Middlesboro Blue Sox (Middlesboro, KY, baseball team)Middlesboro, KY, had a colored baseball team as early as 1924, which was the year of the protest movement by churches in Middlesboro against baseball games being played on Sundays. The protest occurred at the same time that property owners on West End Street took action against the Humbard Construction Company for required improvements to their newly repaired street. The property owners won their case with the city, and with that success, four churches formalized a protest against Sunday baseball games at the city athletic park. The protesting churches were First Baptist, Middlesboro Baptist, First M. E. Church, and the Christian Church. The basis of the protest was that the baseball games were not in the best interest of the city and playing baseball on Sunday was said to be a violation of state law.
The complaints were filed with the city commissioner, who needed time to investigate whether playing baseball on Sunday was actually illegal according to Kentucky law. Evidently, it was not a violation, because baseball games continued to be played on Sundays. The Middlesboro Blue Sox were the champion baseball team among the Colored baseball teams of Southeastern Kentucky in 1930. They played a game against the Jenkins Sluggers on the 4th of July in 1935. The game was played in East End Park, which was the designated location for the 4th of July activities for the Colored citizens of Middlesboro. The Middlesboro Blue Sox team was reorganized in February 1937 with Jerry Minor as manager and W. B. Bowden as captain. Bob Mitchell, an infielder, was also returning to the team.
The schedule included the best Colored teams in that part of Kentucky and teams from four other states, including the Ethiopian Clowns. The games took place in what had become the Colored Municipal Park in West End, and the games were supervised by a park committee composed of Dr. I. H. Miller, Charles Nelson, Virgil Nelson, Dave Brownlow, and Coloney Bryant. The Middlesboro Blue Sox played their games on Sunday afternoons. They played the Clinch County, VA, Colored baseball team and the Knoxville Giants in June of 1937. The Blue Sox were defeated in Knoxville, and the next game against the Giants was played in Owensboro at the West End Municipal Park. In the summer of 1937, the city's West End Park was turned over to the Colored citizens committee for the Middlesboro Blue Sox baseball games and other activities. The team still existed in 1953.
For more see "Contractors will repair West End Street," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/07/1924, p. 1; "Champion Blue Sox to play," Middlesboro Daily News, 06/30/1930, p. 7; "Fair weather predicted for 4th," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/03/1935, pp. 1 & 6; "Blue Sox team re-organized," Middlesboro Daily News, 02/23/1937, p. 6; "The Clinch County, Va., baseball team...," Middlesboro Daily News, 05/14/1937, p. 2; "The Middlesboro Blue Sox colored baseball team...," Middlesboro Daily News, 06/28/1937, p. 5; the last paragraph of "Exter Avenue will be repaired," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/21/1937, pp. 1 & 3; and Middlesboro Daily News, 06/23/1953.