Negro Leagues Vintage Bobbleheads

In 2020, the Negro Leagues is celebrating its 100th Anniversary, and bobbleheads are the perfect way to celebrate, commemorate and educate current and future generations about the Negro Leagues!

Starting in 1960, generic bobbleheads featuring every MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA team were produced and quickly became popular collectibles. However, vintage bobbleheads of the Negro Leagues teams have never been produced…until now!

Learn more about the teams featured in the Negro Leagues Vintage Bobblehead Series and order your bobbleheads here while they last.

Baltimore Elite Giants

Franchise History: 1938-1950

Pennants (2): 1939 and 1949

Negro League World Series Championships: None

Tom Wilson owned the Elite (pronounced EE-light) Giants, who were a perennial runner-up to the Homestead Grays in the Negro National League II. The organization started in Nashville in 1920 as the Standard Giants and were renamed the Elite Giants in 1921 and enjoyed a 10-year run before moving to Cleveland in 1931 when they were rebranded as the Cubs. The team returned to Nashville as the Elite Giants in search of a larger fan base in 1932. This was followed by moves to Columbus (1935), Washington, D.C. (1936-1937), and, finally, Baltimore (1938-1950). In 1936, the Elite Giants were one of three Negro Leagues teams, along with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays, who combined to form the Negro League All-Stars team, which participated in and won the prestigious Denver Post Tournament. The team, managed by Elite Giants

Birmingham Black Barons

Franchise History: 1920-1960

Pennants (3): 1943, 1944 and 1948

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The Black Barons grew out of the American Cast Iron Pipe Company team in an industrial league based in Birmingham, Ala.  They were considered a feeder (minor league) team to the Negro League before joining the Negro National League in 1924. Dropped back down to minor league status and playing in the Negro Southern League, they again joined the Negro National League from 1927-1930 with the star power of a young and emerging pitcher, Satchel Paige.

The Black Barons played at Rickwood Field as did their white counterparts the Birmingham Barons.  Rickwood Field, built in 1910 is the oldest professional baseball stadium in the United States. The Black Barons played in the last Negro League World Series in 1948 with another emerging star, Willie Mays.

Chicago American Giants

Franchise History: 1910-1956

Pennants (7): 1920, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927, 1932 and 1933

Negro League World Series Championships (2): 1926 and 1927

Rube Foster, the architect of African-American baseball, founded the Chicago American Giants. In 1910, Foster took control of the Leland Giants from its owner, Frank Leland. Foster, the team’s manager, kept the Leland Giants’ name that first season and retained many of its key players – Pete Hill, Pop Lloyd, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Bruce Petway and Frank Wickware.  Foster renamed the team the American Giants in 1911.  From 1910-1927, the American Giants dominated black baseball under the guidance of Foster and “Gentleman” Dave Malarcher, his top lieutenant. Their dominance continued in the Negro National League, founded by Foster, as they won the league’s first three pennants.

In 1911, the American Giants began playing in Schorling Park, former home of Charles Comiskey’s Chicago White Sox. John Schorling, Comiskey’s son-in-law, leased the park from Comiskey and became Foster’s business partner. Scholring Park remained their home until 1940.

Detroit Stars

Franchise History: 1919-1931

Pennants: None

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The Detroit Stars formed in 1919 and were likely the best team in black baseball that season. They were owned by John “Tenny” Blount, a numbers racketeer, and Rube Foster, owner of the Chicago American Giants and founder of the Negro National League. In 1920, the Stars joined the Negro National League as a charter franchise. The Stars were a solid, if not championship-caliber squad, led by slugging outfielder Turkey Stearnes and left-handed pitcher Andy Cooper.

The Stars played their home games in Mack Park until July of 1929. Eager to avoid a cancelled series with the Kansas City Monarchs due to heavy rains, Mack Park owner John Roesink had his grounds crew pour gasoline on the field with the intent of igniting it to dry out the diamond. Instead, the fire spread to the wooden grandstands, burning them to the ground. None of the spectators gathered for the game died although more than 200 were reported injured. The Stars finished their season at Dequindre Park before moving to Hamtramck Stadium for the 1930 season.


Franchise History: 1910-1932

Pennants (3): 1923, 1924 and 1925

Negro League World Series Championships (1): 1924

The Hilldale club was founded by Ed Bolden and played out of Darby, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. The club grew out of the Hilldale Athletic Club, a boys’ amateur baseball club. Bolden took them to the professional level and recruited many top players locally as well as from Negro National League clubs.

Bolden feuded with Rube Foster of the Negro National League over respecting each other’s player contracts. Bolden help found the Eastern Colored League (1923-1928), the Negro National League’s first organized competitor. Hilldale won the ECL’s first three pennants and the 1925 Colored World Series over the Kansas City Monarchs, becoming the only ECL team to claim the world championship.

Homestead Grays

Franchise History: 1912-1948

Pennants (11): 1931, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 1948

Negro League World Series Championships (3): 1943, 1944 and 1948

The rich history of the Homestead Grays began in 1900 as the amateur Blue Ribbons team playing in local leagues. That same year, they changed their name to the Murdock Grays while upgrading to semi-pro status. In 1912, a year after Cum Posey joined the team as their center fielder, the final name change was made to the Homestead Grays. Posey ended up purchasing the team in 1920. The Grays played an independent schedule until 1929 when they joined the American Negro League, a one-and-done league. Posey built the Grays into a powerhouse only to watch as his fortunes fall helplessly in the early years of the Great Depression. Crosstown rival, Gus Greenlee, pilfered Posey’s roster to build the Pittsburgh Crawfords into a perennial powerhouse from 1932-1936. By 1937, Dame Fortune turned again and Posey was ascendant. His Grays won an unmatched nine consecutive Negro National League II titles behind the one-two punch of Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard and the pitching of Ray Brown.

Indianapolis Clowns

Franchise History: 1930-1962

Pennants: None

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The Indianapolis Clowns started out as the Miami Giants before being bought by famed promoter Syd Pollock in 1937. For much of their existence, they were known as the Ethiopian Clowns, specializing in comedic entertainment and baseball. By 1943, they had transitioned to the Negro American League as the Cincinnati Clowns, Indianapolis-Cincinnati Clowns and finally just the Indianapolis Clowns. The Clowns were never a great team, but today are best known as giving Hank Aaron his professional debut in 1952 and hiring three women players Toni Stone, Mamie “Peanuts” Johnson and Connie Morgan.

Kansas City Monarchs

Franchise History: 1920-1965

Pennants (12): 1923, 1924, 1925, 1929, 1937, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1953 and 1957

Negro League World Series Championships (2): 1924 and 1942

The Kansas City Monarchs were the Negro League’s longest-running franchise, the most popular and the best known. The Monarchs became a charter member of the Negro National League in 1920 when owner J.L. Wilkinson, the only white owner, was asked to join.

In 1920, Wilkinson formed the Monarchs by selecting the best players from his All-Nations team (John Donaldson and José Méndez) with veterans of the 25th Infantry Wreckers (Bullet Joe Rogan and Dobie Moore), a championship black U.S. Army team, and adding a few other players, notably George “Tank” Carr, Hurley McNair and Reuben Curry to the roster. Méndez suggested the team name Monarchs.

The Monarchs are closely associated with more players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame than any other Negro League team – Ernie Banks, Willard Brown, José Méndez, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Bullet Joe Rogan, Hilton Smith and J.L. Wilkinson. The Monarchs also sent more players (55) to major league clubs with 15 of them playing on the parent team as well as baseball’s first black scout (John Donaldson) and first black coach (Buck O’Neil).

Newark Eagles

Franchise History: 1936-1948

Pennants (1): 1946

Negro League World Series Championships (1): 1946

Abe Manley built the Newark Eagles by merging two underperforming Negro League teams, the Newark Bears (acquired in 1933) and the Brooklyn Eagles in 1935. In 1935, Manley met the Effa Brooks at a New York Yankees game and soon after married. As husband and wife, Abe and Effa Manley ran the Newark Eagles with Effa handling marketing and operations, including scheduling and negotiating player contracts. As the Negro League collapsed due to integration and the subsequent loss of star players, the Manleys sold the Eagles in 1948. The team became the Houston Eagles (1949-1950) and the New Orleans Eagles (1951) before dissolving.

New York Black Yankees

Franchise History: 1931-1948

Pennants: None

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The New York Black Yankees replaced the New York Lincoln Stars (folded in 1930) as a Harlem-based team. Originally named the Harlem Black Bombers (1931), they became the Black Yankees in 1932 and donned used New York Yankees uniforms. Unlike their white counterpart, the Black Yankees were perennial doormats rather than champions. Playing some of their games in Yankee Stadium, they would attract large crowds for holiday games and games featuring a special attraction like Satchel Paige pitching for them on a loaned basis.

New York Cubans

Information coming soon

Philadelphia Stars

Franchise History: 1933-1952

Pennants (1): 1934

Negro League World Series Championships: None

Ed Bolden, formerly with the Hilldale club re-entered Negro League baseball by forming the Philadelphia Stars. He quickly built a powerhouse team in 1934 with dominating pitching led by Slim Jones (20-4, 1.24 ERA) and manager Webster McDonald (7-5, 2.63 ERA). The Negro National League used a split season playoff format to determine the league champion. The first-half champion Chicago American Giants faced the Stars in a controversial eight-game playoff series (4-3-1) plagued by violence and intimidation against the umpires by Stars’ left fielder Jud Wilson and catcher Ameal Brooks, controversy over delayed games and night games and the alleged use of ineligible players. After this one great season, the Stars were generally a middle-of-the-pack team.

Pittsburgh Crawfords

Franchise History: 1931-1940

Pennants (2): 1935 and 1936

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The Crawfords began as an amateur team based in the Crawford neighborhood of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. As they attracted better players and found new ownership in Gus Greenlee, they turned professional in 1931. Greenlee had both illegal operations (gambling, bootlegging) and legitimate businesses (night clubs, taxis and financial services). With the cash flow from these enterprises, Greenlee was able to acquire the top players like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson, Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige, but could not afford to pay them as the economic impact of the Great Depression took hold. Greenlee also built Greenlee Field, the first black-owned baseball stadium in the country and founded the Negro National League II. The 1935 and 1936 Crawfords are considered among the very best Negro League teams ever fielded. The Crawfords’ demise came as suddenly as their ascent and for the same reason – payroll. In 1937, the Crawfords lost eight key players to the summer league in the Dominican Republic as Dictator Rafeal Trujillo built the best team money could buy.  The Crawfords stumbled badly and in 1938 the Board of Directors forced Greenlee to hire only white staff at Greenlee Field, alienating his fan base. In 1939, the team moved to Toledo, and in 1940 the Crawford spent their final year in Indianapolis.

St. Louis Stars

Franchise History: 1906-1931

Pennants (3): 1928, 1930 and 1931

Negro League World Series Championships: None

The origins of the St. Louis Stars are murky. They were a continuation of the St. Louis Giants founded by white businessman Charlie Mills, but different sources claim 1906, 1909 or 1911 as their debut season. The Giants were a founding member of the Negro National League. After the 1921 season, Mills sold the team to Dick Kemp and Dr. Sam Sheppard, who renamed the franchise the Stars. While a solid team most years, the Stars were not able to ascend to the top of the standings until 1928. They won the last two pennants of the Negro National League in 1930 and 1931.