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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Black College Baseball

Many Negro “League” ballplayers got their real start playing organized baseball at the college and university level.  Baseball was an integral part of sports programs at historically black college and university campuses all over the country. Piney Woods College from Mississippi took things even one step further when they fielded a baseball team (Piney Woods Giant Collegians) that barnstormed all over the United States to raise funds to help support the college. The Piney Woods College team toured the United States during the 1920’s and 1930’s.


Some of the outstanding historically black college and university baseball programs of the 1930’s through the 1950’s were:


    Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA)

·         Hampton  (Hampton, Virginia)

·         Lincoln University  (Lincoln, Pennsylvania)

·         Howard University  (Washington, D.C.)

·         North Carolina A & T (Greensboro, NC)


    Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC)

·         Florida A & M (Tallahassee, Florida)

·         South Carolina State (Orangeburg, SC)

·         Morris Brown College (Atlanta, Georgia)

·         Tuskegee (Tuskegee, Alabama)    

·         Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia)

·         Winston-Salem State (Winston-Salem, NC)


    Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)

·         Grambling  (Grambling, Louisiana)

·         Wiley College (Marshall, Texas)


It was not uncommon for a significant number of the players from these teams to enter professional baseball.

Cheyney Training School 1918

Cheyney Training School  (1918)

Many college baseball players would join professional teams when their college baseball schedule was finished, during the summer, on the weekends or during school breaks. Back in these times, eligibility requirements were not as strictly enforced in many parts of the country as they are today. Some collegiate players would even play under an assumed name in order to play professional baseball and still protect their college eligibility. For example Negro League stars and future Hall of Famers Monte Irvin and Larry Doby started their professional careers playing under assumed names. Monte Irvin started playing for the Newark Eagles under the name Jimmy Nelson and Larry Doby assumed the name Larry Walker.


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