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

 

 

Chet Bost – The West Coast Linchpin

Oakland Tribune-Oak Leafs-2-13-1916-pg.30

Oakland Tribune-Oak Leafs, Feb. 13, 1916-pg.30

 

“These players were formerly on the Lynne-Stanley Giants Club, which will play under the Oak Leaf’s name.”

 

The Oak Leaf Club, sometimes called the Oak Leafs were in fact the Lynne-Stanley Giants.

Every once in a while, you run across this name: Chet Bost

Chester Allen Bost, was born on October 3, 1890, in Fresno, CA., to parents John and Alice Bost, who were originally from North Carolina, and migrated West before the Great Migration, between the years of 1888 and 1889. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, Chester A. Bost, better known as “Chet” was one of nine children. This large family owned their own home, free and clear of mortgage, at 128 M Street, in Fresno, CA.

John Bost, and Chet’s bother, James were ‘Teemers’, and more than likely worked at the Fresno Brewing Company, where they unloaded grain for beer making. Chet’s older brothers, William and John worked as a ‘boot black’ and ‘barber’, which added dollars to the family’s income and financial stability.

 

Chester Allen Bost-U.S. Census 1900

 

Lynne B. Stanley was an Oakland merchant, who owned a Men’s haberdashery , but was also one of Oakland’s principal community leaders.

Polk-Husted Directory Co.'s Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda directory v.1913-i

He sponsored auto racing, baseball, and was also the main founder of the Athens Athletic Club in Oakland. whose origin reaches back to 1919.

 

According to the Oakland Tribune, September 27, 1925:

It was in April, 1919. that Lynne Stanley then a local merchant, first broached the suggestion for such a club. He pointed out that nearly every important city had an athletic club, with a fine, modern building and with the leading citizens of the community in its membership, except Oakland. Stanley determined that Oakland should have such, an institution. Within the next few days he-had prepared a typewritten sheet stating that those whose names were undersigned would help organize an athletic club. Then he started out to get signatures. Stanley submitted his plan to one after another of the business and professional men of the city, obtaining a name here and another there.

 

Leaders lead. Lynne Stanley was a leader, and knew leadership quality when he found a young Chet Bost, and asked him to lead the Lynne Stanley Giants, one of the preeminent African American baseball teams on the West Coast. They played their seasons at Grove Street Park, Bayview (Ernie Raimondi ) Park, Klinknerville (Freeman’s) Park, and sometimes Oaks (Emeryville) Park.

Those are the basics.

Not much is known about Chet Bost, or how he got his start in baseball. Documenting his career in the early years is a laborious task, given what remains intact about his history in general. He played for a brief, but memorable period, for both the Occidentals of Utah and the Chicago Giants in 1911, before becoming the ‘captain’ of the Lynne Stanley Giants in 1914.

How long he played for the Occidentals or Chicago Giants is questionable, but he spent a longer period with the Occidentals, shortly before the State League went under. Records indicate that he played with the Occidentals from April 10 to July 16 of 1911.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.12.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 6.17.28 PM

Los Angeles Herald-Number 119,  January, 28, 1911

 

****McCormicks vs. Chicago Giants-Los Angeles Herald-Chet Bost-February 11-1911.pdf

Los Angeles Herald – McCormicks vs. Chicago Giants -February 11,1911

 

***Chet Bost-Salt Lake Tribune, 1911-04-16.pdf

Salt Lake Tribune, April 16, 1911

 

Salt Lake Tribune-1911-05-14-Swift Occidentals

Salt Lake Tribune-May 14, 1911

 

Bost Record-Salt Lake Tribune-1911-06-17-Occident

Salt Lake Tribune– June17, 1911

 

Bost hit two home runs in a single inning while playing for the Occidentals in 1911. Major League Baseball records showed that the last person to perform such a feat was Jake Stenzel (AL) of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1894, and the next would be Ken Williams (NL) of the St. Louis Browns in 1922. This accomplishment would make Bost a regional celebrity throughout the West for years to come.

In 1912, Bost would play shortstop for the Oakland Giants, a semipro team, managed by  a fellow named Watson. The Oakland Giants team was comprised of: “Herb” Clarke second base and team captain, B. Martin at first base, Houston at third base, Warwin Martin behind the plate, Hillary “Bullet” Meaddows pitching, Richardson in center field, with Durgan in left field and White in right field, and Hawkins as utility man. They would be the building blocks for the Lynne-Stanley Giants of 1913 and 1914.

By 1914, Bost had taken over as the position of team captain from Clarke, while Watson retained his position as manager, and with the financial backing of Lynne B. Stanley, the Lynne-Stanley Giants were born.

 

The Lynne Stanley Giants constitute the best colored baseball talent to be found in the bay county regions, and Manager Watson can brag of also having one of the fastest clubs around the country, for he has some men who have proved there ability in even faster company.

The Giants made the proud record in 1913 of winning 27 out of  32 games played, and they met such fast teams as the Modesto Reds, Sebastopol, Sam Mateo and Santa Rosa. The Lynne-Stanley Giants are even faster this season than last and have won a greater majority of their games by their fine fielding and strong hitting.

The infield is composed of experienced men at all positions. For Matthews at first base has more than proven that he can still dig them out of the dirt, and he save the infielders many an error by his clever work. “Herb” Clarke at second is considered a second “Jimmy” Johnston on account of his speed. He is very fast and a heady ballplayer and hits above the .300 mark at all times. “Bullet” Meaddows at third was the Giants mainstay in the box last season, but since he has shown his stellar work around third base to “Captain” Bost , there is not a chance of his being moved. He is a very good hitter and fast. “Chet” Bost, captain and short-stop, needs very little introduction. He trained under well-known baseball leaders. “Rube” Foster of the Chicago Giants and Frank Black of the Occidentals of the Utah State league, which one the pennant of 1910. Houston, Mitchell and Durrgan are this season — all hitting over the .300 mark, and it is very hard to drive a ball over this trios head, for they are all sure fielders with good throwing arms.” —- Oakland Tribune — edited by Bill Crosby, “Clever Colored Team, Which Plays Carnations Today” — July 5, 1914

 

Bost spent three years building the Lynne-Stanley Giants as one of the West most notable African American semi-pro teams. Which brings us to the year of 1916.

Soldiers returning from the Philippines, soldiers of the 24th Infantry stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, is where Bost chose to ‘farm’ his new club. With Henry F. Hastings replacing Watson as ‘manager’, and the financial backing of Lynne B. Stanley gone, Bost reorganized the team he had helped build, and renamed them the Oakland Oak Leafs.

Hastings was a liquor salesman and a saloon keeper from Louisiana. In relationship to the time period, location of black owned businesses, and sporting events, Hastings fits into the picturesque seediness that was early West Oakland and Emeryville. Emeryville, CA. was the ‘Las Vegas of the East Bay’, long before Las Vegas was thought of.

Gambling, sporting events, book making, card clubs, saloons, race tracks, bootlegging and bordellos were all a part of the patchwork pattern of this industrial boomtown,  Every race, gender, and social class intermingled openly, in full view of the public within the borders of Emeryville when it came to gaming and sports.

Emeryville was also the home of the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

In mid-Feb. of 1916, Bost secured two new twirlers. One by the name of Salsbury, who was supposedly a “regimental star pitcher”.  The other, Blake, who was known for his curve ball. These two unknown pitchers were selected out of the nine regimental teams of the 24th stationed at the Presidio that returned from the Philippines in 1915. Salsbury was ‘sufficient’ as a fast ball pitcher, and Blake threw a mean, breaking curve ball, but as the season opener grew closer, his new picks (Scott, Brown, Blake, Smith, Salsbury and Daniels) would be shifted around to make room for additional members who had experience.

As “Captain” — Bost had high expectation for the Oak Leafs, and so did his returning players. By Feb. 20, 1916, “Henry” Hastings had lined up a squad of 17 men to choose from.

Houston, Richardson, Clarke, Meaddows, Bost, Dunlop, Salsbury, H. Smith, Scott, Blake, C. Smith, Brown, Couver, Swazie, Rhodes, Murillo, and Raymond. Pitching was still and issue though. Between Blake and Salsbury, both right handed tossers, Hastings was looking for something ‘special’. Hastings was in negotiations with Jimmy Claxton to bring his skills South to California and play in the Bay Area. Claude Couver, who had played with Claxton on the 1914 Lew Hubbard Giants (also known and the Colored Giants Of Portland) was already working out with the Oak Leafs in preparation for opening day.

In March of 1916, Claxton signed a ‘questionable’ contract with Gresham Giants of the Portland Inter-City League, in Oregon. Trouble was brewing within the league though. According to Ty Phelan, writer of “Dark Horse, The Jimmy Claxton Story“, Claxton dark hue caused significant problems for the “business men” who financed the Gresham Giants. This is more than likely the truth, but it would seem a cover story was needed.

 

“Considerable fuss has been stirred up because Eddie Bogart and Billy Stepp signed contracts with both the Gresham and St. John’s clubs. As the signed their names to Gresham parchments first, they will probably be declared property of that club.

Following are the players by the respective team leaders:

Gresham — Fred Garner, Tommy Townsend, Eddie Bogart, Billy Stepp, Ogden, Johnny Newman, Jimmy Claxton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Roy Lund, Phillip Lind, Cack Blanchard, Phillips, Fred McKean, George White, “Tot” Manning, and O’Leary ” — The Sunday Oregonian — March 5, 1916

 

By March 21, 1916:

Morning Oregonian. (Portland, Or.) 186-1-March 21-1916

Morning Oregonian-March 21, 1916

 

Claxton made his way to the Oakland Bay Area, and was available for the season opener against the Bloomheart baseball team on Mar. 26, 1916, at 3:30 PM. Claxton probably reached Oakland, by train, on Mar. 22,  days before the Morning Oregonian reported on the 25th that “League Officials Meet: William A. Ross Retained As Manager Of Gresham“, only to pitch against U.C. Berkeley on the 24th . Having no time to familiarize himself with his new team, or they with him, the Oak Leafs lost to U.C. Berkeley by a score of 8 to 6 — with Claxton giving up nine walks, and five hits, and Meaddows, Richardson, Woods, and Brown, absent from the line-up.

At least Claxton was still alive. When men lose their jobs, they are likely to do anything.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire as the saying goes, must have been Claxton’s motto

 

Comedy Keeps This Team On Toes-O.T.-4-16-1916-pg. 41

Oakland Tribune — April 2, 1916

 

Within weeks, Claxton ruled on the mound in his new found home. Bost and Hastings were elated by his continued performance and successes. Reading multiple articles from the period and knowing the historical terrain the Oak Leafs were based in, one could sense that Claxton’s exceptional notoriety would bring unwanted exposure to the Oak Leafs as a team. This imported player from Portland out shined the men who built the Oak Leafs from the early Lynne-Stanley Giants. It didn’t matter though. Claxton was enjoying the spotlight. He was grateful to have a place to play, when in fact, he could have probably played anywhere in the nation, had the racial playing field been level when he was heading towards his peak.

Hastings was 100% business, even if some of it was illicit business. Bost was 100% team oriented and focused, and Claxton was 100% star, who needed guidance and grounding.

Mixing this combination with weekly barnstorming and league play, while replacing players on a whim, is a dangerous cocktail when trying to take a team to the top. Bost was caught in the middle, with no escape in sight. Hastings relied heavily on Bost to manage a winning ball club at all cost. Bost relied on Hastings for his financial support of the Oak Leafs and business acumen to draw crowds for the gate. The end sum result would be a very high turnover in players. Winning was important, and the Oak Leafs were definitely winners, but camaraderie within a team environment is crucial to its success, and it also cultivates its  longevity.

 

“Hastings is one of Oakland’s prominent business men and is trying to put the city in the limelight with an aggressive ball team. He sent away this season to import good talent for his team, as nothing but a winning team will suit him. He has his wires out now to land Dunlap of Vallejo, who is rated as a wonderful ball player. Hastings has put “Chet” Bost at the head of his team this season, as he thinks Chet’s ability is just about right, and he will cater only to the best of players for games this season, as he has a club that will compete with any of them.” —  Oakland  Tribune –“Comedy Keeps This Team On Toes” — April 2, 1916

 

Reported in the Oakland Tribune on May 14, 1916, that a week prior to the article, The Oak Leafs had once again beaten the No. 1 ranked Bloomheart team, by a score of 4 to 0. The caption read, “Oak Leafs Still Unbeatable“.

 

“Chet” Bost has the club going at top speed and deserves a lot of credit for the Brilliant manner in which the club has been going.

Jimmy Claxton and Couver are really a big league battery only in disguise, as they both are showing a lot of class, and with pitcher Dunlap are going to make the Oak Leafs some battery.

Claxton has struck out over eighty men in six games and in the last three only five hits and two runs have been made off him.

Scruggs, the new first baseman this season, is the best the club has had in years as he is a natural fielder and a good hitter.

Manager Hastings wants only to meet the fastest clubs and any of the country clubs can accept the invitation by communicating through Spauldings. Hastings says, “Just bring ’em on.” –Oakland Tribune, “Oak Leafs Still Unbeatable” — May 14, 1916

 

Many stories have been written about Claxton.

Most of them exclude his relationship with Chet Bost and Henry Hastings.

That two week period between May 14, 1916 and May 28, 1916, up to the day when Claxton first set foot on the mound for the Oakland Oaks of the PCL, are open for speculation. ‘Maggie’ the missing pig, the Oakland Oaks most prized mascot, supposedly eaten by the Oaks secretary — was not the reason the Oaks were in a slump, nor was it because Rowdy Elliot ‘rubbed’ the head of Erasmus Pinckney Johnson the wrong way, before a game in April against the Los Angeles Angels.

There are those who say that Claxton was introduced to Herb McFarland, Secretary of the Oakland Oaks, by a fellow named “Hastings” of Native American descent from Oklahoma, and that Claxton provided documentation asserting to the claim that he was indeed a person of ‘Native American’ descent. Others believe that Claxton was outed by a ‘friend’ who pointed Claxton out to Oaks officials at a bar on 7th Street in West Oakland, that ‘friend’ of course being Elliot himself.

From race to rumor, from rumor to superstition, killing the Claxton bird was worth two in the bush. The press he was receiving in those daysfrom main stream media, for an African American pitcher shutting out team after team in the West, as truly amazing.

Oakland needed a winning team, it just didn’t need to be the Oak Leafs.

Then again, there is ‘that photograph’, showing Claude Couver, Henry Hastings, and Jimmy Claxton of the Oakland Oak Leafs from the Oakland Tribune in April of 1916, and the endless reporting by the Oakland Tribune of Claxton’s success on the mound as an Oak Leafs southpaw — with an amazing strikeout record! Any seasoned reporter who might have checked on the reason why Claxton left Portland, and what team he played with prior to hurling for the Oak Leafs could have been ‘the culprit’ who outed him.

Claxton never returned to the Oak Leafs after his short stint with the Oakland Oaks.

The Oak Leafs played a few more games after that, but their new pitcher Scruggs wasn’t the same gate lure as Claxton. After Claxton left, Hasting had to move his team and give up Freeman’s Park as their home field spot. Moving the club to St. Mary’s College field, Hastings found it difficult to secure games with other teams. The Oak Leafs, formerly known as the Lynne-Stanley Giants would never reorganize next year, nor play under that name ever again. Claxton was a major draw when it came to home town fans, but there was no way he could return to play for the Oak Leafs after the Oakland Oaks debacle. It hit to close to home, and the wounds were still fresh.

The PCL farmed from semi-pro teams in the area, especially the Oakland Oaks, but no African American ever attempted to enter J. Cal Ewing‘s all-white baseball dynasty. And now, Ewing’s front office had inadvertently hired a “colored fellow” as a pitcher, from a extremely well known African American semi-pro club, in the local area.

 

“If I were a player working for McCredie, and he asked me to go out and play against these colored fellows, I would refuse to do it for him.”…

“There are two classes I bar from playing on my ball park—colored tossers and bloomer girls. They will never use any park I control.” — The Morning Oregonian – J. Cal Ewing –“Coast Magnates Draw Color Line”, January 24, 1914

 

After Claxton left the the Oak Leafs permanently, the Oak Leafs fell apart. According to Bost 1917-1918 World War I Draft Registration, he worked as a “Ice Cream Porter” at Bowen Ice Cream Company in his hometown of Fresno. Bowen Ice Cream Company would have a change of ownership in September of 1917, selling lock, stock and barrel to the Weimer brothers who brought in new equipment to increase production to 1,500 gallons a day.  It would be close to three years before Chet Bost would play for a truly significant team again.

 

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1917-1918 World War I Draft Registration, Chester Allen Bost

 

 

 

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Ice Cream Review, Vol. 2, September 1917

 

Bost played for local teams, like the Weilheimer Giants in 1917, sponsored by L.H. Weilheimer, Indian (motorcycle) Agent, who had dissolved his partnership with Hertwick & Weilheimer, and taking over Mr. Hertwick’s interest in the business. Building a new showroom, Weilheimer needed as much publicity as he could afford. The Weilheimer Giants were more of a advertising platform for Weilheimer’s new business venture. Weilheimer was certainly not as sport minded as Lynne B. Stanley. His main focus was on all that was motorcycles and mechanical, which led to patents on motorcycle devices, including like the ‘Moto Meter and Radiator Cap Lock ‘ in 1919.

The Shadow Giants seem to have been Bost’s 1918 attempt to get a local team going after Weilheimer pulled his backing. Eddie Jackson was ‘captain’ of the Shadow Giants, and played catcher as well. Gene Cooper, who played for the Los Angles White Sox, pitched for the Shadow Giants. Billy “Bullet” Woods held down short stop.

The 1919 Shasta Limiteds were a different group though under the ownership of Tod Graham. Bost seemed to be getting back on track, gathering a team that compiled such men as Billy Woods, Goldie Davis, Gene Cooper, Jimmy Claxton, Carlisle Perry, Houston, and Hillary Meaddows, and Eddie Jackson as his co-Capatain.

 

Shasta Giants 1919-20

1919 Shasta Limiteds, Northwest Dispatch –February 7, 1983 — courtesy of Ty Phelan

 

Oakaland Tribune-Jun 30-1919

Oakland Tribune — June 30, 1919

Great Game Between Tractors And Shasta Team Ends In Ninth-Inning Row: San Leandro Mayor Puts Stop To Greatest Bush Game Ever Put On Here. Bad Decision by LaRue and Too Much Baumgarten Is Cause Of Near Riot.Oakland Tribune — By Eddie Murphy — June 30, 1919

 

C.L. Best Tractors were the 1918 Mission League Champions. So on that fateful day, the 30th of June 1919, a lot was at stake. ( In 1925, C. L. Best Tractor Company and Holt Manufacturing Company merged to form Caterpillar Tractor Company )

C. L. Best Gas Traction Co. Tractors baseball team-1918-were the Mission League champions

C.L. Best Tractors 1918

 

The main topic among the bush baseball fans this week will be the game to be played at San Leandro next Sunday afternoon in which the C. L. Best Tractors of that town and the Shasta the colored organization of Oakland, will clash In the first battle of their three-game series. The game is expected to figure in deciding the bush championship of Northern California, and also promises a great pitching battle between Johnny Gillespie and Jimmy Claxton. the strikeout kings of the bushes. The colored boys have met the best amateur teams and held their own, but it will be the first time they clashed with the Tractors.” Oakland Tribune — June 23, 1919

 

This game would be the first game of a three game series, Gillespie vs. Claxton, for the semi-pro championship of Northern California. Bost was placed in the middle once again. The first game of the series was deemed a ‘tie’, although it involved a lot more than a dueling battle between Claxton and Gillespie. Bost, as “captain” of the Shasta Limiteds was thrust into the middle again. In the ninth inning, Bost was tasked with protecting Umpire Larue from fans who thought Larue made a bad a call at home plate.

A fellow named ‘Jake Baumgarten”, who seemed to be a agitator/spectator, caused havoc on the field that day, when a bad call was made in the ninth inning by Umpire, Louie Larue, allowing for the tied score of 1-1. Baumgarten was the umpire that Risberg had leveled with a single blow after he called a third strike on Risberg. Baumgarten was not officiating the game, but felt compelled to speak his mind about the bad call, and other things. He took a megaphone and headed towards the center of the diamond.

Kelly Boyer Sagert and Rod Nelson, write a terrific biography about Swede Risberg, where it mentions Swede having to skip town after having a run in with ‘a man’ at a White Sox team hotel in New York.

The Oakland Tribune states:

“Charley (Swede) Risberg, Chicago White Sox player is not the only one who can boast a one-second decision over Jake Baumgarten. Yesterday afternoon at the San Leandro ball park the biggest crowd to witness any bush game this season was out and hoping to see the C.L. Best Tractors and the Shasta Limited battle for the Northern California bush championship. They saw part of it, and the reason they did not see it all was because Jake Baumgarten made himself a little too busy trying to tell those fans what they should do. The result was a big crowd after Jake and the first fellow to arrive within reach of him planted his paw squarely on his mouth. Jake lost a tooth or two.

Jake was rescued by a few fellows who did not want to see murder committed. but Jake got mad and went out on the field with a bat. He came to Eddie Jackson, catcher of the Shastas, and Eddie being a little too wise for Jake let his fist fly and Jake hit the ground almost as quick as he did the time Risberg dropped him for the count at one of the Shipbuilder’s League games.” — Oakland Tribune — “Great Game Between Tractors And Shasta Team Ends In Ninth-Inning Row“– By Eddie Murphy — June 30-1919″

 

O.T.-Great Game Between Tractors And Shasta Team Ends In Ninth-Inning Row"- June 30-1919

Oakland Tribune — “Great Game Between Tractors And Shasta Team Ends In Ninth-Inning Row” — By Eddie Murphy — June 30-1919″

It seems that the entire 3 game series was filmed by the TRIBUNE-KINEMA man, including the fight.

 

Before the game Mayor Felton, Judge Gannon, C.L. Best, Manager Bill Wagner, and Toney Enos of the Tractors and Tod Graham of the Shastas, along with players of both clubs. paraded to the flagpole in center field, and hoisted the TRIBUNE pennant won by the Tractors while the movie man was busy turning the crank.

Many fans will want to see the movies so they will know for themselves just how the play at the plate which ended the game should have been decided. — Oakland Tribune — “Great Game Between Tractors And Shasta Team Ends In Ninth-Inning Row” — By Eddie Murphy — June 30-1919″

 

Bob Shand, of the Oakland Tribune,  tells a similar, but slightly different version of the C.L, Best Tractors vs. Shasta Limiteds ninth inning brawl that day.

 

O.T.-San Leandro Game Breaks Up In A Row-June 30-1919

Oakland Tribune — “San Leandro Game Breaks Up In A Row” — by Bob Shand—  June 30, 1919

Baumgarten’s major complaint, it would seem, had to do with the mention of “betting on ball games”. By witnessing LaRue’s bad call, he felt the game was rigged. Baumgarten was ejected from the playgrounds. It was a very exciting day in San Leandro.

 

One final team that Bost played for was the Oakland Pierce Giants.

Chet Bost-Oakland Pierce Giant

 

If relevant to your post, perhaps mention that (in 1923, I think) as a member of the Oakland Pierce Giants he and his teammates partied with Zenimura and the other members of the Fresno Athletic Club.”, — was a comment shared with this writer, by Bill Staples Jr., author of “Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer“.

The word ‘relevant’ leads  to the U.S. Census Record for 1920 in Alameda, where Chet Bost lived in Japantown, and shared part of a duplex-house on Park Street with a man named “Kodama”, while working in the Oakland Shipyards as a laborer. Mary Dyson, an older widow, was the owner of the duplex. Renting her property to African American and Japanese men didn’t seem to bother her in the least. More than likely, Bill’s story about Zenimura’s Fresno Athletic Club partying together with Bost and the Oakland Pierce Giants  is true — along with the other stories that have been bandied around about Chester Allen Bost.

Without “Captain” Chet Bost at the helm taking risk, playing with multiple teams in the West, and building quite a few of them from scratch like the Oak Leafs, there would have never been a 1916 Jimmy Claxon Zeenut card worth $15,000 in (NM) mint condition.

If you can find one.

Claxton may be the reason you never hear much about the Oak Leafs, formerly known as the Lynne-Stanley Giants.

Chet Bost is the reason they’ll always endure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

With the passing of Muhammad Ali, I’m taking a break from many other things that are pressing and important to reflect on life and the journey all great men take to master the  Art of Sportsmanship. A picture that I’ve held in my personal archives for sometime, needs to be shared with one and all.

Often times, we see what we want to see in a man, and how that man impacted the History of Sports.

 

Zach Clayton-Ali_drops_Foreman-1975

Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali vs. “Big” George Foreman. “Rumble In The Jungle”, in  Kinshasa, Zaire, Africa. Oct. 29, 1974. Photo courtesy of Box Rec.

 

I often follow the trail of boxing that might eventually lead to baseball, and this picture is worth more than a thousand words. “The Rumble In The Jungle” has been called the greatest sporting event of the 20th Century. With 20 seconds left in Round 8, Ali begins with a flurry of punches, starting with a clean left jab, and what the announcer referred to as a “sneaky” right hand. Ali fends off Foreman’s bearish advance with another quick left-jab, and delivers another jaw snapping right-cross. In less than a second, Ali hit Foreman with another short, power-shot right hand for good measure. Foreman wobbles. His legs are leaving him, and he leads with his chin from this point forward.

Ali land another hard right to Foreman’s jaw for good measure, which clearly hurts Foreman, and there is no turning back now. Ali executes a 1-2-3-4, left-right-left-right combination that floors “Big” George Foreman in the Eight Round, with eleven seconds remaining in the round.

Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman (Highlights)

 

Zach Clayton-RUMBLEinTheJUNGLE

Zach Clayton, George Foreman, and Muhammad Ali, “The Rumble In The Jungle”. Photo courtesy of BoxRec.

 

Pause…

The man who steps int to the frame to give Foreman the count, referee of this highly publicized prize fight is none other than Zachary “Smiley” Clayton, the former Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner. This particular battle between two giants was one of the many bouts that Zach Clayton refereed in his illustrious career as a professional ref.  In 1949, Zachary M. Clayton was the first black man to receive a referee’s license with the state of Pennsylvania. By 1952, Zach Clayton was the first black man to referee a heavy weight title fight. That fight was between Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles.

 

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Trevor Berbick, Zach Clayton, and Muhammad Ali, Dec. 11, 1981, Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, Nassau, Bahamas. Photo courtesy BoxRec.

 

In a bush league ballpark, the ring built over second base, Ali waddled out to meet the fists of Berbick, an amiable Jamaican by way of Nova Scotia, whose only promise was not to kill his former idol, unless by accident.”-Bernie Lincicome Chicago Tribune

Ali’s career ended in a ballpark, and Zach Clayton was there to see the unanimous decision delivered by the officiating judges. Zach Clayton was there to witness Ali’s regain his status as Heavy Weight Champion of the World, and to witness his final fight with Trevor Berbick.

For the record, Zach “Smiley” Clayton was a man of many talents, and it all began with baseball.

Born Leroy Watkins Clayton on April 17, 1917 in Gloucester County, Virginia, Zach “Smiley” Clayton was destined to play professional sports. He began his baseball career in 1931 at the age of 14, with the 1931 Santop’s Broncos, and ended up playing with the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants in 1932, at the age of 15. He again played for the Bacharach’s in 1934, when they shifted from the Independent Negro League to the Negro National League. In 1935, “Smiley” moved his skill sets to play 1st Base for the Chicago American Giants. He skipped a year of play, then by 1937, he returned to play with the Chicago American Giants, as they shifted to the Negro American League.

He disappeared from the baseball scene till 1943.

Pause…

His sporting skills extended beyond baseball.

After careful research, I found out that Zach “Smiley” Clayton, also began a separate but equally astounding career as a point guard with the New York Renaissance basketball team. He played with the “Rens” from 1936 to 1943. During this same period, he also played with Harlem Globetrotters, the Washington Bears, and won two World Professional Basketball Tournament championships. Lost in the archives of history, using the formal name of “Zachariah“, he led the Rens to a 1939 World Championship of Professional Basketball title. In 1943, he led the Washington Bears to another World Championship, along with stars like that included Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, William “Pop” Gates, William “Dolly” King, Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, which played a ‘perfect’ season with a record of 41-0. In 1989, Clayton was enshrined into the New York City and Philadelphia Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Winning the World’s title, the Washington team performed a feat that NO PREVIOUS WINNER HAS RECORDED. They finished the 1943 season with a perfect record having won every one of their 41 starts. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE TURN OF THE CENTURY THAT A PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL TEAM HAS ENJOYED A SEASON WITHOUT A SINGLE DEFEAT.” —Leo Fischer, Sports Editor, Chicago Herald-American

 

Zack Clayton-New York Rens 2

Zachariah “Zack” Clayton, one of the greatest basketball players of the Black Fives Era. Photo courtesy of Black Fives Foundation.

 

Fadeaway: The Team That Time Forgot – ABC News

 

The New York Rens professional basketball team, 1939.

The New York Rens professional basketball team, 1939. (Right to Left) with Clarence “Fats” Jenkins, Zach Clayton,  Eyre Saith, Clarence Bell, William Gates, John “Boy Wonder” Isaacs, and Charles “Tarzan” Cooper and “Wee Willie” Smith. Photo courtesy of Black Fives Foundation.

 

Washington Bears, 1943

The 1942-43 Washington Bears, winners of the 1943 World’s Championship of Professional Basketball. Left to right, Charles “Tarzan” Cooper, Charlie Isles, William “Dolly” King, John Isaacs, William “Pop” Gates, Clarence “Puggy” Bell, Zach Clayton, Robert “Sonny” Wood, and Jackie Bethards. Photo courtesy of Black Fives Foundation

 

 

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Zach Clayton of the Harlem Globetotters, The Montreal Gazette, March 20, 1946

 

 

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The Montreal Gazette-3-20-1946-iii.jpg

 

 

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ranked Zach Clayton sixth in the 2016 HOF Early African American Pioneer Nominations, along with Cumberland Posey, Jr.

 

Jumping back to 1943, Clayton re-entered the baseball scene and joined the New York Black Yankees of the Negro National League, playing for them until 1944. There was a period during the 1940’s where Clayton also played for the Budweiser Barons as a 1st Baseman and a Catcher.

Clayton, Zack [standing far right Charles Cooper standing center]_BPA001X2019400000024_Ronal Auther

Zach Clayton (Standing, far right) with the Budweiser Barons, circa 1940’s. Photo courtesy of John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

Charles “Tarzan” Cooper also played with Zach on this industrial league team.

 

Image of Zack Clayton posed on the baseball field in batting stance-Budwesier Barons Baseball ClubCareer-1940s

Zach Clayton at practice for the Budweiser Barons. Circa 1940’s. Photo courtesy of the John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

 

Clayton also played with the Chicago Brown Bombers of the The United States League, Brooklyn Eagles, and the Brooklyn Royal Giants.This was during the first half of the 1940’s.

Clayton last attempt with professional baseball was in 1946, playing Catcher for the Oakland Larks, in the West Coast Baseball Association.

Smiley Clayton

Zach “Smiley” Clayton, Oakland Larks, 1946. Photo courtesy of the Richard T. Dobbins Collection, Judith P. Dobbins. African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

 

Clayton was paid $200.00 a month, and played  the entire season with the Oakland Larks. It was his final days in baseball, and he wanted to make the most of it.

 

Oakland Larks Baseball Club baseball player payment ledger

Oakaland Larks Baseball Club baseball player payment ledger, page 60, 1946.  Photo courtesy of the Richard T Dobbins Collection, Judith P. Dobbins, African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

 

WBCA Oakland Larks vs. S.F. Sea Lions Score Card.pdf

West Coast Baseball Association, Oakland Larks vs. S.F. Sea Lions Score Card, Oakland Larks Lineup. Photo courtesy of the Richard T. Dobbins Collection, Judith P. Dobbins. African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

 

He moved back to Philadelphia after the 1946 season ended and became a fireman.

 

Image of Zack Clayton (far right) dressed in police uniform-1940s

Zach Clayton in firemen uniform. Photo courtesy of the John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

 

 

While he was employed as a full time Fireman, with the City of Philadelphia Fire Department, Zach learned the fine art of refereeing Boxing. By 1956, Clayton had earned the rank of Lt. of the Philadelphia City Fire Department.

From 1949 to 1984, Zach Clayton garnered a career totaling 219 bouts as a referee and 16 as a judge, including the Heavyweight Championship title fight between Rocky Marciano and Jersey Joe Walcott, on Sept. 23, 1952.

 

Clayton, Zack [L-R Ted Strong, Zack Clayton, Williard Jesse Brown, Jack Matchett+Bonnie Serrell]_BPA001X20

Image of Clayton pictured with members of the Kansas City Monarchs (Left to Right) Ted Strong, Zack Clayton, Willard Jesse Brown, Clarence “Jack” Matchett, Bonnie Clinton Serrell. Photo courtesy of the John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

This is the only picture I’ve ever seen of Zach “Smiley” Clayton, out of uniform, smiling like there’s no tomorrow. Zach Clayton left us on Nov. 19 , 1997, leaving behind this lost legacy few will remember.

Greatness comes in many forms. Ali was “The Greatest” of all time, in his own right. Sometimes, greatness gets lost in the Milieu of life’s judgements and inconsistencies. How a baseball career begins or ends often leads to these judgements and inconsistencies.

Zach “Smiley” Clayton stepped beyond such things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negro League Baseball: The Reid Factor; Mel Reid-Part II

“Well, sometimes I think I will, …yes, and sometimes I think I won’t…sometimes I think I will,…yes, and sometimes I think I won’t. Sometimes I believe I do and sometimes, and then again I believe I don’t. Well, looked at the clock,…the clock struck one,…he said, “Come on daddy, have a little more fun”,…yes, we rollin’, …we rollin’ on time. ” –Wynonie Harris-“Around The Clock Part 1 and 2

Whenever i hear that song, I think about Mel Reid and Reid’s Records in Berkeley, California.

Reid’s Records went through any number of musical distribution incarnations over the years as it struggled for its own survival among the commercial-retail chain record stores and the larger independents record stores. When Tower Records, Wherehouse and Leopold’s sought to sell commercialized ‘race records’, they saw an unstoppable profit margin in a virtually untapped national market of considerable size and means. I’m showing my age now, because Leopold Records has been replaced by Amoeba Music, when Leopold Records closed its doors in 1996. Amoeba Music is only a few minutes walking distance from People’s Park in Berkeley. For this reason, a legacy of legendary folk music came out of the East Bay, and the record store’s location in reference to People’s Park, and artist that came out to record their songs in Berkeley, also became synonymous with the Free Speech Movement of the 1960’s. Berkeley was ground zero for a lot of exciting things that we take for granted today.

(note to reader: There’s a great video in the first link about Leopold Records of Joan Baez at Leupold Records in 1993, doing her impression of Bob Dylan song, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”,…and her impression of Bob Dylan also. She nails it, and she does it with love. For all you Joan Baez fans, I’ve always loved the 1965 BBC version)

As an example, the Community Memory Board was located at Leopold Records in Berkeley, and it was the first electronically accessible bulletin board system in the United States.

I’m not sure whether I should give the CMB credit for the early ethernet cafés which would eventually develop into internet cafés (ala SF Net with a large bit of Berkeley in tow) or the fact that this early concept was used to help develop the World Wide Web, but I can tell you that the CMB was one single, coin operated machine, and it was one of a kind (at least for a while). Critics say that the Community Memory Bulletin Board System is responsible for the shaping of the way we use personal computers, an also the way the computer industry is shaped today. Some say Berkeley, California is where the origins of ‘social networking‘ all began. What is not known about Berkeley that lays within the counter-culture movement, is how deep it’s record industry roots and music recording industry go.  Or how the West Coast as a ‘whole’, operates in conjunction where the history of new technology and how it applies to the recording artist are concerned.

We often look toward Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York when we think about the music or recording industry.

We never think of Berkeley.

Reid’s Records was founded in 1945, and was the first African American record stores West of the Mississippi. It was the first record stores I ever shopped at when I was a kid. It’s founder, Mel Reid was very much a renaissance man, who had his ups and downs, while his multiple career sporting fame cleared a pathway for him to become a leading businessman in the Berkeley community. That same professional sports career is often overshadowed by Mel’s ventures in the music recording industry, as a music promoter, who’s many business exploits connected him throughout his life, with some of the most interesting array of musical superstars that ever graced the stage.

I’ve only spoken briefly about Mel Reid in the past as part of Yellow Jacket duo, but the Mel ReidJohnny Allen Yellow Jacket Duo is only a small part of the Mel Reid story.

Mel Reid was much better known for his music acumen than his sporting acumen, which is fascinating because he played both professional baseball and football at a time when such a combination was unprecedented. Reid was pre-Bo Jackon and pre-Dieon Sanders, when it came to the baseball/football double punch year around professional. Few people beyond myself know about his career in sports. I doubt that most of them know Mel played both football and baseball, and and at the same time tried to create a name for himself in the music industry. Little is known about either of his sporting careers among sports aficionados, because a crossover from one to another was a rare event in those days.

Mel played for many teams in the Bay Area, and among them were the Oakland Larks (1946) (baseball) of the West Coast Baseball Association, and the Oakland Giants (1943194419451946) (football), the San Francisco Clippers (1947) (football) and the Hawaiian Warriors (1948-QB) (football) in a quote-unquote “semi”-professional football league of the “highest caliber’ known as Pacific Coast Professional Football League that existed under the GNFA.

Mel is one of those people who’s family legacy is connected with the Berkeley Colored League, as the nephew of Charlie Reid. Thomas Reid Jr., was the brother of Charles Reid of the Oakland Pierce Giants fame.

Melvin Reid was born in 1918 in Berkeley, California, to Thomas (Jr.) and Reba Reid. Melvin Reid was the oldest grandchild of Thomas Sr. and Virginia Reid. He was a handsome child and was often photographed with his aunts and uncles that close to his age.

According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Mel was living in his parents house on Acton Street at age 21.

Mel was an all-star athlete at Berkeley High School, as well as a star halfback at the University of San Francisco. He also spent a couple of years with the California Eagles semi-pro baseball team.

 

Ralph Pearce wrote a wonderful article called, “Looking Back: California’s Negro League“. I love the photograph in the article, because it not only has Johnny Allen of the Oakland Larks in it. It also has Foy Scott, who was another great East Bay Area baseball player. The ‘Ed Harris’ in this photograph, is the same Ed Harris who was the business Manager of the Oakland Larks. According to the Oakland Lark’s financial ledgers, Mel Reid was paid $275 per month to play for the Larks, which was a substantial amount of money in 1946. ‘Ike Thompson’, of course, is the same Ike Thompson that sat on the Board of Directors for the Oakland Larks and was also the Manager of the 1940 California Eagles.

Mel’s former wife, Betty Reid-Soskin, helped him start the Reid’s Record business back in 1945, when as a young couple, they began a family-owned and operated business in the basement of their small, but adequate dwelling on Sacramento Street, in Berkeley, California. These days, Betty Reid Soskin is better known as the oldest living National Park Ranger in the United States, who heads up the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond, California. During WWII, Mel also spent his time working as a playground Director at San Pablo Park, and at night in the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. He’d pick up work wherever when ever he could.

 

Mel’s football career began in 1943 at the age of 25 with the Oakland Gaints. By the age of 27, while starting in the back field as a Halfback for the Oakland Giants (Mel would eventually play quarterback for the Hawaiian Warriors by age 30, towards the end of his football career), Mel decide to go into the music business and never once looked back. 1945 was one of Mel’s most heartbreaking years, but his drive and ambition never waned. By enlisting the help of his uncle, Paul Reid, who was a DJ on the radio program “Reid’s Record’s Religious Gems”, a weekly religious music hour was developed and produced for KRE, and from this Mel and Paul built a financially productive business, built on a dream and a prayer.

It was the Hail Mary play of a lifetime.

As the Religious Gems show’s popularity grew, Paul made his way over to KDIA where a series of programs became a daily event that lasted well into eleven straight years. of on-air publicity for Paul and Mel, which help build the business of Reid’s Records through constant promotion. Paul along with his nephew Mel, never looked back, and they went on to help influence very famous Gospel groups like the The Edwin Hawkins Singers. This was an incredible feat, because at the same time he was playing professional sports almost year around. They became quite the pair of music recording professionals. Mel was the first manager for Walter Hawkins, brother to Edwin Hawkins of The Edwin Hawkins Singers, and it was Mel that helped put “Oh Happy Day” on the charts by suggesting that Edwin meet with the executives from Buddah Records to iron out a deal for major distribution. It was one of the best decisions that Mel ever made, and every time I hear it, and can’t help but think that a baseball and football player of some renown had something to do with that choice. Rumor has it that Mel was tour manager for The Edwin Hawkins Singers when they toured Europe in 1970.

Dorothy Morrison, of the Blues Broads recounts her version of the details that placed them in capable hands of Mel Reid.

The Pacific Coast Professional Football League is rarely talked about among sporting aficionados. It wasn’t quite the NFL or AFL, but it existed at a time when the NFL was at a transitional stage in American history and it was founded during World War II, in 1943. the year that Melvin Reid enter the PCPFL, was the same year that the NFL allowed the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers merged to become the “Steagles“, and split their home games between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, because the draft and military enlistment overwhelmingly depleted the pool of men who played professional sports.

Mel gained his military deferment buy being employed in the Kaiser Shipyards (aka Richmond Shipyards) during World War II. He was part of that group of men and women that built Liberty Ships, Troops Transport Ships and LST’s. No ships, no D-Day, No D-Day, no end to World War II. With the respect to those that fought abroad, it’s a difficult task for some Americans to understand that after the destruction of Pearl Harbor and the 7th Fleet, ships to win the war would need to be built in record time, and they would be built by using African American labor in Richmond, CA at a pace never seen before in ship building history. Ships built in two-thirds the time, at one quarter the cost.

At the same time, this was a time in history when you could get a steak dinner for $2.00 at Dugan’s Cafe, or after an Oakland Giants footbal game, you could go and watch Ivie Anderson perform. She was one of the finest singers that ever lived. Ivie was one of America’s leading jazz artist, who once sang with the incomparable Duke Ellington Orchestra, with created solid hits like “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” or “I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good“. She often headlined at the North Pole Club, at 6th and Kirkham in West Oakland.

It wasn’t Slim Jenkins Club, but the joint was still jumpin’.

Rumor had it that in 1945 and under no uncertain terms, Mel Reid was a victim of the NFL’s Color Line, which began in 1934 and lasted until 1946. Major League Baseball never held a monopoly on segregation or Jim Crow during this time period in America. I dare say, and I’m sure most people reading this post can only fathom what the NFL missed by not having Mel Reid’s skills on the turf by keeping the color barrier active the year Reid was voted the Pacific Coast Professional Football League’s MVP. The NFL missed a ‘Mel Reid’, based on the color of his skin, and it’s one of the main reasons that most people never heard of Mel’s sporting prowess.

1945 was the year the NFL drafted Frankie Albert from the Pacific Coast Professional Football League, but not the MVP of the league because the MVP was black.

Then there was the other Mel. The businessman Mel. The one that couldn’t wait for a break in the world of professional sports to happen. The one that was growing older. The man who was being drawn towards a career in the music industry, which he himself measured its financial potential and invested his money and his time accordingly, as he was finding his way through life at the age of 27. The race record phenomena, imposed by a racially segregated music industry within America, had a tremendous pull on Mel Reid’s spiritual sensibilities. His only other known ambition that he ever possessed was to eventually become a driver for Wonder Bread Bakeries. The same bakery that his father, Thomas Jr. had worked for his whole life, and had never seen or ever been offered a promotion within the company ranks. Thomas (Jr.), had only ever worked on the loading docks for wonder Bread, lifting 100 lbs sacks of flour,– which was nothing to be ashamed of, but proved to be a hard, laborious task, which also lacked any upward mobility within the company ranks. The powers that be, during that period of time, would never hired Mel, as a ‘black driver’, because Mel was black, and he certainly wasn’t allowed to join the Teamsters Union back in 1945.

So,…

This is why Mel decided to go into business for himself.

Still, it was often said, by Bay Area church practitioners, that Mel was commercializing gospel music, the Lord’s Music, which was highly frowned upon by the church, and the fact that he set his goals higher than most people ever could sometimes bothered people. He not only promoted gospel music, but tried his hand at producing and recording 78’s also. Mel still had that gift of selling race records to the public. That’s what they were called back in the day, and the market place for them was huge. Mel would capitalize on how big it would become. The record that would change the Reid family’s life and set them on the road to prosperity was Wynonie Harris-“Around The Clock Part 1 and 2. Mel’s reputation for selling gut bucket Blues, Soul, and R&B to the community at large, brought even the most curious from the other side of Grove (MLK) Street. In essence, the early days of Reid’s Records was borne out of its need for survival. Gospel music became a niche market much later on, as things in the community began to change, and the South Berkeley area where Reid’s Records stood was hit with residential blight, declining home values, and major drug dealing problems.

Mel was made privy to the inside track on the Gospel music scene by buying significant radio air time on KRE, and listening to his uncle Paul. Mel was also smart enough to target his market and out advertised his all of his competitors. He also had a gift as a promoter of musical acts. In doing so, the creation of a niche market, which other competitors never bothered with, built Reid’s Records to new heights. Gospel battles, between quartets and groups, staged and promoted by Mel, Betty and Paul normally would fill the Oakland Auditorium, expanding the overflow into the large ballroom area, where as many as 7,000 people show up for these Gospel Extravaganzas. They often featured the likes of such gospel stars as James Cleveland, the Rev. C.L. Franklin and his then-teenage daughter Aretha, the Caravans, Davis Sisters, the Staple Singers and the Ward Singers

Mel was a progressive individual, whose ideas were mostly ahead of their time. One of these ideas tells a tale of a young, fledgling Aretha Franklin, who Mel decided to record in 1954. I’m not sure where those master tapes ended up, but it was long before she became a famous R&B Singer, as was still using her pipes for gospel music. It was all a risk to Mel. I’m not sure he could have lived his life anyway else. The fact is, life isn’t always good as it seems, nor is it fair, and when you’re life is based on risk taking, you will literally gamble your life away. Even though gospel music had paid off big time, Mel gambled on hedging his bet with the changes in the music industry from every angle.

The challenge for Mel was stepping outside of his marketplace, only to return and find out that what he was in search of was beyond his reach. Even with the promotion of musicians and famous musical acts that Mel sold recordings of, the larger chain stores which maintained a much larger selection than Reid’s Records could ever keep in supply. Large chain record stores were able to work with much less overhead based on their ability to buy in bulk for multiple distributors. These chains stores, along with the consistent decline in the local neighborhood environment near Sacramento Street in the mid-1970’s, Reid’s Records soon found itself on the edge of imminent demise. Mel, who was suffering from severe diabetes, would eventually have both of his legs amputated. Wrought with debt and despair Mel gave in to Betty, who had divorced Mel in 1978, and she took over the business and returned it to it’s former glory days of selling Gospel music and Choir Supplies.

Reid’d Records is still in operation, and is run by Mel’s youngest son, David. With the taste in music constantly shifting, Things still hang precariously in the balance for Reid’s Records, because the musical landscape is changing and gospel music no longer possesses the same dynamic it once did in the African American community, as it once did on a much arger scale.

Not every story that involves gospel music can have a happy ending, like Sister Act II even though they sing “Oh Happy Day“.

It is nice to know Mel had a hand on making that song.

It’s something that will live throughout eternity where Gospel music is concerned.

And then you have “Around the Clock” featuring Johnny Otis’s and his jump-swing style of music. (Otis’s real name, Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, was another Berkeley legend, who as a white man chose to live his life as an African American, in both his professional and personal life. Which places a historical and social ‘perspective’ on Professor Rachel Dolezal choice to be “black”, within the concept that her claim of wanting to live life as a “black” person is not a new phenomena, and never has been one) Otis put the band together and Harris recorded the song,…Mel bought the “Around The Clock” record in bulk, which started the ball rolling for producing a steady cash-flow income for Reid’s Records. Of course,… there were all those other outside influences that were so distant from the gospel music scene, yet reflective of human life, human failings, and nature itself.

Well, sometimes I think I will, …yes, and sometimes I think I won’t…sometimes I think I will,…yes, and sometimes I think I won’t. Sometimes I believe I do and sometimes, and then again I believe I don’t. Well, looked at the clock,…the clock struck one,…he said, “Come on daddy, have a little more fun”,…yes, we rollin’, …we rollin’ on time. ” –Wynonie Harris-“Around The Clock Part 1 and 2

Negro League Baseball: The Reid Factor; Charles Rogers “Iron Man” Reid-Part I

I’ve decided to take a break from my ‘other’ writing to do some writing here at The Shadow Ball Express. I’m often reminded by friends, like Bill Staples, that discussions on the unknown history of baseball and using yesteryear’s comparative analysis, while applying Sabermetrics type analysis when looking at yesteryear’s ball players vs. today’s ball players can be confusing; or addressing certain subjects like ‘Deep Pitching Pools’ vs. “Shallow Pitching Pools”, and how difficult it can make be to find resolute answers, when it comes to asking questions like, “Who’s was the Greatest Home Run Hitter of All Time?”. In other words, there is no matrix for such things, especially when certain variables and unknowns still exist. Or how certain things may factor in one way or another, and how that can often makes it helpful with a modern day assessment of a player’s actual abilities and while addressing old vs. new performance standards.

The subject on this day, “HR-PP = home runs per pitcher “,..and that was this morning’s discussion. Bill asked me my view point, and and to be quite honest, after I lifetime of crunching numbers, I can’t say I really know if their is a way of making an assessment based on any stylized comparative analysis. I know that box scores are important. I also know in the case of some unknown players, they are almost nonexistent. I’ve become possessed by a stronger appreciation for the history and the facts, just shy of those all important numbers where some history of baseball is concerned, because the number weren’t always reported, based on social construct. Therefore, I continue to dig.

Based on the lack of certain known variables, which should make research easy, and a lack of accessible information, I’m often left just pondering. Here is the reason ‘why’ I think deeply, as Bill Staples so aptly put it in his blog on, “Every Baseball Era Deserves an Asterisk, Not Just the Steroid Era“. Bill states, … “The way I see it, the career numbers of Babe Ruth and his peers were “artificially enhanced” because they never faced the most talented pitchers of the Negro Leagues (Bullet Rogan, Dick Redding, Andy Cooper, etc.). Racism and the “color line” kept African-Americans out of MLB until 1947.Charles Rogers Reid was one of those great unknown pitchers of yesteryear.

Charlie Reid-Athen Elks

Charlie Reid of the Athen Elks

Charlie “Iron Man” Reid’s name is synonymous with greats like, Walter “The Great” Mails, Chick Hafey, Lefty Gomez, Buzz Artlett, Ernie Lombardi. I’m sure most people have never heard of Charlie Reid, even though they’ve seen his face a thousand times. They’ve never knew who he played against or who he was, or who he played with…and they never looked at his skill sets, because we rarely look at Negro League players beyond St. Louis or Kansas City. In other words, those of Western origins. We rarely consider that they have something to offer in the overall scope of historical value, when it comes to determining who played the game of baseball, and played it well. This story is more about all pitchers who were required to step up to the plate, long before Rule 6.10 was adopted by the American League in 1973. Duster Mails played for both the American League and the National League.

Charlie Reid would never be consider a prospect for either the National League or American League. It was a simpler time, except where skin color was concerned. This is one of those lost tales of integrated baseball. As Charlie put it, “One Sunday we played the Mails All-Stars at the First Street diamond in Richmond. Mails threw the fastest ball I ever saw–or didn’t see. No, I didn’t get any hits. We lost, 7-2. or “I pitched the best game of my life in 1923 against the Healdsburg club, the best semi-pro team in the state. Pop Arlett handled the club. I threw a one-hitter–and still lost, 1-0.

 

Charlie Reid was the son of Thomas Reid Sr. and Virginia ‘Parker’ Reid, was born in 1898 in Angles Camp, California. Thomas Reid Sr. was the personal bodyguard of Gentleman Jim Corbett, and a bouncer in many Barbary Coast saloons at the turn of the 20th Century. Thomas Reid Sr. was originally from Griffin, Georgia, who’s family headed West just ahead of a Griffin lynch mob, and “Jennie” was the grand-daughter of California Pioneer, William Henry Galt, who was originally a slave that moved West from Virginia to California, and was one of the founders of the Sacramento Zouaves of early California Militia movement, which kept California out of the hands of the Confederacy. This type of family legacy denotes that Charles would probably never consider playing baseball in the East or South, no matter how outstanding his baseball skills were.

Thomas Reid Sr.

Thomas Reid Sr.

Leila, Charlie, Tom, and Bert (front) around the time the Reids left Angels Camp in 1903

Leila, Charlie, Thomas Jr. and Bert, Angles Camp, circa 1903

Charlie Reid was one of the ‘original’ San Pablo Park Boys, who had a fruitful career in “semi-pro” baseball, as a player and an umpire. He played for any number of teams, including the Athen Elks of the Berkeley Colored League, but between 1921 and 1924, he was part of the pitching staff for the Oakland Pierce Giants. He was even invited to play for the Detroit Stars by Steve Pierce in 1924, but Charles decided that his life was better suited on the West Coast, near his very large and well established Bay Area family.

Virginia Reid and son, Charlie Reid

Mother Virginia Reid and her son, Charlie Reid

Charlie Reid-OPG

Charlie Reid, Oakland Pierce Giants

Although names like Chick Hafey, Lefty Gomez, Buzz Arlett, Duster Mails and Ernie Lombardi are well known in the annals of baseball history, Charlie Reid is not as well know as he should be. I think this bears some similarity to what Bill Staples meant when he stated, “because they never faced the most talented pitchers of the Negro Leagues”. Here’s the real eye-opener. Even if some of them did face some of the talented pitchers of all time, as Charlie was one of those, very few people know anything about these African American men that did face them in pitching duels, and/or pitcher vs. batter duels.

Charles Reid ball player

Charlie Reid, Oakland Red Sox One of my favorite articles about Charile “Iron Man” Reid

Athen Elks Win The First Champion Title-7-27-1933-i

Athen Elks Win The First Champion Title-7-27-1933-ii

The San Francisco Spokesman, The 1940 Census Record for Charles Reid has him located in Richmond, CA. It’s where he made his home, and even though he’s a Berkeley and Oakland original, Richmond claims him as their own. Shields-Reid Park is named after him, and it’s not far from his 1940 Census home address near at 610 Duboce Avenue. He lived no more than a block away.

Charles Reid-1940 U.S. Census

1940 U.S. Census for Charles Rogers Reid

Baseball was Charlie’s life. Besides playing the game, and playing it well, he also playing against some of the best players that baseball has ever produced, Charlie’s main focus was teaching the game to those who might have went a different direction, had it not been for his dedication and perseverance. Charlie Reid’s efforts, after his lengthy baseball career was to stem the tide of juvenile delinquency in the Bay Area by coaching sports, teaching sports, and umpiring sports, for less than fortunate kids,..but every one was welcomed to participate in park activities. In 1934, Charlie retired his playing for teaching and umpiring the game of baseball.

 

Charles Rodgers Reid was one of the baseball greats that no one really knows about, but I think his legacy in baseball is quite noteworthy.

Negro League Baseball: Ed Harris and the PCL

WCBA Iron Horsemen

John Ritchey, Luke Easter, unknown, Ed Harris, Artie Wilson publicity photo, circa 1948

This photo has always made ponder the question, “What are these men doing?”.

This is the second part of a column I wrote called the “The PCL and the Color Line“, which was posted by John Thorn in Our Game, that wonderful MLB blog that I hope everyone takes the time to drop by and read when they get a chance. I’d like to thank John for taking the the time to address social construct of the “color line” as a part of baseball history research, that affected both sides of a conflict which seemed to run parallel to the social structures of American history. One side was publicly seen and well documented, while the other side has researchers and members of the Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference group diligently piecing together this lost history with limited information at our access.

This is why they say, “A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words”.

I hope we can use this picture to explore the known people in this picture, and how this picture possibly came into being.

John Ritchey, Luke Easter, Ed Harris and Artie Wilson.

From this photo, one could surmise that there were two very important gentlemen in the background who remained unseen. They were very well known in the sporting world and wielded great influence and power when it came to negotiating contracts, written and verbal, and also when it came to scouts, or agents who acted as “scouts”, and Negro League players looking to break the color line in Major League baseball.

Those two gentlemen were Abe Saperstein and Bill Veeck.

Ellensburg Daily Record-5-4-1948-Pg. 8

Ellensberg Daily Record May 4, 1948

Abe Saperstein was President of the West Coast Baseball Association in 1946, and one of his associates in the newly formed league was Ed Harris, Business Manager for the Oakland Larks. We’re all aware that the WCBA didn’t last very long, but their were two teams that remained active for years beyond the 1946 disbanding of the WCBA. The Oakland Larks and the Seattle Steel Heads barnstormed the West, Midwest, the South and Canada as long as they could find teams to play against and fields to play on. The Seattle Steel Heads changed their name to the Harlem Globetrotters baseball team. They continued to barnstorm where ever they could bring in a crowd. Saperstein was officially disconnected from the former WCBA Oakland Larks by then, and continued to pursue his exploits in basketball and baseball with his early Harlem Globetrotters, and his A.M. Saperstein Sports Enterprises.

As Dr. Leslie Heaphy pointed out in her book, “The Negro Leagues: 1869-1960“, “Saperstein owned the Seattle entrant”[1].

By the same token, Saperstein chose to hide his ownership of the Seattle Steel Heads.

Following the baseball and money trail, we’ll make a stop along the early route to acknowledge the existence of  the Cincinnati Crescents, which was one of the teams that was also connected to Abe Saperstein, and one of the teams that Luke Easter starred on. The Cincinnati Crescents would eventually become the Seattle Steel Heads. Abe Saperstein also owned the Birmingham Black Barons in 1940.  Abe Saperstein created something very interesting when it came to sports management. It was a moving, living, breathing sports agency–with every finger in as many pies as he could possibly place them in. Basketball players that played baseball and vice versa.

There was a massive connection between these teams and Abe’s Sports Enterprises company, as well as the people he was formerly connected with in the WCBA when it came to moving his stable of players, or any former players like chess pieces, into the world of Major League baseball. Abe learned from his early experiences as a coach for the Savoy Big Five, that players remained loyal when they are well paid and treated with respect. Abe would make sure he would not be placed in the same position that T.Y. Baird had been placed in when Jackie Robinson accepted Branch Rckey’s offer to play in the bigs. Saperstein was also a master salesman who had no love for Jackie Robinson, and never minced words about it. The fact that Robinson could be the straw that broke the back of A.M. Saperstein Enterprises, because Robinson and Rickey were receiving massive media attention, angered Abe Saperstein. Other Negro ball players of exceptional caliber were being overlooked, and this made Abe no advocate of integration unless it was on his terms.

The Afro-American-6-15-1946-i-Pg. 14

The Afro-American-6-15-1946-ii-Pg. 14

The Afro-American June 15, 1946

The move to create the West Coast Baseball Association, as so aptly put by Dr. Heaphy, was Abe’s way of showing that “black baseball still had life” [2], and that Branch Rickey’s signing of Jackie Robinson was not a death knell to the Negro Leagues. This move also contained another aspect to Saperstein’s business ventures, which was the creation of a barnstorming slash farm venture, which helped maintain what Abe felt was his legitimate right to negotiate contracts with Major League baseball teams for players working under his A.M. Saperstien Enterprises umbrella. By maintaining the Seattle Steel Heads in the North West as a ‘silent owner’, and keeping in contact with Ed Harris, business manager of the Oakland Larks, who’s continued to barnstorm between late 1946 to 1948, in small towns all over America, Abe’s continued connections to his past associations and acquaintances would allow him to keep tabs on new and upcoming talent in Negro Baseball that wasn’t presently connected with the NNL or NAL.

The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 1997,  edited by Peter M. Rutkoff and Alvin L. Hall, mentions the deal that Abe negotiated for Veeck with the Kansas City Monarchs for Satchel Paige to pitch for the Cleveland Indians, in which Abe himself netted a hefty $15,000. In comparison, Luke Easter’s contract only cost Veeck $5,000.[3]

I’m also well aware that these statements contradict the assertion made in “A Baseball Myth Exploded” written by David M. Jordan, Larry Gerlach, and John P. Rossi, that Bill Veeck and Abe Saperstein were not in engaged together for Veeck to buy the Philadelphia Phillies and stock the bankrupt 1942 team with African American players, or as they stated “He (Veeck) did not work with Abe Saperstein and others to stock any team with Negro Leagues stars“.[4] There is a shortsighted assumption made by these gentlemen that ‘back door deals’, in general, do not take place in the world of baseball. What I mean by “back door” is a deal hidden from view of the public. or those not involved in the deal. The fact is, Veeck and Saperstein did try to do exactly that. They tried to stock the Cleveland Indians with stars, and it was a process created over time, and they used others to perform their scouting task.

As I said before, a picture is worth a thousand words.

John Ritchey-Luke Easter-Artie Wilson 1949

Luke Easter, Artie Wilson, and John Ritchey of the PCL San Diego Padres (photo courtesy of William Swank)

Here is a photo of these three gentlemen again. “Luciuous” Luke Easter, John “Hoss” Ritchey and Artie Wilson.

This is the only time I’ve ever seen Artie Wilson in a San Diego Padres uniform

We’ve established that Luke Easter’s contract was purchased by Bill Veeck, and we know that Easter previously played for the Cincinnati Crescents. Artie Wilson was also wooed by Veeck, according to Paul Dickson, in his book, “Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Greatest Maverick”. Dickson stated that Veeck “flew unannounced to San Juan to sign shortstop Artie Wilson, who was playing off-season ball for the Mayaguez Indians of the Puerto Rican Winter League but during the regular played for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues.”[5].

Of course, according to the legendary tale, New York Yankee’s general manager, George Weiss, claimed that Veeck had engaged in “unethical behavior”.[6]

When I spoke with William Swank, San Diego baseball historian, he told me that John Ritchey was a hometown boy from San Diego, so being signed by the PCL’s San Diego Padres probably had little to do with Veeck or Saperstein. What was the common denominator between Ritchey, Easter, and Willson?

Ed Harris, and Ed Harris’s connection to Abe Saperstein.

After reading “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League“, by Martha Ackmann, I reevaluated the significance of these two pictures, along with her statement Dr. Ackmann made about a letter written by Ed Harris. The paragraph stood out to me, and I questioned: Was Ed Harris the 1st African American scout for the PCL?

“As impossible as it seemed just three years earlier, Eddie Harris, former business manager of the association, was now working for the formerly all-white Pacific Coast League, scouting black talent for the newly integrated Seals and San Diego Padres. “I believe this is the greatest chance for Negro talent here on the Coast”, he wrote. “If they make good here there is a great chance of making the big League.” Harris asked his friends to let him know of” any good players that you think could make the grade. All their expenses would be paid to California. “They’ll get the best of everything while in spring training…”act quickly,” he said”.[7]

The letter in question is one that was sent to Clifford Allen by Ed Harris in 1949.

Ed Harris Correspondence for Barnstorming Games and Business 2

The question I pose here is:

Was Ed Harris, by way of a disbanded West Coast Baseball Association, connected to an “intricate scouting system” [8], headed up by people like Abe Saperstein of A.M. Saperstein Sports Enterprises, Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians, and also William Starr, owner of the San Diego Padres? William Swank, who I posed this question to, does not believe it happened that way. I respect him for saying so. When I emailed Dr. Ackmann about Ed Harris’s letter to Clifford Allen on Ed Harris being a scout for the PCL, her response was that the subject matter “was not a particularly rich collection for my purposes.”. This is something I agree with also. The documentation about Ed Harris being a scout for the PCL is very lean, but they are in his own words.

I doubt if we researchers will ever find a written contract between Abe Saperstein or A.M. Saperstein Sports Enterprises and Ed Harris naming Harris as a ‘scout’ for the purposes of recruiting Negro League star players for the PCL that could eventually move up to Major Leagues.

The 1948 publicity photo and the photo of those three PCL San Diego Padres in uniform together says a lot more about Ed Harris than what is written on paper alone.

___   *  _____  *  _____  *  ____

1)  Leslie A. Heaphy, “The Negro Leagues: 1869-1960“, McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2003, Page 213

2) ibid

3) Peter M. Rutkoff and Alvin L. Hall, “The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 1997″, McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2000, Page 117

4) “A Baseball Myth Exploded“, David M. Jordan, Larry Gerlach, and John P. Rossi, SABR Research Paper, 1999, SABR.org,

5) Paul Dickson, “Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Greatest Maverick”, Westchester Book Group, 2012, Page 171

6) ibid, page 172

7) Martha Ackmann, “Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League, Lawrence Hill Books, 2010, Page 70

8) Burton A. Boxerman, Benita W. Boxerman, “Jews and Baseball: Volume 1, Entering the American Mainstream 1871-1948“, McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2007, Page 138

 

Negro League Baseball: Ad Lankford vs. Jack Rogers in the Battle Royal

I post things that are not often discussed about African American baseball players, that normally deal with the social construct they chose to live in, at a given time in their life.

Gary Ashwill made a very valid comment about Bill Pettus being Sam Langford’s sparring partner on the West Coast. In fact, from what I’ve researched, many athletic clubs that boasted baseball teams also boasted ‘smokers’, as part of the overall day game event program. The fact the Ad Lankford was a part of this baseball and boxing regime just fascinates me. In my post, “Negro League Baseball: The Salt Lake Occidentals; Champions Of The West Coast“, the article had mentioned that Sam Langford and Ad Langford were “cousins”, and according to the article,  I said “Sam” Langford has replaced Jude Gans as the primary pitcher for the Salt Lake Occidentals.

I was off on that issue.

It was Ad Lankford who replaced Jude Gans,… not Sam Langford.

That is why we call it research.

Sometimes, wires get crossed, and names get mixed up–but we move forward.

In the book, “The First Black Boxing Champions: Essays on Fighters of the 1800s to the 1920s“, edited by Colleen Aycock, Mark Scott, William Pettus was noted as a sparring partner for Sam Langford, as he tried to transition in a boxing career in 1908-1909. Sam Langford, also was known as “The Boston Bone Crusher“, “The Boston Terror“, and “The Boston Tar Baby” was one of the most active and often called “The Greatest Fighter That Nobody Knows“.

Pound for pound, this Canadian born boxer was rated by Box-Rec as the 11th Greatest Fighter of All Time and 4th Greatest Heavyweight Of All Time.

Utah, being one of those great boxing venues of the early 1900’s, I’d ran across a article published in the Fall 2007 Utah Historical Quarterly  that discussed the early days of boxing, in an article called, “The Right Sort To Bring To City: Jack Johnson, Boxing, and Boosterism in Salt Lake City“, by Richard Ian Kimball. The social concept of professional sports, seldom discusses the politics upheaval that evolves from staging sporting events between opposing social classes, especially when one group of citizens are being denied rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, based on social construct. In that day and age, laws such as the Mann Act could be manipulated to corral, and even destroy the career of a person of color, should they be considered to have engaged in acts of moral turpitude.

Jack Johnson was one of those people who had his life decimated by these inherently persuasive and unbalanced arguments, based on the skin color of a person. Yet–the idea of engaging Jack Johnson for a no-holds bar boxing event, designed to feed the masses the tales of inequities and inequality on one side, and promote racial superiority on the other side, while making huge sums of money for promoting such ideologies, was not so uncommon in the early 1900’s. There is also the other side of the financial coin, when it came to job opportunities. The two professional sports that African Americans were allowed to participate in, while calling themselves “professional” were baseball and boxing, and baseball was segregated. Boxing, however, was as much a social event which connected communities across color-lines, as was baseball. On July 4th, 1910, the most important fight in American history would take place in Reno, Nevada, between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries.

It would be promoted as “THE FIGHT OF THE CENTURY”.

That is a lot to live up to.

Kimball states, “Political and cultural differences in Salt Lake City coalesced around the Johnson-Jeffries fight and prizefighting generally. In the months leading up to the title fight, boxing received unprecedented attention in the city’s daily newspapers. Editorials excoriating the sport as immoral and unjustified used boxing as a symbol of a larger rift. In short, support of boxing became associated with the American Party (a coalition of anti-Mormon ministers, businessmen, and professionals that had taken control of the Salt Lake City municipal government in 1905) and the unrestrained pursuit of economic growth.Those who denounced the sport implicitly criticized the direction of local government in favor of a more moral-based regulatory system. Moreover, two other local issues—race relations and civic boosterism— were bound up in the symbol of prizefighting.The heavyweight title fight may have been on the lips of civic reformers, but their hearts were set on controlling the future of Salt Lake City.”

Cut to Ad Lankford… AKA Ad Langford the Boxer
Salt Lake Tribune-5-14-1911
Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1911
Salt Lake Tribune, 1911-05-12, Langford-Drumgoole

Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1911

Ad Lankford AKA Ad Langford the boxer had made an attempt to be a boxer in the early days of his baseball career. Lankford was certain that he possessed pugilistic skills that would take him to the top of the boxing profession. According to an article run by the Salt Lake Telegram, dated May 13, 1911, Ad Lankford had been “clamoring for a match with Jack Rogers“, and looked at the scheduled bout with Jack Drumgoole as a “stepping stone to that end”. Drumgooole vowed he would have his way with Lankford, even though Lankford outweighed him, and stated after he was through with Lankford, “Ad will be content to go back to baseball”.

Salt Lake Tribune, 1911-05-14

Salt Lake Tribune, May 14, 1911

The long and short of is, Lankford lost the fight by a decision on points. He didn’t get knocked out, but he learned his lesson well enough and never returned to the ring. Louis “Ad” Lankford went on to play baseball leaving his mark on the world, and I often wonder if that single match against Jack Drumgoole didn’t have something to do with Lankford making the decision to remain in baseball, and leave off boxing forever. Still, times were hard and money was even harder to come by. I’ll speak more on this type of cross event baseball and boxing employment option later on.