Rube Foster in His Time

On the Field and in the Papers with Black Baseball’s Greatest Visionary


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About the Book

Although Andrew “Rube” Foster (1879–1930) stands among the best African American pitchers of the 1900s, this baseball pioneer made his name as the founder and president of the Negro National League, the first all-black league to survive a full season. In addition to founding this groundbreaking black-owned and -operated business, Foster also founded and managed the Chicago American Giants, one of the most successful black baseball teams of the pre-integration era. This definitive biography combines period editorials and correspondence with insightful narrative to provide a comprehensive portrait of this innovative Hall of Famer. From the unstructured early days of black baseball, when Foster gained glory as a hard-throwing pitcher, through his struggles to establish the NNL and the Giants, to his tragic death from complications of syphilis, this work pays overdue tribute to an authentic American baseball icon.

About the Author(s)

Noted Negro League historian Larry Lester is the author of eight books and contributor to more then 175 books, theses, and articles on black sports history. He is a Negro Leagues Baseball Museum co-founder and has long served as chairman of the SABR Negro Leagues Committee. Since 1998, he has organized the annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference, the only scholarly gathering devoted to the history of black baseball. Lester was a 2016 recipient of SABR’s Henry Chadwick Award, honoring baseball’s greatest researchers, and a year later received the Bob Davids Award, SABR’s highest honor. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

Larry Lester
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 83 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3927-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0144-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Foreword by former commissioner Fay Vincent 1

Preface 3

Introduction 5

1st Inning. The Early Pro Days, 1903–1906 13

2nd Inning. A New Beginning: The Leland Giants, 1907–1909 28

3rd Inning. Legalities and Realities: Now There Are Two Lelands in Town? 1909–1910 41

4th Inning. Strive to Survive: The American Giants, 1911–1914 61

5th Inning. Family Feud: The ABC’s and the American Giants, 1915–1916 85

6th Inning. The Pitfalls of Black Baseball, 1917–1919 102

7th Inning. The Navigator: We Are the Ship, All Else the Sea, 1920–1921 114

8th Inning. Black and White Arbitration in the new Colored Leagues, 1922–1925 136

9th Inning. The Vision Fades, 1926–1930 166

Extra Innings. Obituaries, Honors, Landmarks and Tributes, 1930 173


A: ­No-­Hitters by Rube Foster 193

B: Team Depth Charts, 1902 to 1918 195

C: Foster’s Daily Pitching and Batting Records 203

D: Foster as Manager 223

E: Foster’s Teammates in the Hall of Fame 225

F: Foster Baseball Collectibles 225

G: Death Certificate and Medical Analysis 226

H: Draft Card and 1880 Census 227

I: Court Documents from the Leland Lawsuit 231

Notes 241

Bibliography 247

Index 249

Book Reviews & Awards

“This definitive biography combines period editorials and correspondence with insightful narrative to provide a comprehensive portrait of this innovative Hall of Famer…pays overdue tribute to an authentic American baseball icon”—The Courier; “in this work, Larry Lester goes beyond what many researchers could expect to find in gleaning the information necessary for this exceptionally well-documented look at the black game’s early years…while Lester tells the story well, it is the research accompanying the narrative that stands out…outstanding…fascinating…recommend”—SABR Deadball Committee Newsletter.