Was there more than one Negro League?

Actually, dozens of all-black professional and semi-professional baseball teams played throughout the United States in the first half of the 20th century. At the top level, the best Negro League teams competed in leagues that were regarded as the black “majors.”

The Negro National League was founded in 1920 by Hall-Of-Famer Rube Foster. It was the first financially successful all-black league. During the 1930s and 1940s, a new Negro National League (formed by Gus Greenlee, owner of the Pittsburgh Crawfords) and the Negro American League represented black baseball’s premier leagues, although the Negro Southern League and the Texas Negro League also fielded high-caliber professional teams and were regarded, at least by their fans, as being of major league quality.

In 1946, the West Coast Professional Baseball League was formed in California, bringing organized Negro baseball to the west coast for the first time. The league was not well funded, and with the integration of professional baseball being finally at hand, the league folded after a single season.

Although barnstorming teams like the Ethiopian Clowns and Miami Giants were not affiliated with any organized league, they often played teams from the major black circuits and are regarded as “Negro League” teams. A very special case is that of the House of David, a white barnstorming team from Benton Harbor, Michigan. Although none of the team’s players were black, the team was a frequent opponent of the best Negro League teams in exhibition games throughout the U.S. and Canada. In fact, the team would often embark on extended barnstorming tours together with top black teams. For this reason, the history of the House of David is very closely linked with that of Negro League baseball.

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