copied—too often without attribution—but never equaled. Along with Peterson’s Only the Ball Was White, Holway’s oral histories, and SABR’s Negro Leagues Book, one of the irreplaceable, foundational works of modern Black Baseball scholarship.
  • SABR’s Negro Leagues Book, 1994, Clark & Lester, editors. A landmark work referenced by many who followed. Along with Peterson’s Only the Ball Was White, Holway’s oral histories, and Riley’s Biographical Encyclopedia, one of the irreplaceable, foundational works of modern Black Baseball scholarship. Revised and updated version published as ebook in 2020 by Lester and Wayne Stivers, though it does not contain all the original content. 
  • Lanctot’s Fair Dealing and Clean Playing: The Hilldale Club and the Development of Black Professional Baseball, 1910–1932. 1994/2003. The title says it all about this trailblazing work. Along with Lanctot’s sequel and Lomax’s two master works, one of the four indispensable books on the historical development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues. 
  • Malloy’s edition of Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball, 1995/1907. Republication of Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guidewith introduction by Malloy and with ”Other Documents on the Early Black Game.” Nuf ‘ced.
  • Leonard’s and Riley’s Buck Leonard: The Black Lou Gehrig, 1995. Autobiography of one of the most famous and probably the best-liked of the titans of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Ribowsky’s Josh Gibson: The Power and the Darkness. 1996/2004. Popular biography of the almost mythical figure.
  • Irvin’s and Riley’s Nice Guys Finish First: The Autobiography of Monte Irvin. The story of the Negro League superstar and MLB Hall of Famer who could have been selected as the player to re-integrate the White major leagues.
Cover of Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game by Larry Lester, 2001
  • White’s Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903–1953. History of baseball in the first half of twentieth century that includes insightful chapter on the Negro Leagues.
  • Holway’s & Carroll’s “400 Greatest” article in Thorn’s & Palmer’s Total Baseball, 6th ed., 1999. An important piece that gave due credit by ranking many Black Baseball and Negro League players alongside their White counterparts.
  • Total Baseball’s Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia, 2000. A key step in the mainstreaming of previously ignored Black ballplayers, many of whom were included in this compendium of short baseball biographies.
  • Holway’s Complete Book of Baseball’s Negro Leagues, 2001. One of the few encyclopedia-caliber works on the history of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues by a top-flight expert on the subject.
  • Lester’s Black Baseball’s National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Game, 2001. The category-killer book covering the history of the signal sporting event on the calendar of African Americans from its inception in 1933 to its fading after re-integration. Revised and expanded edition published in 2020.
  • New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, 2001. Updated version of James’ influential Historical Baseball Abstract, this time with serious treatment of Negro League stars.
  • Heaphy’s The Negro Leagues, 1869–1960, 2003. Widely cited history of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Lomax’s Black Baseball Entrepreneurs: Operating by Any Means Necessary, 1860–1901, 2003. Seminal history of the challenges and triumphs of early Black Baseball. Predecessor to Lomax’s twentieth-century work on the same subject. Along with its sequel and Lanctot’s two master works, one of the four indispensable books on the historical development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Lanctot’s Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution, 2004. Extension and expansion of Lanctot’s groundbreaking work on the business of Black Baseball in the early twentieth century. Along with its predecessor and Lomax’s two master works, one of the four indispensable books on the historical development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
Cover of Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution by Neil Lanctot, 2004
  • Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, 2004. The two baseball analysts and authors with very large followings included many Negro League pitchers in their popular compendium of pitchers and pitching.
  • “Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues” section in Palmer’s & Gillette’s ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 2005. Included Riley’s Top 100 Player rankings and other features. Updated 3rd thru 5th editions published 2006–2008.
  • Hall of Fame’s Shades of Glory: The Negro Leagues and the Story of African-American Baseball, Lawrence Hogan et al., ed., 2006. The book resulting from the NLRAG research project that set the table for the Hall of Fame’s special 2006 Negro League election.
  • Lowry’s Green Cathedrals, 4th ed., 2006. Significantly updated edition of the classic work. Revised & updated 5th ed. published in 2020—though copyright date is 2019.
  • Hauser’s Negro Leagues Chronology: Events in Organized Black Baseball, 1920–1948, 2006. First detailed, comprehensive timeline for the Negro Leagues.
  • Chiarello’s and Morelli’s Heroes of the Negro Leagues, 2007. Handsomely illustrated book of portraits of great Black ballplayers that included a DVD of the original 1980 documentary Only the Ball Was White.
  • Heaphy’s Black Ball journal, 2008–present. The only academic journal systematically covering Black Baseball.
  • Nelson’s We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, 2008. Gorgeously illustrated and printed history by the premier contemporary artist of Black Baseball.
  • Swanton’s & Mah’s Black Baseball Players in Canada: A Biographical Dictionary, 1881–1960, 2009. Much-needed reference source on the exploits of Black ballplayers north of the border.
  • Biddle’s & Dubin’s Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America, 2010. Biography of unsung civil rights leader and Black Baseball pioneer.
  • Alpert’s Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, 2011. Detailed and perceptive coverage of this critical and controversial aspect of the business of Black Baseball.
  • Ruck’s Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game. Offers insights into the symbiotic relationship between Black Baseball in the US and the Latin American game.
  • Luke’s The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues, 2011. Biography of Hall of Famer Effa Manley, co-owner of the Newark Eagles and campaigner for civil rights and gender equality.
  • Burgos’s Cuban Star: How One Negro League Owner Changed the Face of Baseball. 2011. Biography of Hall of Famer Alex Pompez, stalwart Cuban-American owner of the Cuban Stars and New York Cubans teams.
  • Spivey’s “If You Were Only White: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige, 2012. The best and most complete of the many biographies of the larger-than-life pitcher and immortal Black Baseball star.
  • Newman’s & Rosen’s Black Baseball, Black Business: Race Enterprise and the Fate of the Segregated Dollar, 2014. Superb and perceptive treatment of the relationship between Black Baseball and the African-American community, especially the Black business economy.
  • Lomax’s Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902–1931, 2014. Follow-up to Lomax’s nineteenth-century book on the same subject. Along with its predecessor and Lanctot’s two master works, one of the four indispensable books on the historical development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Simkus’s Outsider Baseball: The Weird World of Baseball on the Fringe, 1876–1950, 2014. Several essays in this thought-provoking book deal with Black Baseball, particularly the endlessly repeated stories of legendary feats that cry out for more scrutiny.
  • Ashwill’s edition of Sol White’s Official Baseball Guide (a/k/a History of Colored Baseball), 2014/1907. Republication of the classic history with introduction and notes by Ashwill.
  • Plott’s Negro Southern League, 2015. The definitive history of the Negro Southern League, the most important minor Negro League and a major Negro League in 1932.
Cover of Black Baseball, 1858-1900 Black Baseball, 1858-1900 by James E. Brunson III, 2019
  • Brunson’s Black Baseball, 1858-1900, 2019 (3 volumes). Magnificent three-volume history of Black Baseball in the nineteenth century. 
  • Dixon’s Dizzy and Daffy Dean Barnstorming Tour, 2019. Not merely a colorful account of one of the most famous teams of the barnstorming era, Dixon’s book is a sociological critique of the interwar game.
  • Sayama’s & Staples’ Gentle Black Giants, 2019/1986. History focusing on the overlooked impact of Negro Leaguers in Japan. First published in Japanese in 1986.
  • Beer’s Oscar Charleston, 2019. The full biography of a player who has not received the attention he deserves, considering that many argue he is the greatest baseball player of all-time.
  • Overmyer’s Cum Posey of the Homestead Grays, 2020. Biography of the Grays’ owner, Hall of Famer, and one of the towering figures in Negro League history.
  • Peterson’s The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues, 2020. Collection of essays that drives home its point and was a key factor in the push to see the Negro Leagues officially recognized.

Dramatis Personae

  • Alpert, Rebecca. University professor and author of Jews and Black Baseball.
  • Ashe, Arthur. World-famous tennis champion and civil rights crusader whose involvement made the three-volume history of African Americans in sports possible.
  • Ashwill, Gary. The foremost generator of new Black Baseball and Negro Leagues history in the past decade and founder of the Seamheads’ Negro Leagues database. Peerless researcher into Black Baseball history and author of the fascinating Agate Type blog.
  • Beer, Jeremy. Oscar Charleston biographer.
  • Biddle, Daniel. Journalist and co-author of an Octavius Catto biography.
  • Bolden, Ed. Visionary postal clerk who took Hilldale from a boys’ club to one of the most powerful Negro League teams of the 1920s. Founder of the Eastern Colored League and its successor, the American Negro League.
  • Bruce, Janet. Author of first history of Kansas City Monarchs.
  • Brunson, James. Historian and author of the definitive history of Black Baseball at all levels in the nineteenth century.
  • Burgos, Adrian. History professor and author of Alex Pompez biography.
  • Carroll, Bob. Noted baseball and pro football writer; co-author of the “Top 400” piece in Total Baseball.
  • Catto, Octavius. Late nineteenth-century civil rights champion and captain of the pioneering African-American Pythian Base Ball Club of Philadelphia. Catto publicly forced the issue of racism by the National Association of Base Ball Players.
  • Chalk, Ocania. Iconoclastic journalist and federal bureaucrat; author of two landmark works, Black College Sport and Pioneers of Black Sport
  • Chiarello, Mark. Book and film watercolorist; illustrator for Heroes of the Negro Leagues.
  • Clark, Dick. Influential early Negro Leagues scholar and co-author of SABR’s Negro Leagues Book. Chair and co-chair of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee from 1985 until his death in 2014.
  • Dixon, Phil. Top-rank historian and prolific author and speaker on Negro League history. Co-founder of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
  • Dubin, Murray. Journalist and co-author of an Octavius Catto biography.
  • Forman, Sean. Founder and publisher of Baseball Reference. Added Hall of Fame Negro League data (from NLRAG) to his dominant Sports-Reference.com Website in 2012.
  • Foster, Rube. One of the greatest pitchers of the pre-league era as well as dominant Black Baseball entrepreneur and executive before 1920. Founder and owner of the Chicago American Giants and prime mover in the formation of the Negro National League. NNL president until his incapacitation by illness.
  • Gillette, Gary. Creator and co-editor of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. Founder and chair of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium. Former co-chair of SABR’s Ballparks and Business of Baseball Committees.
  • Goode, Mal. Distinguished Black journalist and barrier-breaking broadcaster. Began his career with the Pittsburgh Courier in 1948. Member of the original class of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame.
  • Gumbel, Bryant. Emmy Award–winning television journalist and broadcaster and longtime host of HBO’s Real Sports. Bryant’s October 2020 Real Sports segment on recognizing the Negro Leagues put additional pressure on MLB to do the right thing.
Cover of The Negro in Sports The Negro in Sports by Edwin Bancroft Henderson, 1939
  • Hannigan, Pat. Co-author of important early photographic history of the Negro Leagues.
  • Harris, Charles “Teenie”. Pittsburgh Courier photojournalist for almost five decades whose portraiture of hundreds of African-American celebrities and ballplayers was impeccable. National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame member.
  • Hauser, Christopher. Author of helpful Negro Leagues chronology.
  • Heaphy, Leslie. University professor and Negro Leagues historian. Author of Negro Leagues history and editor of the journal  Black Ball since its founding.
  • Henderson, Edwin Bancroft “E.B.” Educator, coach, player, and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Author of pre-World War II history, The Negro in Sports.
  • Hogan, Lawrence. History professor and lead author/editor of Shades of Glory.
  • Holway, John. Author of many early books and influential articles on the Negro Leagues. Holway’s 1970s and 1980s oral histories were especially important. Original chair of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee in early 1970s.
  • Irvin, Monte. Superstar Negro Leaguer and Hall of Fame major-leaguer who worked for decades in the Commissioner’s office after retiring as a player.
  • James, Bill. Pioneering baseball analyst and best-selling author. James’s inclusion of Black ballplayers in his revised Historical Abstract and Guide to Pitchers exposed many of his legion of fans to the greatness of Black Baseball.
  • Johnson, Kevin. Longtime SABR Ballparks Committee co-chair, prominent ballparks expert, co-editor of Green Cathedrals, 5th ed., and database guru for Seamheads.
  • Kendrick, Bob. Executive director of Negro Leagues Baseball Museum since 2011; stabilized NLBM’s finances and administration during the difficult period following Buck O’Neil’s death.
  • Kleinknecht, Merl. Chair of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee, 1973–1979.
  • Knorr, Ted. Founder of SABR’s visionary annual Jerry Malloy Negro Leagues Conference. Host to the first Malloy Conference in Harrisburg as well as three subsequent Malloy Conferences.
  • Krock, Jeremy. Founder and director of the Negro League Baseball Grave Marker Project of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee.
  • Lacy, Sam. Legendary Black sportswriter for the Baltimore Afro-American and other papers. First African American to become a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) and second winner of the BBWAA’s and Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
  • Lester, Larry . Co-founder of NLBM. Author of many works on Black Baseball, especially the SABR Negro Leagues Book and the history of the East-West Classic. Currently chair and previous co-chair since mid-1980s of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee.
  • Lanctot, Neil. History professor and author of two of the four most important histories on the development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Leonard, Buck. Hall of Fame slugger of the Homestead Grays whose long life after baseball made him probably the most recognized face of the Negro Leagues before Buck O’Neil’s ascendance.
  • Lindbergh, Ben. Award-winning journalist whose August 2020 article on TheRinger.com initiated Major League Baseball’s reconsideration and ultimate reversal of its long history of discrimination against the Negro Leagues.
Cover of Black Baseball Entrepreneurs: Operating by Any Means Necessary, 1860–1901 Black Baseball Entrepreneurs: Operating by Any Means Necessary, 1860–1901 by Michael E. Lomax, 2003
  • Lomax, Michael. University professor and author of two of the four most important histories of the development of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues.
  • Lowry, Philip J. Editor/author of the watershed Green Cathedrals work on ballparks, published by SABR in 1986 and updated four times since. Chair of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee in mid-1980s.
  • Luke, Bob. Negro League historian and author of Effa Manley biography.
  • Manley, Effa. The most prominent female executive in Negro Leagues history as well as one of the most outspoken and most incisive.
  • Mah, Jay-Dell. Canadian journalist and Webmaster of AtthePlate.com, repository of the history of baseball in Western Canada that includes excellent coverage of African-American players in the North. Co-author of biographical dictionary of Black ballplayers in Canada.
  • Malloy, Jerry. An early author and researcher of Black Baseball history, Malloy wrote many important articles and was universally recognized for his unfailing willingness to help other scholars.
  • MLB Special Records Committee. Convened prior to publication of the first Macmillan baseball encyclopedia to adjudicate fundamental issues in White baseball history, including which leagues constituted official cap-M, cap-L “Major Leagues.” Ignorantly failed to even consider the Negro Leagues or any aspect of Black Baseball history.
  • Morelli, Jack. Writer and artist; author of Heroes of the Negro Leagues.
  • Motley, Don. Co-founder of NLBM and its first executive director. Revered amateur baseball coach in Kansas City.
  • Negro Leagues Committee. One of SABR’s founding research committees, the NLC and its cadre of activist chairs and members did more to advance the history of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues than any other organization, especially in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Still a force half a century after its founding: the depth, scope, and recognition of the Negro Leagues Committee’s work is truly astounding.
  • Nelson, Kadir. Author of We Are the Ship and internationally renowned African American artist.
  • Newman, Roberta. University professor and co-author of Black Baseball, Black Business.
  • Neyer, Rob. Protégé of Bill James and very popular baseball writer in his own right, especially as an early adopter in writing for the Web. Co-author of the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers.
  • O’Neil, Buck. Co-founder and patron saint of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Famous player and manager of Kansas City Monarchs, 1938–1955. Media darling and the personification of Negro League Baseball after his appearances in Ken Burns 1994 Baseball series.
  • Overmyer, James. Black Baseball historian and author of a biography of Cum Posey.
  • Palmer, Pete. The creator of the gold-standard database underpinning the historical record of traditional Major League Baseball. Palmer was co-editor of both the watershed encyclopedia Total Baseball and of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia.
  • Peterson, Robert. Journalist who wrote the groundbreaking and best-selling book about the history of Black Baseball and the Negro Leagues—the first since Sol White’s in 1907.
Cover of The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues by Todd Peterson, 2020
  • Peterson, Todd. Negro League historian and editor of The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues, the best collection of evidence and arguments for the equality of the Negro Leagues ever published.
  • Plott, Arthur. Negro Leagues historian and foremost chronicler of the often overlooked Negro Southern League.
  • Povich, Shirley. Influential sportswriter, editor, and columnist for 75 years for the Washington Post; one of the rare White journalists who wrote about Black Baseball.
  • Ribowsky, Mark. Author of a Josh Gibson biography.
  • Riley, James. Groundbreaking Black Baseball scholar and author of many books; his magnum opus was the Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
  • Rogosin, Donn. Public radio/TV executive and author of Invisible Men. Writer& co-producer on the important early Negro League documentary There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace.
  • Rosen, Joel. University professor and co-author of Black Baseball, Black Business.
  • Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). Founded in 1971 with its mission as its name, SABR has filled in thousands of gaps in baseball history while correcting tens of thousands of errors in the historical record. It’s not a stretch to say that the past 50 years of baseball history are the SABR Era.
  • SABR Negro Leagues Task Force. Organized in 2020 by SABR president Mark Armour, this task force evaluated the historical record and decided to treat the major Negro Leagues as fully equal to the American and National Leagues. Its decision was independent of MLB’s acknowledgment of its historical discrimination against Black Baseball and, in meaningful ways, more significant since SABR publishes hundreds of times more historical research than MLB. 
  • Sayama, Kazuo. Japanese baseball historian; author of the original Japanese edition of Gentle Black Giants and co-author of the new English edition.
  • Seymour, Harold. Historian and co-author of the monumental three-volume history of baseball published by Oxford University Press from 1960 to 1990.
  • Seymour Mills, Dorothy. Historian and originally uncredited co-author with Harold Seymour of the Oxford University Press three-volume history of baseball.
  • Simkus, Scott. Author of Outsider’s Baseball and contributor to Seamheads.
  • Smith, Wendell. Famous African American sportswriter and columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier and other papers. First Black writer to win the BBWAA’s and National Baseball Hall of Fame’s J.G. Taylor Spink Award.
  • Spivey, Donald. History professor and author of a Satchel Paige biography.
  • Staples, Bill Jr. Chair of SABR’s Asian Baseball Committee and co-author of the English-language edition of Gentle Black Giants.
  • Stivers, Wayne. Negro Leagues researcher and co-author on 2020 revised and updated edition of 1994 Negro Leagues Book.
  • Swanton, Barry. Canadian baseball historian and coach. Co-author of biographical dictionary of Black ballplayers in Canada.
  • Thorn, John. Editor and publisher of dozens of baseball books, including the influential Total Baseball encyclopedia. Official MLB Historian who supported equality for the Negro Leagues.
  • Tygiel, Jules. Professor of history and author whose 1983 book Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy became an instant classic and the touchstone on that topic.
  • White, G. Edward. Law and history professor and author of Creating the National Pastime.
  • White, King Solomon “Sol.” Titan of nineteenth century Black Baseball as player and entrepreneur. Author of 1907 history of Black Baseball. Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 as a pioneer/executive.
  • Williams, Ted. The superstar slugger and Hall of Famer who made pointedly advocated for the inclusion of Negro Leaguers in his 1966 induction speech in Cooperstown.
  • Wilson, August. A giant of the American theater whose Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences won four Tony Awards in its 1987 Broadway premiere. Fences was the third of Wilson’s celebrated American Century Cycle (a/k/a Pittsburgh Cycle) to be written and performed. 

About the Author

Gary Gillette is the founder and current chair of the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, a nonprofit that is working to restore the former Negro League ballpark near his home in Detroit. Gillette also served for a decade on the Tiger Stadium Conservancy’s board of directors. He has four decades of baseball research, writing, and editing experience, beginning with his work with Bill James and Project Scoresheet in the mid-1980s. A contributor to six editions of Total Baseball, Gillette later designed and co-edited with Pete Palmer the five editions of the ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. Gillette also designed the ESPN Pro Football Encyclopedia and served as executive editor for both editions of that reference work. A former member of the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) board of directors, Gillette is a past co-chair of two of SABR’s major research committees—the Business of Baseball Committee and the Ballparks Committee. He was the founder and president of SABR’s Detroit Chapter and is now the chair of SABR’s new Southern Michigan Chapter.