Feb 13, 2020 - Sports

The Negro National League's lasting legacy, 100 years on

Rube Foster (center) and the Chicago American Giants

Rube Foster (center) and the Chicago American Giants. Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images

100 years ago Thursday, the Negro National League was founded by former pitcher and executive Rube Foster.

Why it matters: The NNL became the first Negro league to achieve stability and last more than one season. It "proved that African American players could play on even terms with their white counterparts — and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • League champions: The Chicago American Giants won five titles (1920, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927), the Kansas City Monarchs won four (1923, 1924, 1925, 1929) and the St. Louis Stars won three (1928, 1930, 1931).
  • Colored World Series: From 1924 through 1927, the NNL winner met the champion of the rival Eastern Colored League in the Colored World Series, with the American Giants going 2-0 and the Monarchs going 1-1.

The big picture: The financial hardships of the Great Depression forced the NNL to shut down, but the league would resurface in 1937 as the Negro American League, featuring many of the same teams from the NNL days.

  • 10 years later, in 1947, the Monarchs' very own Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier.
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