Tom Wilson (owner)
Thomas T. Wilson (Smilin' Tom)
The Nashville-based owner of a filling station, bus line, park and real estate, Tom Wilson founded the Nashville Elite Giants in 1918 (originally the Standard Giants), who eventually became a Negro League powerhouse. Wilson was identified as one of the wealthiest black men in America. In 1920 he organized the Negro Southern League and he later became president of the Negro National League, a role he held from 1938 to 1946 when the office was dissolved. During the '30s, he was one of the leaders in the California Winter League; he developed the greatest winter league teams ever during that span, as they were loaded with Hall-of-Famers. Wilson Park in Nashville was named in his honor. Health problems forced him to step down from running the Elite Giants (now the Baltimore Elite Giants, but he was talked into taking the presidency of the Negro Southern League. He died shortly thereafter, of heart failure.