April 10, 2021

Negro Leagues DB Update: 1932 Negro Southern League

January 27, 2020 by · 9 Comments 

In time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro National League next month, we’re happy to announce that we have achieved full coverage of all the traditional major Negro leagues from 1920 through 1948.

The latest addition to the DB is the 1932 Negro Southern League, the only year that circuit was considered “major league,” as well as games between NSL teams and other Negro league teams—most notably the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Kansas City Monarchs. The 1932 NSL statistics are based on the work of Larry Lester, Wayne Stivers, and the Negro League Researchers and Authors Group, with some additions and auditing by us. It joins the work we’ve already done on the 1932 East-West League.

The ’32 NSL was considered a major league because Rube Foster’s original NNL had fallen apart, and that league’s flagship team—the Chicago American Giants—along with the Indianapolis ABCs and the Louisville Black Caps, opted to join the NSL. The NSL also welcomed in the champions of the previous year’s Texas-Oklahoma League, the Monroe (Louisiana) Monarchs. Along with the Memphis Red Sox and Birmingham Black Barons, former members of the NNL themselves, these additions made the Southern League the obvious successor to Foster’s league.

Amidst the depths of the depression, black professional baseball hit its lowest point in 1932, with teams and leagues folding, players constantly on the move, pennants disputed, and fans often bewildered. The chaotic nature of the ’32 NSL poses many difficulties for historians. It’s hard even to know what teams were really in the league. We’ve chosen to use the standings published in the Chicago Defender as the standard, although different contemporary sources name several other teams as league members. It’s quite possible (even likely) that further research will result in changes and additions in the future.

The NSL’s first-half championship was disputed between the American Giants and the Monroe Monarchs, with the league eventually awarding the title to Chicago. Dave Malarcher’s team, led by Willie Foster (10-5, 2.01), Turkey Stearnes (.315/.390/.500), Melvin Powell (8-3, 2.49), and Steel Arm Davis (.301/.353/.497), went on to defeat the second-half champion Nashville Elite Giants 4 games to 3 in the league championship series.

The Monarchs, featuring Leroy Morney (.378/427/.522), Roy Parnell (.350/.387/.556 and 5-1, 0.83), Dick Matthews (11-2, 2.17), Elbert Williams (9-6, 1.91), and Barney Morris (10-4, 3.06), made the most of their one year in the big time, and felt understandably aggrieved about their exclusion from the NSL’s official postseason. (See Thomas Aiello’s The Kings of Casino Park and Bill Plott’s The Negro Southern League for more about this.) Monroe played, and won, a “Dixie Series” against the Austin Black Senators, pennant winners of the Texas Negro League, and then played what was billed as a world championship series against the independent Pittsburgh Crawfords (won by the Crawfords).

Although we now have coverage of every traditional major Negro league, that does NOT mean the DB is “finished” in any sense. We still have fielding and various secondary statistics (pitchers’ HRs allowed, HBP for batters, etc.) to add to leagues/seasons that were based on NLRAG work, as well as new games and final audits for these seasons (and many others). There are also many Latin American seasons in the pipeline (Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela), as well as the California Winter League, Negro leagues vs. minor league games, the ManDak League, the Negro leagues after 1948, and a lot more. And biographical research continues. There is still a long, long way to go before the records of segregation-era black ballplayers could be considered anywhere near complete.

The Monroe Monarchs of the 1932 Negro Southern League.

Comments

9 Responses to “Negro Leagues DB Update: 1932 Negro Southern League”
  1. John Bonno says:

    What a great job you have done.

  2. Caleb Hardwick says:

    I applaud you Gary and the rest of the Seamheads team for completing all the major Negro leagues!
    Best,
    Caleb

  3. Steven Greenes says:

    Bravo. Your hard work will ultimately help change how history views the other major league.

  4. John Jordan says:

    Great work. If you ever need another pair of hands to compile or research, I’d love to help.

    Cheers!

    John

  5. John Jordan says:

    Great work.
    Cheers!

    John

  6. John Jordan says:

    If you ever need more volunteers, please let me know.

  7. Caleb Hardwick says:

    Gary,

    Have the “traditional major negro leagues” been formally defined? If so, when and by whom? Perhaps by the NLRAG or the Special Negro Leagues Committee?

    Thanks!

  8. Gary Ashwill says:

    Hi Caleb, I’m not sure if anyone has ever issued an official definition, but most authorities (including Riley’s Encyclopedia & SABR’s Negro Leagues Book) consider these to be the major leagues:
    Negro National League (the first) 1920-1931
    Eastern Colored League 1923-1928
    American Negro League 1929
    East-West League 1932
    Negro Southern League 1932
    Negro National League (the second) 1933-1948
    Negro American League 1937-1948 (and after)

  9. Gary Ashwill says:

    The Negro Leagues Book (1994), p. 12, lists the same leagues I did above as “Negro Major Leagues,” plus the 1920 Negro Southern League (possibly included because the champion Knoxville team played a postseason series against the NNL champion Chicago American Giants). The standings & playoffs/World Series pages (pp. 159-65), however, don’t include the 1920 NSL.

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