"The bus broke down. It wheezed, coughed, choked, and came to a halt along the highway near Salem, Oregon. They had a game that night. Zell Miles was eager to take the field, as was Mike Berry. They both hopped off the bus exasperated as the vehicle sat idle. Howard Gay clambered down; Herb Simpson, too. Their gear was on the bus—the baseball bats, balls, catcher’s masks. Paul Hardy, the manager, had to think fast as he took off his baseball cap to wipe the sweat from his brow. He looked over at Nap Gulley, Everett Marcel, Joe Spencer—all guys eager to sprint out onto the field in Seattle’s Sick’s Stadium for their home opener. It was to be the first Seattle game of the newly formed Seattle Steelheads, a team in the newly minted West Coast Negro Baseball League." Jonathan Shipley has a really good article on the Harlem Globetrotters, or rather Seattle Steelheads, at Columbia Magazine, Spring 2011: Vol. 25, No. 1.
If you can find it at the Seattle Public Library, Lyle Kenai Wilson wrote an out of print book called Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park: Seattle Black Baseball Teams, 1911-1951. And...for further reading, check out Powell S. Barnett, a resident of Seattle's Leschi neighborhood way back when. Barnett was one of Seattle's early Black baseball players. Many of these players were the children of miners who had been brought in to replace striking miners in Roslyn. This would eventually become one of the earliest integrated unions and form the core of Seattle's black community. Wilson's book, along with Esther Hall Mumford's Seattle's Black Victorians and The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle's Central District, from 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era by Quintard Taylor, give a nice overview of these communities, and we can glean from small passages in the latter two, the importance of baseball as a community activity. Wilson relates a game at Seattle's Woodland Park between a Japanese team and one of Seattle's earliest known Black teams that attracted 4,000 fans. Taylor mentions baseball exhibitions being held as part of the festivities to celebrate the visits of Marcus Garvey for UNIA rallies in 1919 and 1922. Garvey even mentions baseball in his earliest autobiography. Read about the Rev. James Morris Webb and his influence on Garveyites and Rastafari. And that's how the Roslyn Miners Strike of 1888, baseball and Bob Marley's Exodus album all fit together in the Lipstick Traces of radical history (that reference has no relation to baseball!). One more of baseball's ties to the history of radical politics and the struggle for freedom. I had posted pictures awhile back of some Bulgarian anarchists and articles about Japanese baseball. Still to come: the links between Ivy League educational ideas about athletics and staying fit, the roots of Japanese college baseball, and anarcho-syndicalism via Isoo Abe, who brought two things to Waseda University in Japan when he finished studying at the Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut: socialism and baseball.