The Negro Southern League

A Baseball History, 1920–1951


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About the Book

The Negro Southern League was a baseball minor league that operated off and on from 1920 to 1951. It served as a valuable feeder system to the Negro National League and the Negro American League. A number of NNL and NAL stars got their start in the NSL, among them five Hall of Famers including Satchel Paige and Willie Mays. During its history, more than 80 teams were members of the league, representing 40 cities in a dozen states. In the end only four teams remained, operating more as semipro than professional teams. This book is a narrative history of the league from its inception with eight teams in major Southern cities until its demise three decades later.

About the Author(s)

Retired journalist and freelance writer, William J. Plott, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research since 1971, has been a member of SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee since its inception. He was also a member of the Negro Leagues Researchers and Authors Group that compiled Negro league statistics for the Hall of Fame. He lives in Montevallo, Alabama.

Bibliographic Details

William J. Plott

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7544-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1739-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1
1 • 1920: The Beginning 7
2 • 1921: Expansion 24
3 • 1922: Regrouping 33
4 • 1923–25: Killed by Progress? 43
5 • 1926: Revival of the Negro Southern League 49
6 • 1927: Without Major Players 67
7 • 1928–30: A Tottering Revival 76
8 • 1931: Back Again 82
9 • 1932: Major League Status 91
10 • 1933: Putting It Back Together 105
11 • 1934: More New Faces 114
12 • 1935: Welcome Home, Black Barons 125
13 • 1936: The End of an Era 135
14 • 1937–44: The War and Waiting for the Future 142
15 • 1945: The League Returns 145
16 • 1946: Boom Times 156
17 • 1947: Cracks Appearing 167
18 • 1948: Changing Lineup 178
19 • 1949: The Hyphens Arrive 189
20 • 1950–51: The End 195
Appendix A: Champions, Playoffs, No Hit Games 201
Appendix B: Yearly Rosters 203
Chapter Notes 239
Bibliography 251
Index 257

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Plott’s book…enriches the historiography of black baseball, as well as that of baseball more broadly. The assumptions of ESPN’s Hall of 100 reveal that popular conceptions of baseball history remain confined to the white major leagues. Overmyer [Black Ball and the Boardwalk, McFarland 2015] and Plott contest this assumption by illuminating the triumphant, tumultuous, and trailblazing histories of the Bacharach Giants and Negro Southern League. Both authors ambitiously tackled subjects that required diligent and tedious archival research. The detailed accounts they provide not only validate the scholarly seriousness with which they approached their studies, but their passionate commitment to recovering black baseball and ensuring it receives rightful historical appreciation.”—Cat Ariail, Sport in American History
  • “Plott’s intellectual and organizational feat of producing coherent history out of [a] welter of facts is extremely impressive…definitive…a must. The Negro Southern League will be a must acquisition for amateur or professional baseball historians, library collections, and anyone interested in Southern and African-American history. It is an essential part of the record of American sport.”—Tim Morris, Sport Literature Association
  • “Plott’s book fills a tremendous void in Negro League history”—The Courier
  • “This immensely entertaining book fills a void in the story of American baseball. Plott has delved through hundreds of newspaper accounts and…[i]n what must have been a herculean effort, [he] has provided appendices listing the yearly rosters of the teams, lists of pennant winners, even no-hit games, compiling in one volume statistics that might have been lost to history if not for his research. This immensely entertaining book fills a void in the story of American baseball. Anyone interested in the history of baseball will love this book; baseball nuts will devour it”—Alabama Writers’ Forum
  • “The definitive work on black baseball in the South.”—Layton Revel, Center for Negro League Baseball Research.