You’re probably familiar with great baseball players like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, or Lou Gehrig but not as familiar with Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson or Oscar Charleston. They are just a few of the great baseball players who played in the Negro Leagues.
The Negro Leagues was an African American baseball league that was created because African Americans, who were called Negros at the time, were not allowed to play in the Major Leagues due to segregation. The first league, The Negro National League, was founded in 1920 by Rube Foster.
Pay was low in the Negro Leagues, to make extra money, players would barnstorm. This meant that they would travel to play exhibition games in one city one day and in another city the next in between their league games. They not only played against other clubs in their league, but major leaguers as well. Negro league teams won about sixty percent of the time.
Teams would sometimes play two or three games in one day. Major league teams barnstormed as well but because of segregation, Negro League players had a tougher time. They were unwelcome by most hotels so after traveling for hours on a bus, they would have to sleep on that bus or in the ballpark. Negro Leaguers sometimes had to travel several hundred miles to find a restaurant that would serve them. They couldn’t use many public restrooms and in some stadiums that were not allowed to use the locker rooms.
Despite the hardships,The Negro Leagues produced many great baseball players, some of whom eventually made it to the Major Leagues. Jackie Robinson played in the Negro Leagues for one season before becoming the first African American to play in the Majors.