Class of 2021
Andrew "Rube" Foster

Often called the Father of The Negro Leagues and the first black baseball executive, Rube Foster was born in Calvert, Texas, in 1879. The son of a preacher, he began his professional baseball career as a pitcher for the African American Independent Waco Yellow Jackets in 1897. After making a name for himself among white and black baseball fans as a premier player, he was eventually signed by Frank Leland’s Chicago Union Giants as a player/manager in 1907, where the team finished with a 110-10 record and won the Chicago City League Pennant. In 1910, the brash and confident Foster was able to wrestle legal control of the Chicago Union Giants from its founder, Frank Leland, after discrepancies emerged over how the organization was run. The following year, Foster established a partnership with John Schorling, the son-in-law of Chicago White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey. The White Sox had just moved into Comiskey Park, and Schorling arranged for Foster’s team to use the vacated South Side Park, at 39th and Wentworth. The Leland Giants then became known as the Chicago American Giants, and they went on to claim the Western Black Baseball Championship for the next four years. In the years following, arguments began to emerge with other black clubs over the legitimacy of Championships and cross-league play between other clubs. These discrepancies helped pave the way for the foundation of a National Negro League, with Foster leading the charge in 1920. Foster, as president, controlled league operations while remaining owner and manager of the American Giants. In 1925, Foster was on the receiving end of a gas leak during a stay in Indianapolis that almost killed him. In the year following, he began to show signs of illness as a result of the accident and eventually relinquished control of the team and league. The American Giants and the NNL lived on, and the Giants won the pennant and World Series in both 1926 and 1927—but the league clearly suffered in the absence of Foster’s leadership. Foster died in 1930, having never recovered from his illness, and a year later, the league he had founded sadly fell apart. In 1981, Foster was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the first representative of the Negro leagues elected as a pioneer or executive.

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