Norman O. Houston: Lost and Found

Norman O. Houston, pictured at far right, with his teammates from the Shasta Giants baseball team
1912 Oakland Giants — In uniform– Top Row: Left to right: bench sitting: (1) Chet Bost, (2) Maisona, (3) H.Smith, (4)unknown, (5) Nelson Watson; Manager, (6)Durgan, (7) Richardson, (8) White, (9) Norman O. Houston — Bottom: Left to right: ground sitting: (10) Herb Clarke, (11) Hilary “Bullet” Meaddows (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

This photograph was located deep in the archives of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance collection. It was an odd place to find a flawless image of the 1912 Oakland Giants. Access to such images, that are over 100 years old, of African American baseball teams, are very rare — and they are usually in very poor condition. Upon closer inspection, Norman O. Houston can been seen sitting to the far right in the top row.

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Norman O. Houston

This Dead Ball era photo is one of a few that shows the Oakland Giants in their home uniforms, taken at the State League Park, which was once located at Grove Street and Fifty-Seventh Street, behind Idora Park. Today, it is where Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute sits, behind Dover Park, in the Bushrod neighborhood of North Oakland.

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San Francisco Call – February 27, 1909

Idora Park Oakland 1910
Idora Park – Oakland Public Library, 1910

The Freeeman-Hilary Meaddows 5-25-1912
The Freeeman – May, 25, 1912

From his humble beginnings, Houston was destined for greatness. Houston was born in San Jose, California to Oliver and Lillian Houston, and lived part of his childhood in the Lower Bottoms of West Oakland. The larger part of his youth was spent in the Brooklyn Township of Alameda county, which is now considered Oakland. His father, Oliver, was a Pullman Porter, and also worked as a waiter at the Hotel Vendome. The story goes, in Houston’s own words, that he was the “godson” of the Sparkling wine baron and “Champagne King of California”, Paul Masson, based on Masson’s relationship with Houston’s father.

Brooklyn Alameda County
Map of Oakland and Brooklyn – 1885

Hotel Vedome San Jose
Hotel Vendome – San Jose

After graduating from Oakland Technical High School, Huston went on to study Business Administration U.C. Berkeley. While attending U.C. Berkeley, Houston became one of the key outfielders for a string of African American baseball teams that left a Bay Area legacy, which led up to the founding of the West Coast Baseball Association. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Oakland Giants were not the first African American baseball team to step foot on the diamonds of the East Bay, West Bay, and Central Valley;  but historically, they were the most recognizable local African American team, and most widely accepted, that paved the way for other African American teams to follow.

Under the management of Nelson Watson, who gathered the best players in the East Bay, the Oakland Giants became a formidable team, that traveled throughout Northern California, with games scheduled through Spalding.

Dutch Ruether-Mill Valley Record, Volume 14, Number 37, 4 October 1912
Mill Valley Record – October 4, 1912

Dutch Ruether-Marin Journal, Volume 50, Number 41, 10 October 1912
Marin Journal – October 10, 1912

At the age of 19, playing for the Oakland Giants, Huston faced Walter “Dutch” Ruether in the batter’s box. “Dutch” was one month older than Houston, and born in Alameda, California, but spent his life in the West Bay. Ruether went on to play ten years of professional baseball, in both the National and American leagues. It was not uncommon, at that time, for an African American baseball team to play the foil to their opponents; the team to beat above all other teams, during the early part of the 20th Century. These type of race based contest created the largest gates, and were advertised accordingly. More often than not, winning or losing a game decided one’s fate, when it came to the return trip home — as well as an extended invitation to return to play another day.

As the Oakland Giants morphed into the Lynne-Stanley Giants, under the leadership of Chet Bost, winning became a way of staying in the public eye. Huston played outfield for Bost and Lynne Stanley from 1913 to 1914. The year 1915 remains a mystery, and the disappearance of the Lynne-Stanley Giants for one year ushered in their 1916 return as the Oak Leaf Club of Oakland, where Houston was once again seen playing the outfield with a large majority of the former Oakland Giants team.

1916_0213_oakland_giants

Oakland Tribune-Oak Leafs-2-13-1916-pg.30
Oakland Tribune – February 13, 1916

At the age of 24, Houston was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I, where he became a “Regimental Personnel Adjutant”.

Norman Oliver Houston United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918-ii
Norman Oliver Houston – World War I Draft Registration Card

Portrait of Norman O. Houston in his World War I uniform
Portrait of Lt. Norman O. Houston in his World War I uniform

After the war had ended, Huston gave baseball one more shot, returning to play with so many others he had played with before, with the addition of a few new team members, like Carlisle Perry and Jimmy Claxton. At the age of 27, this would be the last baseball team that Houston would play with.

Shasta Giants 1919-20
Shasta Limiteds – Left to Right Top Row: (1) Owner Tod Graham, (2) Jimmy Claxton, (3) Norman O. Houston, (4) Goldie Davis, (5) Carlisle Perry, (6) Gene Cooper, (7) Chet Bost, and the (8) Trainer Green. Left to Right Bottom Row: (8) Fisher, (9) Eddie Jackson, (10) Hilary “Bullet” Meaddows, (11) Billy Woods, (12) Brown, and (13) Vaughns.

Unlike most African American baseball players whose history fades into anonymity, this single photograph of the 1912 Oakland Giants gives us a larger picture of Norman O. Houston’s life, which may have never had been connected before now. Leaving baseball to younger men, Houston pursued on the journey of creating the largest African American owned and operated insurance brokerage in the western United States, along with his partners, William Nickerson Jr. and George A. Beavers Jr. His experience as a clerk for the Board of Fire Underwriters before serving during World War I, led him to leave the Bay Area and head to the boom town called “1920’s Los Angeles“.

By 1920, 15,579 African Americans lived in Los Angeles. Twenty years later the City of Angeles had a Black population of 63,774, more than Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle combined.“[1]

Black Los Angeles” was a gold mine of opportunity for the young Houston.

The Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, once the largest black-owned insurance company in the western United States, represented more to policy holders than a mere insurance company. They provided African Americans with life insurance, retirement plans, savings bonds, annuities and mortgages when white-owned banks would not lend to them. In part, they are responsible for the expansion of African American growth in the West, based on their ability to both lend and insure African American owned businesses and properties.

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company – UCLA Library – 1925

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California Eagle – 1925

From its earliest beginnings, the founders of Golden State Mutual and their executives, documented the Company’s history and African Americans in California making history, using every form of known media, — including photography, recorded sound, moving images and films, and an array of artwork. At one time, Golden State Mutual maintained one of most extensive and comprehensive African American artwork collections in the United States, which was eventually sold off in 2007, just prior to the Great Recession of 2008, and near the close of its final days in 2009, — after an eighty-four year run, focusing on the African American community.

Executives from the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company and Reverend Ralph Abernathy-1964
Norman O. Houston with Rev. Ralph Abernathy (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

MLK and Houston-ii
Norman O. Houston with Martin Luther King Jr. (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom Bradley, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Norman O. Houston-1969
Norman O. Houston with Tom Bradley and Jesse Jackson (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Congressman Andrew Young and Norman O HoustonCongressman Andrew Young and Norman O. Houston (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Jesse Owens visits the Home Office of the Golden State Mutual
Jesse Owens visits the Home Office of the Golden State Mutual – June 18 1935 (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Norman O. Houston and Joe Louis-1945
Norman O. Houston and Joe Louis – 1945 (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Lena Horne visits the Home Office of the Golden State Mutual Life
Lena Horne visits the Home Office of the Golden State Mutual – 1953 (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Portrait of Norman O. Houston-ii

The amount of people connected to Norman O. Houston is so vast that all of them cannot be covered here. The same can said for his partners, William Nickerson Jr. and George A. Beavers Jr.

Norman O. Houston Park
Norman O. Houston Park Dedication – (UCLA, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

We owe a debt of gratitude to those men who founded that company in the 1920s,” said Fergerson, who grew up in Watts. Golden State Mutual “was not only an insurance company. It was a social, political and historic institution that brought jobs and proper insurance to the black community.” [2]

Norman O. Huston Park-2

Neatly nestled on the edge of Baldwin Hills, is the Norman O. Houston Park, near Ladera Heights. The majority of people who gather there daily probably have no idea who Norman O. Huston was, or that he had a deep, endearing love of baseball; or that he was a native of Oakland, California. Houston rarely talked about his life and times in the world of baseball, or who he played with or against. Quiet, reserved and honorable, Norman O. Houston’s legacy of baseball lived on in every youth baseball team that the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company sponsored throughout its existence.


Personal Portrait of Norman O. Houston – KABC Radio 79 – April 30 1966

1) “On June 1, 1900, the first census of the 20th Century counted 2,131 Black Angelenos”, California African American Museum Staff writer, June 1, 2019

2) Lifsher, Marc:California regulators seize struggling insurer Golden State Mutual Life“, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland’s A-26 Boilermakers: World War II, Politics, Unions and Industrial Baseball in the Bay Area

Boilermakers A26 baseball team; [E.F. Joseph collection, Careth Reid; Sports]A-26 Boilermakers, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

The story of the men and women that built the Liberty ships and Victory ships is seldom delved into, and it covers a lot of turf of West Coast history. History that requires a rather large area of usable land located near water, where smoke billowing factories were in close proximity to one another, pumping out steel and iron around the clock, leaving the residue of soot and the smell of industry in the air. This is one of history’s “Known unknowns“, based on scattered information and limited access to materials to flesh it out in its entirety, because “loose lips” never built ships. There were many former Negro League players that did not serve in the military during World War II, but not because they were not fit for duty. Some of them were part of the war effort that supplied the machinery for the war, which in some cases — they worked in the war materials industry long before the United States entered World War II.

Their faces are familiar among this group of men.

There are also many different sides to the stories that surround American society during World War II, that one might be compelled to explore the deeper meaning of an simple image, such as a picture — if you will, — and its origin and simplicity. Like this picture of the A-26 Boilermakers; taken twenty-one years before Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech was given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, calling for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. The original March on Washington Movement began in 1941, headed by A. Philip Randolph.


Why_Should_We_March_March_on_Washington_flier_1941
“Why Should We March”, March on Washington flier, 1941 – Library of Congress


Some images are are misinterpreted; some of them are yet to be explored; most them will never be revealed. The industrial baseball side of baseball is often left open ended, and many questions are left unanswered. In a rare find, photographs such as this one, share a much larger picture of American society, the role of the military industrial complex, and how African American baseball functioned before and during the war, both before and after America entered the war as a participant of the Free World vs. the Axis Power conflict — that was raging in Europe and the South Pacific, after that fateful day in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The majority of men pictured here were involved in the ship building industry years before America’s involvement World War II. They worked at different ship building facilities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The “Ten Prohibited Subjects” were a way of life for everyone during World War II, so limited information about the A-26 Boilermakers and their movements in and around the San Francisco Bay Area is something that is acceptable and expected, under the circumstances that they lived through.

From Permanente/Kaiser Yard #1, Permanente/Kaiser Yard #2, Permanente/Kaiser Yard #3, Permanente/Kaiser Yard #4, Moore Dry Dock, Mare Island,and Marinship Corporation, they went where their skill sets were needed. Yet, the social dynamics of how the A-36 Boilermakers baseball team came into being reaches as far back as 1936, when the barnstorming St. Louis Blues were touring the Bay Area, and a few of them decidedly remained on the West Coast. Exploring an array of job opportunities that they couldn’t find  anywhere else in the United States at that time, based on the limitations of race and social status, some of these men forged a new team. From the break up of the St. Louis Blues, the California Blues evolved, created by Byron Speed Reilly, founder of the Berkeley Colored League, which became the Berkeley International League.


BG-Negro Ball Stars Plan Summer Play-5-27-1937
Berkeley Daily Gazette -May, 27, 1937

This story begins at Moore Dry Dock, founded in 1905 as Moore and Scott Iron Works in San Francisco. Shortly after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, Moore and Scott Iron Works migrated its ship building operation to Oakland, California in 1907, and stationed itself near the inlet channel of the Oakland Estuary. It was strategically placed where the Central Pacific Railroad’s Oakland Long Wharf was once located, with access to railroads, and the Key System cars that connected the entire East Bay by trolley, and access to San Francisco by Key System ferry.


1885 map of Oakland and the CPRR's Long Wharf
1885 map of Oakland and the CPRR’s Long Wharf


Key System Mole in 1933
Key System Mole in 1933



In 1917, Moore bought out Scott and renamed the business Moore Dry Dock in 1922. This centralized location was the beginning of a waterfront parcel of wetlands that would one day become known as Oakland Naval Supply Depot, also called, “The City Within The City“. Set on three-hundred and ninety acres of Oakland waterfront, terminating at the end of Adeline Street, where San Francisco Bay meets West Oakland, “The City Within The City” was at that time, the largest military installation in the entire world, which had its own police force, fire department, banks, stores, and baseball teams.


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Moore-Scott shipyard in foreground
Moore Dry Dock  Company – 1940

Today, “The City Within The City”, is known as Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, an off-the-beaten-path spot where families enjoy picnics, look at the Bay, or enjoy an outdoor concert. Less than four mile from “The City Within The City” was Oakland’s Japantown. Oakland had one of the largest Japanese populations in the United States, along with Los Angeles, San Jose, Sacramento, Berkeley and San Francisco. The Japanese community on the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown, has existed in this waterfront location since the 1880’s, which was mixed with African Americans, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Greeks, and Portuguese, that made up this Downtown Oakland neighbor, just North of Jack London Square.

When this Dorothea Lange photograph is seen for the first time, of Tatsuro Masuda’s ‘commissioned sign’ stating “I AM AN AMERICAN”, unfurled and hung the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Imperial Japan, and placed in front of his storefront “The Wanto Co.”, — the reality of such a bold statement gives one a true sense between the dichotomy of being of Japanese American descent at the beginning of World War II, and how quickly the environment that you live in can change overnight. Between Oakland and Berkeley alone, more than 3,100 Japanese Americans were incarcerated, and close to 200 businesses were closed overnight. The Wanto Co, was located on 8th and Franklin streets in heart of Downtown Oakland, as were many Japanese businesses that were in close proximity of “The City Within The City“.

Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading "I am an American" placed in the window of a store

The Wartime Civil Control Administration Control Station, located at 530 Eighteenth Street, was one of 97 Wartime Civil Control Administration Control Stations in California. The Control Center located at 1117 Oak Street is now the Alameda County Law Library, and the one located at 530 Eighteenth Street is the Oakland School For the Arts. The expulsion of Japanese Americans that lived on the coastline of California, especially those that lived near military installations, was a rapid, expedient removal process, with little or no time to sell one’s property.

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Berkeley Daily Gazette - Mar 3, 1942-iii
Berkeley Daily Gazette - Mar 3, 1942-iv

Wartime Control Administration Station - Oakland - LocalWiki

A restructuring of racial and pseudo-racial groups took place in the Bay Area, as well as a very large influx of Dust Bowl migrants making their way to the shipyards of the West Coast in search of a new way of life and gainful, steady employment. Neighborhoods that had once contained an accepted racial mixture of people soon became overtly segregated; not only by race, but also by socioeconomic class. The war effort brought more than just employment for everyone involved. It also brought along with it, a new social structure which uprooted long standing communities along the coast of California. One group of Americans entering the West for the first time were called “Dust Bowl Refugees“, while another group of Americans exiting the coast after living there for decades were called “Enemy Aliens“. Those that were not considered belonging in either group were placed in a precarious situation, figuring out how they would fit into this newly created wartime social structure.

The African American communities of the San Francisco Bay Area were caught in the middle between the incarceration of Japanese American families that they had lived in peace with for decades — and these recent arrivals; America’s newcomers to the West. They were trekking to a place that was settled long before their arrival, bringing with them a ‘Manifest Destiny’ attitude in tow. These new arrivals, who when presented with any opportunity to displace native Californians, would have replaced California born African Americans in a heartbeat, based on their antiquated Great Plains ideals and Southern values that they brought with them. To these Great Plains transplants, racial superiority meant everything, and was based solely on one’s skin color as an “all-or-nothing” proposition. During this period in history, their middle America experience with West Coast African Americans was based on the ‘outdated standard’ of living that had once prevailed in the United States.

A large number of Japanese owned stores, markets and businesses that served the African American community during the 1940’s segregated period in the West, were shuttered, never to reopen. This also created problems for Oakland and Berkeley’s local residents, who relied on these Japanese owned businesses for their shopping needs, in the West Coast segregated society that is rarely spoken of.

 

Berkeley to West Oakland Japanese Businesses Pre-WWII
Emeryville to West Oakland Japanese American Owned Businesses – 1940

Berkeley Japanese Businesses Pre-WWII
Berkeley to Emeryville Japanese American Owned Businesses – 1940

The tension created by this forced wartime migration of racially opposed groups, relocating to a centralized area that was known for its racial neutrality for the most part — began to show a marked change in daily life. These never before seen confrontations weren’t simply caused by an increase of a racially dichotomous population. Social gains that had been made by the African American communities in the Bay Area since the 1800’s began to rapidly dissolve, based solely on incoming xenophobic attitudes nurtured by newcomers unfamiliar with the ways of urban environment in America. In truth, the Civil Rights movement began before America’s involvement in World War II with the original March on Washington Movement, which prompted President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802, testing this new anti-discrimination policy to its limits during World War II.

The main factor for a steady uptick and acceleration of racism, was primarily driven by the economic migration patterns of African Americans from the North and South, and similar migration patterns of the “Okies” and “Arkies” from the plains states to the West Coast. From the the very beginning of World War II, vast financial opportunities presented themselves for those who needed and wanted to work in the war industrial complex, which offered every man and woman three shift around the clock, which immediately began after December 7, 1941. This quick, and poorly planned hastening of manpower to fuel the war industry was a phenomenal undertaking, which made no room for the analysis of required housing needs of these wartime migrants, or social inclusion for those that showed up to support the war effort. Racism increased exponentially with this rapid migration of millions, and bigotry and prejudice was also a byproduct of a need for mass production to occur, as a rapid response to rebuild the destroyed American naval power.


San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 15, Number 176, 26 September 1942
San Pedro News Pilot — September 26, 1942

The war had also caused massive labor shortages in other industries, while this new, incoming multi-ethnic labor force threatened the long standing tradition of “white-only” shipyard metal trades workers — and “white-only” metal trades union membership.

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The Corps of Engineers – Troops and Equipment, Volume 6, page 541

San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 15, Number 97, 26 June 1942
San Pedro News Pilot,  June 26, 1942

San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 16, Number 214, 10 November 1943
San Pedro News Pilot, November 10, 1943

Between 1940 t0 1944, the African American population on the West Coast increased by 113%!

In the locations of Portland-Vancouver and the San Francisco Bay Area, the African American population increased by 437% and 227%, respectively, thereby shrinking the already limited and segregated areas that African Americans had lived in for decades on the West Coast. Vanport, Oregon and Richmond, California were once military industrial boom towns during World War II, where Kaiser ship yards dominated the war time employment needs of the nation, and grew in population faster than housing accommodations for this new working class could be provided. Trailers and rode side shanties were not an uncommon sight to see along the roadways and empty lots in California wartime boom towns.

The War Manpower Commission was set up in 1942 to ensure a steady flow of able-bodied workers to meet the needs of the Dept. of War, the War Production Board, and the Labor Production Division of the War Production Board. At the same time, maintaining enough available draftees for the war in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, and workers for agriculture labor, and clerical workers for the United States Civil Service Commission was also a wartime imperative. The often seen images and photographs of World War II, gives one the impression that there was overall unified solidarity among the races, that played on the average American’s psyche, fostering a particularly strong sense of stoicism and reverence when it came to race relations within the work place. The undercurrent of those race relations were somewhat different.


Landscape
Oakland Tribune Paul Robeson singing the “Star Spangled Banner”, Moore Dry Dock, September 21, 1942. (Oakland Tribune Collection – Gift of ANG Newspapers)


Jazz singer Lena Horne christened liberty ship at Kaiser Shipyard
Jazz singer Lena Horne, christened liberty ship, SS George Washington, at Kaiser Shipyard, May 7, 1943 (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

The Fair Employment Practice Committee, created in 1941 to execute Executive Order 8802, banned discriminatory employment practices by Federal agencies, and employers who contracted out work for the Federal government, and this included all unions and companies connected and engaged in wartime-related works. The executive order also established the Fair Employment Practices Commission to enforce this new policy.”. The Federal Government ability to end racial discrimination in the workplace was an uphill battle. The overall effect sometimes led to violence, as it did in Mobile,Alabama at the
Alabama Drydock and Shipbuilding Company, when 4,000 angry white employees attacked every African American connected with the shipyard they could find, after 12 African Americans were promoted to equal positions as their white counterparts.

When the A-26 Boilermakers’ donned their uniforms
for the first time in the summer of 1942, and scheduled games against their opponents, there was little doubt that the objective was more than baseball.

Kaiser Stands Firm 1942

Telegrams related to labor issue involving black workers in PortWestern Union Telegram, from John. P. Frey to Henry Kaiser concerning demotions of African American shipyard worker- October 22, 1942


San Bernardino Sun, Volume 49, 22 October 1942
San Bernardino Sun – October 22, 1942


Mill Valley Record, Volume XLVI, Number 98, 15 December 1942-i
Mill Valley Record, Volume XLVI, Number 98, 15 December 1942-iii
Mill Valley Record, Volume XLVI, Number 98, 15 December 1942-ii
Mill Valley Record – December 15, 1942


Organized Labor, Volume 44, Number 34, 21 August 1943
Organized Labor – August 21, 943.


San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 16, Number 229, 27 November 1943
San Pedro News Pilot – November 27, 1943


Negro Boiiermaker Strike November 20, 1943-iii-Marin Shipyards
Negro Boilermaker Strike – Auxiliary Union Leaders meet before strike, November 20, 1943 –Marinship Corporation – Marin Shipyards. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

Negro Boiiermaker Strike November 20, 1943-ii-Marin Shipyards
Negro Boilermaker Strike – Auxiliary Union Leader speaks to striking workers, November 20, 1943 –Marinship Corporation – Marin Shipyards. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

Negro Boiiermaker Strike November 20, 1943 -Marin Shipyards
Negro Boilermaker Strike, November 20, 1943 –Marinship Corporation – Marin Shipyards. (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

Mill Valley Record, Volume XLV, Number 59, 2 December 1943
Mill Valley Record – December 2, 1943

Sausalito News, Volume 58, Number 48, 2 December 1943
Sausalito News – December 2, 1943


Mill Valley Record, Volume XLVI, Number 8, 24 February 1944
Mill Valley Record – February 24, 1944


Sausalito News, Volume 60, Number 5, 1 February 1945
Sausalito News – February 1, 1945

The West Coast was never immune to racial discrimination when it came to public life or the workplace, and this is true especially where employment was concerned. 

The A-26 Boilermakers’ uniforms were a form of World War II “social media“, that kept the unrepresented African American shipyard workers in the public eye, using the sports page as a means to send political message. This ‘fashion as a form of protest’ strategy, or ‘dressing for dissent’, is a technique of political resistance or political activism, used in campaigns that address matters of much needed social reform. The A-26 Boilermakers’ uniforms made a undeniable statement of existence, —  as the sport of baseball is a reflection of American culture in real time. What they chose to wear, what they named their team, what they called themselves, was a measured response to their daily lives that included “separate but equal”, — which was separate and very far from equal.  

With their ever-present opponents at the “The City Within The City”, the Moore Dry Dock team, where white Boilermakers’ union counterparts lived and worked on a daily basis an acknowledgement of the A-26 Boilermakers’ existence was important. The A-26 Boilermakers’ were in some part responsible for initiation of the California Supreme Court case, James v. Marinship, in 1944. This landmark decision was an early test case for the ‘yet to become’ Supreme Court Judge Thurgood Marshall‘s skill set as a Civil Rights attorney for the N.A.A.C.P., which gave teeth to Brown v. The Board of Education.

The court battle between Marinship supported by the Local 6 versus Joseph James and the A-41 “auxiliary” union would last a year.

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America were uncooperative when it came to the needs of the War Manpower Commission, and refused to comply with with Executive Order 8802, continuing the practice of segregation in the workplace under the auspices that these unions, and their locals, were “closed shop” white-only unions  Even though “white-only” unions operated outside of compliance with the needs of the nation to end World War II quickly, segregation persevered and ignored Executive Order 8802 in its entirety. African Americans involved in the war effort’s ship building projects were required to make their own “auxiliary” unions and union locals — designated by an “A“. This action was only feasible with the permission of their ‘parent’ locals, where white union members and leaders made all the decisions for the disenfranchised African Americans shipyard workers.

A-26 were Moore Dry Dock workers in Oakland, A-36 were Kaiser Shipyards workers in Richmond, and A-33 and A-41 were Shipfitters in the Marinship Corporation in Sausalito. These “auxiliary” unions were controlled by their ‘parent’ locals, Local 9, Local 39, and Local 681 in Oakland, and Local 513 in Richmond. Nearly 20% of the workforce at Moore Dry Dock during World War II were African Americans, but they were also largely unrepresented in matters of labor and management. This particular baseball team, the A-26 Boilermakers, represented all African American wartime industry workers on the West Coast, and across the nation as well, in their struggle for union representation and equality under the law — as men and women who were classified as “union members” for all intents and purposes, but denied union representation and union benefits.

Before Rosa Parks refused to get up and relinquish her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger, and move to the back of the bus, before John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their black leather gloved clad fist at the 1968 Olympics and gave the Black Power salute, and long before Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe took a knee against police brutality — the A-26 Boilermakers,as a team‘, chose their moniker carefully, knowing full well that any articles written about them, ‘as a team‘, would draw attention to the plight of the African Americans who worked in the defense industry during World War II, and keep it before the public. Jim Crow was the follow up to Executive Order 8802. Today, it would be difficult to even imagine a person working in a union job, and doing so — required to pay full union dues, while having no voting power or representation, nowhere to air or arbitrate their grievances, required to accept reduced insurance coverage, — and were segregated from the main body of union members; but during World War II, segregation was not just limited to public spaces like diners, stores, theaters and buses.


OT-Great Negro Stars To Play-822-1942-i
OT-Great Negro Stars To Play-822-1942-ii
Oakland Tribune -August 22, 1942


The A-26 Boilermakers were comprised of the following members:

  1) Theodore “Teddy” Gabe – Catcher
  2) Claude Brown – First Base
  3) Eddie Burke – Second Base
  4) Les Saunders – Short Stop
  5) Willie “Tat” Mays – Pitcher/Third Base
  6) Al Plowers – Center Field
  7) Rowland “Monk” Ewing – Second Base/Infield
  8) Homer Holloway – Pitcher/Catcher/Outfield
  9) Roy Edmonson – Right Field
10) Earl (“Minneweather”) Meneweather – Left Field
11) TimothyMike” “Showboat” Berry – Pitcher
12) “Wee Willie” Jones – Pitcher


Ernest (“Ernie”) R. Raimondi and Albert (“Al”) Raimondi were headliners for the Moore Dry Dock team line up. Both brothers had spent significant time in the Pacific Coast League, and were considered some of the best the league had to offer. These baseball series between the he Moore Dry Dock team and the A-26 Boilermakers were representative of how integrated baseball had developed over the last three decades in the San Francisco Bay Area, prior to World War II. These events would take place at Bayview Park or the Pacific Coast League’s Oaks Park in Emeryville. 


OT-Great Negro Stars To Play-822-1942-iii
Oakland Tribune -August 22, 1942


Home field for the A-26 Boilermakers was Bayview Park, opened to the public in 1910 in West Oakland, which eventually became Raimondi Park in 1947, in honor of Ernie Raimondi.

Herrick Iron Works can be seen in the background. They were a major supply source for steel for making Victory and Liberty ships in the Bay Area.

Boilermakers A26 baseball team; [E.F. Joseph collection, Careth Reid; Sports]
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Pitcher, Timothy “Mike” “Showboat” Berry, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

In his early years, Timothy “Mike” “Showboat” Berry, also known as “Cannonball” Berry, played for the Van Dyke Colored House of David. Eventually moving to the West, Berry was a individual who stayed mobile, even as a youth who was born in Kansas City.  He played for the St. Louis Stars, Atlanta Black Crackers, California Eagles, Cincinnati Crescents, San Francisco Sea Lions, California Tigers,
Kansas City Monarchs.

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TimothyMike” “Showboat” Berry – WWII Draft Registration

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California Eagles
California EaglesTimothyMike” “Showboat” Berry -1940


Honolulu Star-Bulletin-05 Oct 1946,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin – Oct 5, 1946


Cincinnati Crescents 1946-ii
Cincinnati Crescents 1946 (touring team)


Cincinnati Crescents 1946-iii
Cincinnati Crescents – TimothyMike” “Show Boat” Berry – 1946


Boilermakers A26 baseball team; [E.F. Joseph collection, Careth Reid; Sports]
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Pitcher/Third Base, Willie “Tat” Mays, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)


Willie “Tat” Mays
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Pitcher/Third Base, Willie “Tat” Mays , “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)


The life of Willie “Tat” Mays is better explained in Gary Ashwill’s post, “
Willie Mays, 1946 San Francisco Sea Lions“, at his blog Agate Type.



Boilermakers A26 baseball team; [E.F. Joseph collection, Careth Reid; Sports]
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Catcher, Theodore “Teddy” Gabe, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

Theodore “Teddy” Gabe led a very interesting life. It began in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he grew up in a single parent home with his mother, Beulah, as a descendant of the Creek Freedmen of the Muscogee Creek, until he was removed by the state and sent to live in the Industrial Institute for the Deaf  Blind and Orphans of the Colored Race, in Taft, Oklahoma. Gabe was actually from Oklahoma, but could never be considered an “Okie” under the rules of race and social class during World War II. His skin color dictated his social status.

Ted Edward Gabe-Oklahoma, School Records, 1895-1936 Muskogee
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Gabe was an educated man, who spent time at both the University of Washington and U.C. Berkeley, but in 1940, Gabe spent some time as a resident at San Quentin as prisoner #64693. After his release, he went to work at the Kaiser shipyards.

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Theodore “Teddy” Edward Gabe – WWII Draft Registration

After the war ended, Gabe went on to play with the Oakland Larks and San Diego Tigers. He finished his degree at U.C Berkeley and went on to become a photographer apprentice with National Geographic.


Wee Willie Jones
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Pitcher, “Wee Willie” Jones, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

It has been said that “Wee Willie” Jones once played for the Zulu Cannibal Giants and the Van Dyke House of David, but the details are sketchy at best. Wee Willie Jones also went by the moniker “Sad Sam” Jones. Jones last stop was with the Oakland Larks, which ended his baseball career on an up note.

WCBA Official Score Card-Larks vs. Sea Lions
West Coast Baseball Association program“Wee Willie” Jones -1946



Homer Hollaway
A-26 Boilermakers‘ Pitcher/Catcher/Outfield, Homer Holloway, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)


Homer Holloway was once played ball for the St. Louis Blues. A transplant from Jackson, Mississippi, Holloway barnstormed in his early years with the Blues, and probably decided to stay in the West for reasons pertaining to steady employment. He played for the California Eagles, during their heyday as the Oakland Tribune Tournament Champions of 1940, where he was team mates with Mike “Show Boat” Berry and Claude Brown.

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St. Louis BluesHomer Holloway -1936



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Oakland Tribune – August 27, 1940


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Homer Holloway – WWII Draft Registration


Earl (“Minneweather”) Meneweather– Left Fielder for the A-26 Boilermakers, was a professional football player, spent two years playing halfback for the San Francisco Packers of the Pacific Coast Professional Football League who was a graduate of  Humbolt State University. He was also a football and basketball star.

Earl (“Minneweather”) Meneweather was many things throughout his entire life.


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A-26 Boilermakers’ Left Field, Earl (“Minneweather”) Meneweather, “Bayview” (Raimondi) Park. June, 18, 1942. (Office of War Information photographer Photo by E.F.Joseph)

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Earl (“Minneweather”) Meneweather – Humbolt State University HOF


San Bernardino Sun, Volume 48, 2 September 1942
San Bernardino Sun – September 2, 1942


The A-26 Boilermakers were the forerunners in the passive resistance protest movements that would sweep America after Word War II, which became commonplace in the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s. They let their skills at the shipyards and on the baseball field speak to what equality was supposed to represent when “All Men Are Created Equal” was the standard America was founded on.

“Heroes don’t always wear capes, …”
  
Sometimes they wear baseball uniforms.




 










Those Eastside Girls: African American Women’s Baseball

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1928-Young Women of Twelfth Street “Colored Branch” of the YWCA

Early Women’s baseball has ostensibly been earmarked with the ‘beginning of league play between women’ with the founding of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. But before there was “A League Of Their Own“, there was another unheard of league that played at White Sox Field in South Central Los Angeles, whenever the opportunity was presented to them. The league itself had no name, yet the teams were grounded in very competitive league play, and that league flourished between 1926  to 1928, right before the Great Depression would take a toll on the entire American population.

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Twelfth Street “Colored Branch” of the YWCA

As reported weekly by Gladys Mathonican, for the California Eagle column called “Girletics“, the Y.W.C.A.’s Southern California Girl Reserves teams from all over Los Angeles gathered to play head-to-head, with much fan fair.

CE-Girletics-12-24-1926-i-H. Levette
California Eagle -December 24, 1926

Gladys was a young sports editor and the upcoming sidekick of Harry Levette, lead sports editor and entertainment reporter for the California Eagle. Levette was Southern California’s version of Northern California’s Byron “Speed” Reilly. When it came to sports and entertainment reporting, Levette, who was a very well known Associated Negro Press icon, had his hands full with covering professional and semi-professional sporting events and national entertainment highlights visiting in town, and those national items that came off the wire for the Associated Negro Press.

Gladys, who was young, intelligent and well spoken, took up the slack for Levette. She was also a well known singer in the Los Angeles area, and also a Girl Reserves athlete as well. The YWCA group that was created for reaching every race, creed, and color shortly after the end of World War I, was used to enhance societal spirituality and foster good health and moral upbringing of young American women.

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The Girl Reserves motto was as follows:

As A Girl Reserve: I will try to be…

Gracious In All Manner,
Impartial In All Judgment,
Ready For All Service,
Loyal To All Friends

Reaching Toward The Best,
Earnest In Purpose,
Seeing The Beautiful,
Eager For Knowledge,
Reverent For God,
Victorious Over Self,
Ever Dependable,
Sincere At All Times.

The study of African American women in baseball is limited in some aspects only to those women who participated in the Negro Leagues; like Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, Toni Stone, and Connie Morgan. But who proceeded them as role models? Were there roles models for them outside of men playing the sport of baseball? The facts show that women played organized baseball, in league type play, long before World War II and Philip K. Wrigley creation of the AAGPBL.

In 1913, at Eastlake Park, in the Booker T. Washington community, two teams of African American women picked up the bat and balled and played a baseball game against one another to raise money for the, African Methodist Episcopal Mission, which would eventually become the Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city of Phoenix, Arizona.  Tanner Chapel is located directly across the street from Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Arizona Republican-Nov. 27-1913
The Arizona Republican-November,  27, 1913

The Eastside Girls neighborhood was nestled neatly between Central Avenue and Long Beach Blvd., and was the mecca of Black Los Angeles, in close proximity to the city of Vernon, which was formerly called the “Furlong Tract”. It was where black culture thrived in early Los Angeles. Central Avenue of course was the heartbeat for African American community and culture in Southern California, where black people from all over the United States migrated to, seeking opportunity and change, bringing with them a piece of their Southern roots.

The Dunbar Hotel and Lincoln Theater, would be centrally located in this burgeoning neighborhood as well as White Sox Park, which was expansive, and was Los Angeles’s predecessor in multicultural arts, entertainment, sports and cuisine, based totally on a segregated past that held people of color within a single location in Los Angeles county, during the era of Jim Crow.

CE-Dunbar Hotel Ad-4-24-1929
California Eagle -April 24, 1929

CE-Lincoln Theater-9-30-1927
California Eagle -September 30, 1927

Central Ave.-Ascot and 38th-Long Beach Ave.-ii
The Heart of Central Avenue of South Central Los Angeles – Exposition Park to the West, City of Vernon to the East.

Ross Snyder Park-1928-ii
White Sox Park next to Snyder-Ross Park – 38th and Compton

The structure of the Girl Reserves baseball teams were initiated as intramural contests between young middle school aged girls through young women approaching college age within their own YWCA branch. Each contest was supposed last for a short period of time in order to receive the completion requirements, as one of the items listed on Honors System roll. The women of Los Angeles took the Girl Reserves baseball to a different level of competitive sports within the ranks of the YWCA organization.

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Under the Honors List, section 1, subsection (C), number 45, listed of the “Outdoor Activities”, a Girl Reserves was to “Know the different positions on a baseball diamond and how to keep score.“. And (46), “Play on an organized team for four weeks.“. Daily exercises options included in, “EXERCISES FOR GIRL RESERVES AND OTHER TEENAGE GIRLS”, were batting and stretching movements to be performed twice daily, morning and night,  for ten minutes.

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The Girl Reserve Movement A Manual For Advisers – 1918

The Los Angeles area Girl Reserves movement was not indoor baseball. The home field for the Eastside Girls was Ross-Synder Park, which was located right next to White Sox Park, home of the California Winter League, which at that time existed in the same block of 38th Street and Compton Avenue. A lot of these young women more than likely witnessed the Philadelphia Royal Giants three years in a row, and were inspired by their awesome skills on the diamond.

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California Eagle -May 6, 1927

As for the integration of baseball aspects of the Girl Reserve league, they challenged and accepted all comers, very much like many games that took place at White Sox Park. The league was prominent enough to draw the attention of fight promoter Carlo Curtis, who owned and operated Main Street Athletic Club, and also promoted such fighters as Fidel LaBarba and Rocky Marciano.

Carlo Curis Main Street Gym
Carlo Curtis with Fidel LaBarba and Rocky Marciano at the Main Street Athletic Club

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CE-Eastside Girl Baseball Team Practing Hard 4-8-1927

California Eagle – April 8. 1927

Their notoriety was mentioned in newspapers as far away as Pennsylvania.

Pittsburg Courier***12th Street-PC-Eastside and other teams-1927

Pittsburgh PA Courier – Jan. 27, 1927

In the years that preceded the Great Depression, the Girl Reserves of Los Angeles county were a big draw in every community, but very little is known about their exploits so far as statistics go. Eastside Girls, Westside Girls, Carlos Curtis’s Girls, the Dodecagenians, the Golden Poppy Girls, the Pasadena Girls, the 12th Street Girls, the Japanese Girls, and Jessie Rayford’s Red Sox made up this league play, that held series that were often played in White Sox Park, in front of sell out crowds.

***CE-Rayfords Red Sox Play Eastside Girls Return Match At White Sox Park Aug 18 | 8-10-1928

California Eagle – August 10, 1928

Genevieve Hawkins (Eastside Girls), Otis “Babe” Wiggins (Eastside Girls), Jessie Rayford (Westside Girls), Quincella Nickerson (Dodecagenians), Jessie Mae Nickerson (Dodecagenians), were a few of the well noted players in the league, and were outstanding athletes in their own right, although most were known for other accomplishments or societal gossip. Otis “Babe” Wiggins was a prominent Southern California tennis star years before Althea Gibson would take African American women to international tennis fame, and Jessie Rayford was a world class track star of Olympic caliber before Wilma Rudolph. Most of these women played basketball as well, but baseball was what they were noted for excelling at.

The Nickerson sisters, Quincella and Jessie Mae, were the daughters of  William Nickerson Jr., founder an President of Golden State Mutual Insurance Company; the” largest black-owned insurance company in the West”.

Quincella is better known for her short lived, supposed ‘tryst’ with Jesse Owens. The story itself made no sense, other than the fact than Jesse was a national track star, staying in the dorms with some members of Sigma Chi frat house at U.S.C., which was about two miles from the heart of Central Avenue. Quincella introduced Jesse to the unfamiliar territory of Los Angeles, as one of Central Avenue’s famous and elite daughters. She was his escort when he was being introduced to Hollywood’s rich and famous, and their arranged companionship was more than likely at the request of her father.

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Jesse Owens and Quincella Nickerson – Los Angeles, July 2, 1935

When we talk about segregation and baseball, the tendency is to exclude the African American woman from this scenario, thereby excluding her importance as an athlete of historical representation, never quite certain of where her entry point into the world of sports began. The African American female was not merely a spectator of baseball, and other sports as well in those early years; she was also a vital participant that helped grow the sport to what it is today.  Those Eastside Girls remind us of how things that followed them, evolved into some of the greatest baseball ever played.

 

 

 

 

 

So Different Baseball Team- Pierce Giants of Oakland

Pierce Giants-Three Players-ii
1923 Pierce Giants of Oakland
: At Pierce Field, in Richmond California
(Left to Right): Charles Reid, Richards, Harold “Yellowhorse” Morris

Gerald Early is often quoted, stating that: “There are only three things that America will be remembered for 2000 years from now when they study this civilization: The Constitution, Jazz music, and Baseball. These are the 3 most beautiful things this culture’s ever created.” Early jazz and baseball once had a symbiotic relationship; a musical relationship that no longer exist in today’s modern era.

And what we know about Steve Pierces Pierce Giants of Oakland is both unique and minimal. We know that they staked a claim on being the Colored Champions of Northern California. We know that the twenty-one year old Harold “Yellowhorse” Morris got his start there, under the tutelage of manager Chet Bost and owner Steve Pierce. We know that “Yellowhorse” Morris went on to be a starting pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1924, and held the same job for the Detroit Stars in 1925.

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1923 Pierce Giants of Oakland: Harold “Yellowhorse” Morris

We also know that Steve Pierce bought the Detroit Stars from Tenny Blount, after a successful run as the owner of the Pierce Giants of Oakland. These ‘known knowns‘ create the foundation for the unique and minimal tales of the Pierce Giants of Oakland legacy.

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1923 Pierce Giants of Oakland
: Chet Bost and Steve Pierce (owner)

When we take a look at jazz as an purist art form, we realize that it takes the most significant cultural elements of our society and communicates them in musical terms. Jazz is a rift on musical notes that are known, yet easily improvised on, once the style and rhythm is set in motion. Baseball and jazz are two very important and significant cultural elements that are specifically American in their design, and jazz is rooted in baseball, based on the word “jazz” all by itself. This is not a story about Benny Henderson and his famed “jazz ball” pitch, even though the concept of a pitch being motivated by sound is something in need of much more historical exploration.

From the beginning of the Dead Ball Era of 1901 to 1919, to the Live Ball Era of 1920 to 1941, jazz music and the word, “jazz” played a significant role in this beautifully structured game known as baseball. Yet, the paradox that jazz music supplied to baseball, was an integral part of the that crafted the ‘seeing’, ‘feeling’, and ‘hearing’ of a game that took place among spectators and players of that sport, both on and off the field. Rousing conversations about improvised moments on the field of play connected the average fan to the rising and falling of rhythms, beats and tempos, which included base on balls, a hot double plays, or swinging away and connecting the bat to ball for a home run driven out of the park.

No one can be exactly sure when the word “jazz” and baseball became synonymous with one another, even though some have theorized that it all began in 1912, with a pitcher named Benny Henderson, who threw a pitch called a “jazz ball“. If the truth be told, the word jazz was used for multiple sporting events during the Dead Ball era, from soccer to football, boxing, and of course — baseball as well.

Gunboat Smith vs. Sam Langford

San Francisco Call,  September 22, 1913

Dr. Leonard K. Hirshberg, of John Hopkins University once published an article in 1917 called,Rest And Quiet The Sure Cure Of What Is Called Jazz Disease“, and attributed his findings by correlating a poem by Vachel Lindsay called, “The Congo: The Study Of The Negro Race”, that read like a Rudyard Kipling poem written by  Dr. John H. Van Evrie. He defined jazz as sort of a delirium or ecstasy of excitement, that was the result of too much action and not enough rest. Jazz in Hirshberg’s eyes — was a malady that was only curable through substantial rest, a plain diet, plenty of sleep, and living a better way of life.

He also laid the sole blame of said jazz disease on “the Negroes“, who had all sorts of ‘traditions’, ‘superstitions’, and ‘fireside folk stories’ about King Jazz and the Jazz Band. Hirchberg, who often took liberties with the truth whenever there was sawbuck involved, was seemingly an expert on so many subjects — that he was eventually found guilty of being the brains behind a $1,000,000 mail fraud scheme, and spent four years in an Atlanta prison.

By 1917, the word ‘jazz‘ was in full rotation, and the world of music as it was known then was completely redefined, moving away from the syncopation of  Ragtime towards Gut Bucket Blues.

Benny Henderson photo
The Sunday Oregonian., September 17, 1911

In truth, for all the ‘jazz’ that Henderson had on his wobbly curve ball, Benny was his own worse enemy. He was an binge-drinking alcoholic. He was often involved in drunk driving accidents on more than one occasion. He even ran his car into The Cabin, a road house saloon located at the corner Fell  and Stanyan streets, just outside Golden Gate Park in the Panhandle, in one of his drunken stupors while driving through San Francisco.  Another time, he ran his car into a street car at the corner of Kearny St. and Market, escaping injury himself, but his passengers were not so lucky. For all intents and purposes, Henderson should have never been behind the wheel.

Henderson in reality was a great pitcher and at the same time a contract jumper, who preferred playing in Cy Moering‘s outlawed California State League; but he was also a raging alcoholic, who probably never should have played for Portland’s PCL team. Not because he wasn’t good enough. Because he was good enough. Henderson had once vowed that as long as Moering had a league to play in, that he would continue to play for Moering no matter what the consequence were. The city of Portland, at the time of Henderson’s tenure with the Beavers, was a den on iniquity between the years 1908 and 1914. There was no way Henderson could have remained on the “water wagon”, as he had promised McCredie he would, because vice was one of Portland’s main selling points and one of its biggest draws as a city.

Good Twirler-Bad Driver

San Francisco Call,  August 13, 1912

Like clockwork, Benny Henderson went AWOL more than once from the Pacific Coast League.  But he also went AWOL from the California State League. Cy Moering was just more forgiving than J. Cal Ewing or Walter McCredie.  Henderson consistent drinking problem was much more unwavering than his ‘jazz ball’, or his ability to show up for training camp, or abide by his contract for the sake of his team for an entire season that he signed on for. The No Booze slash Water Wagon contract that McCredie had him sign had zero effect on Henderson’s alcoholic reality.

The Kearny Street accident better explains Henderson’s proneness to driving accidents, and how he came to call this wobbling pitch the jazz ball. This specific location is within walking distance of a place once known as “Terrific Street“, where West Coast Jazz was born. It was the left coast’s home to many of the original jazz greats like King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton. But the most significant patriarch of West Coast jazz was none other than Louis “Sid” LeProtti, who was Sid Purcell‘s and Sam King‘s top act at the So Different Cafe, located at 520 Pacific Street in North Beach area near Chinatown. “Sid” LeProtti was the most active jazz pianist on the Barbary Coast in its heyday, between 1907 and 1917. Purcell’s So Different Cafe was a hot spot for night life and over-the-top ‘entertainment’ that rivaled the likes of New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans when it came to high class but sometimes illegal and titillating raucous enjoyment.

Born the illegitimate son of Louis LeProtti, an immigrant dry goods salesman from Italy, and Amelia “Netty” Dangerfield, a seamstress from Oakland, California, “Sid” LeProtti grew up a biracial child abandoned by his birth father, learning the harsh realities of a segregated society early in life. Listening  to music and playing classical piano became his solace. Falling in love with the piano playing styles of “Blind Tom” Wiggins” and “John William “Blind” Boone“, “Sid” LeProtti trained himself in both a variation of classical piano and the music of the day; Ragtime. By the age of twenty-one, LeProtti had earned the top billing spot at Purcell’s So Different Cafe, which was in direct competition with the Red Mill, also known as the Moulin Rouge. You also had Spider Kelly’s Saloon and Dance Hall, The Thalia, Izzy Gomez’s Cafe, Parenti’s Saloon, The Midway, Griffin’s, and The Hippodrome, that had their paws in everything from taxi dancing to the key rackets.

Spider Kelly's
1915Spider Kelly’s Saloon and Dance Hall

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hippodrome

1915- “Terrific Street” – Thalia’s, Spider Kelly’s, The Hippodrome, and The So Different Cafe on Pacific Street.

But it was here, on Terrific Steet— as seen in this 1914 video, in the So Different Cafe, the Texas Tommy dance craze was invented, and spread throughout the country like wildfire. This is the only known footage of the early Crescent Orchestra. The Texas Tommy was such popular dance that theater producers sent dancers West to learn the dance, and some of them like Al Jolson, hired dancers from the Barbary Coast to teach the Texas Tommy to their chorus lines for their stage productions back East.  These Barbary Coast saloons, also known as  “black and tans” clubs, catered to black and white patronage alike, and despite their limited number and size, were often frequented by the famous as well as the infamous of Bay Area society.

So Different Jazz Band-Texas Tommy
1914–Sid Purcell’s So Different Cafe, with “Sid” LeProtti and the ‘Crescent Orchestra’, which would eventually become the So Different Jazz Band.

In 1915, Sid LeProtti reorganized his Crescent Orchestra to become the So Different Jazz Band. From here, along with other details about Sid LeProtti’s time spent at Sid Purcell So Different Cafe in the heart of the Jackson Square, we can see how West Coast jazz was taking shape, ala leaning towards a New Orleans flavor. New Orleans was called Crescent City because the original town-the Vieux Carré, was built at a sharp bend in the Mississippi River. The fact that “Sid” LeProtti named his first band after ‘Crescent City’, also known as  New Orleans, points to what influenced his musical talents, even though they were steeped in West Coast African American culture.

Oakland Sunshine (Oakland, Calif.), Ed. 1 Saturday, March 20, 1915-Pg. 1.jpg
The Oakland Sunshine, March 20, 1915

 

Sid Le Protti's So Different Jazz Band-1915-1918
1915 — The So Different Jazz Band
(Left to Right): Clarence Williams, Benjamin Franklin “Reb” Spikes, Adam “Slocum” Mitchell, Louis “Sid” LeProtti, Gerald D. Wells, Peter Stanley.

At the turn of the 20th century, they referred to early jazz as ‘barbarous noise for a degenerative peoples’, because this was the new sound of African American culture, rising up during the first Great Migration, and it was being spread throughout the United States by way of railroad from Coast to Coast, courtesy of your local Pullman porters including Purcell and King. The Oakland Mole, or course was the terminus, or “end of the line” for all passengers headed West.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe rail yards roundhouse was located in Richmond, California. Pierce Field was owned and operated by Steve Pierce, and the grandstand on the baseball grounds, once stood between Macdonald and Nevin Avenues just west of First Street, — and were located near Atchison Village Park where the St. John’s Apartment complex is located today. The Pierce Giants of Oakland were very well known throughout the entire state of California and barnstormed locally in the Bay Area, Sacramento and Napa regions, and well out of those regions, as far South as Los Angeles.

By 1917, jazz was well rooted in every day American culture, not only as a word, but as a relationship with those who listened to it for its entertainment value and expression of the unspoken trials and tribulations of being human, in a world on the brink of humanistic collapse. The world was at war with itself, and the tavern life offered an escape from the inevitability of a relatively short life span that left the average man dead by the age of 48.

From 1914 to 1917, the war in Europe raged on to what seemed to be no end in sight. “Sid” Leprotti’s So Different Jazz Band eventually left Sid Purcell’s So Different Cafe, but kept the band’s name in spite of their departure from Purcell’s. Preserved records on the life of “Sid” LeProtti’s  indicate that on his World War I Draft Registration, he and his jazz band were working at the Portola Louvre Restaurant, a much classier cafe in downtown San Francisco. Located at Powell and Market, the Portola would bring LeProtti even higher recognition in the world of music and social standing in the West Coast jazz community.

Portola Lourve

1915-Portola Lourve Restaurant

LeProtti was making jazz waves all over California, playing clubs all along the Coast, whenever he could get a paying gig. Baron Long’s Tavern, on 108th and and Central Avenue in Watts, was one of the places that “Sid” Leprotti worked continuously, along side a young dancer named Rudolph Valentino, the “tango pirate“, and his rowdy partner, Marjorie Tain. Long’s Tavern was a Los Angeles area based ‘black and tan’, opened by Long for the purpose of catering specifically to early Hollywoodland’s elite performers, local politicians, and ne’er-do-wells. It was located in a nearby unincorporated area, so alcohol could be served around the clock. This was a era when Long’s Tavern was frequented by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, Lottie Pickford, Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford, Mack Sennett, Harold Lloyd and many others who went looking for a good time and good music.

From 1907 to 1926, Watts was a hotbed of unsavory politics, within this predominately all-white community, that was run on bawdy entertainment, bootleg whiskey, and bad decisions. In 1917, Sid LeProtti created a sensation on the Hollywood nightclub scene, by playing the yet unpublished Jelly Roll Morton song, “The Crave“, which caused a major rift between these two musicians. The public at large preferred the LeProtti version of the song to the Morton improvised version of his own work. The Cadillac Cafe on Fifth and Central Avenue in Watts, the old stomping grounds of Morton, was one the many haunts that LeProtti played to an overwhelming jazz following, that were both black and white, so these two men crossing paths while playing in the Los Angeles proper was not uncommon.

Jelly roll Morton-1917 Cadillac Cafe

1917- Jelly Roll Morton Outside The Cadillac Cafe (Left to Right): “Common Sense” Ross, Albertine Pickens, Jelly Roll Morton, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Eddie Rucker, Mabel Watts.

Aug. 18-1917

California Eagle, August 18, 1917

It was also in Los Angeles that LeProtti found and married his wife, Mayme Golphin. Both “Sid” and Mayme had been previously married, and this was the second go around for the both of them.

One year and one month after “Sid” LeProtti  registered for the draft in 1917, he would be inducted into the U.S. Army in Hawaii. He and his band mates, those who were either drafted or who had enlisted,  were attached to the 25th Infantry Regiment as their resident jazz band. They never spent a single day at Schofield Barracks, but instead their living arrangements were quite exclusive and unique. LeProtti’s rank was “Musician 3rd Class”, five days after arriving from Los Angeles to Hawaii. His permanent living assignment was at the Alexander Young Hotel in Honolulu.

The Roof-Top Garden at the Alexander Young Hotel, one-third of an acre in extent, became one of Honolulu’s most fashionable social venues, in part by the jazz scene that flourished there. During WWI, the Army occupied the entire second floor of the hotel. Even though the Roof-Top Garden venue was great, the war took its toll on the So Different Jazz Band, and most of the musicians ended up going their separate ways after joining the military.

 

young_hotel_roof_garden_1909

After his tour of duty ended in the South Sea island chain, Leprotti returned home, without a band, and without a job. There were gaps left in his return home, and his fellow band mates had left for the East to replace other musicians who had left to fight the war in Europe, never to return to the West Coast. With money he had saved, LeProtti opened up a shoe shine stand on the corner of Grove Street and University Avenue in Berkeley, and worked as a full time boot black while rebuilding the So Different Jazz Band. Working here and there as an ‘ad-hoc’ pianist, whenever he could, allowed a new So Different Jazz Band to develop from scratch.

“Sid” LeProtti gave Curtis Mosby, Russell Masengale, Ashford Hardee, and Evelyn Joiner their first early breaks in 1922 in the West Coast jazz scene, long before they made big names in the jazz world for themselves. Evelyn Joiner was a phenomenally accomplished entertainer and singer, and very little is known about her, except that she traveled and worked in an ‘all male’ jazz band. Curtis Mosby’s Blues Blowers were legendary, and can be seen playing in the films, Josef Von Sternberg’s 1929 “Thunderbolt” and King Vidor’s 1929 African-American movie musical “Hallelujah“, starring Nina Mae McKinney.

Sid LeProtti New Band
Healdsburg Tribune, September 12, 1922

Healdsburg is actually where this jazz  and baseball story begins. The East Bay location of Sid’s Shine Shop was located on Grove Street and University Avenue in Berkeley, and Purcell’s Cafe in the West Bay located on Pacific Street on the Barbary Coast, are both respectively 70 miles from these locations on either side of the bay, heading North on the King’s Highway — once you’ve crossed over the water. At this time in history, Healdsburg has a predominately white population, located in the heart of Sonoma County, consisting of orchard farmers who provided locally grown goods to both sides of the Bay. Even though segregation is a cultural phenomenon, their fear of African American culture was almost non-existent, especially when to came to money, music, and baseball.

B&W-Healdsburg Ball Club 1923-ii

1923 – Healdsburg Prune Packers

Back row (Left to Right): Al Bidwell, Bob Weston, Bob Vellou, L.J. Hall, Quim Seawell Middle row (Left to Right): Harlan Remmel, Frank Meisner, Pep McDonald, Jim Shinn, Pop Artlett, Gus Smith, Ben Begier Front row (Left to Right): Red Corrick, Zad Vare, Chick Autrey, Husk Contade

The Healdsburg Prune Packers baseball team was organized in 1921, and headed up by former PCL Oakland Oaks pitcher, “Pop” Arlett. This was the era when “Babe” Pinelli, Lou Guisto, Carl Holling played for the Napa team, another steadfast Prune Packer rivalry. Like a lot of teams in the area, the Napans were known for hiring ringers when facing the Prune Packers. From 1921 through 1925, the Pierce Giants of Oakland had a standing invitation to play against the Healdsburg Prune Packers. There was always a big gate, and the Pierce Giants fan base from the East Bay often accompanied them to Healdsburg in groups as large as 400 people. The Pierce Giants of Oakland also traveled with a jazz band, and were highly sought after as a one-stop total entertainment value.

The Healdsburg Tribune-July 16, 1924

The Healdsburg Tribune-July 16, 1924

“Realizing that the game on the local baseball lot tomorrow is the toughest game of the season for them, the Pierce Colored Giants are reported from Oakland to be looking high and low for new playing material, of the proper brunette hue, to strengthen the team that is to line up against the Prune Packers.

So far the only definitive line on increased strength, however, is that addition of the So Different Jazz Band of the colored syncopationists that the Giants carry with them. It is the theory of the colored management that the proper sobbing note on the saxaphone[sic] at just the right moment will add strength to the bats of the dusky players, and that a curve ball thrown by a colored pitcher can be corkscrewed into unbelievable twist if it is urged by a raucous blast on a trombone.

These of course of are only theories, based on the old maxim, “Music hath charms” and it is doubtful if “Pop” Arlett and the Prune Packer aggregation will pay much attention to them. Healdsburg has twice defeated the Giants — one in a pitchers’ battle 1 to 0; the other time in a slugging match, 9 to 8, in 12 innings. It is the intention of the locals to make it three in a row, for nothing it to be gained by weakening the week before the Santa Rosa series starts.” — The Healdsburg Tribune, July 19, 1924

The deeper story that was not told here was the long standing relationship between former team mates and now opposing team leaders, “Pop”Arlett for the Healdsburg Prune Packers and Chet Bost of the Pierce Giants of Oakland, which reached back well over a decade when they both played for Elmhurst in the Oakland City Winter League. These two men were early pioneers of breaking the color line in baseball, who once integrated a team within a league, and  now were engaged in the playing of integrated baseball with an all white team pit against an Independent African American team that traveled all over the state of California during the height of Jim Crow in 1920’s America.

When all is said and done, the story itself involves union vs. non-union musicians and the love of jazz, that was rarely witnessed outside of Terrific Street in San Francisco, West Oakland, or South Berkeley. The battle between the American Federation of Musicians Local 6 in the Bay Area and African American musicians, particularly those that played jazz, is legendary. The best way and sometimes the only way to see the So Different Jazz Band, was to attend a privately sponsored functions, such as a ‘lady’s improvement club’ function, — or a baseball game — where ‘union rules’ of employment for musicians did not apply.

Segregation was one of the strongest factors in where African American jazz bands could be heard or seen live. Even black and tans which operated outside of the laws on most occasions, did so based on the money to be made by the club owners, crooked politicians, and the elite upper crust of society who enjoyed jazz music so much, that the risk was worth the reward in the long run. There is no doubt that African American baseball spread the sounds of jazz all over the nation, and that jazz and baseball were intrinsically tied to one another, by hook and sometimes by crook. Being hard pressed when asking, ‘where has the music of baseball gone?‘, we know that jazz was once the music of baseball that lasted over four decades. The untold story on “How Baseball Gave Us Jazz” is that one where the Pierce Giants of Oakland took the So Different Jazz Band with them when they barnstormed rural California, spreading good will, good cheer, good music, and good baseball wherever they landed.

Interview with “Sid” LeProtti by Turk Murphy, including “The Crave“, (the way Jelly showed me). Film footage of the So Different Cafe on Terrific StreetTexas Tommy and Barbary Coast Dancers featuring the So Different Jazz Band.

 

 

Where they cut their teeth: The Oakland Giants of Grove Street Park

Oakland Giants-ii

1912 Oakland Giants

This amazing photograph of the Oakland Giants tells a very unique story in itself. The kids in the photograph differ in race from the men in the photograph. Upon closer scrutiny, we can see the make up of the team, and who played on it; at least on that day. Not much is known about this African American team, other than they were a sight to see when they took the field, and were crowd pleasers to one and all who enjoyed the pleasure of watching them take up the ball and bat.

Their home field was Grove Street Park, which was located on  in Oakland, California on 57th & Grove Street, which is now called Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  There, they met such teams as Berkeley Independents, Burlingame,  the Brock & Lott team, the Clarions, Hirschfields, the Monarchs, the Pennant Bars,  Mill Valley, and Watsonville. Grove Street Park was once solely leased out by Cy Moreing  of the California State League from the Stockton area, who once owned the Oakland franchise of the California based league. Moreing accessed the park from the Oakland Township for the specific reason of creating a strong outlaw baseball league in 1908. Cy was also a business man first and foremost, and knowing how to draw a crowd and make a buck, shared the space with the Oakland Giants, allowing African Americans to play on a field against the wishes of J. Cal Ewing of Pacific Coast League.

Grove St. Park-Cy Moreing-SFC-Mar. 12, 1912

San Francisco Call, March 12, 1912

Moreing knew best how to get under Ewing’s skin, and by letting African American baseball players on any field that was shared with a white teams was certainly the best way to get Ewing’s goat.

Cy Moreing-ii

Cy Moreing, Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide -1907, pg. 227

 


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Left to Right: Top Row: A. Thomas, unknown, N. “Tick” Houston, Herb Clarke, Nelson Watson (manager), Chet Bost, Richardson, unknown, B. Martin.
Bottom Row: Hillary “Bullet” Meaddows, White.

 

The Freeeman-Hilary Meaddows 5-25-1912

The Freeman, May 25, 1912

The Oakland Giants were owned and managed by Nelson Watson, born in Salina, Kansas in 1882. Growing up in the town where Lee Jeans had opened their first factory, young Nelson was probably a keen observer of industry, and eventually moved West to seek his fortune in West Oakland. He worked in a barbershop as a porter in Swan’s Market, and eventually became a Ships’ Carpenter’s helper on Mare Island, which was known as the first base of operations protecting commerce of the United States, building the earliest model submarines for the United States Navy, and also the Navy’s very first Aircraft Carrier. His leadership was instrumental in building a winning team.

Nelson Watson

 

 

The Giants, better known as the Oakland Giants are making quite a record  this season, having lost only one game out of the nine played. The club is composed of several high class ball players who rank the best on the coast.

Clarke, captain of the club, has carefully gotten together and drilled the team to play a nice article of ball, and with himself and such god[sic] men as Bost, Martin, and Houston, he has an infield which is very hard to beat.

Chet Bost, his fast shortstop, is a valuable man to the club as he has had league experience, having played short for the Occidentals of the Utah State league last season. He is one of the club’s heavy hitters and the speediest base-runners, as he is hitting 320.” -The Oakland Tribune, June 27, 1912

Some of the other team members pictured, like B. Martin played on the Elmhurst team, in the Oakland City winter league. “Tick” Houston played on a integrated team in Fruitvale called the Oakwoods the season before joining the Oakland Giants. And a very young Hillary “Bullet” Meaddows pitched as well as caught for the Oakland Giants, and this is where his three decade career in baseball really began. Most of the cities that the Oakland Giants played in would have been considered “sundown town”, and traveling these out-of-the-way distances by car, train, or ferry to and from places like Watsonville, Petaluma, Mill Valley or Burlingame would have been an added adventure along the California Coast on El Camino Real, internally along “State Route” Hwy 99, or across the San Francisco Bay by boat or ferry.

The “State Highways Act” was passed, taking effect on December 31, 1910, so most of the roads being constructed at that time were fairly new, or old very old toll roads that were made of  dirt and at best had gravel in some places — and the towns along the way were rural and small. Oakland was a major city compared to a lot of agricultural towns that the Oakland Giants played against in 1912, and seeing African Americans men play baseball was a ‘novelty’, especially when their baseball skill sets were above average. The Oakland Giants travels were reminiscent of Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, because this was California still in its youth, where the King’s Highway went from one mission town to the next.

 

What the city of Oakland looked like…

Oakland Rug Works 1910

1896_recommended_state_highway_system_for_California

….was not what the California road system looked like in 1912.

California road in May 1910

This type of road travel was ‘pre Green Book’ era by two plus decades, and the Oakland Giants stepped far away from the safety of West Oakland to play baseball is towns that were considered a great distance from their home base. The 1912 season was referred to as the “Bumper Crop of Alfalfa Baseball” for the bush league teams of the San Francisco Bay Area and outlying regions from Watsonville to Bakersfield.

In 1910, Oakland had a population of 150,174, and an African American population of just a little over 3,000, coming in only second to Los Angeles. Oakland was filled with immigrants, fleeing starvation in Europe, made up of mostly foreign born men, Alameda County and the surrounding area was virtually a paradise for anyone who had agricultural skills, or just someone seeking an opportunity in the industrial sector. Jack London’s “Valley Of The Moon” best explains the struggles between the newly arriving immigrants and native-born peoples of the Bay Area, who were constantly competing in the job market, and the everyday struggles they endured in this very diverse landscape called Oakland.

Baseball was an escape from those daily struggles. and teams like the Oakland Giants filled the absence of the defunct California State League of 1910, and kept the game of baseball afoot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Options in Elmhurst: Echoes of the Past

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Elmhurst Team of 1911 — Oakland City Winter League 

(Left to Right: back row: (?) Adams; Center Field – -Eddie Jackson; Catcher — Chet Bost; Right Field — Alexander Benjamin “Pop” Arlett; Pitcher — C.J. Toffelmier; 2nd Base — (?) Arlie; Shortstop — B. Martin 1st Base — Front row: (?) Christensen; 2nd Base — Russ “Buzz” Arlett; mascot — (?) Adaming; 3rd Base. 
NOTE: The (?) represents missing the first name of the player

Elmhurst was once an all white neighborhood.

The year is 1911, and it is the second year of the Central California League, which is now comprised of eight teams totaling sixty players, under the watchful eye of Judge Edward P. Shortfall of the San Francisco 3rd District Police Court, who is President of the burgeoning minor league, that almost no one has ever heard about.  His ever faithful Secretary of he league, J.C. Toffelmier, also plays 2nd base for the Elmhurst Tildens, who were originally called the Elmhurst Incubators from the inception of the league in 1910.

These eight teams that stretched geographically from Vallejo to Hayward and consisted of: the Alameda Alerts, the Berkeley Clarions, the Elmhurst Tildens, the Fruitvale Travelers, the Hayward Cubs, the Richmond Merchants, the San Leandro Cherry Pickers, and the Vallejo Pastimes, and this minor league was registered as one of the many leagues in the 1911 National Association of Professional Baseball Teams.

By the end of the season, only six teams were still in working order, and the Elmhurst Tildens was not one of them. Their star pitcher, Alexander Benjamin “Pop” Arlett was playing for teams outside of the league, whenever he could, and he eventually ended the season as the lead pitcher for the San Leandro Cherry Pickers. “Pop” Arlett would spend many years in PCL  minor leagues, pitching for various teams.  He was a big ticket draw for an amateur in those days, and his baby brother Russell “Buzz” Arlett would one day become known as the Babe Ruth of the Minor Leagues, before moving up to the big leagues and playing for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pop Arlett -PCl

1917 Zeenut — Alexander Benjamin “Pop” Arlett

Arlett Buzz-1925-ii

1925 Zeenut — Russ “Buzz” Arlett

That is only one half of the story being told. The other half is the Oakland City League winter baseball team that was fronted by “Pop” Arlett and J.C. Tofflemier, which was a fully integrated baseball team on the West Coast in 1911, and had made a name for itself throughout the Bay Area. Charles. R. Fulweiler, reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin, which was one of the oldest newspapers in the Bay Area originally founded as the Daily Evening Bulletin by James King of William, was President of the Oakland City League.

Eddie Jackson was one of “Pop” Arlett’s favorite battery mates. They played  together on the Elmhurst Tildens in the Central California League on many occasions, which by all accounts is one of earliest record of a integrated pitcher-catcher duo on the West Coast, during  an era known as the Second Coming of the Klan.  A new wave of white supremacy was destined to take hold between 1910 on through 1920 all over America, creating sundown towns where their previous existence was unheard of, and that would divide many burgeoning communities into fully segregated cities where definitive color lines would be drawn.

Jackson was a very fair skinned African American, and was considered a ‘mulatto”, according to 1910 U.S. Census Records. Born in New York City in 1887, As a young man, he had moved West to find his fortune, and was gainfully employed and a telegraph operator for Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Co. He lived in the all white neighborhood between the Bushrod and Longfellow areas on Market Street.  Eddie was a single father, raising a one-year old son in 1911, which was not an uncommon occurrence in America during this period, but more than likely, a very difficult task to accomplish. Eddie Jackson also played ball with “Pop” Arlett, J.C. Tofflemier, Christensen, Adaming and Buzz Arlett on the 1916 San Leandro Western Jewelers semi-pro club, where he was also the only African American on this East Bay area team.

Eddie Jackson-1911 San Leando-Western Jewelers-II

1916 San Leandro Western Jewelers

Left to Right  Top Row: J.C. Toffelmier, Christensen, unknown, “Pop” Arlett, “Buzz”Arlett, Eddie Jackson, unknown mascot
Bottom Row: Unknown, unknown, Adaming

Jackson is probably best known to historians as the battery mate for Jimmy Claxton, when he played for the all-star Shasta Limiteds in 1919.

Shasta Giants 1919-20

1919 Shasta Limiteds

TEAM MEMBERS (as per the June 26, 1919 Oakland Tribune) ARE AS FOLLOWS:
Left to Right Top Row: Owner Tod Graham, Jimmy Claxton, “Tick” Houston, Goldie Davis, Carlisle Perry, Gene Cooper, Chet Bost, and the Trainer Green
Left to Right Bottom Row: (?) Fisher, Eddie Jackson, “Bullet” Hilary Meadows, Billy Woods, (?) Brown, and (?) and Vaughns  NOTE: The (?) represents missing the first name of the player

Not much is known about B. Martin, except that he was one of the most outstanding First Basemen that the Bay Area had to offer. Finding him playing on a integrated team speaks highly of his skills, because he was better known for playing on the 1912 Oakland Giants, an all African American team that was known for its speed, ball handling, and showmanship, under the management of Neslon Watson. The Oakland Giants hosted such players as Hillary “Bullet” Meaddows, Chet Bost, “Tick” Houston. Also, all of these men played on the 1919 Shasta Limiteds and the 1923 Pierce Giants of Oakland. Meaddows did a short stint with the Alexander Giants of Los Angeles, and  Bost was a former shortstop for the Salt Lake Occidentals of Utah, a team fronted by Frank Black, that fielded many great players in its heyday.

Chet Bost was the West Coast Linchpin slash player, slash manager, slash coach, slash baseball confidante, when it came to the six degrees of separation connecting any number of African American baseball players, semi pro to professional, on the West Coast and beyond. From Dead Ball Era to the creation of the Negro Leagues, Bost more than likely played a significant role in breaking new boundaries while keeping many doors open for greatness to blossom in areas yet to be explored.

By the 1920’s, race and separation of the races were deeply embedded in the West Coast as well as the rest of the nation, and it dominated all aspects and walks of life on a daily basis, unlike the early burgeoning era when life was simple in the California bushes. African American baseball during the dead ball era holds a host of twist and turns and unexplored concepts and ideas about how we got to where we are today, and how far we’ve come as a nation when if comes to the National Pastime. “Buzz” Arlett and his older brother “Pop”, grew up playing baseball, and they played the game with great African American baseball players.

Elmhurst-East Oakland 1896 map-ii

Elmhurst was once an all white neighborhood.

Today Elmhurst is East Oakland.

The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 4

 

 

The early months of 1899 would bring many changes to the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. The yellow fever which took hold of them in ’98 dealt a definitive blow to their heath and their standing as “Regulars’ in the United States Army. Between the months of January and March, a force reductions of the 24th Infantry Regiment would follow, relocations of certain companies would take place, and the incursion into the Philippines were part of changes that would remove the 24th Infantry Regiment from their ‘good station’ in Salt Lake, Utah.

 

It is Stated that the Regiment is to be Taken to the Presidio, and Later to the Philippines.

Another rumor as to the probable movement of the Twenty-fourth infantry has reached Fort Douglas. It is now said that preparations are being made at the Presidio of San Francisco for the reception of eight regiments of soldiers. These troops are to be stationed at the Presidio awaiting orders to sail for Manila. The rumor has it that the Twenty-fourth infantry will be one of the eight regiments to go to the Presidio and from there to Manila.

It is not a very bright outlook for the regiment, but such is life in the army. The officers are living in a half-settled state, as they do not care to go to the trouble or expense of fixing up their quarters for short time and then have to tear them all up and go to the Philippines or elsewhere. At present nothing definite is known, but most of the officers feel certain that it is only a question of time before they leave for San Francisco, en route to Manila.” — Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 1899

 

Recruits of the Regiment to be Discharged.

Within the next ten days between 500 and 600 men of the Twenty-fourth infantry are to be discharged from the service. This will reduce for a while the garrison at Fort Douglas to 300 men, at that at Fort Russell, Wyo., to about 180 men, while the cantonment at Camp Pilot Butte, Wyo., where company K is at present stationed, will be left with a garrison of about sixty men.

RATE OF DISCHARGE

The men will be discharged at the rate of about ten a day from each company until all are out. Maj. Birmingham and his assistants at the hospital will examine every man closely as to his physical condition.

Maj. Thompson said last night said that the regiment will be re-recruited up to its full strength at once. The order now standing is to keep its strength up, and recruit will be brought on speedily.

The order that came Tuesday night also relates to the Ninth cavalry, the colored regiment, part of which was formerly stationed at Fort Duchesne.” — Salt Lake Tribune, January, 26, 1899

 

By the next day, one hundred and fifty of the three hundred recruits that had been ordered discharged from the 24th Infantry Regiment, and were mustered out of service, on placed on trains heading East. [32]

 

With $45,000 being allotted by the War Department, each solider discharged from the 24th received $75 a piece for traveling expenses. The amount spent on that single day was half of the total amount allotted. This allotment, pursuant to paragraph two of General Order no. 40, only applied to recruits who had enlisted in the regiment between April 22 and October 26, of 1896. The men of the Fort Douglas Browns were not subject to the General Order no. 40, but based on their physical condition after volunteering for the yellow fever hospital at Siboney and contracting the deadly contagion, they were more than likely subject to discharged for health reasons.

 

In February, land and naval forces would be increased in the Philippines, and the men of the 24th Infantry Regiments, stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah and  Fort Russell, Wyoming would be part of the “Regular’ troops undertaking the assignment.[33]

 

In early March, the transfer orders for the 24th had finally arrived at Fort Douglas, which called for a further dividing of regimental strength. Moving four companies, one from Fort Douglas and three from Fort Russell, immediately to Honolulu, as reinforcements in route to Manila. These orders were immediately cancelled, and only three companies were relocated to other areas of the United States. Company B, under the command of Captain Henry Wygant, would be relocated to the Vancouver barracks, in the state of Washington. Company D, under the command of Capt. Arthur D. Ducat, would be headed to Fort Harrison, in Montana. Company K, would be slotted for relocation to Fort Assinniboine, in Wyoming. Company M, a junior company in absence of a captain, were to relocate to Fort Spokane. The under lying message in all of this, would be that Fort Douglas would no longer be the home of the 24th infantry Regiment.

 

Sgt. Mack Stanfield, of Company B, former manager of the Browns, would be one of the men relocating to the Vancouver barracks in Washington. In the mean time, while still on post at Fort Douglas, Sgt. Stanfield was organizing a baseball team that he would name, the “Santiagos”. He felt that as soon as the ground had dried sufficiently, that the men of Fort Douglas should again try their hands at the game of baseball, to keep them active, and use their recreational time doing something productive. [34]

 

In late March, the local citizens of Salt Lake began to promote the upcoming baseball season, mixing politics and religion with the sport of baseball once again. It was noted, that Sunday baseball games were no longer acceptable, and only games played on Saturday afternoon would be allowed. The Y.M.C.A.’s, the Oregon Short Line, the R.G.W.’s (Rio Grande Westerns), and the Salt Lakes were teams that put in their bids for the scheduled season. [35]

 

Local Admirers of the National Game Making Ready.

The Elks of last year’s fame have given no signs of activity as yet. It is quite likely that the team will again be in the field this season. Whether the Browns at Fort Douglas will be able to support a team, weakened and split up as their strong aggregation of two years ago has been by war and division of the regiment, is uncertain. Several companies of the regiment are certain to remain here, but it is not likely that they can get any team which will be so successful as that of ’97.” — Salt Lake Herald, March 21, 1899

 

Simon Bamberger, manager of the Oregon Short Line railroad company would also be the manager of the Oregon Short Line baseball nine, and his nephew Joseph Bamberger would manage the Salt Lakes; together they would also invest a huge sum on money building a resort called the “Lagoon”, which would included a new baseball diamond. By all accounts, this would be the beginning of baseball no longer being played of the Fort Douglas grounds, by the civilian population or soldiers. Simon Bamberger’s financial motivations in trying to create a baseball monopoly that would only stage games at his resort, would do a tremendous detriment to the baseball season in the city of Salt Lake, and other surrounding cities, in the year of 1899. His plan was to get Fort Douglas shut down, as far as baseball was concerned, forcing people to travel to see baseball games at the Lagoon. The men of the 24th Infantry Regiment had larger concerns.

 

GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO AND ALCATRAZ

Headquarters and Three Companies to be at the Presidio–No New Smallpox Cases

An order was received at Fort Douglas yesterday giving the destination of the companies assigned to the Department of California. Headquarters and three companies will go ti the Presidio, and one company will be stationed at Alcatraz barracks. this was pleasant news for the officers and men connected with the regimental headquarters, for the Presidio is considered one of the most delightful stations. San Francisco is to be congratulated upon the acquisition of the band of the Twenty-fourth, the loss of which will be keenly felt here.” — Salt Lake Tribune, March 21, 1899

 

The summer season of baseball in Utah was affected by the reactivation of a ‘Blue Law’ during the Spring of 1899, that was written and adopted in 1881. It was a law that had been dragged out of moth balls to enforce the ruling of certain city councils in the Salt Lake area, that baseball should not be played within the city limits, as it was an immoral institution. Baseball players feared being arrested for playing within the city limits which they had done for many years, and contracts signed by traveling teams from out of state which were legal and ironclad, were subject to large cash forfeitures should the games not take place on the contractual dates, which included Sunday baseball games. In April, four more companies of the 24th infantry Regiment would head for the train depot late at night, loading up their gear and make their way to San Francisco, en route for their final destination, Manila in the Philippine Islands. [36]

 

NO MORE SUNDAY BASEBALL

The provision under which the police department will act is section 25 of title X, entitled crimes and punishments as follows:

“Any person who shall be convicted of skating, ball playing, hunting, fishing or any other kind of sporting, or who shall keep open bar, shop, store, or any other business or amusement or unnecessary business or labor, or who shall barter, sell or give away any spirituous, vinous, or fermented liquors, except for medicinal purposes, within city limits, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, shall be liable to a fine in any sum not exceeding one hundred dollars.”

This ordinance became law June 27, 1881, over a decade an a half ago, when Ogden was a village and hardly seemed applicable to the city as Ogden city is today.” — Ogden Standard, May 18, 1899

 

Jackson, former catcher for the Fort Douglas Browns, played one final game at Fort Douglas, with a squad of nine who were not any good at playing the game of baseball at all. They were so awful, they were taken to task by a high school squad in their final game. It was probably based on their lack interest, as the regiment was in the final stages of being removed from the base. [37]

 

Armstrong had signed on to play with Henderson’s Whirlwinds, as he was an employee of the company, and that was the main requirements to be a part of the team. Jackson would play for the Y.M.C.A.’s that year, even though most of their games would be scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays, because of Sunday baseball coming under heavy scrutiny across the nation by members of Christian communities.

 

Fort Douglas was the only place near Salt Lake that had yet to enforce the Blue Law Sunday ban against playing baseball close to city limits, and because it was a military installation and did not fall under city ordinances purview. That would eventually change. A letter written by Simon Bamberger to General Merriman in Colorado, would ensure that baseball would never take place again on the Fort Douglas grounds. Bamberger’s three-pronged attack on preventing baseball from taking place at Fort Douglas included: using a group of four men who jumped from team to team; starting fights and encourage gambling and drinking at games in the cities that applied the letter of the Blue Law, including games on the Fort Douglas grounds; aligning himself with the sabbath movement of the Salt Lake area to prevent Sunday baseball from taking place in city limits, trying his best to force high attendance games to be played only at the Lagoon.

 

On June 13, 1899, the final orders for remainder of those stationed at Fort Douglas, the last 126 men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, to make final preparations to leave for San Francisco. They would be relieved by the Ninth Cavalry from Fort Duschesne. [38]

 

After the departure of the 24th Infantry Regiment from Fort Douglas, Simon Bamberger made certain that the Fort Douglas Brown’s legacy of playing baseball, drawing an average of over 1,000 spectators for every game the played during the season of 1897, would become nothing more than a faint memory in the hearts and minds of the people who had the opportunity to witness their prowess on the Fort Douglas diamond. After getting the U.S. government to shut the Fort Douglas field to civilian ball games, he made a deal with the government to buy the grand stand and fencing, having all of it dismantled, then had it shipped out to the Lagoon so it could be made into car sheds. [39]

 

Simon Bamberger Puts a Stop to It.

HIS PROTEST TO MERRIMAN

Simon Bamberger, proprietor of the Lagoon, does not favor the occupation of Government property by civilians. He also loos with especial disfavor upon the use of Government realty for the purpose of Sunday ball games. In fact, Mr. Bambergeer is opposed to Sunday ball–in Salt Lake county.

Ball is, of course, is played on Sunday at the Lagoon, but the Lagoon is in Davis county, and Davis county–well, that is different, that is all.

Whenever there has been a ball game at the Fort Douglas grounds, Mr. Bamberger hs groaned in spirit; first because a military reservation was being trodden under the foot of civilian baseball fiends, and second because the Sabbath was being violated by the players.

Finally, Mr. Bamberger hit upon a shrewd scheme by which to put a stop to the Sabbath desecration at the Fort grounds. He wrote a letter to Gen. Merriman at Dever protesting against the use of Government property by civilians for ball playing.

WORKED LIKE A CHARM

Gen. Merriman thought so too, and at once directed a communication to the commander at Fort Douglas, in which he ordered that no ball games be played upon the Fort Douglas grounds, except between soldiers and civilians,. He also ordered that no admission fee be charged. These orders brought Sunday games at the Fort to an abrupt termination.

Mr. Bamberger then magnanimously offered to purchase the lumber which has been used in fencing the grounds and constructing the stands. His offer was accepted and the grounds were dismantled.

SAVED SOLDIERS FROM LOSS

Had it not been for Mr. Bamberger’s generous offer the soldiers who assisted in purchasing lumber for the grounds would have lost money.

This in brief is the history of the rise and fall of Sunday ball playing at the Fort.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 28, 1899

 

The act of closing the Fort Douglas field to civilian teams, had an overreaching effect that Bramberger didn’t count on. It effectively killed the 1899 baseball season, not only in the Salt Lake area, but also at the Lagoon, and other areas far outside of the city limits of Salt Lake. With no field to play on, the expense of traveling to the Lagoon to play ball or see games played, was out of the financial reach of most of the citizenry.  Bamberger’s baseball teams, one after another, were disbanded, simply for the fact that he could not maintain their salary compensation, based on the lack of drawing crowds to the Lagoon. Another factor, in the demise of baseball at the Lagoon was the reputation of fights that took place on the field when teams played at the Lagoon. Citizens did not want to squander the hard earned money to watch a game stopped because of a fight, or a fight that took precedence over a scheduled game of baseball.

 

Early Demise Of What Seemed A Successful Season.

The baseball season has seemed to have come to an untimely end in Salt Lake, and the faithful fans will have to hie to Ogden or some of the other surrounding towns if they wish to see any more ball games this summer.

It is rather unfortunate that this should be the case right in the middle of the summer, with three months and more of good baseball weather still coming. But for weeks past the baseball fever has been on the wane. During the period when the city was minus a ball field interest in the national game took a decided drop. The fans found it too much trouble to got out to the Lagoon for every game, and so they stayed home. —  Salt Lake Herald, July 30, 1899

 

 

The Fort Douglas Brows were not spoken of for many years after 1899. Baseball made a comeback in 1900, with the Inter-mountain being hosted at the Lagoon in 1901. There were other African American teams that played in Utah in 1897. The Salt Lake Monarchs was one of them. But the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, the men of the Fort Douglas Browns would always be fondly remembered by those who had the opportunity to see them play the game of baseball. They had integrated baseball in Utah for a short, but meaningful period in 1897.

 

When Col. Abner Doubleday, one of the commanding officer’s of Fort McKavett, Texas, made a requested to General E.D. Townsend, Adjutant General of the U.S. Army for, “permission to purchase…baseball implements for the amusement of the men and a Magic Lantern for the same purpose.“, in June of 1871, one can only speculate what his intentions were when it came to teaching the game of baseball to the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. The Fort Douglas Browns took the skills they had learned about the game of baseball, practiced them for close to a thirty year period and played against civilian teams far and wide, and applied their skills with diligence and sportsman like effort in 1897.

 

Of those that lived through the charge up San Juan hill, their recorded histories are scattered, and almost nonexistent. Those who survived moved on with their lives, only looking forward.

 

Sgt. Thomas W. “Capt” Countee left Fort Douglas and was transferred to the Presidio, where he is buried, along with other Buffalo Soldiers from that period. He drowned on August 21, 1899, during a reconnaissance mission while crossing the San Mateo river in the Philippines, along with eight other men from company G of the 24th Infantry Regiment.

 

Sgt. Mack Stanfiled was transferred to the Vancouver barrack, in Washington state, along with company B of the 24th Infantry Regiment. There are no details of him ever getting together a team called the ‘Santiagos’, but rumor has it that he did front for a team called the “Hard Hitters”, who sometimes went by the name “Brownies”, that played in 1899 and 1900. Sgt. Stanfiled retired and mover to Portland, Oregon, having survived the Battle of San Juan hill.

 

Walter H. Loving, known as “the Professor”, rose through the ranks from a Corporal to become of the the U.S. military’s first commissioned officers. Loving never made the climb up San Juan hill. He was discharged in Tampa, in June of 1898, but reenlisted in the 48th U.S.V.I. and continued his military career. After many long years, he achieved the rank of Major and was finally assigned to Military Intelligence during World War I, where he published many articles on the African American soldier, and the influences the military had on them when it came to racism on the battlefield and their treatment in America after returning home from war to face Jim Crow. He was also noted as chief musician and the first musical director who developed the Philippine Constabulary Band. He was killed in the Philippines during the Battle of Manila in 1945, under unknown circumstance.

 

 

Sgt. Thomas Countee headstone

 

End: Part IV

Part I    Part II    Part III

 

[32] Salt Lake Herald, January 27, 1899

[33] Salt Lake Herald, February 7, 1899

[34] Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 1899

[35] Salt Lake Herald, March 21, 1899

[36] Ogden Standard, April 5, 1899

[37] Salt Lake Herald, May 22, 1899

[38] Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1899

[39] Salt Lake Herald, June 28, 1899

 

 

The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 3

 

 

In 1898, the Fort Douglas Brows season would face a turn of events that would challenge any baseball team worth their salt. The men themselves were ready to play. With the  field being rehabilitated and grass now on the diamond, the grand stand was also refurbished and repaired by the men who endeared themselves to the recreational time of playing baseball, whenever it was allowed by their commanders. With these crucial things taken care of, the 1898 Browns were ready to play ball this season against any team that came their way. Practices along with military drills were a constant source of their daily undertakings. They enjoyed their new home in Utah. Once the brisk winter months had broken into spring, and the weather became clear and warm, it would be time for the Browns to take up the bat and ball.

 

In early February of 1898, Private Augustus J. Reid, of Company D, who began his stint with the Browns as their second baseman, accepted his discharge from the 24th Infantry Regiment, re-enlisted, and put in for a transfer to the 25th Infantry Regiment, where he would be stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana. [15]

 

By mid February, the sinking of U.S.S. Maine took place in Havana harbor, sealing the fate of the final decision on whether the United States should proceed forward and fully engage in a war against the far reaching Spanish Empire and all its interest. Cuba, one of Spain’s colonies, along with the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico were the ‘interest’ that would be scheduled for such a conflict. It would be a short, quick war, that lasted only three months, three weeks, and two days, but the devastation it produced lingered for many years after it was initiated. President McKinley tried his best to avoid war at all cost, but the Democratic Party and Populist Party held sway over the people of the nation, and public opinion polls preferred U.S. expansionism over Spanish Imperialism. The sinking of the Maine made ‘avoidance’ of all out total war with Spain a moot point.

 

There was still talk of baseball among the citizens of Salt Lake, and it was on the minds of one and all, except for the Fort Douglas Browns after the sinking of the Maine. There were never reasons for the Browns to suspect that there would be a ’98 baseball season, because a soldiers job was to be a soldier first and foremost. That’s what they were trained for, and the men of the 24th infantry Regiment had spent may years going wherever their duty called them. Still, certain business men of the Salt Lake area looked forward to adding the Browns to a newly proposed state league, seeing future dollars roll in from this highly endorsed venture, and the Browns would be a big money draw, as they were now a part of the Salt Lake community.

 

Activities at Fort Douglas began to reflect less recreational activity and an increase in military training than had ever been seen before. The seat of war would be in Cuba and the rumblings of the U.S. Congress were made clear to one and all, that a special ‘type of soldier’ would be required to fight and win such a conflict. One that Congress felt was immune to tropical diseases, like ‘Yellow Jack’. Yellow Fever was a greater adversary than the actual enemy a soldier would face in combat. Yet, it was determined by a general consensus of political powers in Washington D.C., that men of a certain heritage who derived from a certain areas of the United States, possessed a better chance of survival against this deadly disease. No proof was ever offered that said immunity based on one’s race could prevent the contraction of this disease, but this theory was strongly believed to be the case in the choosing of regiments of Army ‘Regulars’ scheduled to leave for Cuba.

 

State League Now in Process of Organization.

That Salt Lake will see an unusually good season of baseball this year, seems evident from the great interest which is already manifested in the national game. A baseball league, which will include teams from Fort Douglas, Tintic, Ogden, and Salt Lake is already in process of organization. This league will play a regular schedule of Saturday and Sunday games throughout the season, from May to October, and at the close of the season, a pennant will be awarded to the leaders in the race.

FORT DOUGLAS WEAKENED

The Fort Douglas will lose several of its best players. Reid has accepted his discharge from the Twenty-fourth infantry and has re-enlisted in the Twenty-fifth infantry, stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana. Jackson has likewise received his discharge, but is still in the city, and may be depended upon to play ball with some team during the season. Armstrong will also be missed from the ranks of the Browns. But Capt. Loving has secured some good new material to fill the vacancies. Two new pitchers, Harris and Ray, will be available, and both are experienced men.” — Salt Lake Tribune, March 6, 1898

 

Claim that Colored Soldiers Could Do Better Service than White Men.

It is acknowledged by men of experience in southern climates that white men from cool regions of northern states would fare badly in the treacherous climate of Cuba. colored troops are pointed out as the best soldiers to stand the strain, and it is freely prophesied that the four colored regiments of the regular army would be given ample opportunity to win glory if the war breaks out. Those regiments are the Ninth and Tenth cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth infantry. — Deseret Evening News, March 15, 1898

 

As mid March approached, it would be certain that the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment would once again be given new marching orders to go to war. With only a single month’s preparation time, the Fort Douglas Browns would prepared for battle in a foreign land, while at the same time, practiced for one final game in the city of Salt Lake.

 

Col. J.F. Kent was their commander, would be given the rank of Brigadier General once he reached Cuba, and total control of the 1st Division in V Corps, in which the 24th Infantry Regiment would be attached. Kent would take command of the Sixteenth, Sixth, Second, Tenth, Twenty-first, Ninth, Thirteenth, and Twenty-fourth U.S. Infantry Regiments, along with the Seventy-first New York Volunteers.

 

“The long expected orders for the Twenty-fourth infantry to march have at last been received. Yesterday evening about 7:45 a telegram was received by Colonel Kent at Fort Douglas notifying him that the regiment would be ordered out either Sunday night or Monday morning. The point to which the regiment will go is not officially known, as the dispatch did not state, but it is understood they will go to New Orleans. There was some little excitement at the post over the orders, but as all the preparations are made, there was little going on at the post. The dispatch which came yesterday evening stated that later order would be sent.

THE CAMPAIGN

In speaking in plans of campaign one of the officers of the Twenty-forth stated yesterday that it was a shame that the army reorganization bill did not pass, and when the army is sent into action the United States will see the mistake. It will be almost impossible to mobilize an army of over 12,000 men from the regular army force, and if the regular army is alone to invade Cuba they will have their hands full. According to the statements of this officer the campaign in Cuba will be a disastrous affair unless it is terminated quickly. In a short time from now the climatic conditions of the island will be such as will cause most of the men to die from fever, and the only hope for them is to fight at once and get out of the country as soon as possible.” — Salt Lake Herald, April 16, 1898

 

In their final game, before departing Salt Lake, the Browns took on a newly formed minor team called the Salt Lake Colts. Defeating them by a score of 16 to 14, it would be the last game the Fort Douglas Browns would play for a while. [16]

 

Two days later, the Salt Lake crowds would line the streets in anticipation of watching their brave fighting men, the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, depart their fair city and in hopes that they would fight victoriously in Cuba and return home safely. There were no detractors among them, as large crowds gathered from near and far at this public event. Heartfelt and saddened by the leaving of the men they had once opposed living in their city, the people of Salt Lake were noticeably disturbed and fraught with fear for the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. Thousands turned out in Salt Lake City to see them off.

 

Twenty-fourth Leaves City Amid Great Enthusiasm.

STREETS LINED WITH PEOPLE

Flowers and Cheers and Flags and Tears

They dressed me up in scarlet red, and treated me so kindly; but still I thought my heart would break, for the girl I left behind me. — Old Song

Amid cheers from thousand of throats, with flags waving, bands playing and hundreds of children sending their fresh young voices out upon the breeze, the Twenty-fourth infantry marched to the depot yesterday and took the train for New Orleans.

It was a stirring scene, the march from the post to the station, and every foot of the road from the reservation to the Rio Grande was occupied by spectators. There wasn’t any school yesterday forenoon. That is, no school to speak of. A few teachers made an attempt to teach the youthful idea how to shoot, but the youthful idea was more interested in the sable faced shooters, who may be sighting rifles this day week.” — Salt Lake Herald, April 21, 1898

 

As the next few months past, very little was discussed about the men who had departed Fort Douglas headed to war; leaving by train first, and then by boat, eventually landing on the shores of Cuba. The most talked about subject across the nation was the recruitment of the 10,000 “Immunes”, and how their presence would affect the outcome of this war against Spain. The men of the 24th Infantry, by birth right, were considered part of the immune regiment strategy that the U.S. Army had developed and so dearly fought to prove that they could use to defeat of the Spanish Empire. The price of victory had laid a very heavy proposition at the feet of the 24th Infantry Regiment. African American soldiers had always been treated as suspects of cowardice in the face of battle. Cuba would be their testing ground as a fighting regiment; fighting and dying together for a cause greater than themselves.

 

On July 1, 1898, the battle of San Juan Heights also known as San Juan Hill began. History records a much different story involving Lt. Col. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders capturing the Spanish blockhouse at Loma de San Juan, but the battle to take the hill was executed by the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. They fought this battle from the very beginning, pushing forward and never retreating, till San Juan Heights was secured, and suffering the highest casualty rate of any unit that fought the Spanish American War in Cuba. From this perspective, the battle of San Juan Hill was just the beginning of the deaths that the 24th Infantry Regiment would incur at the hands of the enemy.

 

The first reports of casualties that reached Salt Lake after a three day battle on the heights came from Senator Cannon from Washington D.C. He stated that no officers had been killed during the engagement at Santiago de Cuba, and no enlisted men of the 24th Infantry Regiment had been killed. The only reports out at the battle were that Lt. Col. Liscum, Capts. Brett, Ducat and Dodge had been wounded in the fierce battle to take the blockhouse.  The severity of their wounds was still unknown at this point. This first reports would be false, but it was spread throughout the Salt Lake area by newspapers and word of mouth. The deaths and number of wounded men that occurred, were highly understated. [17]

 

During the recapitulation of the killed and wounded, published on July 8, 1898,  General Shafter’s report told a story of complete carnage, brought on by the death hail of hot lead shot from the deadly accurate and legendary 1893 Spanish Mauser. The Spanish M93 outclassed any rifle in the American arsenal used in the war. It used smokeless powder cartridges, and had a longer range than the rifles issued to the American troops. It also used stripper clips for quick reloading, and its bullets flew on a flatter trajectory. American troops using their shorter ranged rifles would need to get within range of the blockhouse to take that hill. The M93’s use of the smokeless powder cartridges made it almost impossible to see where the enemy was firing from, so many of the troops were caught in deadly crossfires. The 1st Division in V Corps troops, commanded by Gen. Kent took the brunt of the battle and chalked up the most casualties at San Juan Hill. In his division alone, twelve officers and eighty-seven men were killed; thirty-six officers and five hundred and sixty-two men were wounded; and sixty-two men were missing in action. [18]

 

Of those men, under the command of Gen. Kent, the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment led by Lt. Col. E.H. Liscum,  two officer and eleven men were killed, six officers and sixty-eight men were wounded, and six men were missing in action. [19]

 

“We have previously given the testimony of a participant who says the 13th Infantry was the regiment that finally crowned the hill of San Juan and in order to perfectly fair we will add the testimony of another, who says it was the 24th Infantry! These personal notes are valuable and their discrepancies don not lessen their sincerity and interest. “The 24th Colored infantry,” he says, “led the charge, followed by the 13th, 16th, and part of the 71st. Who gave the order for to charge, never will get the credit for it, for he found his grave. Many will claim it, but the officer who cried “Follow me!” and the line he led were wiped out of existence. No General ever ordered it.” This was written by Dr. Winant of Syracuse, who was with the 71st N.Y. Vol. The “part” of that regiment referred to he gives as eleven men, who “broke away and we went up the hill under one of the most murderous fires imaginable, along with the Regulars. This tallies with Gen. Kent’s report. One writer says that about two hundred men of various commands reached the top of the hill in the first successful rush and that their names were taken down. We hope the list will be published and settle this interesting controversy.” [20]

 

Don’t you hear ’em, Colonel ? Don’t you hear our boys singing ‘Hallelujah, Happy Land’?”

The colonel had other thoughts, and he answered wearily: ” Hear what, my man ?”

“Why, don’t you hear our boys singing on the hill? Colonel, you give ’em the right steer, suah, and now they’s up there and singing to let you know it, suah, suah. I take my oath,Colonel. They ain’t no regiment in the army that can sing like that but the old Twenty-fourth.”

And both the darkies chuckled, and laughed to scorn any suggestion that they might be mistaken, and that perhaps, after all, the Twenty-fourth men were not upon the hill.

“They’s up there,Colonel,suah. Fac’, I can most see ’em now. You gave them the right steer, suah, and they wouldn’t have gone up if you hadn’t told ’em to.” [21]

 

 

“There has been much discussion as to which regiment first scaled the heights. It is pleasant to have to record that the men who have participated in it are the least decided in their statements, and are, it has seemed to me, always ready and willing to give the greater credit to regiments other than their own. It can not be disputed that General Hawkins directed the charge and inspired the men to what followed by his own great courage. There is no question among those who know, that young Ord led the charge that his general directed and that he was the first man on the height at San Juan. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to what happened afterward. My impression is, more from what I heard the evening of the fight than from what I saw, that the flag of the Sixteenth Infantry was the first of our flags to wave over San Juan Hill; that the men of the Thirteenth Infantry captured and hauled down the Spanish colors from the blockhouse; and that there we more men from the Twenty-fourth Infantry, the brave blacks, first on the ridge than any other regiment. But to my mind this is not the place not is there any basis for invidious comparison” [22]

 

That list of names was never published.

 

Only the names of the dead and wounded that ascended the San Juan Heights would be recorded for posterity. Validation of the 24th Infantry Regiment’s engagements and actual participation in the Battle of San Juan Hill would become erased from contemporary history, even though many events that taken place had been well documented. To their credit though, one major event that took place after the Battle of San Juan Hill that showed the 24th’s commitment as soldiers first, was their dedication to the sick, wounded, and dying troops who occupied the field hospital at Siboney. For two weeks, up till July 14, 1898, the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment had occupied wet trenches as part of the garrison protecting Loma de Santiago, before they were ordered to march to Siboney’s yellow fever field hospital traveling along the El Camino Real. It was a request by the hospital’s field commander for the 24th Infantry Regiment to perform guard duty in mid July as added protection. [23]

 

There were very few cases of the outbreak at the time of their arrival in mid July. No more than 14 men had contracted ‘Yellow Jack’. The number of cases would grow exponentially within less than a month’s time. This unseen enemy on Cuban soil would soon become nightmarish, and also responsible for the the bulk of casualties to American troops that took place once they reached this foreign land, or on their return from duty once back at home in the United States. The long lasting insidious results of yellow fever were carried home by many of the men who participated in the Spanish-American war.

 

On July 13, 1898, the town of Juraguacito was was set ablaze and laid to ashes by the troops stationed there, on the orders of Major Legaro of the Hospital Corps and the Army Health Authorities. He felt that that buildings, which were old and falling apart, were the cause of the yellow fever outbreak. Having no idea how yellow fever was spread, this act was done as a safety precaution in lieu of of any other options, because suspicious cases of yellow fever began showing up in healthy soldiers who had not contracted the disease up until mid July. Soldier had been warned not to drink the water unless it was boiled first and not to eat the fruits of Cuba unless they were was completely ripe. Fifty buildings were set on fire to remove all germs or any remnants of disease which could be transferred to the wounded soldiers who occupied the city of Juraguacito. [24]

 

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

 

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design.

Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

 

Leaving their trenches at Loma de San Juan at 5:30 PM, 15 officers and the remaining 465 men of the 24th Infantry Regiment could be heard singing as they marched toward Siboney. The march would be a nine mile trek beginning late in the day and stretching into the night, taking five hours through jungle trails with dense vegetation, thickets and streams, and sometimes over moonlit barren land. As they descended into the area of their new assignment, their deep, rich voices echoed in the valley along the King’s Road, and the song “How Firm A Foundation” could be heard in the far off  distance; resonating as far off as Pablado Sevilla, as the remaining men of the 24th Infantry Regiment approached the newly ‘tented’, yellow fever hospital. [25][26]

 

“The Twenty-fourth Infantry was ordered down to Siboney simply to do guard duty. When the regiment reached the yellow fever hospital it was found to be in deplorable condition. Men were dying there every hour for the lack of proper nursing. Major Markley, who had commanded the regiment since July 1st, when Col. Liscum was wounded, drew his regiment up in a line, and Dr. La Garde, in charge of the hospital, explained the needs of the suffering, at the same time clearly setting forth the danger to men who were not immune, of nursing and attending yellow fever patients. Major Markley then said that any man who wished to volunteer to nurse in the yellow fever hospital could step forward. The whole regiment stepped forward. Sixty men were selected from the volunteers to nurse, and within forty-eight hours forty-two of these brave fellows were down seriously ill with yellow or pernicious malarial fever. Again the regiment was drawn up in a line, and again Major Markley said that nurses were needed, and that any man that wished to do so could volunteer. After the object lesson which the men had received in the last few days of the danger from contagion to which they would be exposed, it was now unnecessary for Dr. La Garde to again warn the brave blacks of the terrible contagion. When the request for volunteers to replace those who had already fallen in performance of their dangerous and perfectly optional duty was made again, the regiment stepped forward as one man.

Of the officers and men who remained on duty during the forty days spent in Siboney, only twenty-four escaped without serious illness, and of this handful not a few succumbed to fevers on the voyage home and after their arrival at Montauk.

Some forty men have been discharged from the regiment, owing to disabilities resulting from sickness which began in the yellow fever hospital.” [27]

 

Eight other white regiments, when asked by their commanders, had refused the nursing assignment the 24th Infantry Regiment undertook. By July 30, 1897, there were 4,278 sick at Siboney; total fever cases 3,406; 696 new fever cases reported on that day. The fast spreading epidemic had proven that black soldiers were no more immune to yellow fever than white soldiers. The leaking of the “Round Robin” letter by a war correspondent of the Associated Press, that was written  by Lt. Col. Roosevelt to General Shafter on the issue of bringing the Army home added to concluding the war in Cuba, reached the American newspapers by August 4, 1897. The publication of this letter enraged and embarrassed President McKinley and his Administration. They considered court martial for every officer that signed it, as it was a breech of Army regulations and  military discipline. It had placed the entire yellow fever situation out in the open and in plain view of the American public. They demanded that all the troops should come home immediately, even though Roosevelt had stated in the ‘Round Robin’ letter, that the four regiments of  ‘Immune’ ‘Regulars’ should remain garrisoned in Cuba.

 

On August 26, 1898, after forty days of faithful nursing service under the most impossible conditions, the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment marched out of Siboney, debilitated and weakened at their core, caused by the infectious ‘Yellow Jack’ which had depleted them not only as soldiers, but as men. What was left of their regimental band played and they proudly flew their colors as the marched out of Siboney. Boarding the transport steamer Nueces for Camp Wikoff, Montauk, N.Y., of the 15 officers and 456 men that marched into Siboney, only 9 officers and 198 were able to march out. The ravages of yellow fever, typhoid, and pernicious malarial fever had taken its toll on the men of the 24th. They remained at Montauk for a minimum of three weeks in recovery before some of them were allowed to return to Fort Douglas, Utah.

 

Men like Pvt. James Richards, who was the star pitcher for the ’97 Fort Douglas Browns, met his fate at Siboney, dying on Aug. 21, 1898 of yellow fever. He won a certificate of merit for his time spent on the battlefield, in the signal corps, during the battle of Santiago. In 1890, he had served as a sergeant at Fort Huachuca before making a request to be transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco, to take a Signal Corps course in telegraphy and his transfer was denied. He was demoted to a private for making such a request. He received orders to report to regimental headquarters at Fort Bayard, New Mexico, where he was told he’d have plenty of opportunity to practice. [28][29]

 

Many of the other wounded men of the 24th, who were not infected by Yellow Jack, traveled back to Camp Wikoff on the hospital ship Olivette and then returned to Fort Douglas by train; such as Frank Hellems, who returned to Fort Douglas earlier to recover from his strange gun shot wound.

 

“Musician Frank Hellems of Company C, Twenty-fourth infantry, was a noncombatant, but he wanted to see what was going on. So crawled up to the fighting line and laid down flat on his face. There came along a bullet which entered just above his left shoulder and made a neat hole obliquely through the flesh of his back and came out just over his left hip. Musician Hellems jumped and yelled.”

Surgeons Say Captain Knox’s Curious Case Peculiar Wounds of Musician Frank Hellems.

Among the 274 wounded men whom the Olivette brought back to New York from the battlefields of Cuba are some of the most extraordinary cases of injury known in surgical history. When the war is over, it is probable that military and naval methods of warfare will not be the only things to have been revolutionized. There are indications that most, of the surgical axioms which relate to gunshot injuries will have to be revised. 5 of the men on the Olivette are almost shot to pieces. There are men who can show as many as eight bullet holes, and by all the traditions of surgery they ought to be dead. Instead they are alive and not over particularly uncomfortable. Men who were shot through the kidneys, liver or lungs are able to walk around.” [30]

 

“Corps. Thomas W. Countee, David Holden, who was seriously wounded in the battle of San Juan, and James M. Dickerson, Company F, Twenty-fourth infantry, have been promoted to sergeants.” — Salt Lake Tribune, August 26, 1897

 

The small number of troops which had remained stationed at Fort Douglas during the war tried to put together a baseball team, paving the way for the arrival of the rest of the regiment that would come home from Cuba, in hopes that they could return to playing ball once again. The way they once played, in front of the cheering crowds of thousands of Salt Lake fans who were filled with adoration for the men of Fort Douglas. Playing like the Browns of ’97. Playing against the best teams in the region, both near and far, as an effective, nearly unstoppable team. Yet, there were very few good men to chose from, to make a good team of those who had remained at the Fort Douglas post. Most of them were not trained in the sport by those who went off to war. Ten days after Frank Hellems arrived back at Fort Douglas on August 18th, he was one of the men that tried his best to play the sport again. Hellums was one of the early Fort Douglas Browns, who played at the beginning of the 1897 season.

 

Colored Player Go Down Before Short Line.

THE SCORE WAS  22 TO 6

RETURNED SOLDIERS PLAY

Hellums who returned from Santiago some ten days ago, played first for the Browns and put up a fair game for a man who has been dallying with a game where the balls shriek and whistle and the man who stops one them doesn’t care to play any longer. A fairly good crowd saw the contest.” — Salt Lake Tribune, August 29, 1898

 

“Harris was clearly out of condition and before the game was half over he became dispirited at the ragged support he was getting from the field and, as he said afterwards, “gave up trying”. The Short Lines played to win from the first inning. When the game was ended there were a good many disgusted soldiers at the fort who had hoped that the Browns would finish up better with their opponents. But the players themselves seemed to be in no wise discouraged.

“It was only a practice game,” said Catcher Jackson

“I haven’t played ball all summer,” said Harris, who has been spending the hot months pitching bullets at the Spaniards from the muzzle of a rifle. “We’ll get another chance at them and do better next time.”  — Salt Lake Herald, August 29, 1898

 

In early September, it was reported that the 24th would soon be coming home to Utah. Still, the Browns as a team, were not close to what they had been. They scheduled games, but most of them never came to fruition. The reason being, the talent just wasn’t there at the the fort and wouldn’t be returning any time soon.

 

PLAYED BASEBALL AT FORT DOUGLAS YESTERDAY

The Game Was a Poor One–Resulting In a Victory For the Short Line By A Score of 15 to 12.

There was a baseball game at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday afternoon between the Oregon Short Line team and and another aggregation styling itself the Browns, taking on the name of the old Fort Douglas nine that made such an excellent record before the boys had to go to war, in order to draw a crowd. As a matter of fact very few of the original Browns’ team were there, and the new organization lacks a good deal of reaching the standard of the old nine.

Harris started in to pitch for the Browns, but gave up in the sixth inning, and Armstrong was substituted.  He did some good work, and considering the fact that the nine was made up of whatever material could be found among the colored population of the city, they gave him support. Had the Short Line boys played their usual game it would have been a one sided affair, decidedly so, but as it happened they didn’t and the score was pretty even.” — Salt Lake Herald, September, 12, 1898

 

The reporting of the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment who had left Fort Douglas to fight in Cuba and their heroic actions on the battlefield dominated the newspaper in the Utah region.

 

WORDS OF JUST PRAISE FOR THE REGIMENT

They Were the First on San Juan Hill–Duty at Fever Hospital–Proud to Return to Salt Lake.

Fort Douglas, Utah, Sept. 14.– Now that all the Fifth army corps has been removed from the malarial-loaded clime of Cuba, and some are now on their road to their proper stations, and others under orders, while others are awaiting orders, yet no one tires of reading and listening to the stories written and told by eyewitnesses of the great human struggle for the cause of humanity just ended between the United States and Spain. When the regular soldiers left their stations last spring, under orders to proceed to some Southern city or port, not one-tenth of the vast number realized what was before them. That war was declared they knew, that the United States would never seek peace they also knew, yet none of them, or very few, ever believed they would have to undergo what they have, and what many succumbed to.

When ordered to the front the regiment advanced as if on skirmish drill on the lower parade ground at the fort. And the charge on Fort San Juan was made with the same fervor as they charged upon that little hill just east of the baseball park. The falling of men on every side of them, and the apparent demoralization of the whole regiment directly in their front, neither served to demoralize or dishearten this regiment. There was nothing to encourage them to go onward, unless it was the prospect of death. Bullets as thick as hail, and falling just as fast around them, and coming, it seemed, from the rear as well as from the front and each flank, was the only encouragement they had to move to the front. Their gallant commander having fallen, yet they were not undismayed, but they kept going to the front and to victory. No thoughts of retreat ever entered the minds of theses men, and not a vestige of fear ever entered their hearts. After the fall of their , gallant commander, Lieut. Col. E.H. Liscum, now a Brigadier-General of volunteers, a feeling of revenge  seemed to inspire them to greater activity.

But this noble regiment did not stop with the surrender of Santiago. They were hardly dry from the dampness of the trenches when they were called upon to face the deadly yellow jack, which was many declared, worse than the Mauser bullets. Yet they faced it with the same degree of fearlessness and just as cheerfully. They were called upon, and they felt it their duty. They did do their duty there too, and acquitted themselves as nobly as they did on the charge and in the trenches. All night long on the night of July 15th, they plodded through mud, dew and dense tropical undergrowth to the yellow fever hospital, where they were to suffer everything but death. What the Twenty-fourth infantry has endured during this campaign is known only to them and the Almighty God.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 16, 1898

 

Warnings issued to the people of Salt Lake about the impending return of the troops to Fort Douglas and Salt Lake area were also a major part of the daily news cycle. They were written to remind the citizens of what their favored sons, the 24th Infantry Regiment, had been through during their battles while fighting in Cuba. Stressing the high points that some of these men returning to Fort Douglas were not the same men who left Fort Douglas. Close to one-thousand men were assigned to return to Fort Douglas, after the closing of Camp Wikoff, and this decimated regiment would increase in numbers, but it was noted that Fort Douglas could not house that many troopers. Still, there would be many new faces to look upon. Most of those men who had left, would never return to their fair city, and that the citizens of Salt Lake City were warned in advance, that their favored sons were no longer coming home.

 

IT WAS MOST WELCOME NEWS AT THE FORT.

How the Heroic Fighters and Nurse will Appear When They Return–Personal Notes of Members.

Correspondence Tribune.] Ft. Douglas, Sept. 19–The welcome news was received at the post Sunday night that the gallant Twenty-fourth infantry was ordered to again take station at Fort Douglas. The news arrived just in time to offset an opinion which was fast gaining prevalence that the regiment would be ordered to some Southern station or that it would probably be sent back to Cuba for the winter.

There has been much speculation and uncertainty as to the disposition of the four colored regiments ever since war was declared, and it was no common thing to hear it said that the Ninth and Tenth cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth infantry were left in Cuba for garrison duty and that they, with the immunes, would constitute an army of occupation. A good many went so far as to say that that was the plan of the War department, but it seems that those rumors were set afloat by those who were afraid that they would be left in Cuba, and they wanted to set their fear at rest by believing the four colored regiments were to be left.

When the regiment makes its appearance at the depot here in Salt Lake City the many friends of it will have to look at more than one face before they will recognize one of the faces that marched through the streets of the city so gallantly last spring.

There will be just as many, probably more, but they will be strangers. Of the five hundred and more men that went away there will scarcely be more than 200 hundred of that number in line. Many of them that are absent will never march again; they are sleeping beneath the sod of a foreign clime where they so bravely fell for their country and the cause of humanity.

As they march through the streets on their return, let every one bear in mind, that they are conquering heroes. Many more that will be absent, let it be remembered, are suffering from some dread disease, and from which they will never recover. And of those that will be present, many of them will yet succumb to some poisonous disease, which is slyly but surely sapping up their life’s blood.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 20, 1898

 

Camp Wikoff, Montauk Point, N.Y.

“The Twenty-fourth infantry has had its orders changed, owing to the discovery that Fort Douglas, in Utah, is only a half-regiment post, and cannot accommodate the whole regiment. Therefore half the regiment will go, as originally ordered, and the other half will go to Fort Russell, Wyoming.

The hospital now contains 515 men. Many of these are beyond hope, and for two weeks, it is feared, there will be many deaths, mostly from typhoid fever.

The division hospital tents are being taken down and fumigated and then turned in. The hospitals are all now out of existence except the main one. There were two death today in the hospital.” — Salt Lake Herald, September 21, 1898

 

There would only be two games left to play at the end 1898 season for the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment. The new Fort Douglas Browns would play against the Oregon Short Line team shortly after the arrival of the 24th Infantry Regiment’s return to Fort Douglas from Camp Wikoff. These new Browns would take up the ball and bat against the Salt Lake Elks, a group of players formed from the former Park City Miners of 1897. The 24th Infantry Regiment pulled into the station on September 30th, but did not disembark their Pullman cars that evening. It had been a long trip home from New York, and the men slept in the train cars while the officers slept in their berths. A crowd of two hundred people gathered to see them as they pulled up to the depot, but they would not exit the train and march to Fort Douglas till the morning October 1, 1898. By 10:00 AM the next morning, 2,500 people had gathered, braving the cold weather, to welcome their heroes home from war; and as the crowd grew to 10,000 spectators within the next half hour, orders were given to leave the train and begin the long trip to Fort Douglas, where a banquet awaited the humble return to Salt Lake.[31]

 

On October 9, 1898, the Browns would lose to the Oregon Short Line nine, by a score of 18 to 2. Harris could no longer pitch, and was moved to third base, and Hellems continued his stay at first base. Their whole team was new and untested. They didn’t play together very well. Most of their star players of 1897 had died either in battle, or were ravaged by the yellow fever they contracted during their stay in Siboney.

 

SHORT LINES HAVE EASY PREY IN THE BROWNS.

Score 18 to 2, a Very One-sided Showing–The Browns Lacked Practice, But gave Evidence of Ability.

The baseball game at Fort Douglas grounds yesterday afternoon between the Oregon Short Line team and the Browns turned out to be a very one-sided affair. The soldiers at no stage of the game had any possible chance of winning, and it was an accident that they scored any runs at all. The Short Line team began in the first inning and continued a procession over home plate until they had 18 tallies to their credit. The soldier boys didn’t get any during the first seven innings, but in the eighth and the ninth brought each a man over the square.

The crowd was one of the largest ever in attendance at a game on reservation grounds, the enthusiast evidently expecting to witness a good game. Many, too, were drawn thither from purely patriotic feelings , being anxious to manifest their interest in the returned heroes from San Juan hill. It may have been the charge at Santiago heights has taken much of the sporting stamina out of them; certain it was they did not play a very good game. In justice to the team, however, the fact should be noted that they have no opportunity to practicing together. There are many excellent players in the nine, and with practice, will be formidable opponents for any team in the state.” — Salt Lake Herald, October 10, 1898

 

Only five hundred spectators showed up for the Browns final game, played on October 23, 1898, between the Browns and the Salt Lake Elks. Sgt. Mack Stanfield, who had previously been the manager of the Fort Douglas ’97 team, acted as the field umpire for the game. Sgt. Stanfield was one of the many men who was wounded at the battle of San Juan heights.

 

 “THEY DEFEATED THE BROWNS AT FORT DOUGLAS

The game was called at 3 o’clock. Sergt. Stanfield and Joe Smith were chosen as umpires. The Elks went to bat first, and before the colored men had gotten thoroughly aroused four men scored. This was due to the poor work of the Browns in outfield, which was marked all through the game. This team, however, needs only practice to make it a strong aggregation . Willis is its second baseman , and a former left fielder in the Chicago Union team, did some excellent work, both at bat an on base. The team, with the exception of First Baseman Hellems and Pitcher Harris is made up of recruits recently brought from Kentucky, but nearly everyone showed experience on the diamond.” — Salt Lake Tribune, October, 24, 1898

 

Whether or not “Willis” was actually Willis Jones of the Chicago Union is subject to speculation. As an Independent Club, the Chicago Union only played four games in 1898. What is no longer open for speculation is the fact that Armstrong, Jackson, and Willis, three of the Fort Douglas’s most valued players, played on a predominately white team in 1898.

 

Jackson has likewise received his discharge, but is still in the city, and may be depended upon to play ball with some team during the season. Armstrong will also be missed from the ranks of the Browns.”

 

Taking a closer look at the Elks of Salt Lake later in the season, Jackson, Armstrong and Willis had joined the team, playing side by side with former rivals on what could be considered an ‘integrated’ team. Jackson began playing with the Elks around mid September 1898, and Armstrong and Willis followed Jackson shortly after in early October of 1898. Former second baseman Meinecke, from the 1897 Park City Miners, was second baseman for the Elks, and was the standout position he normally played for every team that recruited him. Meinecke also played for the ’97 Salt Lake Cracks, and the ’98 Eurekas — a new Park City team put together by ‘Old Hoss’ Harkness. The Eurekas only played a single game that season. They were defeated by the Elks in early June, by a score of 17 to 8, also losing the side bet of $100. McFarland, who played for the Elks, also played with the ’97 Oregon Short Line nine, ‘and the 97 Jubilees. Even the Oregon Short Line player, Hughley, eventually defected to the Elks of Salt Lake.

 

“The Elks bested the Ogden team in a closely contested game at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday. The visitors put up good ball but the home nine, reinforced by Jackson, the colored catcher from the Browns, won out by a scratch. The day was so cold that not many ventured out, save the cranks. There was considerable money changed hands on the result, the Elks taking the long end. George Bennett, bicycle and baseball enthusiast, place coin on the Elks and went home a happier man, while the other fellow dropped off to make a meal out of a hot tomale.

Armstrong pitched a strong steady game for the home team and was hard to find. With Jackson behind the bat the Ogdenites had difficulty in scoring though they put up a pretty good game all through.” — Salt Lake Herald, October, 3, 1898

 

In the Eighth Inning, When Score was 16 to 13, the Short Line Club Quit Because of a Decision.

The trouble which ended the eight innings of alleged baseball arose out of a question of jurisdiction between Umpire Smith behind the bat and Umpire Stanfield in the field. Jackson of the Elks had reached first on a Short Line error, and was caught between first and second on what Umpire Smith called a balk by Kidder. Stanfield called Jackson out, but yielded to Smith’s decision. The Short Line refused to play unless Jackson was decided out, and Smith gave the game to the Elks.

It was perhaps fortunate that this game was the last of the season. Another game like it would hardly draw a corporal’s guard to the field. And yet the crowd had lots of fun. It started in to guy the players right at the beginning. Hughley, the Short Line seceder, wore an Elk uniform, and he was the butt of most of the jeering. His every move was watched and commented upon with caustic sarcasm by the crowd. Brig Smith got his share of the comment, and scarcely a man on the two teams escaped unscathed.

Armstrong of the old Browns pitched for five innings for the Elks, and was then replaced by Brig Smith. Neither was particularly effective, and their support was not good save in one or two innings.

Comment on the game is unnecessary. It was a footrace around the bases, with the Elks leading by a neck except for half an inning. Griggs and Barnes made two nice captures of long flies, and Willis, a clever colored lad, recruited to the Elks from the Browns, made a fine stop and throw to first, which brought him an ovation from the crowd.”– Salt Lake Tribune, October 31, 1898

 

In the month of October, many men of the 24th succumbed to relapses of yellow fever that had followed them home. It was a constant concern of the U.S. military in discovering the cause of this detrimental and debilitating disease which continued to curse the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment.

 

COLORED SOLDIERS STILL SUFFERING FROM CAMPAIGN

Many Case of Malarial Fever–Sergeants Appointed to Lieutenancies In the Ninth Immunes.

Notwithstanding the strenuous efforts to crush the dread disease, the Twenty-fourth infantry is to a certain extent still the clutches of malarial fever. In the month of October the post hospital received and treated 250 cases of sickness, about 175 of which were types of malaria, and the remaining number being convalescent cases of yellow fever and tonsolitis. There are at present 83 men on the sick report, 21 of whom are accommodated at the hospital, crowding it to its utmost capacity. the average number of new cases is 15, in most cases the illness is a relapse, the patients having been under treatment for the same cause at Montauk Point. Owing to the healthful climate, the present condition is not considered serious, and it is hoped to check a further spread of the disease.” — Salt Lake Herald, November 4, 1898

 

 

End: Part III

Part I   Part II   Part IV

 

[15] Salt Lake Tribune, February 6, 1898

[16] Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 1898

[17] Salt Lake Tribune, July 4, 1898

[18] Ogden Standard, July 8, 1898

[19] Genealogy Quest » Spanish American War » 24th Infantry, 1st, 2nd and 3rd July 1898

[20] Army and Navy Journal, August 20, 1898, pg. 1053

[21] Stephen Bonsol, “The Fight For Santiago”, Doubleday & McClure Co., New York, 1899, pg. 170

[22] Stephen Bonsol, “The Fight For Santiago”, Doubleday & McClure Co., New York, 1899, pgs. 196-197

[23] Stephen Bonsol, “The Fight For Santiago”, Doubleday & McClure Co., New York, 1899, pg. 433

[24] Ogden Standard, July 13, 1898

[25] Stephen Bonsol, “The Fight For Santiago”, Doubleday & McClure Co., New York, 1899, pg. 433

[26] T.G. Steward, “The Colored Regulars in the United States Army”, A.M.E. Book Concern, Philadelphia, 1904, pg. 222

[27] Stephen Bonsol, “The Fight For Santiago”, Doubleday & McClure Co., New York, 1899, pg. 433-434

[28] Salt Lake Herald, August 23, 1898

[29] William A. Dobak, Thomas D. Phillips, “The Black Regulars, 1866-1898″, University of Oklahoma Press, 2001, pg. 52

[30] The Gazette from York, Pennsylvania, August, 28, 1898

[31] Deseret Evening News, October 1, 1898

 

The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 2

 

 

The Pioneer Day Jubilee was was the largest event held in the state of Utah in 1897, and the week long event was publicized in newspapers around the country, comparing it to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Over $60,000 in private and public funds had been raised, and more than ten other states had donated money to usher in Utah as the 45th state of the Union. The city of Salt Lake was lined with the patriotic colors of the United States, while at the same time, the Jubilee colors burst forward in a brilliant spectacle to remind all the participants who attended this affair, that Utah still possessed its own cultural heritage.

 

“MAIN STREET

The entire front of the State Bank of Utah is concealed behind a drapery of the National and Jubilee colors, interwoven and blended into harmony.

The decorations on Templeton consist of long steamers of Stars and Stripes bunting, while the north front has innumerable flags of all sizes.

The Templeton restaurant has as single star in Jubilee colors in the center of which is a life-size portrait of William J. Bryan.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 1897

 

Utah voted predominately Democrat during the 1896 election cycle, and it was noted in many papers that Republican President William McKinley would not be showing up to the Pioneer Day Jubilee. Democratic-Populist, William Jennings Bryan, “The Great Commoner”, was the favorite son in the state of Utah during the Presidential campaign of 1896, based on his “Silverite” policy. Bryan had lost the electoral college by 95 votes, and the popular vote by over 600,000, but still remained the people choice in the state of Utah. The political and economic conflicts that endured between these two contradictory forces was represented in the colors that were flown by these opposing citizens of Utah, Goldbugs vs. Silverites; and the Republican Party would be represented by the 24th Infantry Regiment as a symbol of the United States during the Pioneer Jubilee. Bryan  attended the Pioneer Jubilee, representing the bimetallic platform for the Democratic party. President McKinley would not be at the Pioneer Jubilee, even though a formal delegation representing the new state of Utah was sent to Washington D.C. to invite him personally.

 

“(Special to the Herald) Washington, July 2 —

It can be safely stated now that President McKinley and his cabinet will not be visit Utah during her Semi-Centennial Jubilee. During the past week the president has confidentially expressed to several western members of congress, who were interested in the perspective trip, and who sought to learn his intentions regarding it, that he does not believe that he will see his way clear to go as far west as Utah until probably the later part of August, when he hopes to go to the Pacific Coast.

The committee sent to invite the president to Utah will be formally notified within a short time of his inability to accept the invitation. The apparent small interval which will exist between the adjournment of congress and the occasion of the celebration will be given as the principal reason therefore.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 3, 1897

 

The Hon. Moses Thatcher, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made the introduction for Bryan at the Logan, Utah Tabernacle, in a speech on July 22, which stirred the Mormon champions of silver’s “16 to 1” currency policy, held by Utah’s moderate Democrats.

 

“Mr. Thatcher made a brief speech, saying, in part: “You all know that I’m not given to laudation of men, but it is a pleasure to find one who has the moral courage to stand forth and oppose the encroachments of oppressors of the people that I wish to here pay my humble tribute of admiration to our honored visitor today. With his eloquent voice, attuned to 16 silver, 1 golden tune of harmony, he has declared to all the people that oppression of the poor by the money changers must cease. I introduce to you Hon. William J. Bryan.”

BRYAN’S ELOQUENCE

“I have had a most pleasant time since I came to Utah.” said he. “In Salt Lake I had the pleasure of attending the Trans-Mississippi congress, also the opening exercise of the Pioneer Jubilee. I have learned that the people of this state are overwhelmingly in favor of bimetallism, and I will tell you my friends, we propose to continue the battle until financial freedom is won.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 23, 1897

 

Baseball was on still everyone’s mind though, including the Park City Miners who were devout ‘Silverites’. The Fort Douglas Browns had already played more games that season than the Park City Miners, and they had also won more games than the former state champions. Yet, the continuing feud between them would remain evident to the population of Salt Lake since the first time they met on the diamond. The Browns represented every aspect of life that the Miners of Park City had rejected since the 24th Infantry Regiment’s arrival in the state of Utah. They were black, they were U.S. government soldiers who spoke on behalf of the McKinley Administration, and they were good at the game of baseball.

 

The opening day events for the Pioneer Jubilee were numerous, and the draw to the baseball games were as important as any of the rest of the activities that were scheduled. The first game would be played between the Browns and the Jubilees. It would be called, “The Best Game Of The Season” by reporters.

 

“It was the best game of the season. So said everyone of the thousand people who saw the Browns defeat the Jubilees at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday afternoon. It was close and exciting from the start to finish, with few errors and many clever plays by both sides. At the end of the sixth inning the score was 2 to 1 in favor of the Jubilees. Then Richards lost his temper at a decision of the umpire and the Jubilees and the Jubilees began to find him, and they made six runs in the two following innings. Kidder hurt his arm in a vain endeavor to stop a liner from Countee’s bat and after that he let down somewhat, and in the ninth inning, with the score 8 to 6 in favor of the Jubilees, McFarland replaced him. He sent a couple of men to base on balls, and then, with the bases full, Armstrong lifted the ball over the fence and the game and the game was won.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1897

 

Armstrong’s grand slam had sealed the fate of the Jubilee team. It also sent a very strong message to the public at large. The final score was 10 to 8, in favor of the Browns.

 

“Armstrong’s Play Snatched Victory From the Jubilees and Perched It On the Banners of the Soldiers, But the Former Demonstrated That They Are Now Rivals Worthy of Any Other Team.”

BIG ARMSTRONG’S FEAT

It was then that big Armstrong took up the bat and rapped the ball so fiercely that it went many yards clear of the fence, and many yards above the left fielder’s head. And while men came dashing over the home plate, followed by Armstrong, the wild din of countless voices clattered over the field. Armstrong was gathered up and triumphantly held upon the shoulders of the enthusiast. Meanwhile the Jubilees limped away dazed and heavy of heart.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 19, 1897

 

The Pioneer Day Jubilee’s major event on July 21, 1897, between the most sought after rival  teams, the Park City Miners and the Fort Douglas Browns drew a crowd of three-thousand fans. It was by far, the largest draw of the season. After the defeat of the Jubilee team, the Park City Miners were out for blood. Cheating was not above them, or their traveling umpire, James Byrne. There would be trouble at this game from the very beginning.

 

“A baseball game, which came near terminating ere half-played, was on at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday and 3000 people watched the Park City boys gain their second victory of the week by a score of 14 to 9 from the Browns of the Douglas garrison. It was in the last half of the third inning that the only thing to mar the pleasure of the game occurred, when Reid of the Browns collided with Capt. Lloyd, the miners shortstop, who was after a hot liner and claimed he did not see the colored man coming. The crowd, which by the way, was a very demonstrative one, simply raised up in the seats and yelled when Umpire Byrne, acting, so it seemed on impulse of the moment, declared Reid, who at meantime reached third, to be safe. No sooner was this done, than Capt. Lloyd walked over to the scorers’ stand, sacked his bats and retired from the field. This Achillean movement caused Byrne to reverse his decision and call Reid out. This made Capt. Loving of the Browns angry and had it not been for the timely appearance of Lieut. Jackson of Company B on the ground, the Browns would have withdrawn also. He advised Capt. Loving to go on with the game and the latter gave in, much to the chagrin of his team”. — Salt Lake Tribune, July, 22, 1897

 

With two game out of the way, one win against the Jubilees and one loss against Park City, the Browns would meet the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s, on July 24, 1897. The Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s had just lost their game by a score of 7 to 3 against the Park City Miners in front of a crowd of 2,500 screaming fans the day before, and they gave the ‘Silverites’ a run for their money.

 

“The ball game yesterday afternoon between the Browns of Fort Douglas and the Ogden team, on the Fort Douglas grounds, was attended by a large crowd of very enthusiastic spectators, who appeared to feel well repaid for their their attendance. The game, which was unusually interesting and at times exciting, was very closely contested from start to finish. The Browns were whitewashed in the first, second and seventh innings, and the Ogdens in the second, third, forth, seventh and ninth. For the Browns, Richards and Dean were pitchers and Emmett and Ferrin for the Ogdens. The field work was good on both sides. Home runs were mad by Wheeler and Loving of the Browns, and by Greenwell of the Ogdens. A number of two and three-base hits were made on both sides. As usual, there was much fault found with the umpire.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 25, 1897

 

In a tight game, the Browns defeated the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s by a score of 9 to 8, which put them at two wins and one loss for the Pioneer Day Jubilee baseball series. In their final game, the Browns would once again take on the Jubilees.

 

Jubilee Boys Demonstrated There Right to Retire From the Diamond — Cannot Play Ball a Little Bit.

If the Jubilee nine ever had any illuminations, their lights went out yesterday on the dusty, sun-baked diamond at Fort Douglas. At the end of the melancholy and depressing conflict, the Jubilees were as much defunct in a baseball way as is the luminous celebration which they were created to represent.

PLAYED LIKE FARMERS

But there was a difference in the manner of the demise, for instead of going down amid belching cannons and meteors of flashing light, as the celebration did, the Jubilees simply went up against the soldier nine and were eaten up.

SPORT FOR THE BROWNS

And the Browns deemed it rare sport forsooth. They gathered in a harvest of seven in one inning and captured 12 more easily and gracefully before the curtain fell. There were home runs and sensational raps on the ball when three men covered the bags. The Browns gamboled as in the dust and grinned large mahogany grins. When the game was over they did not jubilate or tear severe cheers from their throats. All they did was to wrap up their countenances in big wide smirks.

The crowd, which had looked for no other ending to the burlesque filed out of the gate, meanwhile, a solemn and sad procession.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 26, 1897

 

The seven game series had ended, and the Park City Miners made quick work of announcing their domination in baseball at the Pioneer Day Jubilee. A ‘Jollification’ was in order, again staking claim to being the finest baseball team in the state of Utah. The Park City Miners had won three games. The Browns had also won three games out of the four they had played.

 

“Park City, July 27 — The Park City and Independent bands and the baseball club held a jollification last night, celebrating the victories won at the Jubilee last week. It will be remembered that the Park City band took the first prize of $200, and the Independent band took the second prize of $100, while the baseball nine defeated each of three contesting teams, the Browns, Jubilees, and Ogdens.

Brooms were carried by victors of the diamond. On the banners were inscribed:”Eleven victories out of twelve contest: that ain’t bad for drill drivers.” “Park City band won the $200 prize; Independent band won the $100 prize.” “We’re the only Pebbles on the Beach.” “All coons look alike, Park city on top.” “Ogden Y.M.C.A. nine drank all the red lemonade in Salt Lake.” “We’ve got next to the whole works; turn your lamps on us and see ‘lumination’.” “The Jubilees, they couldn’t split wood.” —  Salt Lake Herald, July 28, 1897

 

The month of August held some interesting developments for the Park City Miners and the Jubilees after the Pioneer Jubilee week, where baseball was concerned. These two teams disbanded, and reorganized in order to take down the Browns, while the Browns would continue to play against teams like Leadville and the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s. This new team would be eventually call themselves the Salt Lake “Cracks”.  Another reason for this consolidation of the Jubilees and Park City Miners had to do with the shutting of two major mining camps in Park City. The Daily and Ontario mines were not producing, and many of the men working them would be thrown out of their current employment. In July of 1897, the miners of Park City accepted a wage cut during the Pioneer Jubilee Day event.  By early August, 1,200 men would be out of work.

 

“Salt Lake, Aug. 6 — The Ontario and Daily mines in Park city, Utah closed down this evening. A cut in wages was made several days ago and the men cheerfully submitted, but owing to the drop in silver during the past few days it was deemed best to close them altogether. This action means the throwing out of employment of at least 1,200 men. There is intense excitement in this city and Park City tonight over the actions of these companies. No one blames them, however, as it is a well known fact that the mines have operated at a loss. A crash in the other direction is anticipated.” — Ogden Standard, August 7, 1897

 

“The Park City baseball club, on account of the mines closing, have disbanded, and each was paid his share of the money in the treasury, which was quite an amount.” — Round Up, August 13, 1897

 

“The Jubilee and Park City baseball teams have consolidated, and propose to pick their best men with the view of “doing up” the boys of Fort Douglas.” — Ogden Standard, August 13, 1897

 

“The Ogden base ball nine are arranging for a game with the Fort Douglas Browns, at Salt Lake for some day next week. While this is going on, the Jubilees have consolidated with the Park nine and the best members of each team now constitute the “Jubilees”. They are after the “Browns” scalps.” — Ogden Standard Examiner, August, 13, 1897

 

At the Fort Douglas compound, the soldiers continued on with their duties, which included drilling and inspections, and spent their recreational time playing baseball among themselves.

 

“The soldiers are now anxiously awaiting orders for the practice march. The exact date is not yet known, but they will undoubtedly leave very shortly after the inspector general arrives and makes his inspection.

The inspector general is expected to arrive in the post on the 16th. He is on a regular tour and will thoroughly inspect the troops and the garrison here. The troops will be put through all the different forms of squad, company, battalion and regimental drills. Besides this the quarters, storehouses and the whole post will be carefully inspected.

Skirmish firing is now nearly completed and it is expected that volley will commence today. With the completion of volley firing the season’s practice will be over and the season of field work will commence.

Baseball is one of the most interesting topics among the men at present. There are several teams in existence among the different companies, and contest are of frequent occurrence. One of the games announced is for the 4th, when the F company  “Chunks” will play the B company “Chumps”. The game will be called at 7:00 am sharp. All the men who wish to see the game will have to forego their after breakfast nap. Game is called at such an early hour to give to give the players time to finish nine innings before dark. The last score between the two teams was 204 to 185.

Professor Loving, the crack all around ball player for the Browns, has suddenly stepped forth and tipped his cap to a delighted audience that sat in rapture over his musical work. Loving has shown that his voice — which so often is heard on the baseball field crying “slide, Reid, or you’ll cash your checks” — has the power to charm as well as coach. He is leader of the choir and fills his position with credit. He is also leader of the mandolin club and shows that his fingers can touch the strings of a mandolin as deftly as they can grab a baseball bat.” — Salt Lake Herald, August 12, 1897

 

The new, ‘improved’ “Jubilee” team, that was gunning for the Fort Douglas Browns would suffer their last defeat under that name at the hands of the Browns in mid August.

 

“The Salt Lake team, an aggregation composed of some of the best men from the Jubilee nine, Park City boys and others, went up against the Fort Douglas Browns, yesterday afternoon, and the score — 20 to 14 — in favor of the soldiers, tells the whole story.

The city boys put up a good game, but were deficient in team work, while their pitchers were not strong enough to hold the Browns down. Allen, McFarland, and Kimbrough were put in the box in succession, but it made little difference to the warriors, who kept right on playing ball. The city team did some good stick work in the first, pounding out four runs, and scored two in the second, three in the fifth, one in the seventh and four in the eight, but closed the ninth with a goose egg.

The soldiers scored three runs in the first, three in the second, seven in the third, two in the fourth and then let up until the eight when they piled up five.” — Salt Lake Herald, August 16, 1897

 

This would be last game of August for the Browns, even though they were challenged by a pick nine called the Salt Lake Athletics. The negotiations fell through, and the Browns never played the Athletics. All roads would lead to Leadville, the “Champions of Colorado”, who would challenge the former Jubilee-Park City consolidated team now known as the Salt Lake Cracks. The Fort Douglas field is where the game would be staged for all to witness, and Cracks and Leaville teams would end the game in a riot in the eight inning, with Leadville walking off the field, forfeiting the game to the Cracks.

 

The Browns would soon face the Leadville Blues in a three game series at the Fort Douglas grounds to determine who was the best between them. The Blues always brought the same attitude to the field. Win, or start a riot, then claim victory. The Browns would win two of the three games, one of them by forfeit of the last game, which ended up in a tie score of 13 to 13, and a riot in the tenth inning with Leadville walking off the field. Leadville left town claiming they were the victorious, and staked a claim of being the champions of both the state of Colorado and Utah. [11]

 

Second Game of the Series Produces a Score of 19 to 10

The Browns found the Leadville team somewhat easy victims at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday. In the third inning they knocked Francis out of the box and scored twelve runs. More than enough to win the game.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 19, 1897

 

“The game of ball at the fort ended yesterday with more or less glory for the Browns, but for all that it was an unhappy termination to a good battle.

In an attempt to decide a tie game by the tenth inning, a dispute arose in the Leadville camp over a decision by the umpire, and as the Colorado men refused to play any more in the soldiers’ yard the umpire awarded the game and the victory to the Browns. This gave the Browns two games out of the tournament of three.”  — Salt Lake Herald, September 20, 1897

 

“In a congratulatory story headed, “The Champions Of The West”, the Leadville Herald, Democrat, pats its returned baseball team on the back for the record it made on its recent trio through Utah.

The article says in part: “The baseball club returned from their successful trip through Utah Tuesday, and the boys all report a splendid trip financially. Manager Grier says the club played excellent ball while on the trip, and conducted themselves as gentlemen at all times, making friends at all the different cities where they appeared. Out of eleven games played the club won six, lost two and had three drawn games. The Blues have played forty-nine games this season, winning thirty-seven, losing nine and playing three tie games. This is the best record made by an independent club in Colorado, and the people of our city should certainly feel proud of the club which has succeeded in winning the championship of both Colorado and Utah. The city has been certainly advertised over the West, as a winning baseball team creates more interest and excitement than any other attraction in the country. Last Sunday the boys played to 1500 people in Salt Lake City against the famous Fort Douglas Browns in the most exciting and interesting contest ever played in Utah. At the beginning of the tenth inning the score stood 13 to 13, when a small-sized riot was started by the people betting on the contest, and the game was broken up” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 25, 1897

 

After the Salt Lake Cracks won their game by forfeit to the Leadville Blues, they would take a final stab at the Fort Douglas Browns. It was natural to think they stood a chance at seizing the day, and placing a final nail in the coffins of the Browns notoriety. Game after game, the Brown drew a crowd of a thousand or more spectators in attendance. The Cracks would be hard pressed to prove their point about which team would dominate the state of Utah, and after weeks of practice, their challenge of the Browns would be met by defeat.

 

“Nearly a thousand people watched the Browns and the Salt Lake gambol for two hours about the Fort Douglas baseball grounds yesterday afternoon. It was not very good baseball at any stage of the game, but the players had lots of fun and so did the spectators. The Browns won out in a very leisurely sort of way by a score of 13 to 5. Their victory was principally due to the very clever work in the box of pitcher Harris. It was Harris’s debut in the box before the Salt Lake audience and he created a most favorable impression. The Salt Lakes scored all of their runs in the first three innings. Harris held the Salt Lakes down to three scratch singles. He has good speed and excellent control, watches the bases well and is fairly good with the stick.

Reid of the Browns was in a hilarious mood and kept the players and spectators convulsed during most of the game by his antics. Adams was hit by a pitched ball in the sixth inning and had to be carried off the field. He recovered sufficiently to be able to go on with the game.

The feature were Lloyd’s fine stop of Countee’s sharp grounder in the seventh and Matthews’s splendid catch of Reid’s long fly at the left field fence in the sixth.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 27, 1897

 

War was brewing between the United States and Spain, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt made it clear that there was no way around it. Any and all negotiation had failed.

 

Secretary Roosevelt Believes War With Spain Is Almost Certain

Uncle Sam Making Preparations for the Prospective TroubleThe Navy Department Gathering its Available MenWhat Wooford Said.

New York, Sept. 22–“This country is on the verge of war with Spain.”

These are the word of the Assistant Secretary Of the Navy Roosevelt. He used them at a conference of some of the commanders of the naval militia, whom he had summoned to Washington to learn of the state of their commands and a number of men that can be depended on to complete the complement of warships and auxiliary navy.” — Logan Journal, September 25, 1897\

 

The final game of season for the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment would be a rematch between the Browns and the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s.  It would be an away game, played on the Ogden field in mid October.  It was a hard fought victory for the Y.M.C.A.’s, by a final score of 7 to 4, but what hadn’t been known by anyone in the Salt Lake area, is that after this game, the Ogden Y.M.C.A’s would disband their club and claim that they were now the champions of the state of Utah.

 

They are now Champions of Utah.

The Club has Disbanded for the Season and Will Open Up Next Year With the Intention of Holding the Banner in Ogden

During the past week, the Salt Lake teams, including the Fort Douglas Browns, have been endeavoring to secure a game of ball, with the Ogden team, to take place in Salt Lake. To all the inquiries the manager of the club has replied that the Ogden team has disbanded and would play no more games this year. The departure of Emmett, the crack pitcher for the Ogdens, left a vacancy which cannot be filled this season, but the club management is pushing matters for the securing of a tip top twirler and some other good timber for the coming year.

One point which the last game with the Browns brought out, but which was kept quiet for some reason, was that the game was for the championship of Utah. The Ogden team had defeated the Jubilees twice, and the Browns twice, while the Browns had defeated Ogden twice. This game was the rubber, and Ogden won it out from the start, thus securing the championship, and they say they are going to keep it.” — Ogden Standard Examiner, October 13, 1897

 

Of course, the Ogden Standard Examiner laid its own twist on the game in question, boosting the story to secure the pride of the home team. The Salt Lake Tribune called a different game, where both teams were battling fiercely, with Ogden in the lead and the score standing at 5 to 4 in the seventh inning in favor of the home team, until Ogden pulled ahead and shut the Browns down with good pitching and batting. The Ogden team batted out two runs in the eight innings, and the Browns could not recover at the plate. [12]

 

With the 1897 season officially over, the Browns prepared for next year by making plans for a grass field, to cut down on the dust that came with every play.

 

“The Browns are now hard at work on the baseball grounds, getting them in shape for next season. The club has purchased a large amount of grass seed, and are preparing to sow it all so that the grass will be up in the spring. The ground were very dusty last summer and made it disagreeable, for the players as well as the spectators. By sowing the field with grass, it is hoped to do away with the nuisance of dust. An attempt will be made to make a lawn of the whole enclosure, but a especial attention will be given to having grass in the diamond and in front of the grand stand. Next season will probably see the inevitable signs “Keep off the grass” placed about the field.

In the general work about the ground will be included the leveling of the field and a rebuilding or repairing of the grand stand. The fences will be repaired and the grounds laid out anew. The season just past was a very successful one for the Browns, both in financial and professional ways. The net proceeds of the season will be about $500, and a great deal of it will be spent in buying new suit, bats, balls and other necessaries for the season of ’98. In a professional way, the Browns won a great many laurels. The only team that could boast over their victories over the Browns were the Park City boys. And even they have not much to boast of, as their victories were hard earned and not “walk-aways.” Countee has been elected to fill the place of secretary for the team for the next season.” — Salt Lake Herald, November 29, 1897

 

Corporal Thomas W. Countee, of Company F, would also take over as team manager of the Fort Douglas Browns. replacing Sergeant Mack Stanfield, of Company B, who would be placed on a three month furlough to visit his family and friends in Nashville, Tennessee. [13]

 

The Browns of Fort Douglas had made a name for themselves throughout the West in ’97, and were recognized as one of the premier teams to play the game of baseball. Their 1897 season was filled with more wins than losses, against more teams than any other team in the state of Utah. That fact would not be soon forgotten by the citizens of Utah, so far as the game of baseball was concerned. They endeared themselves to both spectators and opponents, and brought excitement to every Sunday event they undertook. So much so, they were slotted as one of the main teams to be invited to play in the newly developing 1898 State League of Utah. [14]

 

The Browns would never get a chance to play in the scheduled state league games; and for most of the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, they would never play baseball again.

 

End: Part II

Part I   Part III   Part IV

 

[11] Herald Democrat-September 23, 1897

[12] Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 1897

[13] Salt Lake Tribune, Dec 26, 1897

[14] Salt Lake Trubune, March 6, 1897

The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 1

 

 

Abner Doubleday, Fort McKavett, Texas, Fort Bayard, New Mexico, Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Fort Douglas, Utah all bear a common thread in the study of African American baseball history:

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment.

 

The study of African American 19th Century baseball, and those who participated in the sport is nominal. In some instances, it is almost nonexistent. The rationales for these occurrences are many, and within reason. Some of it can be related to the type of media used at that time, and the record keeping retention process. The written word was only accessible to those who had an interest in reading, and record keeping was limited based upon its value of importance. Photography was expensive and time consuming in the 19th Century, and many of the players were seldom photographed, unless they paid for them from their own pockets. More than often, illustrations, or cartoons were used as a substitute for photographs to depict players of color. The highly documented reporting of the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment during the years of 1897 and 1898 displayed very detailed accounts in the press of their participation of the national pastime, both off and on military installations.

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment was originally formed in 1869 by consolidating the 38th and 41st Infantry Regiments, which took up residence at Fort McKavett, Texas, and formed the main body of the 24th Infantry Regiment. [1]  Most of these men were former volunteers United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) during the Civil War, who would eventually become Army ‘Regulars’. Their main duties would include defending frontier outpost, maintaining peace and order throughout Southwestern U.S. territories, escorting supply trains, repairing telegraph lines, and supplying security for the railroads and wagon construction teams, in addition to protecting Army payrolls while escorting Army paymasters. There were also certain companies within the 24th Infantry Regiment that deployed along a 220 mile stretch of territory, who were also stationed at Fort Stockton, Fort Davis, and Fort Concho.

 

Spending their lives on the Texas frontier was harsh and labor intensive duty for everyone involved in the regiment. There were constant skirmishes with hostile Native Americans, pursuits into Mexico, while at the same time guarding supply lines and and watering holes. The 24th Infantry Regiment lived a life of isolation, far removed from the creature comforts of civilization of  the larger cities, learning to the most of their time spent in service to the Union Army. Their involvement in the pacification of ‘Indians’ across the plains and deserts of America, and protection for the ever expanding civilian populations from the East who were intent on moving westward under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, were inclusive as part of their main duty assignment in these very desolate environments. Within the fort setting though, they still found time for baseball.  As small towns sprung up across the plains, the 24th Infantry Regiment would engage civilian opponents in the national pastime.

 

After 11 years of duty on the Llano Estacado, the Staked Plains, units of the 24th Regiment were transferred to the Oklahoma territory, being stationed among Fort Sill, Fort Supply, and Fort Reno, continuing to stand guard duty, while also patrolling nearby Native American reservations. In the late 1880’s, the 24th Infantry Regiment was once again transferred; this time to the Far West and New Mexico-Arizona territory, operating under the same principles that had been set for them in the past, operating out of Fort Bayard, Fort Huachuca, Fort Apache, and Fort Grant. The overall political influence that small western towns possessed with Washington D.C., at this time in history, had little effect on the stationing of African American troops being stationed in these far away ‘burgeoning cities’. Also, these smaller communities provided less exposure to racial conflict, but by no means eliminated the pervasive racial attitudes which continued to persist among the larger American populous that existed before and after the Civil War.

 

For 27 years, between 1869 and 1896, companies of the 24th Infantry Regiment had been stationed all over Texas, the Oklahoma Territory, and the Arizona-New Mexico Territory of Southwest, until they finally reached their new assignment destination at Fort Douglas, Utah. It would be the first time in history, since the of their creation, that the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, and every company of the 24th would be stationed at the same location. Fort Douglas and Salt Lake City, Utah would be their new home, and deservedly so.

 

“The year 1896 brought and end the 24th Infantry Regiment’s peaceful days at Fort Huachuca. Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Company C found themselves forming once again along the railroad siding at Huachuca station in Arizona. This time they were mounting the trains to leave Fort Huachuca and Arizona territory forever. This all-black regiment was ordered to Fort Douglas, Utah near Salt Lake City. The move involved two first for the entire unit. It would be the first time that all the companies of the 24th Infantry Regiment were stationed together, serving as a complete fighting force. It would also be the first time they were all posted to a fort near a reasonable-sized city.” [2]

 

Salt Lake Tribune-04-25-1908

Salt Lake Tribune – April 25, 1908

 

For many years, long after their arrival to Salt Lake City, the ‘Browns of Fort Douglas’ would be very well respected and would also be remembered for their baseball skills, along with their gentlemanly manners and as military heroes of the state of Utah. The Fort Douglas Browns were the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, who took up residence and were stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah in Oct. of 1896, replacing the 16th Infantry Regiment, which had been stationed at that location for eight years, protecting a main hub of the Transcontinental Railroad.[3]  These men of the 24th Infantry Regiment paved the pathway of diversity and acceptance of African Americans, and set the outstanding examples of how men of color should behave in a predominately white environment, both on and off the field. Expectations for the Occidentals of Salt Lake were set at a very high bar, because the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment were not initially welcomed by the predominately white community of Salt Lake.

 

Utah officially became the forty-fifth state of the Union in January of 1896, and the people of Salt Lake may have possessed certain fears of these new ‘colored’ troops for any number of reasons. One reason may have been the controversy behind Utah being known as a heavily populated Mormon enclave since its inception as a territory,  and the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment could have been religiously associated with having heavy contact the ‘Lamanite’ cultures of the United States. Mormon culture at that time had its own restrictions on race mixing, which included most social practices that consisted of basic day-to-day living. Another reason could be that the 24th was being brought here by the U.S. government shortly after the Utah War, where ill feelings towards the government continued to exist, roiling under the surface of a proposal of national unity. Even though the Mormon religion considered slavery wrong and they were staunch abolitionist, the intermingling of white officers and black troops living together in an encampment, clashed against all precepts that were laid out in the The Book of Mormon.

 

Through the diligent efforts of John Mercer Langston, Chaplin Allen Allensworth, and Lt. General Nelson A. Miles, Fort Douglas was considered a “good station”, and long overdue for men who had served the in national interest for decades. This would be one of the last great acts John Mercer Langston, shortly before his his death from malarial indigestion in 1897, having formerly served as U.S. Minster to Haiti, and a chargé d’affaires in the Dominican Republic in the lat 1870’s.

 

In the article titled, “An Unfortunate Change“, the Salt Lake Tribune created tall tales and falsehoods about the 24th Infantry Regiment, trying to entreat their readership to react to the negative impact these colored soldiers would have on their community. [4]

 

“Readers of this mornings paper saw with sorrow that the Sixteenth Infantry is to be sent away from here and is to be succeeded by the Twenty-fourth. The first was losing the Sixteenth. The regiment has been here for several years; the closet social ties have been formed between the regiment and our own people, and their going away will sever many and many warm friends.

There’s another reason. They are to substituted by a colored regiment, and while the colored man is just as good as the white man; while he ought to have every privilege that the white man has, there is no occasion on earth to try and force a change in conditions which will involve a strong revulsion in the minds of the best people in the city. The residence portion of Salt Lake is on the way between the main business part of the city and Fort Douglas. When our theaters are running the best people of the city, in crowds, have to take the street-cars to go home at night. They do not want to be brought in direct contact with a drunken colored soldiers on the way from the city to Fort Douglas By that we do not mean to say that colored men drink more than the white men do, but a drunken white soldier naturally shrinks from getting into the car with ladies and gentlemen, whereas the colored soldier, under the same conditions, will be sure to want to assert himself. We mention that merely as a sample, and our judgment is that if the facts were laid before the Secretary of War, he might still be induced to make the change and send the colored men to some other station where they would be just as comfortable, where they would have just as many privileges, and where they would not be a source of apprehension and discomfort to the people of a large city like this.” — Salt Lake Tribune, Sept. 20, 1896.

 

From the outset, even newly elected Senator Frank J. Cannon of Utah, traveled to Washington D.C. with a delegation of concerned citizens to make his plea before the Secretary of War, Daniel S. Lamont, to change the marching orders of these colored troops. The exchange of the 24th Infantry Regiment for the 16th Infantry Regiment at Fort Douglas was set in stone. They had served with distinction for close to thirty years since their creation, and had the lowest desertion rate and lowest alcoholism rate of any other regiment in the U.S. Army at that time.

 

The 24th Infantry Regiment were one the of the Buffalo ‘foot soldier’ components of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the Fort Douglas Browns baseball team was often mistaken for “Troop B” or the “Duchesne Giants”, which was the 9th Cavalry’s baseball team stationed at Fort Duchesne. [5]   The 24th Infantry Regiment’s scattered history began shortly after the end of the Civil War, with the Reorganization Act of 1866, which extended in further reductions of all fighting regiments of the Regular Army through to 1869.

 

“On the afternoon of Oct. 22, the first section of the 24th Infantry arrived. They marched from the depot of Fort Douglas, a distance of four miles, and a great many people assembled along the street to see the soldiers pass. Very few of the people of Salt Lake City have ever seen a colored soldier before so it was quite a novelty item for them. The last of the regiment did not arrive until 2 o’clock the next morning. The 24th are very busy getting settled in their new stations.”– Army and Navy Journal, Nov. 7, 1896, pg. 157, reporting date Oct. 24, 1896 “Fort Douglas, Utah“.

 

“The Browns, the crack baseball team of the regiment, are making preparations for the coming season. They are fencing in a tract of ground south of the lower parade ground which will be smoothed and rolled and put in good shape for the games. The membership was confined to four companies while at Fort Bayard, while now there are eight to chose from. The nine has met some of the best teams in the Southwest, and has a large chain of victories to its credit.”… — Salt Lake Tribune,  April 11, 1897.

 

“The soldiers are making active preparations for the coming baseball season Several nines are being organized, and it is their intentions to have one of the finest teams in the State.”… — Army and Navy Journal, April 17, 1897, reporting date April 10, 1897 “Fort Douglas, Utah“.

 

The Browns 1897 season would include playing against teams from the Oregon Short Line club, the Park City Miners, the Duchensne Giants (9th Cavalry), the Jubilees, the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s, the Evanstons (from Wyoming) the Provo nine, the Salt Lake Athletics, and the Leadville Blues (of Colorado).

 

“Tu-re-lei!      U-S-A!”   “The Oregon Short Line boys — will show you how to play!”… — Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1897.

 

In the Browns season opener, which took place on the Fort Douglas diamond, they played the Oregon Short Line, defeating the O.S.L. by a score of 16 to 14. Two-thousand fans filled the seats at Fort Douglas that day.

 

“Such was the cry of the grand stand rooters, but 2,000 people can today testify the the situation is exactly the reverse.

The Twenty-fourth regiment nine can give the Oregon Short Line boys cards and spades when it comes to playing baseball. This fact was demonstrated in the contest between the two teams at Fort Douglas yesterday afternoon. The colored lads showed their superiority in every way. They played a good, steady game, they conducted themselves more gentlemanly than their white antagonist, a fact appreciated time and again by the cheers that greeted the colored boys, when time and again they surrendered points rather than become involved in a dispute.

It was the first game of any consequence of the season. If the popularity of baseball during the coming summer is to be measured by the attendance yesterday there is to be a genuine revival of interest in the national game.

A careful estimate could not place the number of people who passed through the gate at less than 2,000. There were many out and the modest grand stand was a perfect maze of brilliant feminine headgear. The car companies did an excellent business and everybody went to see the game. Those that had left their change in the pockets of the week-day suits made use of the numerous cracks in the board enclosure, while other scaled the fence, a feat attempted by several enthusiastic ladies. Had it not been for the prompt action of  First Sergeant Richardson of Company B, who was a sort of master of ceremonies, the bunch of pretty girls who were on the point of venturing this daring feat might have cheated the gatekeeper out of  several quarters. But the sergeant’s eagle eye was everywhere and just as half a dozen heads and parasols peeked over the fence he commanded Private Norton: ” See that those ladies don’t get over the fence” “…— Salt Lake Herald, May 10, 1897.

 

‘Two bits’ was a lot of money in that era. The gate earned over $500 dollars that day, and with the grand stands becoming filled, women of Utah who loved the game of baseball were trying to sneak in to see these ‘colored troops’ play a worthy game being staged, between these two opposing forces. Few were disappointed and many were more in awe of the spectacle they had just witnessed. The next game scheduled would be played against the well known Park City Miners, led by Rhea Byron “Old Hoss” Harkness, who’s team had dominated the region for the last two years. After hearing about the defeat of the Oregon Short Line nine by the Fort Douglas Browns, “Old Hoss” took extreme measures to ensure a decisive win against the 24th Infantry Regiment team at all cost.

 

“The Park City baseball club left here on the Utah Central special at 10:45 this morning, accompanied by over seventy of Park City’s strong-lunged rooters. Each member of the ball team sported a “right hind foot of a rabbit which had been killed in a cemetery in the dark of the moon at midnight by a red-headed, cross-eyed coon,” the gift of L. E. Hubbard.” — Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897, reported by Correspondence Tribune, May 16, 1897.

 

As reported by the Army and Navy Journal and Salt Lake Tribune, the Park City Miners went down in defeat, by a score of 9 to 8. [6][7]

 

“The hitherto invincible Park City baseball team met defeat yesterday at the hand of the Browns of Fort Douglas. The overthrow occurred at the new baseball field on the reservation, by a score of 9 to 8. For two years the Miners have had their own way on the diamond. Last year they went through an entire season without defeat and their name was a veritable terror to the ball tossers all over Utah. But the colored soldiers, with their years of practice under the sultry skies of New Mexico and Arizona proved too much for the men of the hills and the grey and purple of Park City was trailed in the dust. And there was a good deal of dust too.

It was a good game, replete with incidents, to delight baseball enthusiasts, and twenty-one hundred people who paid for admissions to the grounds felt that they had received their full 15 cents worth. The grounds were filled.” — Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897

 

The Fort Duchesne Giants, Company B of the 9th Cavalry, would be next on the Browns agenda for a series of games played at Fort Douglas between May 20th and 24th, 1897. The Browns would take two of the three game series, and Company B returned from leave to the Unitah reservation after being defeated in the final game. At this point, the Fort Douglas Browns had won four of the five games they played since their season began.

 

“Events at Fort Douglas for the past week have been rather quiet in everything but athletics. Baseball has been an all-absorbing topic, and all else has been forgotten, especially by the enlisted men. However, drills and parades are still in progress, and the other duties of the garrison are still being done in a regular routine.” — Salt Lake Herald, May 25, 1897

 

On May 30, 1897, the Browns lost their second scheduled game to the Park City Miners, by a score of 5 to 0.

 

“When the home team lost the game on May 16th they felt quite certain the tables would be turned in the next game. when the game was called last Sunday there was at least 2000 anxious people on the ground eager to view the contest among that number being Salt Lake and Fort Douglas admirers of the visiting team. It was an enthusiastic gathering and it was evident right from the start that the game was going to be for “blood”. While the game was not errorless, it was a fine exhibition of scientific baseball from beginning to end — a game that had a tendency to cause the spectators to hold their breath in anticipation of what would happen next.”…

The Salt Lake papers where not inclined to give the Park boys full credit for their magnificent game they put up but then it wasn’t expected.”– Park Record, June 5, 1897

 

“The day was perfect, the sun being obscured by clouds during the entire game, which was excellent throughout, notwithstanding the fact that at the end the the score stood at 5 to 0 in favor of the Park City nine.

In fielding and catching the two clubs were about equal, but the Browns could not find the ball when Harkness was in the box, in consequence of which they fanned out more zeros than the score card could well accommodate without putting on substantial additions.

Still, though defeated, the Fort Douglas lads took their whitewash with the utmost good nature, and now they want to play the rubber.” —  Salt Lake Herald, May 31, 1897

 

The Semi-Centennial ‘Pioneer Jubilee’ of 1897, celebrating fifty years of Mormon culture since the arrival of Brigham Young and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints immigrants in Salt Lake Valley. It was a huge event scheduled in the month of July; and in preparation for the event, a new baseball club called the ‘Jubilees’ was formed to take on the Fort Douglas Browns. The Browns would help the Salt Lake community earn money for the Pioneer Jubilee event by playing baseball to help “swell the Jubilee funds”.

 

Next Sunday at 1:30 PM the Jubilee baseball team will play the Browns of the garrison at the Fort Douglas grounds. A percentage of the receipts of this and future games will go to swell the Jubilee funds. The Pioneer Jubilee colors predominate in the uniforms of the Jubilee team, and its players are men who have made records on the diamond. Fred Knickerbocker, first baseman, and Harry Miller, short stop and captain, were members of the Omaha Originals at the time that aggregation was the championship club of Nebraska.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 11, 1897

 

The Pioneer Jubilee would be a coming out party for the Mormon community of Salt Lake; and the colors red, yellow, and sage green, representing the Mormon enclave, were intermingled in a dazzling array along with the Red, White, and Blue. Banners were displayed in abundance all over the city, as far as the eye could see. [8]

The Pioneer Jubilee signaled a new era in Mormon patriotism, by finalizing the chapter in Mormon history which had been filled with bloodshed and religious bigotry, as this ‘new’ Mormon culture expanded beyond their own boundaries, embracing an uncertain world beyond Utah’s borders. Although this grand affair had yet to take place, the preparations for this epic event began almost six weeks prior to all the scheduled activities the Pioneer Jubilee would provide in July.

Beyond baseball, among the Pioneer Jubilee events, one of them included a grand performance by the 24th Infantry Regimental Band, which included member Walter H. Loving, who at that time, had firmly secured his position at first base for the Fort Douglas Browns. [9]

The Browns lost to the Jubilees on June 13, 1897, by a score of 20 to 8, but were scheduled to play four of the seven games which would run during the Pioneer Jubilee Day celebration.

Pioneer Jubilee Baseball Schedule:

Sunday-July 18, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Jubilees

Tuesday-July 20, 1897- Jubilees vs. Park City Miners

Wednesday-July 21, 1987- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Park City Miners

Thursday-July 22, 1897- Park City  Miners vs. Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s

Friday-July 23, 1897- Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s vs. Jubilees

Saturday-July 24, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s

Sunday-July 25, 1897- Fort Douglas Browns vs. Jubilees

 

With this scheduled series of games being well over a month off, the Browns once again took on the Park City Miners on the Fort Douglas grounds, on June 20, 1897. This ‘rubber game’  would determine which team was better between the Browns and Miners, and the battle between these two giants of the Salt Lake area was heavily advertised in all the newspapers. Harkness and the Park City Miners felt that the Fort Douglas Browns were not only their greatest foe on the diamond, but that the Browns also posed a danger to their reputation as champions of the state of Utah, as well as their political standing in the newly formed state. The Browns became their main nemesis and had to be defeated at all cost. There was really bad blood between these two teams, and some of it stemmed from the support the Browns received from the people of Salt Lake, who were trying to move past the reputation the U.S. government had placed on them and government resistance to the Mormon culture. The Browns represented not only a direct threat to the Park City Miners as a ball club, but they also challenged the order of things as they had been done for years; formerly as a territory, and now as a state of Utah, since the Great Mormon Exodus in 1846.

 

The Browns lost the ‘rubber’ to the Miners. It was a blow out in favor of Park City, by a score of 10 to 1, with only one ejection from the game. Cropper, the Browns steadfast umpire, who was also a soldier at Fort Douglas, was removed from the game by Loving for making a bad call on “Capt.” Countee. Countee was the primary shortstop for the Fort Douglas Browns. “Capt.” Countee was actually a Corporal, but the moniker “Capt.” was placed on him because he was normally team captain of the Browns. Umpire Byrnes, a Park City fixture, would enforce the rules, handle disciplinary action, and judge the remainder of this final contest of a three-game series from behind the plate.

 

“The Browns in their half had an excellent chance to score, and for a moment it appeared as though they might repeat the work done by their adversaries a few minutes before. After Hughes had flown out to Higson, Countee and Richards had sent a brace of nice singles. Umpire Cropper thought the ball reached there first and called him out, despite the fact that Moran failed to touch the base runner until he was lying in the bag. The decision was so unpopular that Capt. Loving requested Cropper withdraw, and thereafter Byrnes umpired in the field as well as behind the bat. Loving made a little hit, sending Richards to third, but Armstrong could only send a weak grounder to Kimbrough, and the side went out.

UMPIRE TALKS BACK

After that the game went along without incident until the fifth, when a clever double play by Hughes, Reid and Loving evoked considerable enthusiasm.

In the latter part of the sixth, Brynes made of couple of close decisions against the Browns and the crowd grew somewhat obstreperous. Thereupon Byrnes stepped out into the middle of the field and quietly addressed the spectators. “If you’re going to do any dirty work of this kind”, he said, “you will have to secure another umpire”. — Salt Lake Tribune, June 21, 1897

 

With this victory out of the way, the Park City Miners wasted no time in claiming that they were the state champions of of Utah, and the entire inter-mountain region.

 

“Colonel Horace Baker of the Ontario mine and Secretary of the Fourth of July committee was notified yesterday by Utah’s silver-tongue orator, Hon. O.W. Powers, that he would deliver the Independence day oration at Park City July 5th, for inasmuch as the 4th occurs on Sunday the celebration will take place on the day following. On that day the Fort Douglas Browns will cross bats with the Park City ball tossers, now the acknowledged champions of Utah, probably of the inter-mountain states. The boys assure me that they are very grateful to the Fort Douglas boys for their hospitable reception. The Fort boys were bred in the south, a section of our great country famous the world over for hospitality. That accounts for it in a great measure.” — Salt Lake Herald, June 23, 1897

 

June 27, 1897, brought a return match-up between the Browns and the Jubilees. This game was filled with errors from both teams, and the final score was noted at 17 to 16 in favor of the Browns. The Browns had seven errors, while the Jubilees accumulated fourteen.

 

“The Browns proved yesterday by defeating the Jubilee team at Beck’s Hot Springs that they are not entirely out of for the championship of Utah. The score was 17 to 16 at the end of the ninth inning, but had it not been for poor battery work in the closing inning the score would have been much more decisive in favor of the Browns.”…

FEW ERRORLESS SCORES

Individually the work of both teams was ragged. But six men out of the eighteen who were mixed up in the fray escaped without errors. Some of these were inexcusable, as during part of the game the blinding sun made it very difficult for the fielders to see the ball, but the greater number were due to carelessness.

Among the Jubilees, McGinnis’s work was particularly poor. Six errors were charged against and almost with out exception they were on easy balls which the veriest novice could have handled. Any one of the dozens of small boys who jeered him from the side lines could doubtless have played his position at second better than he did. In the eight he was sent to right field and Jones took his place at second base, but even in the field he fell over and mishandled everything that came his way.

GAVE HIM A BACKSTOP

After one particularly poor play by McGinnis in right field, two small boys created much merriment by carrying a large door out into his garden and depositing it triumphantly behind him to prevent any other balls that might be sent in that direction from the rolling quite to the mountains in the rear.” — Salt Lake Tribune, June 28, 1897

 

Shortly before the Pioneer Jubilee, in their the last game of June, the Browns would play the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s. During this game, the field rules would be strictly enforced. No children would be allowed in the grand stand, and no one but the press and the players would be allowed inside the track fence. It was called, “The Greatest Game Of The Season”. It was noted that the Browns played a completely “errorless game” on that day. The Y.M.C.A.’s defeated the Browns by a score of 14 to 13. [10]

 

Heading into July, the Browns never played their scheduled rematch against the Park City Miners. The Browns would take on the Evanston nine from Wyoming, and the Miners would accept a match from the Jubilees. The slotted date for the Miners rematch against the Browns, July 5th, was taken by Evanston, and they were no match for the men of the 24th infantry Regiment. It was slaughter. The game ended in the Browns favor by a score of 19 to 2.

 

“The Fort Douglas Browns played a nine which came down from Evanston, Wyo. the visitors weren’t in it at all, and the dusky fellows from the fort wiped up all the earth that was left on the diamond with them. There is nothing small about the Browns when it comes to playing ball, especially if they get a chance at an easy thing like the Evanston team was for them. The manager of the visiting team changed the position of his men several times. The way the Browns caught hold of the ball was something astonishing and was thought Sworz was too easy with them, so in the third inning he exchanged places with McCoy. The exchange didn’t seem to help the condition of things any and in the sixth the men changed back to their original positions. Williams exchanged places with Cole in the fifth, and in the seventh, McCoy was put in as pitcher again.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 6, 1897

 

As one of the warm up games to the Pioneer Jubilee schedules series, on July 11, 1897, the Browns took on the Provo nine at Beck’s Hot Springs in an away game. This particular game was a blowout. The Provo nine went scoreless, with the Brown leaving the field, accumulating seventeen unanswered runs in their favor.

 

“Provo may be a good city for the keeping of insane people; it may be all right as a shipping point for a shipping point for black bass; the goods manufactured at its woolen mills may be superior to anything of the kind made in the east and shipped here; but when it comes to playing base ball with the Fort Douglas Browns, the team from the south counts for naught.

To sit down and relate all the details connected with the contest at Beck’s yesterday would be a never-ending task. Life is by far too short to attempt to relate all the plays, for there were so many. Take the first inning for instance, or rather the last half hour of it, when the Browns had eleven men at the plate and made eight runs. Some people may look at their score cards and say there were twelve, but the first man got his base on balls, and that doesn’t count at time at bat.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 12, 1897

 

With the Pioneer Jubilee baseball schedule being finalized, in what was deemed as a “carnival week of baseball”, certain political messages were being sent on both sides of the table to the Salt Lake community.  This was silver country. It was Mormon country. It was the land of the common man. The colors chosen for the Jubilee baseball team were by no means a mistake. It was purely an intentional statement, and it was fully directed at the U.S. government. The U.S. government of course, responded in kind with their own political message as a show of force.

 

“B.W. Brown, who has been on duty as clerk in the Adjutant’s office, succeeds Sergt. Abott as Sergeant-Major. Sergt. Brown has served with the regiment eighteen years, having been on duty at various point in the Southwest; his last post before coming here was Fort Huachuca. The Sergeant is one of the most skilled marksmen in the regiment having received a medal awarded to distinguished marksmen. He also wears a medal of honor awarded for bravery displayed in the engagement between Paymaster Wham and the outlaws, in 1889, at which time he was three-times wounded.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 18, 1897

 

The Ambush At Bloody Run, where Sgt. Benjamin W. Brown, won his Congressional Medal Of Honor, was one of those bloody chapters in Mormon history. The Wham Paymaster Robbery, planned and encouraged by Gilbert Webb, and staged by a gang of fifteen Mormon outlaws, was executed on members of the 24th Infantry Regiment in the Arizona territory. The U.S. government sent out this information on the promotion of Sgt. Benjamin Brown as a small reminder to the Mormon community of Salt Lake, that the theft of $28,000 in gold had not been forgotten. The boys in blue of the 24th Infantry Regiment, along with the U.S. government were prepared for whatever events might take place at the Pioneer Jubilee.

 

End: Part I

Part II     Part III     Part IV

 

[1] Kenneth Jones Jr., “The Last Black Regulars”, Defense Leadership & Management Program, Strategy Research Project, Unclassified, U.S. Army War College, April 2000, pg. 2

[2] Steven D. Smith, “The African American Soldier At Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1892-1946”, University of Sought Carolina – Scholar Commons, Dept. of Anthropology – Faculty Publication, Feb. 1, 2001, pg. 17

[3] Army and Navy Journal, Nov. 7, 1896, pg. 157

[4] Charles Alexander, “Battles And Victories Of Allen Allensworth”, Sherman French & Company, Boston, 1914, pg. 291-292.

[5] Dorothy Seymour Mills, Harold Seymour, “Baseball: The People’s Game”, Oxford University Press, 1990, pg. 567.

[6] Army and Navy Journal, May 29, 1897, pg. 723

[7] Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1897

[8] Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 1897

[9] Roger D. Cunningham, “The Loving Touch: Walter H. Loving’s Five Decades Of Military Music”, Army History; The Professional Bulletin Of Army History, PB 20-07 (No. 64), Washington D.C. , Summer 2007, pg. 6

[10] Ogden Standard Examiner, June 30, 1897