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Chicago American Giants
Information
League
LocationChicago, Illinois
Ballpark
Year established1910
Year disbanded1956
Nickname(s)
  • Formed via split with Leland Giants
  • Leland Giants (II) (1910)
  • Cole's American Giants (1932–1935)
League titles
Negro World Series championships

The Chicago American Giants were a Chicago-based Negro league baseball team. From 1910 until the mid-1930s, the American Giants were the most dominant team in black baseball. Owned and managed from 1911 to 1926 by player-manager Andrew "Rube" Foster, they were 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.

Founding

In 1910, Foster, captain of the Chicago Leland Giants, wrestled 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

The Chicago Unions and the Chicago Columbia Giants merged for the 1901 season creating the Chicago Union Giants, who later changed their name to the Leland Giants. The Leland Giants then split into two teams for the 1910 season creating the Chicago Giants and the new Leland Giants, who later changed their name to the Chicago American Giants.

Early dominance

1919 Chicago American Giants
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

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

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). Sports entrepreneur Abe Saperstein owned the American Giants in 1952, its last season in the Negro American League. Its players were dispersed to the four remaining NAL teams for the 1953 season. After dropping out of the Negro American League, the American Giants became unaffiliated and turned to barnstorming, playing games in the Midwest. The team disbanded after the 1956 season, then was revived in 1958, playing throughout the South until 1961.

Home fields

The American Giants first played at South Side Park (III) (1920–1940) and Perry Stadium (Indianapolis) (1933), when South Side Park was briefly re-purposed mid-season in 1933. Finally, they shared Comiskey Park (I) (1941–1950), playing when the White Sox were on the road.[3]

MLB throwback jerseys

The Chicago White Sox have honored the American 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.[4]

Notable players

Hall of Famers

Eleven alumni have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.[5]

Chicago American Giants Hall of Famers
Inductee Position Tenure Inducted
Cool Papa Bell CF 1942 1974
Oscar Charleston CF 1919 1976
Andy Cooper P 1937 2006
Bill Foster P 1923–1930
1932–1935, 1937
1996
Rube Foster P
Manager
1911–1926 1981
John Henry Lloyd SS 1914–1917 1977
Hilton Smith P / OF 1937 2001
Turkey Stearnes OF 1932–1935
1937–1938
2000
Mule Suttles 1B / LF 1929, 1933–1935 2006
Cristóbal Torriente OF 1919–1925 2006
Willie Wells SS 1929, 1933–1935 1997

Other star players

See also

References

  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. pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Tigers host ninth annual Negro Leagues Weekend". MLB.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-07. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  5. ^ "Chicago American Giants Hall of Fame Register".