The Crawfords' Peak Years:

The Negro League Champion Crawfords, 1935

The peak years of the Pittsburgh Crawfords came in the mid-1930s, after Gus Greenlee had spent considerable time recruiting and rebuilding the entire team. As it progressed into a broader-based professional club, Greenlee built more and more on outside talent which he brought into Pittsburgh. By 1935 the strongest team ever fielded in Crawfords' history was formed. The key players formed the "Big Five": Satchel Paige at pitcher; Josh Gibson at catcher; Cool Papa Bell in center field; Oscar Charleston at first base; and Judy Johnson playing at third. This incredible group of players would form the core of the most successful teams in Crawfords' history.

The Big Five of the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords

The years following the construction of Greenlee Field in 1932 through their championship season in 1935 proved the most popular and successful for the Crawfords. In both 1933 and 1936, their paying fans numbered over 200,000, more than the total number of fans ever for most black teams. Although they were no longer really the neighborhood team they had started out as, the Hill and the rest of Pittsburgh still felt an enormous sense of pride for the Crawfords.