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.

 

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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.

 

1917-1918_0605_draft_registration_bost-ii

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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Negro League Baseball: African American Baseball, History And Archaeology

On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 PM,  just as game number 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s was about to get underway, an earthquake rated between 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude hit the Bay Area with a jolt that would not soon be forgotten. The Loma Prieta Earthquake, which took down the Nimitz 880 Freeway Cypress Street Viaduct upper level, would change the way this writer would look at history and baseball forever. 42 people in West Oakland lost their lives, 41 of them on that day. It’s been stated that there would have been many more deaths that day if it wasn’t for the World Series taking place between these cross bay rivals. Most people would be at home, either waiting to watch the game or listen to it on the radio. Game number 3 was postponed till Oct. 27, 1989. The A’s would sweep the series with in 4 straight games.

1989-Cypress_collapsed

Cypress Street Viaduct, Nimitz Freeway, West Oakland, 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

It would be 25 years later when I was called upon to identify some information concerning the West Coast Baseball Association artifacts, and tell whatever history I could about them, and explain their existence as a league. The information on them has always been sparse at best, but even more so, because the history of West’s Oakland’s 7th Street had been ‘tanked’ long before Loma Prieta had occurred. The history that proceeded the WCBA and how they evolved was based on land that was taken through eminent domain, which reached back beyond the year of 1954, when the Oakland City Council decided that it would tank-doze a neighborhood of West Oakland’s Black Bottom, as part of its proposed urban community redevelopment and revitalization program. This urban renewal project would leave a long stretch of barren land, until the completion of the double decker Cypress Freeway opened in 1957. Worse of all, is would leave a gap in Bay Area baseball history.

Tank Demolition

Demolition of West Oakland neighborhood by the lowest bidder, using modified Sherman Tanks

Construction Of The Cypress Freeway

Future building site of the Nimitz Freeway Cypress Street Viaduct  exchange in West Oakland.

Cypress Freway Excahnge-1

The Double Decked Cypress Interstate 880 Freeway

I relish the experience of searching through old records, uncovering West Coast baseball action as it happened in the Bay Area from the late 1800’s through World War II. I’m often reminded, from time to time of how fast this community grew, into something that was phenomenal, and still to this day is very much misunderstood. The stories of 7th Street, the “Black Broadway” of the West, and its surrounding neighborhoods, formed a legacy most recently forgotten by the people who dwell there now. It is a vast journey that has taken a hold on my senses. I’m determined to share as much of this rich history as I can, for much of it is buried and slowly being uncovered. One of the many stories of West Oakland involves two very well known baseball players: Jimmy Claxton and Harold “Rowdy” Elliot.

Jimmy Claxton Story-I Wonder If He Remembered-2-22-1943

The San Francisco Spokesman, Sporting Spice column by Byron “Speed” O’Reilly,  February 22, 1934

When the Cypress Street Viaduct fell, the City of Oakland in its rush to rebuild the freeway after the tragedy that would known as Loma Prieta, had to take a step back in time when demolition crews found items from the Oakland’s historical past. Sonoma State University assisted Cal-Trans in what would come to be known as the Cypress Archaeological Project, as part of the plan to rebuild the 880 freeway exchange, and in doing so helped reroute a communal pathway which was much less obstructive. Together these two entities decided to jointly research and document over 500,000 artifacts that covered a 48 block area of new freeway construction. Over 2,500 archeological features were also uncovered from Oakland past history, of which 121 were determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

But sometime a plaque is not enough to tell one hundred plus years of history. It seems 7th Street was always a throughway for train traffic and a route for transportation.

Fourth & Sixth Ward-West Oakalnd Map-1878

I took the time to input just 9 members that lived in the Black Bottom and I mapped their addresses from their 1940 U.S. Census records. These men who had played in the Berkeley Colored League, had a huge connection to West Oakland based on two simple things; San Pablo Park and the Key System. The outcome of the results was fascinating. It created a small, tight cluster that explained a lot about social boundaries and how communities grow.

1) San Pablo Park

2) The Key System

The Key System Electric Train Transit

With the coming “revitalization” of West Oakland after World War II, and the decline of employment in the war industries located in the East Bay Area, a financial shift took place that would disconnect Berkeley from West Oakland. The history of East Bay baseball and the baseball stars that it had created, those who traveled between these two cities, would fight to keep that history alive, as best they could. One of the leading families in West Oakland, that very few people remember or talk about, was the Bercovich family, who owned E. Bercovich & Sons furniture store, on the corner of 7th and Franklin in the heart of the Black Bottom. Bercovich & Sons furniture teams sponsored many great baseball players, during their time on the West Oakland, and here is the short list:

1) Curt Flood

2) Vada Pinson

3) Frank Robinson

4) Willie Stargell

5) Kevin Maas

6) Rickey Henderson

7) Dave Stewart

8) Randy Johnson

9) Joe Morgan

10) Don Wakamatsu

11) Charlie Beamon

13) Bill Rigney

14) Jackie Jensen

15) Ed Fernandes

Sam Bercovich and Curt Flood-1955

Sam Bercovich and Curt Flood

Curt Flood’s Civil Rights activism was a big part of creating Baseball’s Free Agency advocacy that still stands today. His lawsuit would soon bring the “reserve clause” in Major League Baseball contracts to a slow, but eventual grinding halt. Sam Bercovich stood by Flood, when others would not. Even when he began to receive death threats. Bill Staples had mentioned to me in passing, after reading “Negro League Baseball: Lefty Gomez vs. The Berkeley Pelicans“, how he would like to know more about Dudlely Jones of the Berkeley Pelicans. I can tell him that Dudley graduated from the same high school as Curt Flood, Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson, and Bill Russell.

Dudley Jones-McClymonds High School-Mar. 30-1933

The San Francisco Spokesman, Sporting Spice column by Byron “Speed” O’Reilly,  March 30, 1933

Sometimes through eminent domain- land is lost, and within that loss, so is history. Eventually, after years of contract negotiations and barren soil, BART would replace the ‘A line that ran down 12th Street from East Oakland through West Oakland and on to Emeryville connecting Berkeley and Oakland. In order to do away with so much of the 7th Street and West Oakland’s history, a huge swath of homes were demolished for the purpose bettering the community. What this actually did for many years, in retrospect, is conquer and divide the Oakland and Berkeley African American communities, upending their history which had been created since the late 1800’s and went well into the early 1960’s. In doing so, this new construction destroyed the a huge legacy belonging to a multitude of cultures with connected experiences yet to be explored. Yes, this modern mode of transportation which exist today, buried almost a century of African American history that intermingled with Chinese, German, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, Irish, Greeks, Slavs, French and Mexican, laid under asphalt and concrete, until that fateful day on October 17, 1989.

BART And 7th Street-construction-1968-bottom-photo_5a

7th Street West Oakland BART raliway construction in the 1960’s

Esther’s Orbit Room is the last remaining jazz and blues club holdout in the Black Bottom. Back in the day though, the spot to be was Harold “Louisiana Slim” Jenkins Place. Slims Place began with a liquor store in 1934, one  month to the the day prohibition ended. Rumor had it, that between him and Charles E. “Raincoat” Jones, the bootleg whiskey they’d sold during the tough times of the Depression would no longer be required to make a living wage, which made the boys in Road to Perdition Boys in Emeryville quite upset. Slim and Raincoat were a big part of their distribution chain. 7th Street was a place where anyone who was anyone hung out, and that included President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose yacht the USS Potomac still sits in the Oakland Estuary, and has become a major tourist attraction in Jack London Square. Slim Jenkins had operated his liquor business’s on 7th Street long before he built his World Famous Slim Jenkins Night Club.

Slim Jenkins Liqour Store Ad-1-18-1934-ii

The San Francisco Spokesman, Jan 4, 1934

Slim Jenkins Place 2-7th Street

Slim Jenkins Place circa 1950’s

Map Legend Of West Oakland

Map of West Oakland circa 1940’s

I do realize that I talk about teams, leagues, and early African American baseball players that most people have never heard about, and that is because they all dwelled in locations far West of Kansas City and St. Louis. These untold tales about men most have never heard of are the ones that piqued my interest most of all, and by their shear design, they are stories that must be told for future reference and further research into their lives, and their particular narratives. That’s why I joined SABR. Because without a Jimmy La Blanc or Dudley Jones, there would have never been a Curt Flood of Ricky Henderson. When the African American baseball stories are crushed by newly laid concrete or paved over with hot asphalt, the story of Ed and Sam Bercovich, one a founding father of West Oakland baseball and one of baseball’s greatest philanthropist, who then passed on his legacy to his son–we also find that their stories will be buried in the vault of time.

Jack London lived in West Oakland in the late 1800’s, and his novel “Valley Of The Moon” was set in West Oakland. The California League began in West Oakland in 1879, and played at the park called the Oakland Baseball Grounds, located between 13th and 14th Streets, with cross streets of Kirkham and Center. The music created on 7th Street is being heavily documented as we speak, but the baseball of West Oakland is being forgotten. I sometimes wonder how Robert Louis Stevenson felt when he wrote Silverado Squatters, because there was a town in California called ‘Silverado’, even though it was an abandoned mining town that lived through the ravages of the quicksilver rush of 1873.

The Harlem of The West Coast was found on West Oakland’s 7th Street, and so was a whole lot more history. I’m not sure if 7th Street was where “Rowdy” Elliot outed Jimmy Claxton for being ‘black’ and not ‘white’, while having him removed from the Oakland Oaks pitching staff, but from the story related by Speed in his column, I’d have to say it was more than likely the truth, than just some far-fetched story for the sake of printing gossip. J. Cal Ewing was a staunch defender of all-white baseball for the American public, and was known to have stated his feelings in the newspapers about African Americans sportsmen, playing the sport we all love so much. I hope to write many more stories about baseball in the West–very soon. Baseball has many layers and stories. I just hope it doesn’t take another major earthquake to unearth more items that substantiate facts pertaining to this lost history, or another 25 year break in the lull to create a real interest in them.

Negro League Baseball: The Rise, Fall, And Transformation Of The Oakland Pierce Giants

As was stated in my last post, concerning  “The Oakland Pierce Giants“, Bill Staple’s made certain references to the Oakland Pierce Giants taking the field under many different monikers, in his book, “Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer“. Bill contacted me about after reading my post. My comment was not an attack on his book. After many years of researching the information for myself, I’ve come to the conclusion and realization about researching African American baseball on the West coast based on Jim Crow era news articles, or hearing stories told by an aging elder, whose memory isn’t a sharp as it used to be. The task that lays ahead of us, is even more daunting than one could imagine. Those of us who consider ourselves historians of African American baseball have many tough obstacles laid out before us, and sometimes a comment can be misconstrued or taken as a slight of someones hard work and efforts in uncovering detailed events never before seen by the public. I’ll make my assertions based on these facts alone with the data that has been presented to me through my own research; unless the reporter slash journalist states the names of the player(s),  or gives a line-up in the article in the teams you’re researching, I cannot assume any of the teams with like-sounding names sported the same players.

It really isn’t anything personal, and Bill reached out to me and offered to show me his research findings on the Oakland Pierce Giants, over a period of time, when the opportunity presents itself. I’m sure he’s a very busy man. I appreciate his offer, because the task of documenting African American baseball, or any early ethnic baseball team or league on the West Coast can be a bear for those of us who go at it full bore. With that in mind, I’d like to extend the offer of my research findings out to Bill and other SABR members, who are interested in setting the records straight for posterity. Because exploring the social dynamic differences and interactions between Eastern, North Eastern, Midwestern, Southern, and Western African American baseball teams, and other ethnic baseball teams, is truly imperative to those of us who want to set the records straight in the 21st Century.

Having said that…

There were many teams that called themselves one or another version of “Giants” that hailed from California, and Chet Bost may or may not have been involved with some of them. One of those teams that called themselves the “Giants”, was the Shasta Limiteds, which featured Jimmy Claxton, former hurler for the PCL’s Oakland Oaks. That was– until he was outed by Rowdy Elliot for being less than forthcoming about his African American heritage. Byron “Speed” O’Reilly tells a very interesting story about that memorable West Oakland incident that cost Jimmy Claxton his position with the Oakland Oaks.

C.G. Bradford was manager for the Shasta Limiteds, who were also known as the Negro Giants Of California. Bost is mentioned in one article I found, and it connects him to the Shasta Limiteds. It is my belief, that because Jimmy Claxton played for a team that referred to themselves “the Giants” when deemed appropriate, and the average individual assumes that it was the Oakland Pierce Giants. I haven’t been able to verify any information that ties Claxton to the Oakland Pierce Giants or Chet Bost. There is a blog out there that says Claxton played for Bost, but it offers no access to verify their findings or the teams they played on together. It only mentions Bost in passing, more as a footnote to Claxton performance as an individual. The article below explains how this was probably a singular exception. Information on Claxton’s life and baseball career between 1916 and 1919 is sparse. The “Oakland aggregation” mentioned in the article below was more than likely the Oakland Pierce Giants that had served the Shasta Limiteds their only defeat for that season in 1919.

Bears To Meet Negro Nine Here-6-2-1919-i

Bears To Meet Negro Nine Here-6-2-1919-ii

The Evening News, San Jose June 3, 1919

The Shasta Limiteds, as a team name carried a moniker that represented  a strong social connection within the African American community. This is something I’ll be discussing in future blogs. This connection between the early African American baseball players and the transcontinental railroad system, as it was the preferred form of travel is seldom discussed among the SABR community. The Shasta Limiteds, as they were ‘officially’ called, used this personal name, referring to themselves after a ‘express train’ that traveled, daily, between Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California. The Southern Pacific line used Pullman Porters, and the Shasta Limited De Luxe, was an “exclusive extra-fare train catering to the most elite of passengers” [1]. It required the best of the best to work the Pullman Sleeping Car that travled the Portland to San Francisco express route on a twenty-seven hour turn around.  Most of the West Coast African American baseball players of the early days, were tied intrinsically to the Pullman Porters, the Red Caps, and the Oakland Mole in one way or another. This helped foster the growth of West Oakland, which was also known as the Harlem Of The West, during the 1920’s to 1940’s.

Southern Pacific Co's Broad Gauge Mole Oakland CA 1687

The Oakland Mole-Transcontinental Railroad Terminus

One of the things I’ve noticed in my research, that during the era of Jim Crow journalism, the writers used repetitious referencing to African American baseball teams as either ‘fast’ or ‘comedic’. This was commonplace and seemed to be the required social perception of that period in American history. It seemed to be part of an overall marketing strategy used by promoters and journalist in those days to fill the ball parks. Specific terminology like ‘fast or ‘comedic’ made the Caucasian viewing public feel safe. Enough so, that engaging with African Americans to play within the confines of their cloistered and protected neighborhood, white patrons needed to hype the style of African American ball play as a selling point to fill the seats.

This is partly do to the fact that some African American teams represented themselves that way, in order to procure gainful employment during the Great Depression, while presenting themselves as entertainers as well as sportsmen, in a world which limited them only by the color of their skin. Jim Crow journalist often gave their readership the impression that coming to see African Americans baseball players engage Caucasians players on their home fields was a dangerous and heady proposition. It was a major selling point for those who felt the need to live dangerously within the confines of their community, even though no real danger actually existed. Sometimes, a Jim Crow journalist would mention the fact that a lot of  African American teams bringing a large constituency of fans with them. Sundown towns in California, seldom saw so many African Americans is one locale, especially their own county or township. This often left the reader of this type of news with an sense of danger or excitement, depending on their visceral response to African Americans venturing to their town for a game. The fact that the Shasta Limited also chose to call themselves “Giants”, was because their mere size was a crowd drawing feature that reached beyond their color. Jimmy Claxton is a prime example of someone who was often described by his 6 foot 4 stature as a “Giant”, while at the same time conversely referred to as a “little Jimmy Claxton” [2], or “Jimmy is a little fellow, only six feet four inches tall” [3] .

Try, as I may, I cannot substantiate everything that has been said about the concepts surrounding the “The Colored Giants“, “Shadow Giants“, “Lynne-Stanley Giants“, “Weilheimer Giants“, “Pierce Giants“, “Oaks“, and “Oak Leafs“, or that they were all teams nurtured by C.A. “Chet” Bost. What I can do is confirm the existence of the the Negro Giants Of California (also known as the Shasta Limiteds), the Colored Giants of Oakland, the Lynne-Stanley Giants, the Nehi Giants (of the Berkeley Winter League), the Royal Colored Giants of Oakland, the San Francisco Giants (sometimes called the San Francisco Colored Giants), the Oakland Giants, and the Oakland Pierce Giants. After reading so many articles, where the team name differs, but the line-up remains the same a week later, even though there has been no change in sponsorship, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jim Crow journalist at that time were not interested enough in the players to get the team’s name correct. Because even though the sportsmanship may have excelled by those participating in the scheduled events, it was still only for the purpose of exhibition and not–social recognition.

I am almost certain that Chet Bost had very little to do with the most of these teams other than the Shasta Limiteds and the Oakland Giants. The Oakland Pierce Giants left a distinct paper trail of familiar names of players, using them over and over again on reconstituted teams, until they would eventually become the core group of individuals that initiated the Western American Baseball League, and eventually morph into the Berkeley Colored League.

When Steve Pierce’s Oakland Pierce Giants won the Northern California Semi-Pro Championship, in league play against the San Francisco Eagles, a cycle of events would take place, where the certain names appear for the discerning eye.

CE-1924-Pierce Giants Cinch North California Championship

The California Eagle, August 1, 1924

I haven’t had a chance to research the San Francisco Eagles as deeply as I would have liked to do before writing this post, but the name that stuck out most in my eye was their pitcher, “Elliot”. I’m certain that this was Ernest Elliot of the Berkeley Colored League, and he was one of the starting pitchers for the Royal Colored Giants Of Oakland [4], during the the creation phase of the Western American Baseball League in 1927.

The remaining facts of this story are this: The Oakland Pierce Giants would remain the Northern California Semi-Pro Champions of 1924. The Jasper All Stars, which had replaced the Carrol Giants earlier that year, defeated the Glendale White Sox, and would be considered the Southern California Semi-Pro Champions [5] by default— because no actual series ever took place. Lonnie Goodwin never accepted Steve Pierce’s challenge for a State Champion series and could not find a park to play in at the time of the offer. Manager John Jasper never negotiated a series between the Jasper All Stars and the Oakland Pierce Giants with Steve Pierce. By February 1925, the Oakland Pierce Giants were left to the own design, when Steve Pierce bought the Detroit Stars, eventually heading East and leaving the 1924 Northern California Champions to fend for themselves, by barnstorming here and there in California, which became a way of life for those who continued to play as a ‘team’, until they could find new leadership that would nurture their talents to build a league.

CE-Steve Pierce Of Oakland Buys Detroit National Team-2-13-1925-i

CE-Steve Pierce Of Oakland Buys Detroit National Team-2-13-1925-ii

The California Eagle, February 13, 1925

1) “Southern Pacific Passenger Trains”, by Brian Solomon, Voyageur Press, Page 88

2) Shasta Limited Nine To Meet Bears”, San Jose Evening News, June 6. 1919

3) “Bears To Meet Negro Nine Here”, Evening News, San Jose California, June 3, 1919, page 5

4] “Gene Valla To Lead Padres In Game Against Colored Giants”, The Santa Cruz Everning News from Santa Cruz, July 9, 1927

5) Headline-“ALL STARS SEMI-PRO CHAMPS”, The California Eagle, August 27, 1924, Page 9

Negro League Baseball: The Oakland Pierce Giants

 

The Oakland Pierce Giants

I had heard that Charlie Reid pitched for the Oakland Pierce Giants, but I’d never seen him in uniform until a picture of them. .

The Oakland Pierce Giants, according to Bill Staples book, “Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer“, were called “The Colored Giants“, “Shadow Giants“, “Lynne-Stanley Giants“, “Weilheimer Giants“, “Pierce Giants“, “Oaks“, and “Oak Leafs“. I’m not really sure how he accessed this information is, because my research shows different completely different data. At some point, I hope we can exchange our findings.

I used what know as the bullet proof method of tracking down information when it came to the Oakland Pierce Giants. Hilary “Bullet” Meaddows proved to be an invaluable source when it came to tracking down the players of the Oakland Pierce Giants, and how the evolved into what would become the genesis team/group for the Berkeley Colored League, which was started by Byron “Speed” O’Reilly.

I’ve only been able to locate one small article on the Lynne-Stanley Giants, where they defeated the Wixsons, by a score of 5 to 3, at Grove Street Park, in Berkeley on August 18th, 1913. And, I was only able to locate that by chance, finding Meaddows mentioned in the article. Hilary “Bullet” Meaddows, sometime called “Rapid Fire” Meaddows was a phenomenal player, according to many news articles and my Grandfather, “Big Sharkey” Winston Auther. According to my calculations, and the articles I was able to obtain, Hilary “Bullet” Meaddows played the game of baseball for well over twenty-two years. He played with everyone from Chet Bost to Jimmy Claxton, Yellowhorse Morris, all the way to Sunny Jim Bonner. He played his early years as a hard-hitting second baseman, sometimes switching to shortstop and even hurling on the mound when needed. His base stealing skills are legendary. In his own words, “I’m and old man, but I’m a good one“.

Charlie Reid was also a phenomenal pitcher that most Negro baseball historians have never heard of, but is a well known figure in the East Bay Area.  Charlie is known to have pitched against the like of Chick Hafey, Buzz Arlett, Ernie Lombardi, and Lefty Gomez. This might seem unusual to some, because even though it is well known among the African American community of the San Francisco Bay Area, not many people outside of “Shadow Ball” arena know about the skill level of those African Americans that played the game of baseball against their Caucasian contemporaries, at a time when being semi-pro was the only option you had on the West Coast, based on the era of Jim Crow in America. The Charles Reid Foundation is still very active today and has brought happiness, annually, to hundreds of at-risk youths living in Richmond, CA. by helping them develop life skills that will help excel in their future.

Charles Reid ball player

Charlie Reid

I’ve been recently researching the Carrol Giants of Los Angeles, which was a team owned by Will Carrol and managed by Lonnie Goodwin, when I came across this article.

CE-1924-Oakland Pierce Giants May Play Here Labor Day

The California Eagle, July 26, 1924

The Carrol Giants were a short lived team, who I believe the owner, Will Carrol, absconded with the teams funds and didn’t pay his field fees, and thus was locked out of Goodyear Park. Will Carrol was responsible for the money and business side of the Carrol Giant’s team, and after a series of early losses, I believe he couldn’t handle the pressure of team building. Soon after, the Japser All-Stars. lead by mananger/owner John Jasper would fill the void left by the Carrol Giants. Jasper’s crew had players like Slowtime Evans and Bob Fagen. Fagen was was eventually chosen to lead the Jasper All-Stars as their manager and wrote a series of articles called, “My Experience As A Manager” for the 1924 California Eagle newspaper. He based his experience at at managing and leadership qualities on his ideal manager of managers, Lonnie Goodwin.

What he had to say about ball players of any professional magnitude, and why they might consider playing in the West as opposed to the East, would be their ability to play baseball year around as opposed to five months a year, in he article called “West vs. East“. He stated that the players from the West are in better condition and seldom left there small towns where they were comfortable. But, his emphatic statement about the main reason being that “managers don’t want to pay sufficient salaries to beginners from the bushes.“, speaks volume to what I’ve been saying to members of the SABR community for months now. The social dynamics and opportunity for African American men during the days of Jim Crow kept some of the best players close to that opportunity.

I’m not sure that Gary Ashwill or Bill Staples will agree with me on the issue of why some of the best African American baseball players remained in the West, or those that played in the Negro League Majors, left the league and headed West to make a life for themselves. Some will continue to state that they were in their declining years as sportsmen. The social dynamic of securing a park to hold seasonal play was also a major limiting factor, and there’s was a lot of mileage and land between Kansas City and California. The African American population in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County was sparse in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The Great Migration was a move from the South to the North, and to the North East and Midwest in most cases. The West was an oasis for the African American who stayed and built a life, but it still wasn’t free of Jim Crow. One added advantage of living in the West was one wasn’t limited to playing baseball for a living, and if the truth be told, a lot of players from the East were limited by their options in the days of Jim Crow to only playing baseball for a living.

As Charlie Reid stated, “I played for several other semi-pro teams in Vallejo, Martinez and just about every city in Northern California. Some times I made as much as $100 for pitching one ball game.

$100 was a lot of money between 1912 and 1934. It was especially a lot of money for playing “semi-pro” ball in a single game, when it was a known fact that Eastern League teams had difficulties paying their players on time, or never paid enough to keep them from jumping teams to make a decent, livable wage. These long standing semi-pro teams of the West could match the skills of any Eastern teams they came across, but it was really a money ball type of existence for Western African American baseball players. Exhibition games paid better than the standard league play, but if there was some accolades for winning against one of the best teams or players, or just playing them for bragging rights, the players from the West would pick up their gloves, travel to areas unwelcomed, and play for the sake of a story to tell later on.

I will explain in a future post how the Oakland Pierce Giants morphed into the Royal Colored Giants of Oakland, and they would become the flagship of the Berkeley Colored League, lead by the indefatigable Byron “Speed” O’Reilly.

Time to go make some Christmas Gumbo for the family.

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