Andrew “Rube” Foster (1879–1930), a former pitcher, organized the first successful black professional baseball league, the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs, usually called the Negro National League, on February 13, 1920. He was known as the father of the Negro Leagues. (The International League of Independent Baseball Clubs, with four black and two white teams, lasted one season in 1906, and in 1910 the National Negro Baseball League collapsed before a single game had been played.) The Indianapolis ABCs played the Chicago Giants in the league’s first game. Foster insisted that all teams in the league should be black-controlled, with the one exception being the Kansas City Monarchs. The league ran into difficulties in 1926 when Foster became ill, and it collapsed in 1931, a year after his death. A new Negro National League was organized in 1933, controlled by men in the numbers racket. Of the Negro National League meetings, some said that they were “enclaves of the most powerful black gangsters in the nation.” Foster, who was born in Calvert, Texas, the son of a minister, showed promise as a baseball organizer early, managing a team while in grade school. He left for Fort Worth, Texas, when he was in the eighth grade to go further in baseball. His personal playing days included stints with several Negro teams, including the American Giants (so named by Foster), who have been called one of the greatest Negro baseball teams. Foster was a businessman as well as a baseball phenomenon; he owned a barbershop and an automobile service shop. An accident with a gas leak in his home in 1925 preceded declining health for Foster, both physically and mentally. He was in the state asylum in Illinois at the time of his death. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. In 2001 a set of two U.S. postage stamps bearing the images of Negro Leagues Baseball and Rube Foster was issued.
Former pitcher “Rube” Foster organized the National Association of Professional Baseball Clubs (aka the Negro National League) in 1920.