Zulu Cannibal Giants

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Zulu Cannibal Giants
19341937
Louisville, Kentucky
League affiliation(s)
  • Independent (1934–1937)

The Zulu Cannibal Giants were an African American baseball team (they referred to themselves as a Baseball "Zulu Tribe", based on a concept inspired by the war in Ethiopia) formed in 1934 by Charlie Henry in Louisville, Kentucky.

Background[edit]

The Zulu Cannibal Giants gained notoriety for their propensity to turn a baseball game into a comedy performance, much in the same way that the Harlem Globetrotters did with basketball many years later. The Zulu Cannibal Giants decorated their faces and bodies with African tribal paint, went shirtless, wore only grass skirts, used special custom-made baseball bats crafted to supposedly resemble Ethiopian war clubs, and always played barefoot.[1] The players did not use their real names, but rather played under "native" names, as shown in a game lineup from 1935 listing: "Wahoo, right field, Limpopo, first base," among others.[2]

At some point in their career they were managed by New York City promoter Syd Pollock, who also managed a similar novelty team called the Indianapolis Clowns (also known as the Cincinnati Clowns, and the Ethiopian Clowns).[3]

Popularly regarded as a Negro league team, they technically were not accepted members of the formal league.

Controversy[edit]

Although the team was extremely popular with the public, some black athletes disapproved of the Cannibals because of the stereotype.[3] The team, "shows the depths people would go to exploit African-Americans," says author Phil Dixon.[4] A popular player, John "Buck" O'Neil, wrote in his autobiography that, "looking back on it, the idea of playing with the Cannibal Giants was very demeaning".[5]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lanctot, Neil. Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  2. ^ Karmik, Thom (January 30, 2017). "King Tut". baseballhistorydaily.com. Wordpress. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  3. ^ a b http://www.charliethejugglingclown.com/baseball.htm
  4. ^ Serchuk, David (October 14, 2014). "Foul ball: The Zulu Cannibal Giants, Louisville's most disturbing team". InsiderLouisville.com. Insider Louisville. Retrieved June 14, 2017. shows the depths people would go to exploit African-Americans
  5. ^ Conrads, David; O'neil, Buck. I Was Right. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.