NEGRO LEAGUES

RUBE FOSTER & JOSH GIBSON

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NEGRO LEAGUES MAIN LOT

SET OF 2

RUBE FOSTER

$34

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BEVIL ISSUE
SCOTT
CATEGORY 
CANCELLED 
LOCATION
PAINTED 
MAIN LOT
DIGITAL COLOR PICTORIAL 
ARTIST’S PROOFS 
AFDCS VARIETY
ISSUE TOTAL SIZE

537
4466
First Day of Issue
July 15, 2010
Kansas City, MO 64108
March 2013
175
50
10
1
236

JOSH GIBSON

BEVIL ISSUE
SCOTT
CATEGORY 
CANCELLED 
LOCATION
PAINTED 
MAIN LOT
DIGITAL COLOR PICTORIAL 
ARTIST’S PROOFS 
AFDCS VARIETY
ISSUE TOTAL SIZE

536
4465
First Day of Issue
July 15, 2010
Kansas City, MO 64108
April 2013
175
50
10
1
236

The Negro Leagues Baseball commemorative stamps, formatted as a  se-tenant , were issued on July 15, 2010.  The stamps pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to about 1960. One of the stamp designs features Rube Foster also known as “the father of Black Baseball”.  The second design depicts a player sliding safely into home.  For that design, I chose to highlight Josh Gibson also known as “the black Babe Ruth”.  The Negro National League was the first successful league of African-American baseball teams.  The organization gave black players a chance to show their talent before the major leagues were integrated.  Some of the legendary stars who played in the leagues include Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, and Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.  The Negro Leagues were U.S. professional baseball leagues comprising teams predominately made up of African Americans and to a lesser extent, Latin Americans.  The term may be used broadly to include professional black teams outside the leagues and it may be used narrowly for the seven relatively successful leagues beginning in 1920, which are sometimes called “Negro Major Leagues”.  Because blacks were not being accepted into the major and minor baseball leagues, they formed their own teams and had many professional teams by the 1880s.  Actually, the first known baseball game between two black baseball teams was held November 15, 1859, in New York City.  It was after the end of the Civil War in 1865 and during the Reconstruction period that followed, that a black baseball scene formed in the East and Mid-Atlantic states.  At that time it was comprised mainly of ex-soldiers and promoted by some well-known black officers.  By the end of the 1860s, the black baseball mecca was Philadelphia, which had an African-American population of 22,000.  In 1867 the National Association of Baseball Players voted to exclude any club with a black player.  But in some ways Blackball thrived under segregation, with the few black teams of the day playing not only each other but white teams as well.  Black teams earned the bulk of their income playing white independent semi-pro clubs.  Baseball featuring African American players became professionalized by the 1870s and the first nationally known black professional baseball team was founded in 1885 when three clubs merged to form the Cuban Giants.  A very successful team which paved the way for the first recognized “Negro league” in 1887– the National Colored Base Ball League.  Organized strictly as a minor league and founded with six teams, the league applied for and were granted official minor league status thus offering them protection under the major league-led National Agreement.  This move was significant in that it prevented any team in organized baseball from signing any of the National Colored Base Ball League players, and locked the players in with their particular teams within the league.  The reserve clause would have tied the players to their clubs from season to season.  However, the National Colored Base Ball League failed and one month into the season there were only three teams left.  Now the original Cuban Giants were popular, as well as a business success, so many teams sought to use their name for good luck.  Next came the Cuban X-Giants, Genuine Cuban Giants, Columbia Giants, the Brooklyn

Royal Giants, and so on.  The early “Cuban” teams were all composed of African Americans rather than Cubans; the purpose was to increase their acceptance with white patrons as Cuba was on very friendly terms with the US during those years.  It was a very difficult time for the black players who did play on theFor black players on the white minor league teams as they were constantly dodging verbal and physical abuse from both competitors and fans.  In 1888, some of Chicago’s black businessmen joined together to sponsor the black amateur Union Base Ball Club which eventually went pro and became the Chicago Unions.  The talent was always there, it was a matter of dealing with the color barrier.  Leading the way for the Cuban X-Giants in 1903, was a young pitcher named Andrew “Rube” Foster.  Rube was considered by historians to have been perhaps the best African -American pitcher of the first decade of the 1900s.    Rube played ball and then took a managing position in 1907.  He joined the Leland Giants and demanded that he be put in charge of not only the on-field activities, but also the bookings as well.  Great move Rube.  He immediately turned the Giants into the team to beat.  Eventually, the owner of the team, Frank Leland and Rube Foster failed to see eye to eye on the operations so Foster quit.  In a heated court battle Rube Foster won the rights to keep the Leland Giants’ name.  The next year Rube went to work on reviving the concept of an all black league and the one thing he was insistent on was that black teams should be owned by black men.  On February 13th and 14th, of 1920, talks were held in Kansas City, Missouri that established the Negro National League and its governing body the National Association of Colored Professional Base Ball Clubs.  Rube Foster earned the title “father of Black Baseball.”  From 1920 to 1932, Negro league baseball went through so many transitions that it seemed about ready to fade into history when along came Cumberland Posey and his Homestead Grays.  Across town from Posey was Gus Greenlee, a reputed gangster and numbers runner.  He had just purchased the Pittsburgh Crawfords.  His only interest in the team was as a way for him to launder money from his numbers game. But after learning of the money made by Cumberland Posey with the Homestead Grays, he had a change of heart.  It seemed he was indeed obsessed with the sport of baseball and his beloved team the Crawfords.  Greenlee was able to get a fantastic line-up of players, one such was Josh Gibson.  Gibson played for the Homestead Grays from 1930 to 1931 and then moved over to the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1932.  Baseball historians consider Josh Gibson to be among the very best catchers and power hitters in the history of any league, including the Major Leagues.  He was known as “the black Babe Ruth” however, some fans at the time who saw both Gibson and Ruth play called Ruth “the white Josh Gibson”.  Unfortunately, Josh never played in Major League Baseball because under their unwritten “gentleman’s agreement” policy, they excluded non-whites during his lifetime.  In 1943,    Josh fell into a coma and was diagnosed with a brain tumor, refusing surgery he decide to live with recurring headaches.  Josh Gibson died of a stroke in Pittsburgh in 1947 at the age of 35, just three months before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern major league history.  In 1972, Josh Gibson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and in 1981, Rube Foster was also elected.