The Negro National League

The Negro Baseball League was originally formed in 1920 by Rube Foster to provide the opportunity for African-Americans to play professional baseball. Segregation in America meant that blacks usually did not have the opportunity to play at the same level as whites, no matter how skilled they were. The formation of Negro Leagues set out to change this.

The Negro Leagues allowed a feeling of agency for African-American baseball players; black owners meant black control over the game. Although the original Negro League did not last very long, many who came after it tried to emulate it. Gus Greenlee was one of those dreamers. He knew that only by controlling all aspects of black baseball could blacks hope to profit from it at all. His Negro National League, formed in 1933, was one of the final attempts to establish an African-American baseball league. As commissioner, Greenlee brought about great changes and innovations, including the always-popular East-West Classic. Although the Negro League did not survive integration, it did pave the way for advances within mainstream, white professional leagues. Black ownership and management meant black power and control within baseball, even if it was very limited.