Not only was he an intelligent pitcher, but Rube Foster was the founder of the National Negro Leagues. When he played for the Cuban X-Giants, they only endured one loss in 1903. Foster also helped the Philadelphia Giants win two championships. He became a playing manager for the Leland Giants in 1907 and created his own team soon after. His team allegedly had a 128-6 overall record. Foster managed another winning team called the Chicago American Giants before organizing the Negro Leagues in 1920.
Renowned pitcher Robert LeRoy “Satchel” Paige began playing for the Negro National Leagues in 1927 with the Birmingham Black Barons. He played for the Nashville Elite Giants and the Pittsburg Crawfords before playing for a White semi-pro team. He traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico to play baseball. In the Dominican Republic, he led the Ciudad Trujillo team to a championship. In 1939, he joined the Kansas City Monarchs where he helped them win four consecutive Negro American League pennants. Paige pitched in five East-West All-Star games and two Negro World Series, it is estimated that he pitched in 2,600 games, had 300 shutouts and 55 no-hitter matches. He became a Major League baseball player in 1948.
Called “the Black Babe Ruth,” Gibson was well known for his batting skill. He reportedly hit 962 home runs during his career. He played for the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburg Crawfords; he also spent a brief stint in the Mexican League. Gibson played in the Puerto Rican winter league, where he was named Most Valuable Player for batting a .479 average. He became a nine-time East-West All-Star. In his first season with the Grays, he had a .441 batting average. He helped the Grays become one of the best Negro League teams in history. The Grays earned two consecutive years in 1943-44.
His teammates heralded him as the “greatest outfielder that ever lived” due to his speed and batting skill. With a .360 batting average, Charleston helped the Indianapolis ABC’s win a championship. During a span of 60 league games in 1921, Charleston made 15 homeruns, 35 stolen bases and had a .434 battling average. That season, he led the league in several stats including doubles, triples, and stolen bases. Even as a playing manager, Charleston put up strong numbers with a .411 batting average while leading the league in home runs.
Moses Fleetwood Walker
Credited as the first Black athlete to play in the major leagues, color lines were not implemented at the time. In 1884, he played for the Toledo Blue Stockings. Walker played with Newark of the International League. During that season, Walker stole 36 bases and had a .263 batting average. In 1885, he played in the Western League with Cleveland.
Cool Papa Bell
James Thomas “Cool Papa” Bell was praised as the fastest man in baseball history. He was discovered by the St. Louis Stars, he knew how to throw different pitches. He played with three of the best Negro League teams: the Pittsburg Crawfords, the St. Louis Stars, and the Homestead Grays. Game attendees had witnessed him steal two bases with one pitch and beating a throw to first base, attesting to his speed. Bell also played in different countries, accompanying Satchel Paige to play in Santo Domingo. Mexico was another destination, he competed for four summers. In his second season, Bell received an All-Star nod. During the winter, he was in Cuba where he had a .292 batting average.