The Cleveland Buckeyes Begin
       Prior to the Buckeyes arrival in Cleveland, the city had other Negro League teams but none lasted very long.
The Negro National League (NNL) organized in 1920. Records show that the Cleveland Tate Stars were in the NNL
in 1922, the Cleveland Browns in 1924, the Cleveland Elites in 1926, the Cleveland Hornets in 1927,
the Cleveland Tigers in 1928,  the Cleveland Cubs in 1931, the Cleveland Stars in 1932, the Cleveland Giants 
in 1933 and the Cleveland Red Sox in 1934. Recently, I visited the Negro Southern League Museum in Birmingham, 
Alabama.  On display there was a pennant from the 1928 Cleveland Tigers. 
                                         
       
                        One of the notable players to play in Cleveland
	prior to the Buckeyes was Satchel Paige who played  
	for the 1931 Cleveland Cubs. 
                    According to Baseball Reference, Paige appeared in 5 games, 
	starting three. He has a 1-1 Won Loss record, 2.13 ERA with 
	18 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. 
              

 

           The Negro American League (NAL) formed in 1937 and the Cleveland Bears played in the NAL in 1939 and 1940. 
The Bears were originally the Jacksonville Red Caps franchise that moved to Cleveland after one year, 1938, 
in Jacksonville.  The Bears would return to Jacksonville in 1941 and play that season and 1942 there.  
As I mentioned, most of these teams didn't last very long, in fact, the 1933 Giants team played only one league game. 
	
        That changed in 1941.  According to the February 14, 1942 Call & Post, a meeting took place at Wilbur Hayes' 
shoe shine parlor on Central Avenue and East 49th when he met with Ernest Wright, of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Ernest Wright owned the Pope Hotel which also was a showplace for many black enterainers during an era when many northern cities, including Erie, were segregated. Almost every great African American entertainer during that era appeared at the Pope Hotel.

Ernest Wright needed baseball players to start the Buckeyes. He purchased one-half interest in the financially struggling St. Louis Stars.

The St. Louis Stars joined the Negro American League in 1939 but started playing some of their games in New Orleans in the 1940 and 1941 seasons due to those financial issues. During the 1941 season, Wright had some of the Stars players come to Cleveland to play for a Cleveland semi-pro team, the Cleveland Giants, who hosted the Indianapolis ABCs in an exhibition double-header. The ABCs had previously played in the Negro American League. The Giants won both games easily over the ABCs before 9,000 fans at League Park. Future Buckeyes player, shortstop Johnny Lyles, would appear in that double-header.

 
         
       Return to Front Page