Leslie Heaphy / Negro Leagues, Ladies Leagues & Latin America
[The following is an excerpt from Leslie Heaphy's book, The Negro Leagues]
FOLLOWING YOUR FAVORITE NEGRO LEAGUE TEAM
by Leslie Heaphy
One of the earliest radio broadcasts of a NAL game that has been found took place on May 4, 1947. A. S. "Doc" Young and Danny Landau did the commentary for a game between the Cleveland Buckeyes and the Chicago American Giants. The broadcast was carried by WSRS radio (1490 AM and 95.3 FM) out of Cleveland, Ohio. Sponsorship for this story came from Benny Mason's Farm and County Resort in Solon, Ohio. A local team from Kentucky known as the Lexington Hustlers played Negro League clubs regularly. Their games were broadcast in 1949 on WLEX out of Lexington.
Newspapers published league schedules periodically during the season but information regarding barnstorming games only appeared a week ahead of time, if the fans were lucky. Otherwise clubs relied on posters and handbills distributed in the community to announce the upcoming contests. Since over half the games played by Negro League teams fell into the category of barnstorming, lack of coverage of these games caused major difficulties. This made it troublesome for fans to keep track of what their favorite teams and players were doing from day to day. They could follow the New York Yankees or Cincinnati Reds but not the Newark Eagles or the Cleveland Buckeyes on a daily basis.
Not only did newspapers provide weekly coverage they helped teams book future games. Clubs regularly ran advertisements announcing when they would be traveling through an area and asking interested opponents to send a message to the newspaper office if they wanted to play. Advertising in the newspaper meant you did not have to use a booking agent like Nat Strong in New York or Abe Saperstein in Philadelphia. As a result, all the club had to pay were the advertising costs, without a percentage to a booking agent, but then they had to arrange for a stadium themselves.
Clubs also ran advertisements looking for players to round out their rosters. The Philadelphia Tribune carried a classified ad for the Bradford Colored Giants Baseball Company in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The ad asked for four first class ball players for the 1930 season. The club needed three pitchers and a catcher who would be willing to travel and who did not drink at all.
Philadelphia Tribune, 3 October 1929, 8.