Hate Watch: From Celebrating the Negro Leagues Centennial to Racial Slurs and Swastikas


I have disappointing news to share -- our good friends at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center were the target of a hate crime this past weekend (Sunday, September 20, 2020).

According to ABC15, "Police are investigating after racial slurs and swastikas were spray-painted on the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center in Phoenix. The vandalism was discovered Sunday on the fence and ground in front of the building.

"The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is a historical preservation site that is dedicated to the Collection, Documentation, Preservation, Study, and Dissemination of the History and Culture of Africans and Americans of African Descent in Arizona."


News like this is always disturbing, but it is especially heartbreaking given that we are still in the midst of celebrating the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial. 

Earlier this year (February 29), the Carver Museum opened their doors to the greater community to host the Arizona Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Celebration. It was an honor to be a part of this special event. 

Photo: (left to right) Barbara Crane (seated), Ruth Ann Franklin, Bill Staples, Jr., Dorothy "Dottie" Battiest (seated), Princess Crump, Charlie Vascellaro, and Sylvia Bonner.

And while the COVID-19 pandemic might have temporarily closed the museum, it did not stop our Negro Leagues Celebration in Arizona throughout the season. 

FOX SPORTS AZ featured the related Arizona Negro Leagues exhibit at the Carver Museum during Jackie Robinson weekend, August 28. See clip below. 

With all of this in mind, the Carver Museum was generous in their support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial in Arizona, please show your generosity -- and solidarity with them -- by supporting the "Rise Together with Carver" campaign.

Thank you. 

Pride of the Negro Leagues: Country Charley Pride & Jackie Robinson

For country singer Charley Pride, baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was a larger than life figure. “Jackie Robinson looked to me as if he was 11 feet tall,” Pride said in a 1986 interview. 

When Robinson bravely crossed the color line in 1947, he inspired young Charley to pursue a career in professional baseball. “I saw Jackie Robinson go into the major leagues, and I told my dad that this was my way out of the cotton fields.” 

Charley Frank Pride was born March 18, 1934, in Sledge, Mississippi. He was one of 11 children who worked the family farm picking cotton. His older brother Mack (born in 1932) shared the same baseball ambitions. 

But Charley Pride’s baseball dream was bigger than just making it to the big leagues, he wanted to be an impact player. “I think every kid has a dream … (but) my dream was to go into the major leagues, break all the records, and set new ones by the time I was 35 or 36, THEN go sing. That was my plan,” said Pride. 

“When they said, ‘who hit the most home runs?’ the answer was not Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron – Charley Pride. ‘Who was the last .400 hitter?’ Not Ted Williams – Charley Pride. That’s what I wanted to do. I dreamed, slept, eat, breathed it (baseball).”

Like many aspiring ball players, Pride’s big-league dreams did not come true. “I played in the old Negro League, right behind Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron … when I cracked my elbow, my wife says, ‘you’re not gonna make the majors,’ she was right.”

His baseball career lasted 11 years, 1953-1964, with four of those seasons played with military and semi-pro teams.

He signed his first professional contract in 1953 with the Boise Yankees in the NY Yankees farm system, and his last pro contract in 1960 with the Missoula Jacks in Montana, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. 

Throughout his career, Charley played with several Negro Leagues teams including the Memphis Red Sox, Louisville Clippers, Birmingham Black Barons, and Memphis Chiefs. During his years in the Negro Leagues, he was named an All-Star twice, 1956 and 1958. Below is a comprehensive, although possibly incomplete, list of Charley’s teams:

Name: Charley Frank Pride

Positions: Pitcher, OF, SS, 2B

Throws: Right

Bats: Both

Year, Team (notes)

  • 1953 - Boise Yankees (signed in April)
  • 1953 - Fond du Lac Panthers (Class D WI State League; traded in May)
  • 1953 - Memphis Red Sox (August) 
  • 1954 - Louisville Clippers (May)
  • 1954 - Birmingham Black Barons (July)
  • 1954 - Negro All-Stars (vs. Major League All-Stars, October)
  • 1955 - El Paso Texans & Yaquis in Nogales, Mexico (April) | Note: Article with photo
  • 1956 - Memphis Red Sox (May) (All-Star - transitioned to knuckle ball pitcher)
  • 1956 - Willie Mays All-Star Barnstorming Tour (Negro League All-Stars)
  • 1956 – Military draft (late 1956) Fort Chaffee, AR; Fort Carson, CO.
  • 1957-1958 - Fort Carson Mountaineers (July) | Note: Discharged in early ’58.
  • 1958 - Memphis Chiefs (July)
  • 1958 - East-West All-Star Game (August) Note: Starter for West All-Stars.
  • 1959 - Memphis Red Sox (May) Note: Opening day starter.
  • 1960 - Missoula Jacks (MT) (April) – Note: Plays ball and sings 
  • 1961-1964 - East Helena Smelterites – Note: Starts booking in 1963

1956 Willie Mays All-Star Barnstorming Tour

On the official Charley Pride website, the singer lists his participation in the 1956 Willie Mays All-Stars barnstorming tour as a career highlight. "As an all-star player in 1956, Charley played against a group of major-league players (the Willie Mays All‑Stars) that included Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. At the end of the season, these teams barnstormed together all over the south playing exhibition games that the major-league all-stars almost always won. However, one October night in Victoria, TX, Charley sealed a rare victory for the negro-league all-stars by closing out a game with 4 innings of shutout ball."

The Pinnacle of Pride - The 1958 East-West All Star Game 

Given that Jackie Robinson was the childhood inspiration for Charley to pursue a career in professional baseball, it is a safe assumption on my part that the greatest on-field moment for Pride was the 1958 East-West All Star Game. Held on Sunday, August 24 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the East All-Stars were comprised of the top players from the Detroit Clowns and Birmingham Black Barons. The West All-Stars were made up of the top players from the Kansas City Monarchs and Memphis Red Sox. West manager Rufus Ligon (photo below) selected his ace, Charley Pride, as the starter for his squad. Sporting an 8-3 record on the mound, Pride was having one of the best seasons of his career – and this was just months after being discharged from the military. 

Jackie Robinson, 1958

 And if being named the starter of the all-star game was not honor enough, Pride was able to perform with his childhood idol watching from the stands. Organizers for the game had invited Jackie Robinson to throw out the first pitch, as the game was dedicated to the Negro League stars of yesteryear. Joining Jackie in the first-pitch ceremony was Bingo DeMoss (below), who caught Robinson’s throw.  

Based on the box score that appeared the next day in the Chicago Tribune, Charley Pride had a great game. He faced 13 batters in three innings of work, allowing no runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out one. He also went 1-for-1 at the plate. 

Charley left the game after three innings of work with a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately, the number two pitcher Aubrey Grigsby gave up a three-run home run to Birmingham outfielder Brown Jackson. The East All-Stars finished with 4 runs in the 6th inning and the West never recovered. The final score: East All-Stars 4 – West All-Stars 2. A no-decision for starting pitcher Charley Pride. 

After the 1959 season with the Memphis Red Sox, Charley gave the majors one final shot. He paid his way to travel to Montana to tryout with the Missoula Jacks, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. He impressed the coaches and made the team. Ironically, “Big Sky Country” is where the transformation of Charley Pride the baseball player to Charley Pride the country singer took place.

During the 1960 season, the ball club leveraged Charley’s talents as a singer and had him perform at team events. And by 1963, he was booking gigs in small clubs and restaurants like the Rainbow Inn (advertisement below).

Charley Pride, 1961-1963, East Helena Smelterites

Charley Pride removed his baseball uniform after the 1963 season, and by 1966 he released his first single “The Snakes Crawl at Night” – released with no photo of Pride, a decision made by studio executives, as they wanted his talent to stand on its own. And it did. His music career skyrocketed. To some extent, Pride felt a career in music was his destiny. Years later he confessed, “When I was growing up on the farm in Mississippi, an old fella once told me, 'Have you ever thought that no matter how good a ballplayer you are, you weren't put on this planet to play ball? It's not for you. You’re here to sing.” 

And sing he did. Today, Charley Pride is one of the most respected singers in country music. He is the winner of three Grammys and has sold more records for RCA records than anyone not named Elvis Presley. According to his official website, “many of Pride’s other honors clearly underscore his impact on American Music. In 1994, he was honored by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) with its prestigious Pioneer Award. In 2000, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. And in 2017, The Recording Academy®, renowned for its GRAMMY® awards, honored Charley with a Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Aside from his impeccable singing and great storytelling through song, Pride is recognized as a pioneer for breaking into the predominantly white world of country music as an African American. But Pride is reluctant to compare himself to his childhood hero. 

“When I first started, reporters would ask, ‘Charley, how does it feel to be the Jackie Robinson of country music?’ Charley would respond, “I’m Charley Pride, the staunch American.” He continued, “The difference between Jackie Robinson and Charley Pride is that Jackie Robinson was specifically picked to go to the Dodgers and break barriers. Nobody came to me.”

“Branch Rickey called Jackie the N-word … he said, ‘The reason I said that is because you’re going to hear that a lot, but what you gonna do about it?’ You’re going to take the baseball, and the bat, and you’re not going to say anything, because if you don’t make, ain’t nobody else gonna make it.”

“Nobody sat me down and said, ‘Charley N-word, you’re gonna go break down barriers. I’m here by choice.” 

Pride is quick to point another significant difference between him and Robinson. Charley Pride never faced overt racism from his peers or his fans. The stage was his sanctuary. Off the stage was another story. 

“People say, man, you must have had it really rough.’ But I didn’t. Now, I can tell you some FUNNY things, but not TOUGH … like Jackie Robinson. They put a black cat on the field, they signed a petition saying they wouldn’t play with him and all that. None of that (happen to me). Not one of my peers (in country music) has ever said a harsh word to me or called me (anything racist).

I got out of the army in 1958. I had a son. He was so hungry that I stopped at a store to buy him some milk – in my own home state (of Mississippi) – and I had to get someone to go into the store to get a carton of milk for him because I could not go up and get it myself.” 

Charley Pride’s Legacy – in Music & Baseball

When people ask Charley what his favorite song is, he responds, “It’s the one I’m singing at that moment.” 

And when asked about his legacy, he says, “I would like people to say that he loved what he did, singing. And I do. I try to go on stage and give 110 percent every time I go on – and I think I’m a pretty good fella. If I get that much, that will be enough for me.” 

The Charley Pride baseball scrapbook – the archive of digitized newspapers available online – suggests that he might have several baseball highlights that he wouldn’t mind being remembered for. 

In 1974, Charley was invited to spring training with the Texas Rangers. At age 40, he still had the baseball itch and it needed to be scratched. Rangers' manager Billy Martin placed Charley in the lineup as DH for a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Pride went one-for-two against 1973 Cy Young winner and future Hall of Famer, Jim Palmer. After the game, Martin joked that “the ball was 'laid in' for Charley because Palmer likes country and western music.” 

And of course, we should remember the summer of 1958, when Charley was named the starting pitcher for the West All-Stars, pitched three shutout innings, went 1-for-1 at the plate, and left the game as the winning pitcher of record – all while his childhood idol, Jackie Robinson, sat in the stands and watched him perform. What a thrill that must have been for Charley Pride, the starry-eyed baseball player from Sledge, Mississippi – a  “Mississippi Cotton Picking Delta Town.” 

For the Negro Leagues Centennial Celebration – Let’s Celebrate Charley

Charley Pride will celebrate his 87th birthday next year on May 18, 2021. For both the Negro Leagues Centennial and his birthday, I would encourage all baseball and country music fans to join the Charley Pride Fan Club

A one‐year membership to the Charley Pride Fan Club costs $18 and it entitles you to an autographed / personalized 8 X 10 photo from Charley, a Charley Pride fan club badge, quarterly newsletters, access to concert meet‐n‐greet passes (when available) and other special benefits.  

UPDATE (Dec. 12, 2020):

I joined the Charley Pride Fan Club shortly after writing this blog post, and in late November 2020 received the package below. Then today I read the news that Charley passed away in Texas, and due to complications from COVID-19. Like all of his fans, I am saddened by the news. But I am glad that I got to know him a little better through the research behind this post, honored to be a member of his fan club, and will cherish the personalized autographed photo. What a great life he lived -- he really did "Get it Done with Pride." 


  • Video: Charley Pride On Strombo: Full Interview | LINK
  • Video: Charlie Pride: You Need Country, Gospel and Soul to Make American Music | CNBC | LINK
  • Video: Pro baseball and picking cotton: Charley Pride's life before country music | LINK
  • Article: Pride of the Rangers, The Miami News, Mar 16, 1978, Page 100. | LINK

Jackie Robinson, Registered Independent, Renounces "Racist" Republican Party in 1968

William F. Buckley Jr. (1925 - 2008) was an American public intellectual and conservative author and commentator. In 1955, Buckley founded National Review, a magazine that "stimulated the conservative movement in the U.S. during the late-20th century." 

In August 1968 Buckley wrote a critical editorial about Jackie Robinson, who had just announced that he would no long support the Republican Party because they nominated Richard Nixon. Robinson supported Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican Primary.

Below are a few excerpts from Buckley’s editorial titled, “On the Right.” Most noteworthy is the fact that Buckley researched Robinson’s political party affiliation and discovered that the former baseball star was a REGISTERED INDEPENDENT and had been since 1956


“Jackie Robinson, the former baseball star, is in the news for having bolted against the Republican Party in protest against the selection of Richard Nixon as presidential candidate. Mr. Robinson’s renunciation was done on television (saying) “we … can’t tolerate a ticket which is racist in nature.”


He (Robinson) threatened that “If Nixon wins, people will be so frustrated there will be the most horrible riots in all our major cities."


“The gentleman (Robinson) is a philosophical moron, whose most distinctive public service would consist of going back to elementary school. There he would be precisely taught that racism consist precisely in such statements as he made over television (“I am first a black man, second an American, third a Republican”).


"Republicans might take minor comfort in my discovering that since he built this home in Stamford in 1956, the he has never registered as a Republican, but as an Independent; and indeed, his principal usefulness has been all long to the Democratic Party.”


Click here to read the full article. 

Where Did Ernie Play? Mr. Cub’s Career Before Chicago

Before Opening Day, Texas Rangers’s beat reporter Levi Weaver wrote about the team honoring the Centennial of the Negro Leagues (1920-2020). At the time, the Rangers played a three-game intrasquad scrimmage series at the new Globe Life Ballpark under the names of two legendary black baseball teams in Texas – the Dallas Black Giants and the Fort Worth Wonders.

The idea was Josh Shelton’s, the Rangers’ director of team travel. He was inspired by the ‘Tip Your Cap‘ campaign for the Negro Leagues’ 100th Anniversary and stumbled across the Black Giants during an internet search. He was drawn to “the cool story about Ernie Banks playing for them when he was in high school.”

But reporter Levi Weaver had his doubts about that claim. He wrote:

“That’s the legend, anyway: that a high-school-aged Ernie Banks played for a later iteration of the Dallas Black Giants while attending Booker T. Washington High School. There’s a book that makes the claim; it’s even on Banks’ Wikipedia page: “While still in high school, Banks joined the Dallas Black Giants, a semi-pro baseball team, in 1949.” But the reference link is broken, and — given that Banks was playing for a barnstorming team out of Detroit in 1948-49 — it’s more likely that it was his dad Eddie Banks who played for the Dallas Black Giants. As late as 1947, the elder Banks was still playing for the Dallas Green Monarchs. In the end, neither outcome ruins the story. Either a Hall of Famer or a Hall of Famer’s dad played for the team.”


I assisted Weaver with the research for his article, so I must confess that some of his speculation reflects my own. But curious minds want to know, so I took a deeper research dive to answer the question, “Where exactly Did Ernie Play before he joined the Chicago Cubs in 1953?” I hit the online newspaper archives and Ancestry.com, and here’s what I discovered:

Ernie Banks’ Teams Prior to the Chicago Cubs (1947-1953)



Source/Proof of Team Association

1947 & 1948

Moorland YMCA - Softball

“Returns to YMCA: Shortstop Ernie Banks Briefs Youth on Game,” Dallas Morning News, February 22, 1959, S1 p.15. | LINK


Detroit Senators
based in Amarillo, TX

“Black Hubbers Meet Detroit Today,” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, June 27, 1948, p.13. | LINK


Booker T. Washington High - Bulldogs
Fall, Football

“Washington Eleven Bids for Final Berth Tonight,” Dallas Morning News, December 4, 1948, S2, p.4. | LINK


Dallas Black Giants
Beginning of summer

“Negro Club Opens with Amarillo 9.” Dallas Morning News, May 1, 1949, p.5. | LINK


Amarillo Colts
Remainder of summer

Ernest Banks, Professional Baseball Weiss Questionnaire, 1953 | LINK

Note: Despite the fact that the Amarillo Colts is the team most frequently referenced as Ernie’s team prior to joining the Monarchs, I was unable to locate a Colts article from 1949 listing Banks.


Booker T. Washington High - Bulldogs
Fall, Football

“Booker T. Defeats Waco Team, 12-2,” Dallas Morning News, October 27, 1949, p.9. | LINK


Booker T. Washington High - Bulldogs

Spring, Basketball

June graduation - Listed as Edgar E. Banks (pg 3 of PDF)

“Lincoln Tigers Claw Booker T. Five, 43-29,” Dallas Morning News, February 8, 1950, p.8. | LINK

“1,201 Students Given Diplomas,” Dallas Morning News, June 2, 1950, pg.3. | LINK


Kansas City Monarchs

“Giants to Oppose Monarchs in NAL Game Here Tonight,” The Journal Herald, July 14, 1950, p.11. | LINK


Indianapolis Clowns Banks joined the Clowns during the 1950 Jackie Robinson Barnstorming All-Stars series

“Hot Stove League Notes,” The Plaindealer, October 27, 1950, p.4. | LINK

“Clowns Edge Jackie's Stars in Series, 7-5,” Philadelphia Tribune, November 25, 1950, p11. | LINK

“Big Leaguers Pep Clowns' Dixie Tour,” The Cleveland Call and Post, November 25, 1950, pg.1-D. | LINK

1951 & 1952

Military Service

“Bruins Buy Star Negro Shortstop,” Mt. Vernon Register-News (Mt Vernon, IL), September 8, 1953, pg.6. | LINK


Kansas City Monarchs

“Monarchs Trip Clowns,” The Kansas City Times, April 24, 1953, pg. 26. | LINK


Chicago Cubs

Sold to Cubs - Sept 8

“Two Monarchs to Cubs,” The Kansas City Star, Sep 8, 1953, p.14. | LINK


Eddie Banks (1894-1978)
Ernie’s father, Eddie Banks, was a
semipro pitcher and catcher with several teams, including:

       Black Orphans, Marshall, TX

       Oklahoma City, OK

       Tulsa, OK

       Black Buffaloes, Houston, TX

       Black Giants, Dallas, TX

Eddie was born in Marshall, Texas, on Dec 15, 1894, which tells us that his prime playing years were between 1910 to 1934 (ages 16 to 40).

So far, I have not been able to locate an original box score documenting Eddie Banks as a pitcher or catcher with any of the above teams/cities during his prime-playing years.

That said, from my previous research on early Texas Negro Leagues baseball, I know that it was common for player nicknames to be printed in the newspapers instead of their birth names. Thus, it is possible that Eddie Banks played semipro ball under an assumed identity/nickname. At this time, we don’t really know for sure.

Note: I do know that the reference of Eddie Banks competing with the Dallas Green Monarchs in 1947 that I shared with Levi Weaver was a case of mistaken identity. Upon closer inspection, this 1947 reference is not him, but a player named Banks in the Austin area in the 1940s.

Bill Blair (1921-2014)
Blair’s brief bio fromWikipedia:

William "Bill" Blair (October 17, 1921 – April 20, 2014) was a Negro league pitcher. Blair graduated Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas and briefly attended Prairie View A&M University. He began his baseball career at the age of 16, playing for a barnstorming team in Mineola, Texas, and went on to join the United States Army, where he became the youngest African American to serve as a first sergeant in the Army during World War II. He pitched from 1946 to 1951, for teams including the Indianapolis Clowns, Cincinnati Crescents, and was a player-manager for the Dallas Black Giants. He played against players such as Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, and Hilton Smith. After retiring from baseball, he became a fixture in the community, running a local newspaper, the Elite News, and organizing golf tournaments and parades. He died in Campbell, Texas in 2014.

Here’s a more detailed (and most likely incomplete) list of the Blair’s teams:

       1939 Mineola Black Spiders | LINK

       1940 Booker T. Washington High | LINK (race against Jesse Owens)

       1940 Dallas Green Monarchs | LINK

       1943 Dallas Green Monarchs | LINK

       1946 Cincinnati Crescents (Apr) | LINK

       1946 Amarillo Red Sox (Aug) | LINK (team managed by Johnnie Carter)*

       1947 Detroit Senators (May) | LINK (team managed by Johnnie Carter -- Blair introduced Ernie Banks to Johnnie Carter in 1948, which led to Carter inviting the then 17-year old softball player to join the barnstorming Detroit Senators.)

       1947 Dallas Green Monarchs (Sep) | LINK

       1948 Indianapolis Clowns | LINK

       1949 Dallas Black Giants | LINK

       1948-1951 -- It’s reported that Blair pitched a no-hitter in Denver’s Mile High Stadium. That ballpark opened in 1948 as Bears Stadium, and Blair says his final year in baseball was 1951. A record of his no-hitter has not been located yet, but I am listing it here as a lead for other baseball historians to pursue.)

Photo: Bill Blair, circa 1996

James “Cool Papa” Bell & William “Dizzy” Dismukes

In the baseball lore of how Banks came to join the KC Monarchs is a game in which James “Cool Papa” Bell was impressed with the young shortstop after watching him in action on the field. In May 1949, the Monarchs defeated the Colts, 6 to 5, in Lubbock, Texas.

This game would be the final time the two clubs battled that season, making it the last opportunity for Bell to have witnessed Banks play on a diamond. Despite this legendary tale involving “Cool Papa”, Banks is not mentioned in any of the pre- or post-game series reports. 

The Monarchs defeated the Colts, 7 to 4 a week earlier at Oiler Park, Odessa, TX. None of the former Dallas Black Giants -- Banks, Foot Parker, Curtis Searcy -- were mentioned in this post-game recap either, suggesting that the match-up in Lubbock is the first time for Banks and his teammates to join the Amarillo Colts and compete against the Monarchs.

And finally, it is a common misperception that Buck O’Neil signed Ernie Banks (to both the Monarchs and the Cubs). It was not Buck. Instead, that credit goes to William “Dizzy” Dismukes, a former Negro Leagues pitcher who served as a scout for the Monarchs in the early 1950s. See details below:

Source: The Pittsburgh Courier, Aug 13, 1955, p. 12.

Banks confirms that is was indeed Dizzy Dismukes who signed him, when he completing his Professional Baseball Weiss Questionnaire in 1953.