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Armstead, James, Jr. "Jimmie"
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 2006
Said to be born in Louisville, KY, James Armstead, Jr. was a graduate of Louisville Central High School in 1936; he also attended Louisville Municipal College for Negroes. He was a tailback on the Municipal College football team and a starting guard on the basketball team. While still a student, during the summers of 1938 and 1939, he played baseball with the Indianapolis ABCs, a Negro League team. Armstead played baseball full-time in the Negro League from 1940-1951, playing for a number of teams before and after his stint with the military during World War II, including playing first base for the Philadelphia Stars in 1949. He joined the U.S Air Force and trained as a pilot at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama. According to the U.S. Social Security Death Index, James R. Armstead was born September 8, 1919, and died in Louisville, KY on November 9, 2006. He is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. He was the son of James Sr. and Ada Armstead, and the husband of Edna Earl Reeden Armstead. [James Armstead Sr. and Ada Armstead were born in Alabama. Though Louisville was given as his birth location in the obituary, other sources gives James Armstead, Jr.'s birth location as Alabama.] For more information see B. Brainstaff, "Buck stops here - and is a hit," Courier-Journal, 03/24/2004, Sports section, p. 1E; "James Armstead, Jr." in the obituaries on of the Courier-Journal, 11/14/2006; and Jimmie Armstead at Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum.

Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Alabama

Beckwith, John
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1956
John Beckwith was born in Louisville, KY. He played shortstop, third base, and centerfield in the Negro Baseball Leagues, where he was a powerful and consistent hitter. In Cincinnati, Ohio in 1921, he was the first player to hit a ball over the roof and completely out of Redland Field. In Washington, D.C., he hit a ball that struck an advertisement sign 460 feet away from home plate and 40 feet above the ground. Beckwith helped the Chicago American Giants win three pennants. He also had a temper and was once suspended from play after severely beating an umpire. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley; and John Beckwith at the Negro League Baseball Museum.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Bennett, Bradford
Birth Year : 1922
Bradford Bennett was born in Fulton, KY. A first baseman in the Negro Leagues, he was known for his speed. He began his career in 1940 as a 17-year-old with the New Orleans-St. Louis Stars, finishing his career in 1946 with the Boston Blues. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky

Benson, William, Sr. "Bud"
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1937
William "Bud" Benson was team manager of the Lynch Grays, a Negro baseball team in Lynch, KY (Harlan County). Bud Benson was also a coal miner, he was born in Marion, AL, the son of Mary Jane Naves Benson (1857-1929) and Pinkington Benson, Sr. (1850-1932). It was not uncommon for miners to also be baseball players on teams that were supported by the coal companies. The teams were segregated. The Lynch Grays baseball team was sponsored by the U.S. Coal and Coke Company [source: Diamonds in the Rough (thesis) by D. R. Bowden, p.43]. In some newspaper sources, the team is referred to as the Lynch Demons, and in 1935, the team was considered the best colored baseball team in Kentucky; they had a record of 34-1 [source: see NKAA entry]. The team may have had a different name some seasons, or there may have been more than one team. The history of the team goes back to at least 1924, when they were referred to as the Lynch colored team with no specific name [see NKAA entry]. It was several years later that Bud Benson was playing for and managing the Lynch Grays, he was with the team from the time he came to Kentucky in the 1920s, until shortly before his death from pneumonia on June 10, 1937. Bud Benson was 39 years old when he died and his body was removed to Marion, Alabama for burial [sources: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No.38; and phone conversations and email correspondence with Bud Benson's granddaughter Mary Sanders]. In addition to being team manager, Bud Benson also was the hind catcher. Bud Benson's family members own a photograph of the Lynch Grays baseball team that was taken around 1935, according to Benson's grandson James Spate. Bud Benson is on the far left side of the photograph with the word "manager" on his shirt. William "Bud" Benson had played baseball before he came to Kentucky, according to his granddaughter Mary Sanders. He came to Kentucky and had been here a few years when his mother died two weeks before Christmas in 1929. After his mother's death, Bud Benson's wife went to Alabama and got his daughter Lucy and brought her back to Kentucky. The family's move to Kentucky was part of the larger migration of African American coal miners and their families from Alabama to the eastern Kentucky coal mining counties. Bud Benson brought with him, his wife Emma Costin Benson, and they were the parents of William Benson, Jr. (1929-1953*). The family was later joined by Bud's 9 year old daughter Lucy Benson. Bud's daughter was by his previous wife Sarah Moore Benson who died in childbirth. His daughter returned to Alabama after her father's death in 1937. Bud Benson's older sister, Ella A. Benson Green also moved to Lynch, she was the wife of J. H. Green, and she died in Lynch on April 23, 1939. Her body was removed for burial in Marion, AL [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 109]. An older brother Nathan Benson (b. c1884), also moved to Harlan County, KY, he was employed as a coal loader [source: 1940 U.S. Federal Census]. Nathan Benson, widowed, brought with him from Marion, AL, eight other family members, and there were two lodgers from Marion, AL, who lived with the family at #22 P.V. & K. Camp. Nathan Benson moved to Kentucky after 1935, according to the census records. Another relative was Rev. William B. Benson, the uncle of Bud Benson. Rev. Benson lived in Harlan County, and he and his wife Narcississ (1878-1947) lived on Kentucky Avenue and are listed in the 1930 and the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. Rev. William B. Benson was born around 1869 in Alabama and died in Harlan County, KY, on December 7, 1941 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death]; the death certificate does not give the city location of his burial, but the name of the cemetery was Hill Crest. His wife, Narcississ Johnson Benson, was born in Alabama, her parents were from Virginia, and she died in Peoria, IL, on March 2, 1947, and is buried in the Springdale Cemetery [source: Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index]. William Benson's daughter, Julia Mae Lee (1920-2011), also lived in Kentucky, she is buried in Cumberland, KY (Harlan County) [source: U.S. Social Security Death Index; and information from William Benson's grandson James Spate]. For the Benson family members, and many other families, the migration/recruitment to Kentucky was for employment in the coal mines. They were seeking better wages and living conditions. Playing baseball was a fun activity that was supported by the coal companies with the intent of creating a stronger bond between the employee and the workplace, with hopes of keeping out the perceived interferences such as unions and the idea of unionizing. If a coal miner could play baseball, then that was an added incentive for him to be hired. *William Benson, Jr. was born in Lynch, KY, and was killed during the Korean War; the heavily decorated serviceman is buried in the Lynch Cemetery. All of the Benson family members came to Kentucky after the year 1920 [source: U.S. Federal Census].
Subjects: Baseball, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills
Geographic Region: Marion, Alabama / Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky

Bibbs, Junius A.
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1980
Junius Bibbs was born in Henderson, KY. He attended high school in Terre Haute, Indiana, and college at Indiana State University, where he was a star football and baseball player. As a baseball player in the Negro Leagues, where he was also known as Rainey and Sonny, he played shortstop and first, second, and third base; his career began in 1933 with the Detroit Stars and finished in 1944 with the Cleveland Buckeyes. Bibbs was a good line-drive hitter, hitting to all fields; in 1936, he hit .404. Bibbs joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1938, and the team went on to win three Negro American League pennants, 1939-1941. After his baseball career, Bibbs taught and coached at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1998, Bibbs was inducted into the Indiana State University Hall of Fame.  For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley.

Additional information provided by Rebecca Bibbs 11/16/2012: Junius Bibbs was a football star at Indiana State Teachers College [now Indiana State University] in 1935 and was thought to be the only African American playing football at the collegiate level in the state of Indiana. In 2011, Junius Bibbs was inducted into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. See R. Rose article "Indiana Hall of Famer Junius Bibbs put education first," Indianapolis Recorder, 07/21/2011 [online]. Junius Bibbs was the son of Lloyd and Catherine Carr Bibbs, and the grandson of Maria Carr.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Education and Educators, Migration North
Geographic Region: Henderson, Henderson County, Kentucky / Terre Haute, Indiana / Indianapolis, Indiana

Blue Grass Colored Baseball League
Start Year : 1899
End Year : 1950
Beginning In July of 1899, there was a movement to develop a Colored baseball league in "some of the principal towns" in the Bluegrass region. W. Clarence Hueston, Sr. was asked to lend his support to the project, and consider becoming the president of the league. Baseball teams in Danville, Nicholasville, and Versailles had agreed to participate, and it was anticipated that teams from the following cities would also join: Georgetown, Frankfort, Lexington, Paris, Richmond, and Winchester. The games were to be played during the months of August and September of each year. For more see "Baseball league: of Colored clubs in Blue Grass is being talked of," Leader, 07/19/1899, p.7.

Colored baseball teams in the Bluegrass area from the early 1900s to the 1950s [sources: "Colored Notes" in the Lexington Leader; and a few articles in Kentucky newspapers online at Kentucky Digital Library - Newspapers. NOTE: spelled 'base ball' in some articles.]

  • Centerville: Centerville Team
  • Danville: Corn Crackers, Cross Ties
  • Frankfort: Capital City, Crack Nine, Frankfort Team, M. W. L. Giants, Royal Giants, White Sox
  • Georgetown: Georgetown Team
  • Lexington: All-Stars, Bums, Brucetown Heavy Hitters, Chippewa Indians [Native Americans], East End Club, East End Violets, Ellerslie Avenue Team, Fort Springs, The Gem Theaters, Haddoxtown Blues, Hamburg All-Stars, Hill Boys, Lexington Goldberg, Lexington Hard Hitters, Lexington Heavy Hitters, Lexington Heavy Hitters Jr., Lexington White Sox, Lexington Reos, Loafers, Lexington Hustlers, Mechanic Street Blues, Pralltown, Smithtown Reds, Taylortown Sluggers, White Plume, Yellmantown
  • Lancaster: Lancaster All-Stars, Lancaster Colored Base Ball Team
  • Mt. Sterling: Mt. Sterling Halls
  • Nicholasville: Nicholasville All-Stars, Nicholasville Team
  • Paris: Paris Team, Paris Quicksteps
  • Versailles: Bear Cats, Versailles Giants, Versailles Minute Men

Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Bluegrass Region, Kentucky

Brown, John W. "Scoop"
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 2002
John W. Brown was born in Lexington, KY. He attended the (old) Dunbar School in Lexington, where he was an outstanding football player as a kicker and receiver, as well as a star basketball player. Brown got his nickname when he played first base for the Lexington Hustlers. He also coached the team for nearly 50 years. Brown was also an official of baseball, basketball, and football in Kentucky and was the first African American official in the men's NAIA national tournament. In 1994, John W. Brown was inducted into the Dawahares/KHSAA Hall of Fame. For more see M. Fields, "19 State sports figures join high school hall of fame," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/23/1994, Sports section, p. C5; and M. Story, "Brown's legacy lives with kids - local athlete did best work for city's black children," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/07/2002, Sports section, p. C2.

Access Interview Read about the John Will "Scoop" Brown oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Bryant, Derek R.
Birth Year : 1951
Derek Bryant was born in Lexington, KY. He was the first African American baseball player at the University of Kentucky, where he played from 1971-1973. Bryant was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 8th round of the 1973 amateur draft. The 5'11" outfielder ended his career in 1979. For more see Fifty years of the University of Kentucky African-American Legacy, 1949-1999; and Derek Bryant at Additional information provided by Buzz Burnam.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Bumpus, Earl
Birth Year : 1914
Death Year : 1985
Earl Bumpus was born in Uniontown, KY. He was a left-hand pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1944, switching mid-season to the Birmingham Black Barons, with whom his career ended in 1948. Bumpus played his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues. For more see H. J. Rothgerber, Jr., "Home-grown Kentuckians in the Negro Leagues: what role did 'black baseball' play in the region's diamond history?" in A Celebration of Louisville baseball in the major and minor leagues, SABR 27, Society for American Baseball Research, Souvenir Edition; and see Earl Bumpus at
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Uniontown, Union County, Kentucky

Coleman, Louis, Jr.
Birth Year : 1943
Death Year : 2008
Reverend Louis Coleman, Jr., from Louisville, KY, was one of Kentucky's most recognized civil rights activist and an outspoken advocate. He was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2000. Coleman was a graduate of Central High School, Kentucky State University, and Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He was an athlete, having played baseball and football at K-State, and he later signed to play professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He helped lead the lawsuit that challenged the lack of African American coaches in Kentucky high schools. He called for the boycott of Pepsi products from the Winchester, KY, plant due the complaints concerning the plants' lack of hiring and retention of African American employees. Rev. Coleman advocated fairness and equality throughout the state of Kentucky. He was head of the Justice Resource Center in Louisville. For more see A. Clark, "Rev. Louis Coleman dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/06/2008; and K. Cengal, "Civil rights activist Louis Coleman is dead," Louisville Courier-Journal, 07/05/2008.

Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Baseball, Civic Leaders, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Colored/Negro Baseball Teams in Kentucky
Start Year : 1900
End Year : 1924
There have been a number of amateur Negro baseball teams in Kentucky, some playing for the simple fun of the game, others belonging to leagues associated with churches and organizations. The majority of the audiences were African American fans. Games were played against nearby Negro teams and those from other states. Mentioned here are only a few of the teams that existed during the first decades of the 1900s, beginning with the Hickman Colored baseball club that traveled to Columbus, OH, in 1900 and defeated a team 20 to 5. The Cloverport Rooters defeated the Tell City, IN, baseball team in 1904 and the Lewisburg Giants in the summer of 1908. The Hardinsburg Colored Team boasted that they were the best team in the county in 1904 and welcomed all challengers. The Berea Colored baseball team took on the Negro school varsity team in 1904. Ben Boyd's baseball team, from Paducah, was undefeated in three games against the Memphis Monarchs in 1904. An earlier Paducah team, in 1901, defeated the Colored club from Charleston, MO, in a game played in Cairo, IN. The Paducah team was trounced by the Metropolis, IL, team in 1901. They defeated a St. Louis, MO, team in 1903, and it was noted that whites attended the game. There are many more articles about Paducah's Colored baseball teams in the Paducah Sun newspaper. In 1909, the Stanford Colored ball team defeated the Turnersville team. The Hartford Colored team was twice defeated by the Madisonville team during the summer of 1911. In 1924, the Colored baseball team at Middlesboro (Bell County) played the Lynch (Harlan County) team. For more see "The Colored baseball club...," Hickman Courier, 06/29/1900, p. 4; The Breckinridge News articles "Win from Tell City," 06/29/1904, p. 1, and "Colored Baseball Games," 07/01/1908, p. 1; "Berea and vicinity, The Citizen, 06/02/1904, p. 6; the Paducah Sun articles "Won three straight," 06/27/1904, p. 2, "Paducah won the game," 07/22/1901, p. 4, "The Metropolis Herald reports...," 07/23/1901, p. 4, and "Colored team of Paducah defeats St. Louis," 05/19/1903, p. 2; "The Stanford Colored ball team...," Interior Journal, 06/15/1909, p. 3; "The Colored baseball team..," Hartford Herald, 06/14/1911, p. 5; and "Middlesboro colored team[s] plays Lynch," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/07/1924, p.4.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Kentucky: Hickman, Fulton County / Cloverport & Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County / Lewisburg, Logan County / Berea, Madison County / Paducah, McCracken County / Stanford & Turnersville, Lincoln County / Hartford, Ohio County / Madisonville, Hopkins County

Covington Tigers Baseball Team (Covington, KY)
According to writer Jim Reis of The Kentucky Post, it is not known when the Covington Tigers were organized, but they were mentioned in the newspaper as early as 1918. Although not in a league, the team played both African American and white teams. On June 24, 1918, the team beat the African American team from Camp Sherman, Ohio; about 2,000 people attended the game at Federal Park. In 1919, the team moved to Newport, KY. For more see J. Reis, "Baseball, church played key roles in black history," The Kentucky Post, 02/10/1997, p. 4K.
Subjects: Baseball, Parks & Resorts
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky

Coxton Black Sox (baseball)
The Black Sox baseball team was from Coxton, KY, located in Harlan County. In the spring of 1928, the team was preparing for the season and looking for opponents. Team members included manager Leo Nelson, first baseman Charles Tyler, second baseman Copeland, third baseman Branner(?), short stop Nixon, and outfielders Scoat, Jones, and Pinkie. Source: "Coxton, KY., Black Sox." The Chicago Defender, 03/24/1928, p.9.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Coxton, Harlan County, Kentucky

Davis, William E. "Bunny"
Birth Year : 1917
Death Year : 2001
Born in Perryville, KY, William E. Davis played football, baseball and basketball at Bate High School in Danville. He was an all-state forward in basketball and selected to play on the All American Negro High School basketball team of 1936. It is thought that Davis was the first African American basketball player to be named an All-American. Davis could run the 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds. He played semi-pro baseball prior to integration: in 1947 he joined the Lexington Hustlers, the first integrated baseball team in the South. Davis was the first African American to umpire baseball in state high school tournaments and the Kentucky Southeastern Conference. He was also the chief doorkeeper for the Kentucky House of Representatives. For more see Shadows of the past, by L. Stout; and "William 'Bunny' Davis, Athlete Commissioner," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/14/2001, Obituaries, p. B2. See also the sound recording interview with William E. "Bunny" Davis in Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project, 1900-1989 at Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

See photo image of William E. "Bunny" Davis at the Great Black Kentuckians website by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.

Access Interview Read about the William E. "Bunny" Davis oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Track & Field
Geographic Region: Perryville, Boyle County, Kentucky / Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky

Dougherty, Charles "Pat"
Birth Year : 1879
Death Year : 1940
Dougherty was born in Summer Shade, KY. A baseball pitcher, his career began in 1909 with the West Baden Sprudels in Indiana and ended in 1918 with the Chicago American Giants. He was the top left-handed pitcher of his era and also a good-hitter. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley; and Pat Dougherty at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum - eMuseum.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Summer Shade, Metcalfe County, Kentucky

Elster, Jesse
Birth Year : 1883
Death Year : 1950
Jesse Elster was a prominent baseball player and manager of the Grand Rapids Colored Athletics Team. He was born in Kentucky and moved to Grand Rapids in 1904. In 1914, Elster and Stanley Barnett formed the Colored Athletic Businesses Association (CABA). The organization supported the baseball team. Elster was still team manager in 1949 when the last articles about the team appeared in Michigan newspapers. Jesse was the husband of Mamie E. Bellis Elster (b.1887 in MO - died 1920), and he later married Emma V. Young, b.1883 in VA. The family of five is listed in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census, and they lived at 439 James Avenue in Grand Rapids, according to Polk's Grand Rapids (Kent County, Mich) City Directory. Jess Elster and his son Russell were truck drivers for a furniture shop. His son Eugene was a shoe shiner. Elster's first name has been spelled different ways, he signed as "Jesse Elster" on his WWI draft registration card. For more see African Americans in the Furniture City by R. M. Jelks; The Negro Leagues Revisited by B. P. Kelley; and "Face Muskegon Club Sunday," Record-Eagle, 07/01/1949, p.15.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Businesses, Migration North, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Grand Rapids, Michigan

Evans, William D., II
Birth Year : 1899
Born in Louisville, KY, Evans was also known as Bill, Happy, and Gray Ghost. A versatile baseball player, he played center, right and left fields; shortstop; and third base. Tall and skinny, he was an outstanding defensive player. Evans had been a star on his high school football and baseball teams in Louisville. His baseball playing career began in 1924 and ended in 1934, after which Evans went on to manage the Chattanooga Black Lookouts and the North American Aviation teams. He was also a sportswriter for the Louisville News and founder of the Midwest Association of Coaches. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Foster, Leonard N. "Leo"
Birth Year : 1951
Born in Covington, KY, Leonard Foster was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1971 and remained with them until 1976, when he was traded to the New York Mets. He played second and third base and shortstop. Foster ended his baseball career in 1977. For more see Leo Foster in the Baseball Almanac.

Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky

The Gem Theater, and the Lincoln Theater (Lexington, KY)
Start Year : 1910
End Year : 1916
Announced in the "Colored Notes" of the Lexington Leader newspaper on November 10, 1910, p.9, was the anticipated opening of the Gem Theater by two colored businessmen from Cincinnati, OH, John Clark and Chester Brady. The theater opened in the Old Blue Grass Theater location, 404 W. Main Street and there was seating for up to 300 people. In print, the theater was sometimes referred to as a "Negro showhouse" [source: The Moving Picture World, v.29,  July-September 1916, p.120]. The theater was part of the Grand Central Vaudeville Circuit and the Dudley Circuit. The Grand Central Vaudeville Circuit was formed in Chicago in 1911 and included colored theaters in Lexington, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Springfield (Ohio), and Dayton [source: "New Circuit Formed. Vaudeville Managers of the Middle West Have Harmoninous Meeting in Chicago-New," Freeman, 02/04/2011, p.5]. The Gem was a picture house, and a stage for local talent shows and vaudeville entertainment. Sunday shows ran from one hour after lunch to about 10:30pm. In 1915, the Gem was one of the Lexington theaters that opposed the Sabbatarian Movement that wanted the movie shows, base ball, and other public pastime activities closed on Sundays during morning and evening church service hours [source: Main Street Amusement by G. A. Waller, pp128-136, "Sabbatarian Campaigns"]. When the theaters did not close on Sundays, indictments were handed down against the owners of the following Lexington theaters: Colonial, Orpheum, and the Gem. Wilbur F. Crafts, founder of the American Sabbath Union, was brought to Lexington and he held several rallies at local churches. The rally for African Americans was held at the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). The grand jury indictments went to court in 1916 and each of the theater owners paid a $10 fine, and the Gem and other theater houses continued to be open on Sundays. R. F. Bell was an early manager of the Gem, and in 1911 he purchased and reopened the Lincoln which was another colored theater in Lexington, KY that first opened in 1910 [sources: "Colored Notes" in the Lexington Leader on 11/26/1911, p.13, and 01/04/1912, p.11]. Bell purchased the Lincoln Theater at a sheriff's sale. The Lincoln was located at 415 W. Main in the building that had been the Pekin Theater; it was across the street from the Gem. In addition to movies and entertainment performances, the Lincoln also served as a distribution point for the sale of the Freeman newspaper [source: last sentence in the article "Lincoln Theater, Lexington KY" in the Freeman, 07/15/1911, p.6]. For a brief period, R. F. Bell managed both colored theaters. In 1912, R. F. Bell, under the name of Gem Theatre Company, opened a "vaudeville and moving picture house in Winchester [KY]" [source: "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 05/19/1912, p.4]. There was also a base ball team called The Gem Theaters, the team defeated the All-Stars in 1912 [source: "Colored Notes," Lexington Leader, 06/10/1912, p.7]. In 1914, the Gem, then at 415 W. Main Street, was sold to Willis Elwood Burden. Willis and his wife, Bertha Burden, are listed on p.154 in Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1914-1915 and again on p.165 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington City Directory, 1916-1917. Willis E. Burden was born abt1883 in Indiana, according to the 1910 U.S. Census, and his wife Bertha Burden was born abt1883 in Kentucky. In 1910, the couple lived in Madison, IN, and was the servant and cook for a private family. In 1911, the couple lived in Muncie, IN, and Willis and his brother James were the proprietors of Burden Brothers, owners of the Royal Cigar Store and Pool Room; and Willis, who was a tailor, also owned a cleaning, pressing, and repairing business [source: p.232 in Emerson's Muncie Directory, 1911-1912]. When Willis E. Burden purchased the Gem in Lexington in 1914, he moved his family to Kentucky. They were in Lexington for at least 2 years, 1914-1916, then left and settled in Cleveland, OH, where Willis Burden was employed as a chauffeur in 1923 [source: p.731 in Cleveland City Directory, 1923]. The Gem Theater nor the Lincoln Theater existed beyond 1916. The address 404 W. Main Street, the initially address given for the Gem, was the business location for Mutual Beneficial Life Insurance Company in 1914, as was the same for 1916; the Gem Theater had moved [sources: p.63 in Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1914-1915; and p.66 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington City Directory, 1916-1917]. The address 415 W. Main Street was the location of the Gem in the 1914 city directory [p.652]; R. F. Bell had moved the Gem into what had been the Lincoln Theater. Neither the Gem Theater, nor the address 415 W. Main, was listed in the 1916-1917 city directory. For a more detailed account of the history of the Gem Theater, see "Gem Theater" in Main Street Amusement by G. A. Waller, pp.170-179.
Subjects: Baseball, Businesses, Theater: Companies, Education, Exhibitions, Performers, and Performances in Kentucky, Movies and Films, Tailors
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Givens, Reuben, and Ruth Newby Givens Roper
Givens and Roper are the parents of actress Robin Givens, former wife of heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, and Stephanie Givens, former professional tennis player. Both Reuben Givens and Ruth Newby Givens Roper are Lexington natives. Reuben was a star baseball and basketball player at Douglass and Lafayette High Schools. He was coached by Charles H. Livisay at Douglass. In 1962, Givens averaged 24.7 points in basketball, winning the Fayette County scoring title, but he did not receive the trophy after the sponsor backed out. He was the first African American basketball player at Lafayette; Douglass High was closed as part of the school system's integration plan. Givens graduated from Lafayette in 1964, the same year he married Ruth Newby. The family lived in New York, where Reuben Givens was tending his options as a professional basketball and baseball player. Ruth had been living in New York with her mother since her parents had divorced when she was a small child; she met Reuben while visiting family in Lexington. Reuben and Ruth Givens divorced in 1969. Reuben Givens, who still resides in New York, is the son of Betty and Dave Givens, the nephew of professional baseball player Lou Johnson, and a brother of University of Kentucky basketball player Jack Givens. For more see the Lexington Herald-Leader articles: B. Reed, "Robin Givens' dad a former Douglass High star," 10/20/1988, Sports section, p. C1, and "Robin Givens' parents are Lexington natives," 10/15/1988, Sports section, p. D17.
Subjects: Baseball, Basketball, Fathers, Migration North, Mothers
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / New York

Glass, Carl Lee
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1972
Born in Lexington, KY, Carl L. Glass was a left-handed pitcher, outfielder and first baseman. He first played with the Memphis Red Sox in 1923 and ended his career with the Cincinnati Tigers in 1936. While in Memphis, Carl and Ophelia Glass were boarders on Stephens Place Street, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Lovie Ophelia Johnson was born in 1898 in Tennessee. The couple married in Crittenden County, AR, on November 26, 1927, according to their marriage record on p.307 of the Arkansas Bond for Marriage License Book [online at]. Carl L. Glass died in Lexington, KY, according to the U.S. Social Security Death Index. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley; and Carl Glass at

See photo image of Carl Glass at Negro Leagues Database.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Griffey, Wolford
Birth Year : 1916
Death Year : 1982
Griffey, the son of an Irishman, came to Kentucky from Pennsylvania seeking work in the coal mines. International Harvesters hired him and his two brothers because they could play baseball; all the major coal companies had baseball teams. In 1945, Griffey became the first and only African American foreman in the coal camps around Benham, KY. In 2005, his wife, Lacey Griffey, still lived in the camp-house the couple had purchased from International Harvesters when the mines were closed. For more see the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet press release, "Wolford and Jackie: A tale of two African-American Pioneers: Griffey Was First and Only Black Foreman in Benham Mines," by S. Ramsey, Kentucky Coal Council; and W. Tompkins, "Deep in our soul: coal," Courier-Journal (Louisville), 12/31/1999, Extra section, p. O8M.
Subjects: Baseball, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Migration South
Geographic Region: Pennsylvania / Benham, Harlan County, Kentucky

Harrison, James Henry "Jimmy"
Birth Year : 1900
Death Year : 1931
Harrison was born in Louisville, KY. He left Kentucky when a teen and later played semi-pro baseball before becoming a musician and a singer. A trombonist, he had his own trio in 1919 and played with a number of other bands: Charlie Johnson, Sam Wooding, the Kentucky Jazz Band (Detroit), and Billy Fowler, to name a few. Harrison died of stomach cancer at the age of 30. For more see Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street, by J. Chilton; and The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, ed. by D. Clarke.
Subjects: Baseball, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Haskins, Ovan
Birth Year : 1895
Death Year : 1986
In 1948, Ovan Haskins purchased land on Newtown Pike in Lexington, KY, for the development of the city's first African American subdivision. The subdivision, approved in 1949, was financed with private capital. The construction of homes began in 1950, and the subdivision was located on a single street named Haskins Drive [a dead end street]. There were to be 26 homes; all but four of the 55'x95' lots had been sold by August 1950. Ovan Haskins was born in Lexington, KY; he was an insurance supervisor and manager and a real estate broker. As a member of the Blue Grass Athletic Club, he helped found the Lexington Hustlers baseball team. He also helped found the Second Street YMCA in Lexington and served with the Lexington Human Rights Commission. A picture of one of the newly constructed homes on Haskins Drive is on p. 74 in Lexington, Kentucky, by G. Smith. The Ovan Haskins Oral History interview is available at the UK Libraries' Special Collections as part of the Blacks in Lexington Oral History Project. For more see J. Hewlett, "Former developer Ovan Haskins dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 07/23/1986, p. B11; "New subdivision for Negroes," Herald-Leader, 05/13/1951, p. 47; and the following articles from the Lexington Leader: "Haskins subdivision groundbreaking," 05/19/1950, p. 25; "Construction started in Haskins addition," 08/07/1950, p. 14; and "Negro subdivision off Newtown Pike begins," 08/22/1950, p. 13.

Access Interview Read about the Ovan Haskins oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Baseball, Insurance Companies, Insurance Sales, Realtors, Real Estate Brokers, Real Estate Investments, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), Kentucky Commission on Human Rights
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Hopkinsville Black Hoppers (baseball)
Start Year : 1940
The Hopkinsville Black Hoppers baseball team was formed in 1940 by 33 year old G. E. McCray, the owner, who lived at 1709 McKee Street in Hopkinsville. Samuel Dorsey Collier was vice president and general manager. July 1940, the team traveled to Tennessee and was defeated by the Gallatin colored baseball team, 12-4. Billy Wilis, the catcher had a home run. The team still existed in 1945 when they were scheduled to play the Evansville Black Sox. For more see "Black Hoppers want ball games," The Chicago Defender, 06/08/1940, p.22; "Black Hoppers are beaten at Gallatin," Kentucky New Era, 07/29/1940, p.4; "Black on Black," The Chicago Defender, 09/08/1945
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Hopkinsville, Christian County, Kentucky

Hueston, William C., Sr.
Birth Year : 1880
Death Year : 1961
Hueston was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Bettie H. Treacy; his family later moved to Kansas City, Kansas. He was a graduate of the University of Kansas and an active community leader in Kansas City. He also lived part-time in Gary, Indiana. He served as president of the National Negro Baseball League, beginning in 1927, after Rube Foster was committed to the Kankakee Asylum in Illinois. In Gary, Indiana, Hueston served as magistrate judge and helped establish the African American-owned Central State Bank. He was appointed by President Hoover to the National Memorial Commission for the building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture that was to have been built in 1929. He left Indiana in 1930 for Washington, D.C. to become Assistant Solicitor with the U.S. Post Office. For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1933-37; The Josh Gibson Foundation website; Take up the Black Man's Burden: Kansas City's African American Communities, 1865-1939, by C. E. Coulter; M. Strimbu, "Library exhibit depicts Gary's rich, varied history," Post-Tribune, 07/24/1997, Gary Neighbors section, p. NB4; and "William C. Hueston, 81, Government Attorney," Washington Post, 11/27/1961, City Life section.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Bankers, Banks, Finance, Financial Advisors, Baseball, Civic Leaders, Lawyers, Migration North, Migration West, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Postal Service, Judges, Appointments by U.S. Presidents/Services for U.S. Presidents
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Kansas City, Kansas / Gary, Indiana / Kankakee, Illinois / Washington, D.C.

Hughes, Sammy T.
Birth Year : 1910
Death Year : 1981
Born in Louisville, KY, Sammy T. Hughes was a second baseman in the Negro Leagues, touted as "the best of the best." He began his career with the Louisville White Sox in 1930. He was voted a Negro League All-Star more than any other second baseman. During his career, he hit .300 while averaging nine home runs per year. For more see The Ballplayers. Baseball's ultimate biographical reference, ed. by M. Shatzkin; Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 26 (Sept. 2000 - Aug. 2001); and Cool Papas and Double Duties, by W. F. McNeil.

See photo image and additional information about Sammy T. Hughes at Negro League Baseball Players Association website.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Jenkins Sluggers (Jenkins, KY, baseball team)
On the 4th of July, 1935, the Jenkins Sluggers, a Colored baseball team from Jenkins, KY, were scheduled to play the Middlesboro Blue Sox, a Colored baseball team from Middlesboro, KY. The game was to take place in the East End Park in Middlesboro. After the game, a number of activities were to take place in the park for the city's Colored population in celebration of the holiday. For more see "Fair weather predicted for 4th," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/03/1935, pp. 1 & 6.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Jenkins, Letcher County, Kentucky / Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky

Johnson, Don
Birth Year : 1927
Don Johnson was born and reared in Covington, KY. He attended William Grant High School, where he was a noted talent in basketball, baseball, and track and field. He played baseball and softball informally until he was picked up by the Chicago American Giants in 1949, later playing for the Philadelphia Stars, Baltimore Elite Giants, and the Detroit Stars, all Negro League teams. Johnson was still playing baseball in the White Oak League in 1999. He was living in Cincinnati in 2005. For more see Don Johnson at the Negro League Baseball Players Association website; J. Erardi, "Don Johnson, pulled out of the stands into a career," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 07/04/1999; and Shadows of the past, by L. Stout.

See photo image of Don Johnson and additional information at the website.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Basketball, Migration North, Track & Field
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Cincinnati, Ohio

Johnson, "Sweet" Lou
Birth Year : 1934
Lou Johnson was born in Lexington, KY. The 5'11", 175-pound Johnson was the first African American from Lexington to play major league baseball. The street Lou Johnson Way and Lou Johnson Park, both in the Pralltown neighborhood of Lexington, are named in his honor. He attended old Dunbar High School and later played semi-pro ball with the Lexington Colts. He went on to play in the Negro League on the Indianapolis Clowns team. In 1950 he joined the Chicago Cubs and went on to play for six different teams before ending his baseball career in 1969. Johnson hit two home runs during the Los Angeles Dodgers' 1965 World Series victory. For more see Kaleem, J., "Sweet Gets His Street," Lexington Herald-Leader (08/12/04), p. 1; and Lou Johnson at the Baseball Almanac website.

See photo image of Lou Johnson at Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum website.
Subjects: Baseball, Parks & Resorts
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette Count;y, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois / Los Angeles, California

Kean, William L. "Bill"
Birth Year : 1899
Death Year : 1958
While a student at Louisville Central High School, Kean was captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams. The 5' 7" athlete weighed 140 pounds when he played football at Howard University, where he also earned letters in three other sports. He was one of the school's first 4-letter athletes and in 1922 was named to the Negro All-American Team as a quarterback. As a coach, he directed the Louisville Central football team to a 225-45-12 record. As the basketball coach, he led the Louisville Central Yellow Jackets to wins in 857 of its 940 games. Kean was the son of Alice E. and William T. Kean, and the maternal grandfather of NBA player Allen Houston, and a brother to Henry A. Kean, Sr. For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Basketball, Education and Educators, Football, Grandparents
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Kelley, Brent P.
Birth Year : 1941
A life-long resident of Paris, KY, Kelley is a veterinarian and a writer who has done a phenomenal number of interviews with players from the Negro leagues. Kelley is not an African American. He is author of They Too Wore Pinstripes, Voices from the Negro Leagues, The Negro Leagues Revisited, and other titles. He has also written hundreds of articles and has a sizable collection of autographs from former Negro League players. For more see Cool Papas and Double Duties, by W. F. McNeil.
Subjects: Authors, Baseball
Geographic Region: Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky

Kentucky Black Devils (Fulton, KY, baseball team)
The Kentucky Black Devils baseball team was probably organized prior to September 1930 when they were defeated by the Paris (TN) Giants, 10-2. July 1933, the Kentucky Black Devils were scheduled to play the Logansport Chase Cubs in Indiana at Riverside Park. The Devils had just lost to the Peru Ballyhoos, a semi-professional baseball team in Indiana. The Black Devils were a traveling comedy, professional Colored baseball club from Fulton, KY. A. Dinwiddie was described as the "diminutive pitcher" for the Devils. The team was traveling in the Logansport, IN area playing both white and African American teams. They defeated the Chase Cubs 5-3 in front of 2,000 fans. They defeated the Deer Creek Merchants on August 7th, and defeated the Logansport Independents 11-0 at Riverside Park the following day in front of 1,800 fans. They lost 8-5 to the Camden A. C. Team, followed by a four game series against the Flora Merchants, and a game against Logan-Sports, a team of independent players from the city of Logansport. The Black Devils lost 7-6 to the Logan-Sports team, and also lost their next game against the Deer Creek Merchants 12-3. The Black Devils continued to play various Indiana teams up to the end of September 1933, before returning to Kentucky. They were back in Indiana July 1934 for another season. For more see "The Fulton..." within the article "Tennessee - Paris" in the Baltimore Afro-American, 09/27/1930, p.18; and the following articles in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune: "Slate Speitel to hurl chase tilt Saturday," 07/27/1933, p.7; "Black Devils lose at Peru," 07/29/1933, p.2; "Deer Creek wins Black Devil tilt," 08/05/1933, p.2; and "Camden nine win over Black Devils," 08/18/1933,p.2. See articles in the Logansport Press: "Black Devils comedy, ball playing drop Chase Cubs 5-3," 07/30/1933, p.5; "Kentucky Black Devils too much for Independents, win 11-0," 08/02/1933, p.5; "Black Devils will play Logan-Sports at park on Monday," 08/04/1933, p.7; "Independents win by 7-6," 08/08/1933, p.2; "Black Devils to play 4 games in Flora next week," 08/09/1933, p.5; and "Camden will play Black Devils' team," 08/16/1933, p.5
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Fulton, Fulton County, Kentucky / Peru and Longsport, Indiana

Lee, Johnson Camden
Birth Year : 1902
Death Year : 1993
Born in Versailles, KY, Dr. Johnson C. Lee was a dentist in Lexington, KY. He was the husband of Gladys Lee. In 1960 Dr. Lee became the first African American member of the Kentucky Dental Association. In 1983 he was the second African American dentist in Kentucky to receive the Kentucky Dental Association's award for having practiced dentistry for 50 years. Dr. Lee's office was located in the old Masonic Building on North Broadway. He was a graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Lee was also a World War II veteran of the African American 93 Infantry Division. He also owned a semi-pro baseball team. For more see "Dentist considers slowing down after 50 years: dentist starts to slow down after 50 years in practice," Lexington Herald-Leader, 09/26/1983, p. B1; and Johnson C. Lee in E. Duncan, "Obituaries," Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/05/1993, p. C2.


Access InterviewRead about the Johnson Camden Lee oral history interview available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Baseball, Medical Field, Health Care, Military & Veterans, Dentists
Geographic Region: Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Lewis, Cary Blackburn, Sr.
Birth Year : 1880
Death Year : 1946
Cary B. Lewis, Sr. was a newspaper journalist and editor.  He was born in Louisville, KY, in 1878, the son of Plummer Sr. and Mattie Lewis [source: Illinois, Deaths and Still births Index; and 1880 U.S. Federal Census]. He is buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago, IL. Cary B. Lewis, Sr. was best known as the managing editor of the Chicago Defender for ten years, 1910-1920, and he was also a sports editor [source: "Obituary 4 - -  No Title. Cary B. Lewis," New York Times, 12/10/1946, p.31]. He had been a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal before becoming a journalist with the Indianapolis Freeman where he covered sports and national news [source: When to Stop the Cheering? by B. Carroll]. Lewis was a prolific writer and had hundreds of articles in both the Indianapolis Freeman and the Chicago Defender. While many of the articles were about the lives of Negroes in Kentucky, Indiana, Chicago, and those in the national news, Lewis also kept the public informed about Negro baseball games. Cary B. Lewis, Sr. was active in the establishment of the Negro National Baseball League (NNL). In 1920 he was elected secretary of the NNL in preparation for the 1921 circuit season and he played a major role in developing the constitution for the new league [source: Rube Foster in His Time by L. Lester]. In 1907, Lewis had also been named secretary of the unsuccessful National Colored League of Professional Baseball Clubs in Indianapolis. Cary B. Lewis, Sr. was the husband of Bertha Mosley Lewis in 1920, according to the U.S. Federal Census. [In the Chicago death index, Cary B. Lewis' birthdate is given as July 15, 1888, though he is listed in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census as a 2 year old. On his WWII draft registration card, Lewis gives his birthdate as July 15, 1880, and at the time, he was employed at the Poro College of Annie M. Malone. His father, Plummer Lewis, was a Civil War veteran; he served with the 28th U.S. Colored Infantry, according to the U.S. Colored Troops U.S. Service Records.]
Subjects: Baseball, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Migration North
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

Lexington Hustlers Baseball Team
Start Year : 1911
End Year : 1952
The Negro League Baseball team, Lexington Hustlers, was formed in 1947. But prior to that, there was an earlier Lexington Hustlers baseball team since at least 1911 when the officers were Harvey Rhodes, president; William Madison, secretary; Samford Turner, manager; and Henry Jones, field manager [source: "Colored Notes," Leader, 02/26/1911, p.6]. Newspaper articles about the older team can be found in the Leader from 1911-1950s. Shelby Lee Moxley was a pitcher on the older team and a coach for the newer team. The newer team played against other Negro League teams that had such players as Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, and Josh Gibson. Coach John W. "Scoop" Brown added player Bobby Flynn to the team in 1947; Flynn was white but had been rejected by the white teams because he was small. By 1949, white players made up one third of the Lexington Hustlers, the first integrated baseball team in the South. The team integrated the same year that Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball. Bobby Flynn would later become a Kentucky Senator, and he is the father of former Major League Baseball player Doug Flynn. For more see "Hustlers Tip Caps to Past," Lexington Herald-Leader, June 17, 2010, pp. A1-A2.

See photo image and the video titled Baseball in Black and White: the Lexington Hustlers [online] at Kentucky Life, Program 907, a Kentucky Educational Television (KET) website.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Lion Tamers (Newport, KY, baseball team)
The Lion Tamers was a baseball team in Newport,KY. They were the champions of the Northern Kentucky Semi-pro Negro Baseball League, and were in high demand. In August 1936, the team was matched in an exhibition game against the J C Penny's Baseball Club in Lindenwald, OH, on Kellogg Field. The Lion Tamers were considered a very good team, so several new players had been added to the Penny's team to help give them a better chance at winning. For more see "Penny's meet Colored team at Lindenwald," Hamilton Daily News Journal, 08/27/1936, p.12.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky / Lindenwald, Ohio

Louisville Baseball Teams (African American)
Start Year : 1887
End Year : 1950
The first Louisville baseball team was the Louisville Falls City, which lasted for one week in 1887. The Louisville Cubs team also existed around the turn of the century, and another team, the Louisville White Caps team, played in the Negro League in 1930. The Louisville White Sox, in the Negro National League, lasted for one year, 1930-1931. The Louisville Black Caps, which also lasted for one year, 1932, was in the Negro Southern League, where they produced a 13-17 record. The sixth team out of Louisville, the Louisville Buckeyes (formerly the Cleveland Buckeyes), lasted one year in Louisville (1949), then returned to Cleveland. The team had an 8-29 record while in Kentucky. A long-lasting team, the Louisville Black Colonels, existed from the 1930s into the 1950s. Goose Tatum played with the team a couple of years, beginning around 1939, leaving after team owner Leonard Mitchell attacked Tatum and Tatum put Mitchell in a headlock. Mitchell began to faint and some of the players had to pry him free from Tatum's grip. Tatum later became a star on the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley; Spinning the Globe, by B. Green; and The Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball, by T. Loverro.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Lynch Demons (Lynch, KY, baseball team)
In 1935, the baseball team Lynch Demons was considered the best colored baseball team in Kentucky. On October 1, they were scheduled to play the Kingsport Tigers on their home field; the Tigers were a colored baseball team from Tennessee with a record of 19-5. The Lynch Demons had a record of 34 wins and one loss. For more see "Tigers to battle Lynch on Sunday," Kingsport Times, 08/29/1934, p. 2. The city of Lynch also had a colored baseball team in 1924; for more about that team, see "Middlesboro colored team[s] plays Lynch," Middlesboro Daily News, 07/07/1924, p. 4.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Lynch, Harlan County, Kentucky / Kingsport, Tennessee / Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky

Mason, Jesse Edward
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 2002
Born in Nicholasville, KY, Mason attended Kentucky State University and was a World War II veteran. He was the first African American licensed to sell used cars in Kentucky, operating his own business for 32 years. In 1965, Mason also organized the first American Little League Baseball Club, the Slugger Dodgers of Jessamine County. That same year, Mason was a leader in the integration of the Jessamine County public schools. In the 1990s, he led the movement to have the newly built middle school named Rosenwald-Dunbar, in honor of the African American high school that had closed following integration. For more see "February is Black History Month," The Jessamine Journal, 02/23/2006, pp. A1 & A8.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Automobile Dealerships and Factories, Baseball, Businesses, Civic Leaders, Military & Veterans, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Nicholasville, Jessamine County, Kentucky

Maysville Tigers (Maysville, KY, baseball team) [Wilson Green]
In 1941, the Maysville Tigers were a Colored baseball team scheduled to play the Portsmouth Pirates, a Colored baseball team in Ohio. The teams were to play at Riverside Park in Portsmouth, Ohio. The previous meeting had taken place in Maysville, KY, where the Tigers were defeated. On the Tigers' team was third baseman Wilson Green, who was trying to move up in Negro baseball; he had a tryout with the St. Louis Stars, a Colored American League team. Another player, pitcher "Steady" Owen, was scheduled for a tryout with the Memphis Red Sox, another Colored American League team.
For more see "Pirates after second victory," Portsmouth Times, 07/13/1941, p. 19.

  • Wilson Green (1911-1984) was born in Washington, KY, and died in Maysville, KY. He was the son of Alfred and Billie Green, according to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Green was a hard hitting third baseman on the Maysville Tigers baseball team.

Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Washington and Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky / Portsmouth, Ohio

McCurine, James "Big Stick" or "Big Jim"
Birth Year : 1921
Death Year : 2002
James McCurine was born in Clinton, KY. A baseball slugger, he began his career playing semi-pro ball around Chicago. In 1945 he began playing for the American Giants for $375 per month. McCurine was an outfielder and sometimes pitched, which ruined his arm and his career. After a tryout with the Boston Braves, and nursing a very sore arm, McCurine declined the offer to play on the farm team and retired from baseball in 1949. For more see The Negro Leagues Revisited, by B. Kelley; L. Guerrero, "James McCurine: played for Giants in Negro League, Outfielder who was lethal with bat was known as Big Stick," Chicago Sun-Times, 05/30/2002, NEWS section, p. 64; and James McCurine at

  See photo image and additional information about James McCurine at
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Clinton, Hickman County, Kentucky / Chicago, Illinois

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.
Subjects: Baseball, Rioting, Insurrections, Panics, Protests in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky

Militant Church Movement (Louisville, KY)
The Militant Church Movement or MCM was a post-WWII Civil Rights organization established by Rev. J. C. Olden, father of Sylvia Olden Lee. MCM began in Louisville as a small but vocal church-based organization, and became a coalition of African American churches in Kentucky. In 1951, the group led in the boycott of a baseball game that was to have taken place in Louisville between white major league players led by Gill Hodges, and an African American team lead by Roy Campanella. The protest was in response to the plans to segregate the audience. The game was cancelled. In 1953, MCM, led by Rev. Olden and Rev. M. M. D. Perdue, was successful in leading the Interracial Hospital Movement campaign that brought the beginning of the end to racial restrictions in all Kentucky hospitals. That same year, MCM launched a mass petition drive to urge the lawmakers of Kentucky to integrated the state's schools. The group also launched protests against GE for it hiring practices. What is know about the MCM exists because of those who remember the group's efforts; MCM did not have a formal membership list and they did not keep records. For more see "All-Star ball game dropped: Jim Crow protest effective," Honolulu Record, 11/01/1951, p.6; Subversive Southerner by C. Fosl and A. Y. Davis; and Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South by T. E. K'Meyer.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Baseball, Civic Leaders, Education and Educators, Ministers, Pastors, Preachers, Religion & Church Work, Hospitals and Clinics: Employment, Founders, Ownership, Incidents
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Miller, Raymond "Junior"
Birth Year : 1927
Death Year : 2004
Born in Lebanon Junction, KY, Miller was the son of Raymond Sr. and Leatta Miller. The family lived on State Highway Rt. 61, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. Raymond Miller Jr. began his baseball career as a teenager, playing with the Lebanon Hustlers. He later played with the Louisville Black Colonels and the Alabama Zulu Cannibal Giants, playing first base. He continued to play in the Negro League until 1955, when he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He was the husband of Carmen Miller. For more see Negro League Baseball Players Association; The Negro Leagues Revisited, by B. Kelley; and S. Vedder, "Miller made name in Negro League," The Grand Rapids Press [posted online 11/23/04 with headline, "Ray Miller passes away November 18, 2004"].
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Lebanon Junction, Bullitt County, Kentucky

Moxley, Shelby Lee
Birth Year : 1898
Death Year : 1950
Shelby L. Moxley, born in Shelby County, was a well known baseball player in the Lexington, KY area. He was a pitcher for the old Hustlers baseball team, and coached the newer Hustlers team. He also played with one of the Lexington Hitters teams in the Bluegrass Colored Baseball League. His nickname was Chief Moxley. Moxley was killed in 1950 in an equipment accident at the Myers Tobacco Warehouse on Old Frankfort Pike in Lexington, KY. He was the husband of Anna Moxley (b.1899 in KY), and the son and oldest child of Shelby (1855-1926, born in KY) and Maggie Sparks Moxley (1859-1928, born in KY) [sources: 1910 Federal Census and Kentucky Death Certificates]. Shelby L. Moxley's arrangements were handled by the Saffell Funeral Home in Shelbyville, KY, and he was buried in the Saffell Cemetery. For more see the last paragraph of B. J. Strider, "Kentucky: Lexington," The Chicago Defender, 02/04/1950, p.22; "Moxley driven from the mound as Hitters beaten," Lexington Leader, 04/13/1931, p.6.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Negro League Museum
The Negro League Museum was located in Ashland, KY, until it closed. The Ashland files were donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame. For more see Buck Leonard by S. Payment; and see  Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky

Newboy, Mrs. Henry
Mrs. Henry Newboy was considered one of the "best African American women experts" on the game of baseball played by African Americans. She practiced with the men's club that her husband managed in Louisville, KY, and also served as the club's secretary. The Newboy Baseball Club was formed in 1908 [source: "Henry Newboy has organized a baseball club" within the article "Teachers hold session" continued on p.4 of the Freeman, 07/04/08]. Of related interest, an article in the Indianapolis Freeman questioned why there was not an African American women's baseball team in Louisville. For more see "Baseball among the Fairer Sex Coming into Prominence," Indianapolis Freeman, 12/26/1908, reprinted in The Unlevel Playing Field: a documentary history of the African American experience in sport, by D. K. Wiggins and P. B. Miller, pp. 56-57; and J. H. Ardell "Oral History, Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson: The Last Female Voice of the Negro Leagues," NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture, vol. 10, issue 1 (Fall 2001), pp. 181-192.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky

Page, Theodore R.
Birth Year : 1903
Death Year : 1984
Born in Glasgow, KY, Theodore R. Page was also known as Ted and Terrible Ted. He played right field and first base from 1923-1937. He batted .362 in 1932-1933, and his lifetime average was .335; he also averaged .429 in exhibition games against major-leaguers. He was an all-round athlete who declined a college football scholarship in exchange for a contract with baseball's Toledo Tigers. Page had a temper and once knocked two teeth out of a teammate's mouth during a disagreement. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley.

See photo image of Ted Page on a baseball card at the Allegheny Cemetery website.

See photo image of Theodore R. "Ted" Page at the Find a Grave website.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky

Ramsey, Arthur, Sr.
Birth Year : 1922
Death Year : 1985
Arthur Ramsey, Sr. was born in Kentucky. He began playing baseball in the Negro League in 1945 when he joined the Knoxville Giants, then later played for the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords. He also played for teams in Minneapolis and Saskatoon. Ramsey, a career .300 hitter, played second base and was considered a good base runner. In 1954, Ramsey moved to Detroit to play baseball and was later a member of the Old-Timers' All-Stars. He is also a member of the Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame Gallery in Detroit, Michigan, and was inducted into the Negro League Hall of Fame in Ashland, KY. For more see "Baseball player earned a place in Negro League Hall of Fame," Detroit Free Press, 08/06/1985, OBT section, p. 6B.
Subjects: Baseball, Migration North
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Richardson, Saunders, Jr. "Smoke" and Family
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1963
One of the most recognized musicians in Lexington, KY, was Saunders "Smoke" Richardson. He was born in Covington, KY, the son of Julia Mae Thompson Richardson (1883-1934) and Saunders Richardson Sr. (1879-1935). Kentucky has been home to his family for several generations. His mother was from Covington, KY, and his father from Lexington. His parents lived on Price Street in Lexington in 1902; Saunders, Sr. was employed as a porter [source: p. 463, The Lexington City Directory and Rural Postal Delivery Routes for 1902-1903, Volume 1]. His brother Robert Richardson was born in Lexington, September 5, 1902 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1149]. By 1904, the family lived in Covington, and Smoke's sister Elza Richardson was born at home on Washington Street, June 19, 1904 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Live Birth Registrars No. 30A]. Two years later, Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. was also born in Covington. By 1909, the Richardson family was living in Lexington at 323 Race Street, and Saunders, Sr. was a bartender [source: p. 516 in Lexington City Directory, 1909. volume v]. He was also an umpire for the colored baseball games in Lexington [source: "The Lexington Hustlers..." in  "Colored Notes," Leader, 06/01/1913, p. 7, col. 6; and "The Cumminsville, O., ..." in "Colored Notes," Leader, 06/01/1914, p. 5, col. 5]. In 1920, Saunders, Sr. owned a soft drink store, and his son Robert worked with him as a salesman while Elza and Saunders, Jr. attended school [source: U.S. Federal Census]. His wife Julia Richardson may have been part owner of the store: the store name is given as J. Richardson Company, groceries, on p. 648 in The Lexington City Directory, 1923. A couple years later, while Julia and Saunders, Sr. continued with the store, their son Robert became a tailor, daughter Elza a school teacher; and son Saunders, Jr. a musician [source: pp. 661 & 662 in R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory, 1925]. It was during this time that Saunders, Jr. left Kentucky. The following information comes from Saunda C. Richardson Coleman, daughter of Saunders Richardson, Jr., and Carol Mills Richardson. "Around his junior year of high school, Smoke Richardson quit school and started playing music professionally; he played the baritone saxophone. He got the nickname Smoke because he smoked cigarettes all the time. He went to New York City for a brief period and studied under musician Coleman Hawkins. He was back in Lexington by the 1930s. His specialty was big band music, and he was pretty much a local entertainer." In 1928, the Richardson family lived at 301 E. 4th Street, and Julia and Saunders Sr. worked at the store along with Robert, who was a clerk; Elza was still a school teacher, and Saunders, Jr. was still away in New York [source: p. 451 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XIV, 1928]. Saunders, Jr. was back in Kentucky by 1930; he is listed in the city directory as a musician on p. 491 (Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XV, 1930). He was not listed in the 1931-32 directory with his parents, who had a confectioner business at 146 W. Vine St.; his brother Robert was a cook at Drake Cafeteria and lived at 515 E. 2nd Street; no occupation was listed for Elza, who lived with her parents [source: p. 425 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, Vol. XVI, 1931-32]. In the previous directory, Saunders, Jr. was listed as a musician and the husband of Louise [source: p. 418, Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1931]. There is no further mention of Louise in the Richardson household in subsequent directories. A few years later, Smoke's family suffered a loss when Julia M. Thompson Richardson died, December 19, 1934; she was the daughter of Robert Thompson from Fayette County and Julia Johnson Thompson from Kenton County [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1110]. Four months later, Saunders Richardson, Sr. died on April 13, 1935; he was the son of Henry Richardson from Fayette County and Mary E. Smith Richardson from Montgomery County [sources: Obituary in "Colored Notes," Leader, 04/16/1935, p. 10, col. 6-7; and Kentucky Certificate of Death File No. 332]. Both Saunders Richardson, Sr. and Julia Thompson Richardson are buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington. It was during this time of loss that Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. and His Orchestra began playing for events at the University of Kentucky [source: "Final dance of semester will be held Saturday," The Kentucky Kernel, 08/09/1938, front page, column 4]. The University of Kentucky was a segregated school for white students, but African American bands were hired to entertain at social events. The group also played at Kentucky State College for Negroes (now Kentucky State University) and at high school events in Lexington and surrounding counties. In 1940, Smoke Richardson and his brother Robert were living with their sister Elza at the home place, 301 E. 4th Street; Elza was a maid, Robert was a waiter at a hotel, and Smoke was a musician [source: U.S. Federal Census]. The eldest sibling, Robert Richardson, died from tuberculosis on December 14, 1947 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered No. 1149]. After his brother's death, Smoke Richardson continued to live at 301 E. 4th Street with his sister Elza [source: p. 552 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXX, 1953]. He provided music for events such as the Zeta Tau Alpha annual houseparty at the University of Kentucky [source: p. 124 of the 1958 Kentuckian]. His music can be heard on an untitled 78 rpm album that has four songs on each side: a copy of the album is at the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum on Georgetown Street in Lexington, KY. By 1960, Smoke Richardson and His Orchestra had been the house band at Circle H for several years {the establishment had been named the Circle Bar} [source: The Kentucky Kernel, 11/17/1958, p. 11]. Also by 1960, Smoke Richardson was the husband of Carol Mills Richardson; the couple lived at 301 E. 4th Street with Elza Richardson, who was the executive director of the Phyllis Wheatly {Colored} Branch of the Lexington YWCA [source: pp. 556 & 557 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY) City Directory, vol. XXXVI, 1960]. Elza Richardson had been a maid at the colored YWCA in 1942 [source: p. 331 in Polk's Lexington City Directory, 1942]; she was the assistant director in 1952 [source: p. 394 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVIX, 1952]; and she became the executive director in 1956 [source: p. 511 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXXIII, 1956]. Elza Richardson had started at the YWCA as early as 1940 [source: p. 528 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXII, 1940-41]. In 1945, she was a cook at the Lexington Signal Depot [source: p. 317 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXV, 1945], and she was still there in 1947 [source: p. 465 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVI, 1947]. In 1958, she was an elevator operator at Kaufman Clothers [source: p. 441 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, vol. XXVII, 1948-49]. Three years later, she was the assistant director at the Phyllis Wheatly {Colored} Branch of the Lexington YWCA. Elza O. Richardson died January 26, 1983 [source: Kentucky Death Index], she outlived her brother Smoke by 20 years: Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr. died September 12, 1963 in Fayette County, KY [source: Kentucky Death Index]. One of his last performances was at the patients' picnic at Eastern State Hospital in June of 1962 [source: Kentucky's First Asylum by A. W. Deese, p. 313]. This entry was suggested by Saunda C. Richardson Coleman.


*Robert Thompson (maternal grandfather)

*Julia Johnson Thompson (maternal grandmother)

*Henry Richardson (paternal grandfather)

*Mary E. Smith Richardson (paternal grandmother)

*Saunders Richardson, Sr., 1879-1935 (father)

*Julia Mae Thompson Richardson, 1883-1934 (mother)

*Robert Richardson, 1902-1947 (son)

*Elza Richardson, 1904-1983 (daughter)

*Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr., 1906-1963 (son)

*Saunda Carol Richardson Coleman (daughter of Saunders "Smoke" Richardson, Jr.)


  See April 1934 photo image of Smoke Richardson and His Orchestra, photo at Explore UK (Smoke Richardson, top row, center).
Subjects: Baseball, Businesses, Education and Educators, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association), Tailors
Geographic Region: Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Roach, Sanford Thomas
Birth Year : 1916
Death Year : 2010
Born in Frankfort, KY, Sanford T. Roach played basketball and football as a student and was also the 1933 high school class salutatorian when he graduated from Bate High School in Danville, KY. Roach was a 1937 graduate of Kentucky State University and taught for one year and served as a guard at Kentucky Village with the Kentucky Houses of Reform, schools for delinquent children. He started teaching general science at Bate High School in 1938 and was also the basketball coach; he achieved a record of 98-24 while coaching at Bate High School. In 1941, Roach became a teacher and basketball coach at Lexington Dunbar High School, he coached the Dunbar Bearcats to a 512-142 record over a 22 year period. He later became the first African American principal at an integrated elementary school in Lexington, KY, at Carver School in 1965, and was the first African American board member of the University of Kentucky Athletic Association. For more see Transition Game, by B. Reed; Sanford Roach Biography, a HistoryMaker website; and "Legacy knows no bounds," Lexington Herald-Leader, 09/01/2010, pp. 1, A2, and A8 [two articles - M. Fields, M. Davis].

Access Interview Read about the Sanford T. Roach oral history interviews available at the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.


  Watch the Sanford T. Roach interview online on "Connections with Renee Shaw," program #219, at the KET (Kentucky Educational Television) website.


Access Interview Listen to the audio and read the transcript of the Sanford T. Roach interview in the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, Oral History Project, at the Kentucky Historical Society.
Subjects: Baseball, Basketball, Education and Educators, Football, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Robinson, Jackie
Birth Year : 1919
Death Year : 1972
Originally from Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player in the major leagues. He began his professional baseball career while in the Army, in 1944, as a member of the post team; he was a lieutenant stationed at Ft. Breckinridge, KY. It was there in 1945 that Robinson signed his baseball contract with a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club. In 1947 Robinson became a member of the Dodgers team. For more see Kentucky Historical Marker Database "Baseball Great" [#1762]; and the Kentucky Encyclopedia 2000.

See photo image of Jakie Robinson at the Library of Congress website.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Georgia / Fort Breckinridge [or Camp Breckinridge], Henderson, Webster, and Union Counties, Kentucky (no longer exists)

Sheckles, William "Bill"
Birth Year : 1954
In 2010, William Sheckles became the first African American mayor in Bardstown, KY.  Sheckles was born in Bardstown. He has served on the city council for 12 years prior to running and winning the election for mayor. Sheckles is well known in Bardstown, he has owned a restaurant and he was a car salesman. He has also served as president of the Kentucky Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials with the Kentucky League of Cities. In 2014, he was elected the first African American president of the Kentucky League of Cities. William "Bill" Sheckles is a graduate of Bardstown High School and he earned a B.S in business administration at Western Kentucky University (WKU). He lettered all four years as a baseball player at WKU. For more see M. Davis, "New Bardstown mayor gives how-to on a countywide coup," Lexington Herald-Leader, 11/07/2010, p.B1; and "A Resolution Honoring Bardstown Mayor William Sheckles," the Kentucky Senate [SR130].
Subjects: Baseball, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections
Geographic Region: Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky

Shelby, John T., Jr. "T-Bone"
Birth Year : 1958
Born in Lexington, KY, Shelby was an outstanding basketball and baseball player at Lexington's Henry Clay High School. He continued his career as a student at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN. His professional career began in 1981 when he was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles. Shelby played for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1987-1990 and ended his playing career in 1991 with the Detroit Tigers. He was a member of two World Series teams: the 1983 Orioles and the 1988 Dodgers. In 1998, Shelby was named to the coaching staff of the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the first base coach for all but the first two years of his coaching career there. In 2005, he was named first base coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Shelby and his family reside in Lexington. His oldest son, John T. Shelby, III, played baseball at the University of Kentucky and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2006. For more see "Smithtown's slugger - neighborhood celebrates L.A. Dodgers' John Shelby," Lexington Herald-Leader, 08/08/1999. 


  See John Shelby 31, a Pittsburgh Pirates' website.


Access Interview  Read about the John T. Shelby oral history interview available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database.       
Subjects: Baseball, Basketball, Migration West
Geographic Region: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky / Columbia, Tennessee / Baltimore, Maryland / Los Angeles, California / Detroit, Michigan / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Chicago, Illinois

Snorton, Hickman Matthew "Matt"
Birth Year : 1942
Death Year : 2016
Matt Snorton was an athlete who was born in Crofton, KY in 1942. He would eventually return to Christian County to become the Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator. His family left Kentucky when Matt Snorton was a child and they would settle in Detroit, MI, where Matt attended high school. He was a gifted athlete in baseball and football, he also played basketball, and was a musician in the marching band. Matt Snorton's high school baseball team won Detroit's Public School League Title in 1959 [source: R. Bak,"Northwestern Field in Detroit launched many great baseball careers," 08/03/2014 at ]. He received scholarship offers for both football and band, and he was offered a contract to play professional baseball. Considering all of the offers, Snorton settled at Michigan State University, where he played wide receiver on the football team from 1961-1963. He was selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 1964 NFL Draft, and selected in the third round of the AFL Draft. Snorton decided to play professional football with the Denver Broncos, an AFL team. His career was cut short after five games due to an injury. Snorton changed his career to banking. He returned to Christian County in 1994 and was hired as the Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator. Snorton also worked at the radio station WHOP in Hopkinsville and he became a historian who researched African American history in Christian County. He developed one minute segments on African American history that were aired on WHOP during Black History Month. Hickman Matthew Snorton was the son of Flem and Mary Whitney Snorton, and he was the nephew of Charles C. Snorton. For more see S. Burnside, "Matt's journey," Kentucky New Era," 04/28/2004 [online]; "Community icon Matt Snorton will be missed by Christian County,"The Eagle Post, 01/03/2017 [online]; Matt Snorton at the NFL profile website; Matt Snorton's college stats at; and KY House of Representatives 17RS BR 1017 honoring Matt Snorton.


  See Matt Snorton picture and obituary at Gamble Funeral Home website. 

Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Football, Historians, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Radio, Other
Geographic Region: Crofton, Christian County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Spring Valley, Illinois
Start Year : 1884
Located in northern Illinois, the town was built by the Spring Valley Coal Company and the Spring Valley Townsite Company in 1884. Men from Europe, northern Africa, and the United States were employed to work the mines, including a small group of African Americans from Kentucky. Homes for all African Americans were located two miles outside of town due to a local ordinance forbidding them within the city limits. The Spring Valley Coal Company was the state's largest coal producer. Lockouts and strikes were common occurrences at the mines, and in 1895 racial tension escalated when Italian miners attacked African American miners and their families, forcing them to abandon their homes. As news of the rioting spread to Chicago, African Americans put out a call to arms. Illinois Governor Altgeld and Spring Valley Mayor Delmargo intervened and restored calm. The African American miners from the south and their women were blamed for the trouble. By 1910, there were 32 nationalities in Spring Valley; the population included 230 African Americans, two-thirds of whom were Kentucky natives, according to author Paul Debono. When the mines closed, many took work at the resorts where hotel employees played baseball as entertainment for the resort guests; Spring Valley has been noted as playing a contributing role in the development of Negro League baseball. For more see The Indianapolis ABCs: history of a premier team in the Negro Leagues, by P. Debono; Black Coal Miners in America: race, class, and community conflict, 1780-1980, by R. L. Lewis; and the following articles in the New York Times: "A Race riot in Illinois: Italians attack the Negroes at Spring Valley," 04/05/1895, p. 8; "Rioters hold full sway," 08/06/1895, p. 3; "All Negroes driven out," 08/07/1895; "Chicago Negroes call to arms," 08/07/1895; "Spring Valley Negro war ended," 08/08/1895; "Negroes may return to Spring Valley," 08/09/1895; "Arrested for shooting Negro laborers," 08/17/1895; "Negroes arming for Spring Valley," 08/19/1895; and "Cause of the Spring Valley riots: Negroes said to have been responsible for the trouble," 08/26/1895. See also chapter 5, "Making the Italian other," in Are Italians White?, by J. Guglielmo and S. Salerno.
Subjects: Baseball, Communities, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Riots and Protests Outside Kentucky
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Spring Valley, Illinois / Chicago, Illinois

Stubblefield, Wilker H. T. "Mickey" "Mayfield Moundsman"
Birth Year : 1926
Born in Mayfield, KY, Stubblefield began his career with local baseball clubs, then, in 1947, he played with the Omaha Rockets, mostly at shortstop and pitcher. He joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1948 before moving on to the minor leagues. He returned to Mayfield to play in the Kitty League, the only African American who played in that league. Stubblefield ended his career in the Northern League in 1951. His entire name was Wilker Harrison Thelbert Stubblefield. He was the son of Harrison and Mary Wiskers Stubblefield, according to the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. For more see The Negro Leagues Revisited, by B. Kelley; and Micky Stubblefield, a Kitty League website.

Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Mayfield, Graves County, Kentucky / Omaha, Nebraska / Kansas City, Missouri

Stumpy Harris and His Kentucky Cardinals (Uniontown, KY, baseball team)
In 1936, "Stumpy" Harris and his Kentucky Cardinals from Uniontown, KY, were scheduled to play the Carbondale Giants on September 13th. The Cardinals were said to be the best team in Kentucky and one of the best in the South. The Cardinals had defeated such teams as the Evansville Tigers, and the Elite Eights from Nashville, TN. The Cardinal pitcher was a left-hander named Big Jim. He would be going against "Big Chippy" McAlister, the pitcher for the Giants. By July 1945, "Stumpy" Harris had left the Cardinals and was managing an Evansville Colored team. In 1954, he was back with the Kentucky Cardinals, and in June of that year they were scheduled to play the Harrisburg Merchants in Uniontown. For more see "Kentucky Colored team here Sunday," The Carbondale Free Press, 09/11/1936, p.4; "Evansville Colored team at Wasson tomorrow," The Daily Register, 08/04/1945, p.5; and the last paragraph of the article "Merchants beat Thebes, 13-2," The Daily Register, 02/17/1954, p.7.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Uniontown, Union County, Kentucky

Thomas, Clint
Birth Year : 1896
Death Year : 1990
Born in Greenup, KY, Clint Thomas, nicknamed "The Hawk," was a professional baseball player during the 1920s and 1930s. He had 400 home runs and 4,000 hits in 19 years. He played centerfield with Philadelphia Hilldale when the team won the Negro championship in 1925 and 1926. At the end of his baseball career, Thomas worked at the Virginia State House, where one of his duties was to make coffee for the state legislators. For more see The Ballplayers. Baseball's ultimate biographical reference, ed. by M. Shatzkin; and Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines, vol. 15 (Sept. 1986-Aug. 1988).

See the Clint Thomas baseball card Produced in 1924-25 for the Aguilitas Cigarette brand while Thomas was playing in the Cuban Professional League.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Greenup, Greenup County, Kentucky / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / Richmond, Virginia

Tinsley, Lee O.
Birth Year : 1969
Lee O. Tinsley was born in Shelbyville, KY, where he was an outstanding football and baseball player. By the end of his senior year, the 5'10" Tinsley had accumulated 969 yards on 105 carries as an option quarterback. In baseball, he batted .569, hit 14 home runs, and stole 21 bases. He graduated from high school in 1987 and was torn between professional baseball or college football at Purdue University. Tinsley decided on baseball and played professionally for 14 seasons; he was selected in the first round of the 1987 June draft by the Oakland Athletics and ended his career in 2000 having played in the Mexican League and the Independent Western League. Today, Tinsley is the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team's minor league outfield and first base coordinator. He and his family live in Scottsdale, AZ. For more see "A's draftee ponders Purdue," Detroit Free Press, 06/04/1987, SPT section, p. 5D (the article has the incorrect height for Tinsley); Lee Tinsley, at the Arizona Diamondbacks' website; Who's Who Among African Americans, 1994-2000; and Lee Owen Tinsley at

See photo image of Lee O. Tinsley at Arizona Diamondbacks' website.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Football, Migration West
Geographic Region: Shelbyville, Shelby County, Kentucky / Scottsdale, Arizona

Turpin, William Henderson "Ben"
Birth Year : 1897
Death Year : 1962
Turpin, also known as Mr. Ben, was a police officer and a baseball fanatic who lived in Detroit, MI. According to author Richard Bak, Turpin came from Kentucky to Detroit in 1925, and he had been a shoe shine boy. Turpin had lived in Burgin, KY, and was a tanner for J. T. Huguley in Danville, KY, according to his WWI draft registration card. He was a porter at Union Station before being appointed a Detroit policeman in 1927. Turpin was a large man who kept the peace in the Black Bottom area with physical force and his two revolvers. Turpin was also a serious baseball fan, and in the 1930s he organized a team called Black Bottom under Turpin's Athletic Club. Turpin sometimes served as the team's catcher with a revolver strapped to each side of his body. William Henderson Turpin was the husband of Bessie Turpin [they are mistakenly listed as white in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census]. For more see Turkey Stearnes and the Detroit Stars, by R. Bak; In Black and White, Supplement, 3rd ed., by M. M. Spradling; "Tough Mr. Ben won respect based on fear", in Blacks in Detroit: a reprint of articles from the Detroit Free Press by S. McGehee and S. Watson, pp.72-73.
Subjects: Baseball, Migration North, Corrections and Police, Shoes: Finishers, Makers, Repairers, Shiners, Stores
Geographic Region: Burgin, Mercer County, Kentucky / Danville, Boyle County, Kentucky / Detroit, Michigan

Wallace, Richard Felix "Dick"
Birth Year : 1882
Death Year : 1925
Felix Wallace was born in Owensboro, KY, the son of Sarah J. Wallace. Felix was considered one of the greatest all-time shortstops and the best second baseman. He also played third base. Wallace's baseball career began in 1906 and ended in 1921; he first played with the Paducah Nationals and went on to play for several different teams, spending the last two years with the Hilldale Daisies. He played most of his career in the Negro League and a couple of years in the Cuban League. A consistent hitter, Wallace batted .348 in 1914. His greatest asset was his fielding. Wallace worked as a tobacco steamer when not playing baseball during the early part of his career. Felix Wallace was the husband of Georgia Wallace and the couple had a daughter, Daisy Wallace; the famly is listed in the 1910 U.S. Census, they were living on Sycamore Street in Owensboro. For more see The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, by J. A. Riley.


  See photo image of Dick Wallace and additional information at Negro Leagues Database.
Subjects: Baseball
Geographic Region: Owensboro, Daviess County, Kentucky / Paducah, McCracken County, Kentucky

Watts, Richard, Sr.
Birth Year : 1927
Death Year : 2000
Watts was born in Maben, AL, and moved to Wheelwright, KY, in the 1940s to play baseball on a mine team and to get a job. Prior to coming to Kentucky, Watts had served in the Army and played baseball with the Birmingham Black Barons. In Kentucky, he became a state mine inspector and the Martin District Supervisor of the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, retiring in 1995. Watts was also a cook known for his meals at picnics and dinners. For more see "Ex-mine inspector, ballplayer dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 08/25/2000, Obituaries section, p. B2.
Subjects: Baseball, Bakers, Cooks and Chefs, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills
Geographic Region: Maben and Birmingham, Alabama / Wheelwright, Floyd County, Kentucky

Way, James Sherman
Birth Year : 1923
Death Year : 2005
Way was born in Cynthiana, KY, the son of James and Elizabeth Lydick Way. In 1967, James Sherman Way became the first African American faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU); he was a professor of industrial technology. His children, James, Jannette, William, and Melissa, were the first African American children enrolled in the EKU Model School. Way was a graduate of Central State University and Eastern Kentucky University. He was also an athlete: he played baseball for the Lexington Hustlers and was named to the Harrison County Football Hall of Fame. For more see "James Sherman Way 1923-2005 became first black member of EKU faculty, Cynthiana native was professor of industrial technology," Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/15/2005, City&Region section, p. C3; and the James Way and Mrs. Anna Williams Way interviews in the Eastern Kentucky University Library.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Education and Educators, Football, Grade Schools & High Schools in Kentucky
Geographic Region: Cynthiana, Harrison County, Kentucky / Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky

White Sox Baseball Team (Richmond, KY)
A 1940s picture of the African American baseball team, the White Sox, from Richmond, KY, is included in the Black America Series title Berea and Madison County. The picture was taken in front of Blythe's Restaurant. The caption gives the names of most of the players. For more see Black America Series: Berea and Madison County, by J. G. Burnside.
Subjects: Baseball, Photographers, Photographs
Geographic Region: Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky

Whitney, Davey L.
Birth Year : 1930
Davey L. Whitney was born in Midway, KY. As a student at Kentucky State College [now Kentucky State University], he earned more letters as an athlete than any other student has: in basketball, baseball, football, and track. He played baseball in the Negro League. He was head coach for more than 26 years at Alcorn State University in Mississippi. In 2002, he set a career victory record as a head basketball coach (551-338) and as the head coach at Alcorn State (496-275). He was ranked among the top six active coaches and was the first to receive the NCAA Hall of Champions Journey Award. The Davey L. Whitney Complex at Alcorn State was named in his honor in 1975. Davey Whitney retired in 2003 and was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. For more see W. Barnhouse, "Dave Whitney, master of perseverance," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 02/19/2003; and R. D. Russo, "A full life, on and off the court," Black Issues in Higher Education, 4/27/2000, vol.17, issue 5, p.37.

Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Baseball, Basketball
Geographic Region: Midway, Woodford County, Kentucky / Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky / Alcorn State, Mississippi

Williams, Charles Holston
Birth Year : 1886
Death Year : 1978
Born in Camp Nelson, KY [according to his World War II draft registration card], Charles Holston Williams attended high school at Berea College until the Day Law was passed making Berea a segregated school. Williams transferred to Hampton Institute, where he finished high school and continued on to college. An outstanding student and athlete, Williams was a star baseball player at Hampton. He graduated in 1909 and the following year became the physical training director at the school. He was co-founder of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA), and as a coach, he won CIAA championships in football, basketball and wrestling. He organized physical education demonstrations with Hampton students and faculty members performing drills, gymnastics and dances for the public. He formed the Hampton Creative Dance Group, the first national touring company made up of college students. Williams is author of Cotton Needs Pickin', Characteristic Negro Folk Dances and Negro Soldiers in World War I: the human side and co-author of Sidelights on Negro Soldiers and The Race Problem. Williams retired from Hampton in 1951. He was inducted into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1975. He died in 1978, according to the Social Security Death Index. For more see African-American Concert Dance; the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, by J. O. Perpener III.

   See photo image of Charles Holston Williams and additional information at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum website.
Subjects: Athletes, Athletics, Authors, Baseball, Migration East
Geographic Region: Camp Nelson, Jessamine County, Kentucky / Berea, Madison County, Kentucky / Hampton, Virginia


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