Chicago American Giants

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Chicago American Giants
19101952
Chicago, Illinois
Leagues
Name
  • Formed via split with Leland Giants
  • Leland Giants (II) (1910)
  • Cole's American Giants (1932-1935)
Ballpark
Titles
League titles 1920 • 1921 • 1922 • 1926 • 1927 • 1932 • 1933
Negro World Series titles 19261927

The Chicago American Giants were a Chicago-based Negro league baseball team, owned and managed from 1911 to 1926 by player-manager Andrew "Rube" Foster. From 1910 until the mid-1930s, the American Giants were the most dominant team in black baseball. Charter members of Foster's Negro National League, the American Giants won five pennants in that league, along with another pennant in the 1932 Negro Southern League and a second-half championship in Gus Greenlee's Negro National League in 1934. The team was disbanded in 1952.

Founding[edit]

In 1910, Foster, captain of the Chicago Leland Giants, wrested legal control of the name "Leland Giants" away from the team's owner, Frank Leland. That season, featuring Hall of Fame shortstop John Henry Lloyd, outfielder Pete Hill, second baseman Grant Johnson, catcher Bruce Petway, and pitcher Frank Wickware, the Leland Giants reportedly won 123 games while losing only 6. In 1911, Foster renamed the club the "American Giants."

Franchise continuum[edit]

1887 Chicago Unions─────────────┐                                               ┌─1910 Chicago Giants──────1921
                                ├──1901 Chicago Union Giants/Leland Giants (I)──┤
   1899 Chicago Columbia Giants─┘                                               └─1910 Leland Giants (II)/Chicago American Giants─────1952

Early dominance[edit]

1919 Chicago American Giants

Playing in spacious Schorling Park (formerly the home field of the American League's Chicago White Sox), Foster's club relied on fielding, pitching, speed, and "inside baseball" to succeed in the young Negro National League (NNL), winning championships in 1920, 1921, and 1922. When the Kansas City Monarchs supplanted the American Giants as the dominant team beginning in 1923, Foster tried rebuilding but by 1926 his health (physical and mental) was failing. Accordingly, his protégé Dave Malarcher took over on-field management of the team. Malarcher followed Foster's pattern, emphasizing pitching and defense, and led the American Giants back to the top-tier of the Negro leagues, winning pennants in 1926 and 1927. Both seasons also saw the American Giants defeat the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City, champions of the Eastern Colored League, in the Negro League World Series.

Cole's American Giants[edit]

The NNL collapsed in 1931, and in 1932 the team won the Negro Southern League pennant as Cole's American Giants. The next season the American Giants joined the new Negro National League, losing the pennant to the Pittsburgh Crawfords in a controversial decision by league president Gus Greenlee (owner of the Crawfords). The 1933 season saw the Giants get kicked off of their home field after the end of May; the park owners preferred to use the land as a dog racing track for the remaining summer months. This forced the Giants to play the majority of their home games in Indianapolis for the balance of that season.[2] In 1934, the American Giants won the NNL's second-half title, then fell to the Philadelphia Stars in a seven-game playoff for the championship. In 1937, after a year spent playing as an independent club, the American Giants became a charter member of yet another circuit, the Negro American League.

Decline and demise[edit]

Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe was appointed manager in 1950. The team’s owner, Dr. J.B. Martin, was concerned about black players joining major league teams so he instructed Radcliffe to sign white players. Radcliffe recruited at least five young white players (Lou Chirban, Lou Clarizio, Al Dubetts, Frank Dyall, and Stanley Miarka).

MLB throwback jerseys[edit]

The Chicago White Sox have honored the Giants by wearing replica uniforms during regular-season baseball games on several occasions, including July 1, 2007 (at Kansas City), July 26, 2008 (at home vs. Detroit) and July 16, 2011 during the 9th Annual Negro League weekend at Detroit, where the home team also worn the jerseys of the Detroit Stars during the 17th Annual Negro League Tribute Game.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lowry, Philip J. (2006). Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks. New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1. 
  2. ^ Lowry, Philip J. (2006). Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks. New York: Walker Publishing Company, Inc. p. 51-52. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1. 
  3. ^ "Tigers host ninth annual Negro Leagues Weekend". MLB.com. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 

External links[edit]