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100 years after creation, impact of Negro National League still being felt

Black players finally had a league to call their own in 1920

Hall of Famer James "Cool Papa" Bell (left) and manager Jim Taylor stand on the dugout steps during a Chicago American Giants game.
Hall of Famer James "Cool Papa" Bell (left) and manager Jim Taylor stand on the dugout steps during a Chicago American Giants game. (Getty Images)

Have you ever heard of the Chicago American Giants?

Or how about the Dayton Marcos? The Indianapolis ABCs?

Those were just some of the names of a benchmark league that this month is going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its creation.

On Feb. 13, 1920, Negro National League was created, becoming the first organized black baseball league.

Started by player, manager and eventual Hall of Famer Rube Foster, the league started in the Midwest and then eventually spread to cities in the south.

The Chicago American Giants won the inaugural championship in 1920 and won championships in 1921 and 1922 before being dethroned by the Kansas City Monarchs in 1923.

Besides the American Giants, ABCs, Marcos and the Monarchs, other teams in the league during the inaugural season were the Detroit Stars, St. Louis Giants, Cuban Stars and the Chicago Giants.

It lasted for more than a decade before ceasing operations in 1931, largely due to economic problems in the midst of the Great Depression.


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