University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Birmingham Black Barons Records

MSSP 0001


Collection Summary

Title: Birmingham Black Barons records
Dates: 1923-1930
Collection No.: MSSP 0001
Creator: Birmingham Black Barons
Extent: 1 volume and 9 folders; .25 linear feet
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A collection of records, mostly financial, of the Birmingham (Alabama) Black Barons Negro Leagues professional baseball club. The most significant item in the collection is a manuscript cash book, showing the club's financial accounts with each of its players for the seasons 1926 through 1930.

Selected Search Terms

Negro Leagues -- History -- Sources
Birmingham Black Barons (Baseball team)
Baseball -- Alabama -- History
Paige, Satchel, 1906-1982

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: Birmingham Black Barons Records, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Birmingham Black Baron records were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame in 2005 from Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc., Gloucester City, NJ. Arranged and described 2009, by Jacob Baska. Finding aid 2009, by Jacob Baska and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The Birmingham, Alabama, Black Barons were an elite black professional baseball team during the pro game's long era of segregation. They were formed in 1920 by Frank Perdue as a charter member of the Negro Southern League (NSL); most of the players were recruited from local black industrial leagues. In 1924, under the control of new owner Joe Rush, the Black Barons became a full member of Rube Foster's Negro National League (NNL), the premier black league in the Midwest and South. Poor attendence forced the team back to the minor NSL in 1926, but a championship season facilitated their return to the National League in 1927; they remained in the NNL until 1930. During the late 20s the Black Barons featured such solid players as Roy Parnell, George McAllister, Poindexter Williams, Sam Streeter, Bob Poindexter, and Harry Salmon. Their most notable success in the NNL came in 1927, when they won the league's second-half pennant before losing to the first-half champion Chicago American Giants in the playoffs, four games to none. That season, too, the Black Barons acquired 20-year-old future Hall of Famer Leroy "Satchel" Paige, who learned his craft pitching for the club from 1927 to 1930. But even as Paige became a draw at the gate (and a cash cow for owner R. T. Jackson, who rented him out to pitch for other teams) the team struggled on the field. Both the Barons and the NNL suffered from the onset of the Depression. The club sold Paige to the Nashville Elite Giants in 1931 and moved down to the Negro Southern League; the NNL folded at the end of the season. Birmingham enjoyed a second stay in the Negro Majors as a member of the Negro American League, 1937-38 and 1940-50, winning three pennants in the 40s. But the integration of Organized Baseball after 1947 deprived the Negro Leagues of their most talented players and teams and leagues began to disappear. The Black Barons continued playing other surviving Negro Leagues teams until 1960, and carried on as a barnstorming team until ceasing operations in 1963.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists primarily of a manuscript cash book containing the Birmingham club's accounts with each of its players for the 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons. A few non-player accounts are also present. In addition to this book, the collection includes a few team-related letters, receipts, and other records, originally enclosed in the book and now removed to folders.

Arrangement Note

The bound cash book is the first item in the collection; it is followed by various loose records, originally enclosures, chronologically arranged.

Container List

  • Account book. Birmingham Black Barons, 1926-1930. Folder 1 (MSSP 0001-1-B).
    1 vol., 37 cm., 250 leaves, with 200 pages of manuscript entries in various hands.
    The book records the club's financial transactions with each of its players for the 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons. Material is arranged chronologically by season; individual player accounts for a given season are in roughly alphabetical order. The 1926 season occupies pages 1 to 24; 1927 is from 33 to 74; 1928 from 75 to 126; 1929 from 130 to 164, and 1930 from 165 to 196. Player accounts typically occupy two facing pages, with the player's name and monthly salary ("MoS") at the head of the left-hand page. Each credit (usually in the form of salary) and debit (cash advances, equipment charges, fines, extra meals, taxi fare, phone calls, and so on) is indicated. Satchel Paige's accounts are on pages 55 (1927), 107 (1928), 148-149 (1929), and 191 (1930). The book also includes the club's accounts with Gray Sporting Goods Co., which provided the players' and team's equipment.
    • Letters. Correspondence between W. P. Bayless, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Oscar Adams, Birmingham, Alabama, 1923 June 18-22. Folder 2 (MSSP 0001-2).
      1 TLS, 1 carbon typescript (2 items).
      Two letters between Bayless of the Preston News Service and Adams of the Birmingham Reporter. The Reporter was an African American newspaper founded by Adams. Bayless asks for the name and address of the Black Barons manager; Adams replies with contact information for Joe Rush.
      • Letters. Correspondence between J. L. Dent, Birmingham, Alabama and Oscar Adams, Birmingham, Alabama, Folder 3 (MSSP 0001-3).
        1 TLS, 1 carbon typescript (2 items).
        Two letters between Dent of the Birmingham Tuberculosis Sanitarium and Adams of the Birmingham Reporter. Dent asks Adams if the Black Barons would be interested in playing a benefit game for the sanitarium; Adams replies that such an event cannot be organized.
        • Document. Birmingham team roster with salaries, [1927 May]. Folder 4 (MSSP 0001-4).
          AD, 1 page on 1 sheet.
          A hand-written roster from May 1927 listing the monthly salaries of the players currently employed by the Black Barons. Players are listed in descending order according to salary. Some salary entries have been corrected to indicate pay raises.
          • Newspaper clipping. Negro National League first half schedule, n.d. Folder 5 (MSSP 0001-5).
            1 item.
            Clipped copy of the league's first-half schedule, probably for 1929.
            • A. G. Benning financial records, 1929 May-June. Folder 6 (MSSP 0001-6).
              3 items.
              An itemized pay statement for May 1929 for Birmingham player A. G. Benning, and two receipts for payments made by Benning. The line items on the statement duplicate ones that appear on p. 132 of the account book. The receipts are for a payment of $2.75 made to teammate Anthony Cooper, and a payment of $3.40 for dues to St. Luke Lodge No. 23, Knights of Pythias. Both these transactions are included on the statement.
              • Manuscripts. Birmingham Black Barons schedule, n.d. Folder 7 (MSSP 0001-7).
                TDs, 4 items.
                Four typed sheets with the Black Barons schedule, home and away, first and second halfs, probably for 1930.
                • Clarence Smith pay statement, 1930 May 15. Folder 8 (MSSP 0001-8).
                  AD. 1 item (2 pages).
                  An itemized pay statement for Birmingham player Clarence Smith, with debits and credits running from 30 September 1929 to 15 May 1930.
                  • Miscellaneous enclosures, n.d. Folder 9 (MSSP 0001-9).
                    2 items.
                    Two printed sheets without manuscript content. One bears the header of the Jackson Reality Company, whose owner, R. T. Jackson, was president of the Black Barons after Joe Rush.