The Homestead Grays started in 1910 as a weekend recreational team for black steel mill workers in Homestead, PA, near Pittsburgh. Hall of Famer Cum Posey joined the team as a player in 1912, and quickly became business and field manager. The Grays began playing twilight games as well, and by 1916 had become one of the best semi-pro outfits in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia area. Courted by the Eastern Colored League, Posey kept his team independent until 1929, when it joined the ill-fated American Negro League. The Grays returned to independent play in 1930, fielding a team generally considered the eastern champion in 1930 and 1931, then joined the second Negro National League when it was formed in 1933.
The Grays were eclipsed as the best team, not only in the east but in their home town of Pittsburgh, in the early 1930s by Gus Greenlee's Pittsburgh Crawfords, and Posey was forced to bring in numbers king Rufus "Sonnyman" Jackson as a silent partner. Posey gave up the everyday field management of the team in 1935, elevating Vic Harris to the post.
The Grays were one of the best-known and most successful Negro League teams, winning the NNL pennant nine times in 12 seasons (1937, 1938; 1940 to 1945; and 1948) and winning three Colored World Series in 1943, 1944, and 1948. When the NNL merged into the NAL following the 1948 season, the Grays resumed independent play again, disbanding after the 1950 season.
Players, managers, and executives associated with the Homestead Grays:
- Frederick C. Bush and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Bittersweet Goodbye: the Black Barons, the Grays, and the 1948 Negro League World Series, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2017. ISBN 978-1-943816-55-2
- Dick Clark and Larry Lester, eds.: The Negro Leagues Book, Society for American Baseball Research, 1994.
- Charlie Fouché: "The 1931 Homestead Grays: The Greatest Baseball Team of All Time", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Steel City Stories, The National Pastime, SABR, 2018, pp. 42-44.
- John B. Holway: The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues, Hastings House, 2001.
- David E. Hubler and Joshua H. Drazen: The Nats and the Grays: How Baseball in the Nation's Capital Survived WWII and Changed the Game Forever, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4422-4574-7
- James Riley: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, Carroll & Graf, 1994
- Brad Snyder: Beyond the Shadow of the Senators, McGraw-Hill, 2004.
- Mark Whitaker: Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2018. ISBN 9781501122392