Playing variously as the Indianapolis Clowns and Cincinnati Clowns, the club was the only clowning team to earn entrance into black baseball’s “majors.” From its beginnings as the Miami Giants and transition to the Ethiopian Clowns, the team built a national following as one of baseball’s favorite entertainment attractions during the 1930s. Though the Clowns always played a credible brand of baseball, their Harlem Globetrotter-like clowning routines were the stuff that paid the bills and brought them national attention
In 1943 the club (then playing as the Cincinnati Clowns) toned down its clowning routines to become a member of the Negro American League, a league affiliation that it maintained through the end of the Negro Leagues‘ golden age in 1949 and beyond. Though the club routinely fielded a quality lineup, the Clowns failed to capture a NAL pennant during this period.
After the demise of the Negro National League and the integration of organized baseball, the Clowns gradually returned to their clowning routines as a measure of financial necessity. During the early 1950s, the team had the distinction of signing a young Hank Aaron who would, of course, ultimately become baseball’s all-time home run king.