Homestead Grays

Homestead Grays
Location: Pittsburgh and Washington

In 1900 a young group of men, who loved baseball, joined together to form the "Blue Ribbons"industrial league team. Unknowingly, these young men had founded a team which would grow to be a Negro National League franchise and set unprecedented records. For ten years the Blue Ribbons remained mediocre, but they managed to field a team every year and play some of the best sandlot teams in the area.

In 1910, the managers of the team retired. The players reorganized the team and named themselves the Murdock Grays. In 1912, they became the Homestead Grays. Drawing some of the largest crowds in the area, the team managed to win and have fun while doing so.

Click on any photo to enlarge.

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1913

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1928

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1930

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1931

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1937

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1938

Homestead Grays Team Photo, 1941

From 1937 to 1945 they won nine straight league pennants. They were led by future Hall of Famers Josh Gibson (C), "Cool" Papa Bell (OF), Judy Johnson (3B), Buck Leonard (1B) and Cuban great Martin Dihigo (2B, P, OF). Their ace pitcher was "Smokey" Joe Williams, who once struck out 27 batters in a 12-inning game.

During World War II, the Grays played their home games at both Forbes Field (Pittsburgh) and Griffith Stadium (Washington, D.C.) when the white Major League clubs were on the road. The Grays traditionally outdrew their white counterparts, the cellar-dwelling Washington Senators.

Unheralded greats included 23-year Grays vet Vic Harris (OF), Jerry Benjamin (OF), Howard Easterling (3B), Luke Easter (OF, 1B) and Sam Bankhead. Bankhead became the first black manager in Minor League Baseball in 1951.