Barnstorming     

 

The history of barnstorming baseball teams on the prairies goes way back before this 1935 Winnipeg exhibition between Satchel Paige's Bismarck club and the Kansas City Monarchs. 

1934 Monarchs vs House of DavidIt would be a whole other story of how the teams got around in those days, but the first teams probably began their traveling shows as early as the late1800s in what is now Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. (Advertisement from the Winnipeg Tribune, June 6, 1935)

Satchel PaigeThe 30s, 40s and 50s appear to have been the prime decades of the barnstormers, including the regulars -- such as the House of David and the Kansas City Monarchs

The master of the barnstormers, Satchel Paige, continued to visit the prairies into the mid 1960s.  The photo at right was taken in 1963 during a tour by his All-Stars to Regina.


 NOTABLE BASEBALL ATTRACTION COMING

Two Renowned Colored Baseball Teams to Clash Here on Thursday Evening, July 10th

Because of the fact that two baseball clubs would be crossing each near here on their respective tours East and West, a contest has been arranged to be staged at Claresholm on Thursday evening, July 10th between Rod Whitman's Texas Colored Giants Baseball Club and the Chicago Colored Athletics.

The Texas Colored Giants, owned and managed by Canadians, and the Chicago Colored Athletics have been for two seasons rival claimants to colored baseball supremacy, and here for the first time in the history of the two clubs the opportunity has arrived to decided this argument.  It will be a real ball game; nothing can be surer than that, and both teams will be out to give no quarter to its opponent.

This great baseball game will be played at Claresholm on Thursday evening July 10th.  The same popular prices of fifty and twenty-five cents will prevail.  The game will commence at six forty-five p.m.  (The Claresholm Local Press, July 4, 1930)


BASEBALL

Both games Wednesday between a Nanton team and the Chicago Athletics, a colored baseball bunch that is now touring western Canada, drew good crowds, and the spectators were well satisfied with the exhibition.  The colored men are good players and played a clean game. It was expected that they would win both games, and they did.

Both were good games.  The spectators could not know whether the traveling company were playing their best of not; but they played good enough to win. (The Nanton News, July 10, 1930)


1933 Monarchs in WinnipegWith the visiting club will come Lefty Beverly whom critics claim would have been classed with some of the great major league pitchers if he had been eligible for major league ball. Chet Brewer, another great pitcher, who has been with the club at different times is expected to join the club in time for the Winnipeg games. Brewer has been pitching this year at Washington, D.C. but has been signed again by the Monarchs. Nelson Dean, speed ball king, is one of the greatest pitchers in colored baseball is is called the iron man of the league.

Behind the bat the Monarchs have Ted Young, who has led the league in home runs for two years, also Frank Duncan. These two receivers have been with the club for eight years. At first base is Giles, a hard hitter; at second base Newt Allen--the Eddie Collins of colored baseball; at short stop, Bill Wells, a great fielder and hard hitter; at third base, Clint Mothell. In the outfield is Taylor, in right, C. Bell, the fastest centre fielder in base ball bar none. In left, Ed. Troupe, a boy 19 years old--weight 190 pounds--the youngest player on the club and one of the hardest hitters. (Winnipeg Free Press, July 22, 1932).


Sneaky.  Seeing double?  Triple?  Quadruple?  Perhaps just foresight - an early example of recyling !

Howard GayFreddie SheppardSam WheelerLarry CunninghamJohn Keen

Above - in 1947, the photo on the extreme left was identified as Howard Gay, centre fielder of the Harlem Globetrotters. (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, July 30, 1947).

in 1949, the player in the photo second from the left was identified as Freddie Sheppard, centre fielder of the 1949 New Orleans Creoles. (The Winona Republican-Herald, July 30, 1949).

Again, in 1949, the player in the third photo is said to be Sam Wheeler, outfielder for the Globetrotters. (The Salt Lake Tribune, July 3, 1949).

In a 1952 newspaper report on the Harlem Globetrotters, the fourth photo was identified as Larry Cunningham, 'Trotters' centre fielder. (The Independent Record, Helena, Montana, June 29, 1952).

Also in 1952, the player in the photo extreme right was identified as John Keen, right fielder of the Globetrotters (The Inter Lake, Kalispell, Montana, August 22, 1952).

Lyman Bostock ?Lenan JohnsonZell Miles ?Here we go from 1941 (left) when the player is identified as Lyman Bostock of the Birmingham Black Barons. (Chester Times, August 6, 1941).

Middle - it's 1944 and Lenan Johnson of the 'Trotters (August 18, 1944, Ogden Standard-Examiner)

Right -1947, The News Palladium, Benton Harbor, May 29, 1947 says that's Zell Miles of the Harlem Globetrotters.


Below left - In July, 1947, the batter was named as Sam Wheeler of the Harlem Globetrotters. (The Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, July 31, 1947). His twin? In August, the photo carried the name of Zell Miles also of the Globetrotters.  (The Winona Republican-Herald, August 26, 1947).

Sam Wheeler ?Zell Miles ?Double Duty ?Parnell Woods ?

And the other pair?  In 1945, the photo, third from the left) was identified as Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Harlem Globetrotters. (The Ogden Standard-Examiner, August 20, 1945).

 In 1950, however, he's Parnell Woods.  (Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune, May 31, 1950)

Globetrotters OutfieldTrotters Outfield

Left - the 1952 Harlem Globetrotters' outfield, John Keen right fielder, Larry Cunningham centre, and Ted Dixon in left (The Daily Inter Lake, Kalispell, Montana, August 20, 1952)

Right - The 1950 Harlem Globetrotters' outfield, left to right, Sonny Smith, Zell Miles, Leon Wheeler and Sam Wheeler (Ogden Standard Examiner, July 2, 1950)


Colored Giants  Texas Colored Giants

July 6, 1931, The Lethbridge Herald carried a lengthy story about Rod Whitman's Texas Colored Giants.  Whitman, from Lafleche, Saskatchewan, had paired up with Negro League veteran Jack Marshall to organize a touring barnstorming show which featured games against the local nines and competitions between the Giants and the New York All-Stars plus a minstrel show and dance.

The first professional display of baseball in Lethbridge for the current season will be staged at the Henderson Lake ball diamond on Wednesday of this week when the Texas Colored Giants hook up with the New York All-Stars.  This feature contest will be played in the evening commencing at 6:30 but during the afternoon an All-Star team will clash with the Giants for a purse of $200.

The Giants have been seen in action in this city in previous years and fans will recall with interest the contests between this touring nine and the local Red Sox last summer.  Games that will be full of pep and interest and of a calibre of ball as dished up in the major leagues will be available to fans of Lethbridge and district and good crowds are assured for both bills.

The following record of the team during the past two seasons gives some idea of the brand of ball these southern boys put up for the fans:

The Texas Color Giants, owned and managed by Rod Whitman of LaFleche, Saskatchewan.  Played one hundred and forty-two games in Western Canada two seasons ago, lost on the season eleven games.  Last season in the west, played one hundred and fifty-six, lost thirteen games during the tour.

The tour embraces during the summer months seven states and four provinces and covers over 12,000 miles. This season the organization travels in a caravan of three buses and three trucks.

AGREEMENT MADE

Because of the absence of semi-professional and professional ball clubs in the country this summer, an agreement was made with the New York All-Stars; a colored team of merit from the East, to play a series of games throughout the west with the Texas Giants.  In order to insure real baseball in every game, Rod Whitman is distributing a bonus of five hundred dollars amonst the club winning the most games on the tour.  Up to last week, the Texas Giants were seven games up on the New York All-Stars.

The Universal Amusement Company of which Rod Whiteman is managing director, offers a two hundred dollar purse to the local all-star white ball club that can defeat the Texas Colored Giants.  This offer stands throughout the tour of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

Always a feature of the Texas Colored Giants is the comedy stunts introduced by the players in the field.  This element of mirth has been enlarged upon this season by the acquisition to the Texas lineup of three new field clowns whose pantomime and humorous antics lend much pleasant diversions.  Whether one is a rabid ball fan or only mildly interested in the game of swat, he is certain to receive full measure in the matter of entertainment by the characteristic laugher-provoking pranks of the ebony funsters in the personnel of the Texas Colored Giants Baseball Club.

WORTHY OF SUPPORT

The St. Pats Baseball Club is to be congratulated on their enterprise in bringing into the city two ball teams of the calibre of the Texas Colored Giants and the New York All-Stars. Their undertaking is sure to command the hearty support of all lovers of meritorious sport and entertainment.

Coach E.L. Smith of the St. Pats baseball club is bringing together an all-star baseball team to play the Texas Colored Giants for the $200 offered by the management to the white club that can defeat the dusky ball players.  A carefully selected team drawn from the city as well as out-of-town promises the Giants will not win victory easily and with "the breaks", so inseparably associated with baseball, who knows? Who knows? (Monday, July 6, 1931, The Lethbridge Herald)


. . . Following the evening fixture, the Alabama Minstrel Show, a company of colored comedians, singers and dancers will entertain with mirth, music and melody of the Darky Minstrels of the South, featuring the famous Dixon Stampers.  The Alabama Flashes, an outstanding colored dance orchestra of radio fame will furnish the music for the dance to be held in the Union Hall, concluding the day's program.  (July 9, 1931, The Lethbridge Herald)


. . . The New York Stars will have such men as William (Brother) Robinson, second base; Wellington (Fatso) Brown, infielder; Dewey Grace, left fielder; John Hayes, catcher; B.T. Slaughter, first baseman; Ferney Radcliff, right fielder; Ike Thomas, outfielder and pitcher; Clarence Walters, Emil Gillard, pitchers and Charley Johnson, utility man." (The Chicago Defender, July 4, 1931)


Sammy Workman

Sammie Workman(Left - a 1949 newspaper advertisement for a barnstorming matchup between the San Francisco Sea Lions and the Lexington Tigers.  The ad highlights Sammie Workman "Boy wonder, plays ball with no hands or feet" and Tony Stone "Sensational Girl Player".The ad is from the May 18, 1949 edition of The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune of Chillicothe, Missouri.  )

(Right - Sammie Workman as a headliner with the Oakland Larks. Photo courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California, Catalog ID: H99.29.40.)

Below right - The Red Deer Advocate, July 6, 1938, announced the visit of the African Zulu Giants.) 

It wasn't unusual for prairie fans to see six or eight different barnstorming clubs over a period of just a couple of weeks.  In Winnipeg 1938, for example, the San Antonio Black Missions and the House of Alexander Whiskered Wizards kicked off July with a triple-header on Friday, July 1st.  1938 African Zulu Giants tourThey played two on Saturday, and a single game on Sunday. 

The following Friday, the Piney Woods Collegians opened a three-game series with Red Haley's Dunseith Giants.  The same day, the Colored House of David took on J.J. Kohns, advertised as the 1937 amateur champions of the US.  There were twin-bills in each series on Saturday. 

On the 15th of July, the Kansas City Monarchs hooked up with the Chicago American Giants in a four-game set.  

"Reaction of the big crowd to last night's exciting inaugural was so gratifying that the park management placed reserved tickets for today's two matches on sale immediately afterward."  (Winnipeg Tribune, July 16, 1938)

And, it wasn't as if Winnipeg fans didn't have a home team.  In fact, they had two leagues operating in the city -- a pro team in the Northern League and several teams in a senior, amateur loop.

Bentleys vs LigonsAmong the list of visitors to the prairies were the Ligon All-Stars, Houston Buffaloes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Royals, Kansas City Monarchs, House of David, Boston Giants,  Bismarck, Acme Giants, Monroe Monarchs, Gilkerson's Colored Giants, California Mohawks, San Francisco Sea Lions, Muskogee Cardinals, Harlem Queens, Nashville Stars, Hollywood Beavers, Jacksonville Eagles, Harlem Globe Trotters, Brooklyn Cuban Giants, Buchanan All-Stars, New Orleans Creoles, Florida Cubans, Earl Mack's Major League All-Stars, Dai Nippon Tokyo Giants, San Francisco Cubs, Baton Rouge Hardwood Sports, Havana Cuban Giants, Omaha Rockets, New York Harlem Black Yankees, Philadelphia Stars, Chicago Brown Bombers, Havana La Palomas, Cincinnati Crescents, Texas Jasper Steers, Louisiana Travellers, Twin City (Minneapolis-St.Paul) Gophers, Ethiopian Clowns, Piney Woods Collegians, San Antonio Black Missions, House of Alexander Wiskered Wizards, Dunseith Giants, Chicago American Giants, J.J. Kohns, Colored House of David, Detroit Colored Giants, Satchel Paige All-Stars, Oakland Beavers, Chicago Athletics, Detroit Giants, Mexicans, African Zulu Giants, African Zulu Cannibal Giants of Detroit, Rod Whitman's Texas Colored Giants, New Orleans Crescents, "Ham" Olive's House of Davidites, San Francisco Tigers, Washington Rain Drops, Chicago Union Giants, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Birmingham Black Barons, Van Dykes (the Original Colored House of David), Twin City Colored Giants, Philadelphia Hilldales, Detroit Motor City Giants, Broadway Wolverines (Houston, Texas), Shreveport Acme Giants, Michigan Wolves     ...


Just a few of the summer visitors to Canada.

Satchel Paige
Satchel Paige

George Anderson
George Anderson
stone_toni
Toni Stone
Bullet Rogan
Wilbur Bullet Rogan
Quincy Troupe
Quincy Troupe
Buck O'Neill
Buck O'Neill
Cool Papa Bell
Cool Papa Bell
Hilton Smith
Hilton Smith
Victor Starffin
Victor Starffin
Double Duty Radcliffe
Double Duty Radcliffe
George Ligon
George Ligon
Brick Swegle
Brick Swegle
Cristobal Torriente
Cristobal Torriente
Hap Felsch
Hap Felsch
John Donaldson
John Donaldson
Eiji Sawamura
Eiji Sawamura

Doc Tally
Doc Tally
Babe Didrikson
Babe Didrikson

Photos of Paige,Troupe, Radcliffe, Smith and Bell from When the Game Was Black and White, Bruce Chadwick.  Photo of Buck O'Neill from Black Baseball in Kansas City by Larry Lester and Sammy J. Miller. Wilbur Bullet Rogan from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas State University. Photo of Victor Starffin courtesy Robert Klevens. (Photo of Toni Stone,The Oakland Museum of California)

Barnstorming Page Two >>>