THE DAYTON MARCOS: FROM THE FLOOD OF 1913 TO THE DRAGONS OF 2000
by Margaret E. Peters
“The best team in Dayton in their time! One of the fastest colored teams in this part of the country!” (Bernstein, 69-70). These are only two of the phrases used to describe the Dayton Marcos, one of eight teams in the National Negro Baseball Association that was organized in Kansas City in February 1920.
During the days of segregation, the National Negro League was the major league for black players. The Dayton Marcos, managed by John Matthews, played their first game on June 12, 1920. They played the Chicago Giants at Westwood Field on Western Avenue, which is now James H. McGee Boulevard. As many as 2,000 people turned out for some of the games at Westwood. James Rader scored the game at Westwood during which Satchel Paige pitched against the Marcos. Bill Ellis remembers going to games at this field. The Marcos also played at Burkham Park and Ducks Field. In 1920 a game between the Marcos and the Kansas City Monarchs at Association Park drew 11,000 fans.
Before 1920, the Marcos were the only black team in the Ohio-Indiana League. One of the best-known members of the team was Bill Sloan, a hero of the 1913 flood. “W. G. Sloan, the well-known colored ball player, was in the rescue work continuously from Tuesday morning until Friday on the West Side. He took the Caleb family of five persons from a raft on which they had been floating, tossed in the heaving and rushing waters for 48 hours. With Frank Thoro and George Crandall helping, Sloan saved 317 people during 68 hours of continuous work. He carried five cans of fresh water. Most of the rescue work was done with a steel bottom boat which he commandeered at the point of a revolver from a selfish owner at the handle factory, who was not using it himself and refused to allow it to be used by the rescuers” (Bernstein, 69).
Unfortunately, the media did not cover the Marcos well. We have a few small articles telling us that they played teams such as the Cuban Stars of Havana and the Davis Machine Company, but no complete records of the games they played.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Stokes, who was the Marcos’ water boy, as well as Marcos team member Chester Blanchard, Carol Earley and Jean Earley Tripp. They are the daughters of Bill Earley, whose son also played for the Dayton Marcos. Other members of the 1920 team included Slim Branham, George Britt, George Brown, Clarence Coleman, Eddie DeWitt, G. E. Gray, Bruce Hocker, William “Wise” Johnson, I. S. Lane, Edward “Boots” McClain, Mitch Murray, Hurland Ragland, Curtiss Ricks and Candy Jim Taylor.
The team played one year in the National Negro League before the franchise was shifted to Columbus. In 1926 the team came back for half a season. After that, the team often barnstormed and lasted until the 1940s. It was during this time that Curtis “Bingo” Lloyd became a member of the team. Lloyd also played with Chicago’s American Giants, hit off Satchel Paige and, as a brash youngster, called off “Cool Papa” Bell from a fly ball during a tryout with the Kansas City Monarchs. Mr. Lloyd also worked with Mrs. Miley O. Williamson of the Dayton NAACP to desegregate city golf courses. In 2000 Mr. Lloyd threw out the first pitch at the Dayton Dragons game. The Dayton Dragons wore shirts of the teams in the National Negro League, whose members included the Dayton Marcos.
Daytonian Margaret Peters is the author of The Ebony Book of Black Achievement (Johnson Publishers, 1970); Goin’ Up Yonder, in Miami Valley History: A Journal of the Montgomery County Historical Society, May 1989; and Dayton’s African American Heritage: A Pictorial History, (The Donning Company Publishers, 1995). A teacher for thirty years in the Dayton Public Schools, she also taught black history at Central State University West and Sinclair Community College. The recipient of many honors and awards, she serves as president of the Dayton Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
Archdeacon, Tom. “A Living Link to baseball’s past: Negro League veteran Curtis “Bingo” Lloyd will throw out the first pitch at today’s Dayton Dragons game,” Dayton Daily News, May 14, 2000, pages 1A +
Baker, Wayne. “Gem City sluggers,” Impact Weekly, February 3-9, 2000, pages 8-10
Bernstein, Mark. “In Search of the Well-Known Colored Ball Player,” Ohio Magazine, April 1988, pages 69+
Blanchard, Chester. Interview, May 10, 1994
“Cuban Stars vs. Marcos,” Dayton Forum, August 15, 1919
Dixon, Phil with Patrick J. Hannigan. The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History.
Mattituck, NY: Amereon Ltd., 1992
Earley, Carol. Interview, February 5, 2004
Ellis, Bill. Interview, January 3, 2004
Goodwin, Julia. “Marcos played in Negro League,” Dayton Daily News, March 6, 1994
Katz, Marc. “Dayton’s major league team,” Dayton Daily News, August 23, 1974
Negro League Baseball Players Association, Dayton Marcos. www.nlbpa.com
Rader, James. “More Than 50,000 Echo in His Books,” Dayton Daily News, August 23, 1974
Tripp, Jean Earley. Interview, February 6, 2004