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The Birmingham Black Barons played professional baseball for Birmingham, Alabama in the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960 when the Major Leagues successfully integrated. They alternated home stands with the Birmingham Barons in Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, usually drawing larger crowds and equal press.
Drawing largely from a successful ACIPCO Industrial League team, the Black Barons were organized in 1920 for the inaugural season of Rube Foster’s Negro Southern League. They played in that league for three years before making the leap to the larger Negro National League. They were unable to keep their position due to irregularities with the team finances and returned to the Southern League for three more years. Their return to the National League was marked by the emergence of star pitcher Satchel Paige, who led the Black Barons to the second half pennant. They lost the Negro National League title to the Chicago American Giants in four straight games.
For the next decade or so they alternated leagues before being bought by Memphis, Tennessee funeral home director Tom Hayes. They returned to the National League for good in 1940. Early in the decade the team was sold again to Abraham Saperstein who also owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In 1943 they won their first of three pennants. Starting in 1945, they became full members of the Negro National League and enjoyed great success, winning their third pennant in 1948 with the help of teenage outfielder Willie Mays. They ended up losing three Negro World Series to the Homestead Grays that decade, forging a notable rivalry. As the Major Leagues started signing talented African American players, the Black Barons tried to form a new Negro American League with three other Southern teams. The new league played four seasons from 1956 to 1960 before folding. The Black Barons played their last game in 1960.
Significant players included:
Lyman Bostock, Sr.
Lorenzo "Piper" Davis
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