Birmingham Black Barons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Birmingham Black Barons
Birmingham Black Barons logo.png Birmingham Black Barons cap logo.png
Team logo Cap insignia
LocationBirmingham, Alabama
Year established1920
Year disbanded1960
League titles

The Birmingham Black Barons were a Negro league baseball team that played from 1920 until 1960. They shared their home field of Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, with the white Birmingham Barons, usually drawing larger crowds and equal press.


Drawing largely from a successful American Cast Iron Pipe Company Industrial League team, the Black Barons were organized in 1920 for the inaugural season of Rube Foster's Negro Southern League, which operated mainly as a minor league. They played in that league for three years before making the leap to the larger Negro National League, which operated as a major league. They were unable to keep their position due to irregularities with the team finances and returned to the Southern League for three more years. Their return to the National League in 1927 was marked by the emergence of star pitcher Satchel Paige, who led the Black Barons to the second half pennant. They lost the Negro National League title to the Chicago American Giants in four straight games.

Later years[edit]

For the next decade or so they alternated leagues before being bought by Memphis, Tennessee funeral home director Tom Hayes in December 1939.[1] The club joined the Negro American League in 1940. Early in the decade the team was sold again to Abraham Saperstein who also owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In 1943 and 1944 they won back-to-back pennants. Starting in 1945, they became full members of the Negro American League and continued their success, winning a third pennant in 1948 with the help of teenage outfielder Willie Mays. They ended up losing three Negro World Series to the Homestead Grays that decade, forging a notable rivalry. As the National and American Leagues started signing talented African American players, the Black Barons tried to form a new Negro Southern League with three other Southern teams.[citation needed]

The franchise was owned by William Bridgeforth from 1952 to 1955, and by Sid Lynor and Floyd Meshac in 1955. Dr. Anderson Ross purchased the franchise in 1956 and renamed the team the Birmingham Giants.[2]

The Black Barons played their last game in 1960.

Throwback games[edit]

Black Barons 2006

The 1999 Rickwood Classic honored the Black Barons, with the Birmingham Barons and Huntsville Stars wearing throwback uniforms. Some 35 former Negro leagues players, including former Black Baron Charley Pride attended.

On February 26, 2006, ESPN Classic broadcast a throwback game from Rickwood Field featuring amateur players in the uniforms of the Birmingham Black Barons and fictitious "Bristol Barnstormers". The style of play, the equipment and the umpires all reflected the 1940s game. Willie Mays and Charley Pride were both in attendance. The Black Barons rallied to break an eighth inning tie and win the game, 9–8.

Notable players[edit]

In addition to Satchel Paige, Willie Mays also played as center fielder during both the 1948 and 1949 seasons. Mule Suttles was a member of the Black Barons in 1924 and 1925 seasons. Suttles was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. Other players, like Artie Wilson, Bill Greason, and Jay Heard also saw limited time (under 20 games each) in the Major Leagues.

Hall of Fame players[edit]

The following Black Barons players have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Birmingham Black Barons Hall of Famers
Inductee Position Tenure Inducted
Willie Mays CF 1948–1949 1979
Satchel Paige P 1927–1930 1971
Mule Suttles 1B 1924–1925 2006
Willie Wells SS 1941 1997

Other star players[edit]


  1. ^ "Black Barons To Run Next Season Under New Setup". The Birmingham News. December 17, 1939. p. 28. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via
  2. ^ "Black Barons get a new name - Giants". Baltimore Afro-American. 1956-03-27. p. 17.


  • Fullerton, Christopher D. (1999). Every Other Sunday: The Story of the Birmingham Black Barons. Birmingham: R. Boozer Press. ISBN 0-9636128-2-4.
  • Birmingham Black Barons at the Birmingham-Pittsburgh Traveler page - accessed April 3, 2006
  • "Still in the Game" (April 2006) Southern Living.
  • Jordan, Phillip (February 23, 2006). "Nine Innings in Rickwood". Birmingham Weekly.
  • Daily Defender. Chicago, Ill.: 1962.

External links[edit]