FEB: THE BASEBALL GURU ARTICLE FROM
..AND SPEAKING OF CLOWNING AROUND, THERES PEPPER BASSETT AND HIS ROCKING CHAIR BUT THATS GETTING WAY AHEAD OF OUR STORY WHICH HAS TO DO WITH THE UNUSUAL INDIANAPOLIS/CINCINNATI CLOWNS NEGRO LEAGUE CLUB OF THE 1930s:
THE INDIANAPOLIS/CINCINNATI CLOWNS
Segregation not only demeaned our nation socially, politically, and ethically, it diminish-ed our National Pastime as well. Organized baseball to this very day has hidden facets of its deplorable actions in that regard. We are still being told that Jackie Robinson was the first black to play Major League ball. As if official statements like that could wash away the fact that in the National League in the 1870s there were close to 80 players who were black playing Major League ball. Even after that, there were so called Cuban players who were on the Cincinnati Reds, the Yankees and other teams, who later were proven to be black.
Its a shameful record and in One More Innings opinion not much is being done to set the record straight today. We are hearing more these days about the Negro Leagues, which is fine, but there were interesting teams who played black ball who didnt join the Negro Leagues until many years after they were formed. One of the most unique were the Indianapolis Clowns, later to be known as the Cincinnati Clowns.
By the early thirties the all black Ethiopian Clowns had built a reputation as a fun team to watch. Their baseball games were competitive but it was the side attractions that brought the fans out to watch them play.
The name of the game for black
teams at that time was to make money and clowning around and having set routines
did it for the Clowns. By 1940 they had changed their name to the
Hank Aaron played for them in the early 50s and they had the distinction of being the first professional team to sign a female player (Marcentia Tony Stone) to a contract. Later two other women joined them, Marie Peanuts Johnson and Connie Morgan. They also employed female Umpires.
When the Negro Leagues ended the Clowns continued barnstorming around the country and finally closed shop in 1958