MN Black History Salute: The Legacy Of Blacks In Baseball

The Uptown Sanitary Shop baseball team of St. Paul circa 1930-1939. (Photo by A.P. Rhodes)
The Uptown Sanitary Shop baseball team of St. Paul circa 1930-1939. (Photo by A.P. Rhodes)

By MSR News

In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing short clips highlighting the legacy and history of Blacks in Minnesota. This week, we salute the oft-invisible Black baseball players who found their place in history despite widespread racism and segregation.

Long before the Twins made Minnesota a major league stop, the state was home to countless talented Black baseball players. Yet few of them are known to today’s fans.

“There were so many multi-sport guys who played America’s pastime, but because of segregated baseball, no one was looking at these guys or even attempted to recruit them,” said Frank White, Minnesota Twins’ RBI program coordinator and author of They Played for the Love of the Game. “They were invisible to organized baseball.”

White’s book highlights those Black players through photos, artifacts, and spoken histories. It also features his late father, Louis, who was one of the top catchers in the Twin Cities in his day.

“My father in the ’40s was recruited by the [Kansas City] Monarchs. He had an offer from the New York Yankees,” White told the MSR. “He would’ve been before Elston Howard [as the team’s first Black player]. His [high school] batting average for the St. Paul City Conference is still a record even though it was made way back in 1946.”

Louis White was inducted into Minnesota’s softball hall of fame. “In talking with people who knew my father, he was first of all an outstanding athlete, and he was an outstanding baseball player and later a fast-pitch softball player,” said Frank.

For more information, visit minnesotablackbaseball.com.

Excerpted from “New book revives lost stories of Black baseball in MN,” by MSR contributor Charles Hallman. Read the full story at bit.ly/2DFwmuT.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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