From: Baseball Days—Dayton’s North Side Field 1922-1934
Written by Roland L. Larke, Sponsored by the Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1992
That black ball players could play the game as well as whites became apparent when such black major league teams as the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Detroit Stars, Chicago Hartford Giants, and Kansas City Monarchs came to play against major league and semi-pro teams in the Midwestern cities and towns.
In the early 1930s, Dayton’s baseball followers at North Side Field were to witness the outstanding abilities of black stars who receive dilatory recognition in baseball’s Hall of Fame. They were catcher Josh Gibson, first baseman Oscar Charleston, outfielder Cool Papa Bell, third baseman Ray Dandridge, pitcher Satchel Paige, and first baseman Buck Leonard.
A colorful list of names of other legendary black stars who appeared at North Side Field includes Larry Brown, Dewey Creacy, Bill “Sug” Cornelius, Diz Dismukes, George Giles, Judy “Ching” Johnson, Harley McNair, Pat Patterson, “Bullet Joe” Rogan, pitcher and catcher Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, George “Mule” Suttles, “Turkey” Stearns, Harry Salmon, Ted “Big Florida” Trent, Quincy Trouppe, Willie Wells, and Wu Fang Ward, a Wilberforce all-around athlete.
Diz Dismukes was an old time submarine ball pitcher who managed the Cincinnati Tigers and served as the coach for other major black professional teams.
“Bullet Joe” Rogan, whose nickname denotes his pitching ability, was on the All-Time, All Star Team.
“Turkey” Stearns was the all-time black home run leader along with “Mule” Suttles, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston. All of these men demonstrated their power hitting in games at the North Dayton park.
Two most famous promoters of black baseball were Cum Posey of the Homestead Grays and Gus Greenlee of the Pittsburgh Crawfords. Both of these teams played several games at North Side against John Shroyer’s semi-pro teams and the Class B Central and Mid Atlantic teams of Ducky Holmes.
Comparisons of the quality of black against white in the twenties, thirties and early forties have been made. It is interesting to note that even though these games were just for fun, statistics gathered indicate the high standard of play of the blacks. The won-lost record compiled by the baseball historian John B. Holway shows whites won 168 and blacks won 268 in unofficially recorded games.
It must be noted that although most newspaper accounts of visiting black teams versus whites understandably favored the white locals, on the most part the play of the black stars received mere token coverage.
Holway’s accounts on black baseball illustrate the travail of black barnstorming teams as they roamed the south and Midwest.
Transportation was by bus or by private auto. Shabby overnight lodging was common in smaller cities with limited accommodations for blacks. In Dayton, the Westside YMCA … rooming houses, and private homes opened their doors to these teams.
On a humorous note, one resourceful professional black team manager traveling in southern towns with their limited overnight accommodations had his team bedded in reception rooms of the local funeral director.
Black Baseball Players in Dayton
Baseball games in Dayton in the 1920s and 1930s involved either two all-white teams or, on occasion, an all-white team versus an all-black team. Intermingling of races on teams was inconceivable.
A rivalry ensued between West Side florist John Mathew’s semi-pro Marcos and the Shroyers, sponsored by the downtown sporting goods store owner John Shroyer, in games either at Westwood Field or at North Side Field. Two other local black teams were the Monarchs and the Colored Men’s Improvement Association team, or the CMIAs.
The North Dayton park with its sheltered stand and larger seating capacity became the enticement for John Shroyer to invite major league black teams to Dayton in 1931.
For more information on players in the Negro Leagues, see Significant Figures in the right navigation bar.