June 11, 2012

OURstory: Cincinnati / Indianapolis Clowns

Did you ever see the movie Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings? That movie opened my eyes to the old Negro Baseball Leagues.

Most Cincinnati residents can tell you about the Cincinnati Reds and their 'Big Red Machine'. But few are aware that a team known as 'The Clowns' was a professional baseball team in the American Negro League that began in Cincinnati in 1943. For a couple of years they playing in both Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

The team officially moved to Indianapolis in 1946. The most famous player on the Clowns was Hank Aaron who helped the team win the Negro League World Series in 1952.

Other baseball stars who played with The Clowns included Buster Haywood, DeWitt "Woody" Smallwood, showman Goose Tatum, and future Major Leaguers John Wyatt (A’s), Paul Cassanova (Senators), and Choo-Choo Coleman (Mets).

The Clowns also had a Black woman on the roster. Her name was Mamie 'Peanut' Johnson. She shares some oral history about her time with the Clowns in the following video:

It was great to see the Indianapolis Clowns uniform and some of the Cincinnati Clowns baseball pennants on display in the Jim Crow exhibit of the America I AM: An African Imprint collection when it came to the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2010.

What are your memories of the Negro Baseball era?

No comments: