Black Ball and the Boardwalk

The Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, 1916–1929


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About the Book

The Giants’ accomplishments took place against an historical backdrop of a change in the African-American experience. The original players from Jacksonville, Florida, joined the northward black migration during World War I. The team was named after Harry Bacharach—an Atlantic City politician running for mayor—as a way to keep his name before the city’s black community. The Giants were immediately successful, and soon played the best semi-professional teams in their region, as well as the top black teams from the East and Midwest. They entered the first Negro league on the East Coast in 1923, and won the league championship twice before the decade ended. This book chronicles the Giants’ pivotal role in the development of black baseball in Prohibition Era Atlantic City, and the careers of the men who made it possible.

About the Author(s)

SABR member, James E. Overmyer writes and lectures on baseball history, primarily African-American. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Bibliographic Details

James E. Overmyer
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 284
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7237-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1708-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
1 A Long Train Ride to Fame 7
2 Surviving the Great War 29
3 Under New Management 51
4 Back Home in Atlantic City 85
5 In the Big Leagues 111
6 The Championship Seasons 141
7 Down in the Standings, and Out of the City 170
Epilogue 193
Appendix A: Game Log 199
Appendix B: Rosters 224
Appendix C: Batting and Pitching Statistics by Year 232
Chapter Notes 259
Bibliography 268
Index 271

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Well researched”—The Courier
  • “A detailed and fascinating season-by-season reconstruction of the history of the Bacharach Giants…an important book…meticulous…one of the most complete histories of any Negro League team that has been published to date…this book will no doubt foster additional interest in the history of the Negro Leagues”—Journal of Sport History
  • “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 and Plott [The Negro Southern League, McFarland 2015] 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
  • “The Atlantic City of the Bacharach Giants was a colorful town politically and otherwise, especially during the era of Prohibition, and Overmyer gives us a vivid picture of the intersection of politics and baseball when liquor was demonized. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of black professional baseball.”—Lawrence Hogan, author of The Forgotten History of African American Baseball
  • “Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Black Ball and the Boardwalk tells the story of Negro League baseball through the lens of one of its most fascinating and under-appreciated teams.”—Rebecca T. Alpert, author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball