No announcement yet.

No Blacks Allowed, 1953

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • THE OX
    Thanks for the very interesting post, bk!

    As a fan of minor league baseball I spent much of my high school years with my nose buried in copies of the Sporting News Official Baseball Guides of the 1946-1960 period. I remember seeing Jim Tugerson's name and being impressed by his fabulous record with Knoxville in 1953, but was unaware of his race, and therefore of the difficulties he personally experienced due to it.

    For so many reasons, race being one of the major ones, professional baseball in the 1940s/1950s (and even early 60s!) is a fascinating study.

    Leave a comment:

  • sturg1dj
    great post

    makes me think of Dick Allen who integrated baseball in Little Rock. In his book it says that Allen was not prepared to go to the south since he was raised in Pennsylvania and was never told or asked to do the daunting task of integrating a city. He complained to Phillies management of how conditions were in Little Rock but he said they ignored him and later said they didn't believe him saying that another source told them that the condition were fine for Allen (this was Little Rock Arkansas in 1963, how would you think it was). Allen later said that season is one that stuck with him the rest of his life, and I wouldn't doubt it contributed to the way he acted from then on.

    Leave a comment:

  • Brian McKenna
    started a topic No Blacks Allowed, 1953

    No Blacks Allowed, 1953

    Jackie Robinson signed with Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in secret on August 28, 1945. By 1953, half of the 16 major league clubs had been integrated and dozens of black players had been signed by teams throughout organized baseball; however, that in no way meant that the Deep South would be forced into accepting African-American players.

    At Robinson’s first spring training in organized baseball Jacksonville, Florida forced the cancellation of all exhibitions games that he would be involved in. The following season the Dodgers simply relocated to Havana, Cuba ( for training. Jacksonville would not permit an integrated game until 1953.

    Many teams in the Deep South refused to integrate citing various local laws and customs and the lack of proper facilities for black players. Jim Crow laws, in fact, forced separate hotel, restaurant, dressing room and shower facilities for black and white players. Full integration of the minor leagues would not be achieved until 1964.


    The Class-C Cotton States League was one such organization located in the Deep South. In 1953 the league consisted of eight teams in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi:
    Jackson, MS (Detroit Tigers’ affiliate)
    Meridian, MS (unaffiliated)
    Natchez, MS (Birmingham Barons’ affiliate)
    Greenville, MS (unaffiliated)
    Monroe, LA (Shreveport Sports’ affiliate)
    El Dorado, AR (unaffiliated)
    Pine Bluff, AR (St. Louis Browns’ affiliate)
    Hot Springs, AR (unaffiliated)

    The CSL operated off and on since 1902, the current version beginning in 1947. After the 1952 season, the Hot Springs Bathers changed ownership to a group headed by A. Gabe Crawford, Louis Goltz and H.M. Britt.

    In January 1953 Crawford began to make noise that he was contemplating signing black players. CSL league president Al Haraway advised against the move:

    The people of our league were not yet ready to accept a breakdown of racial barriers. I realize it is difficult for Hot Springs (70 miles SW of Little Rock) with its cosmopolitan population from everywhere to grasp the thinking of Deep South people…I advised against signing (black players) and requested they do not attempt it at this time knowing the hornet’s nest it would stir up.
    Crawford was not totally fluttering in the wind (at least not until vote time). El Dorado, Pine Bluff and Monroe all tentatively supported integration. However, none of the Mississippi teams did.

    As the start of the season neared, Mississippi Attorney General J.P. Coleman, fearing the integration of the CSL, extended a ruling prohibiting integrated boxing matches to included team sports as well, especially baseball, on April 1.

    That same day the Bathers announced the signing of pitchers Jim and Leander Tugerson, African-American brothers from Florence Villa in Polk County, Florida.


    Jim, the youngest, was 30 years old in 1953. Both brothers served during World War II. Jim had enlisted at age 19 and served as a warrant officer.

    In 1950 Leander (a finesse pitcher) joined the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League, pitching well for the league champion. Jim, 6’4” and 194 lbs., joined his brother on the Clowns in 1951 for his first chance at professional ball.

    Indianapolis won both halves of the season with the brothers on the mound. Jim posted a 10-5-record and Leander won 15 games, losing only 4 and tossing a no-hitter against Birmingham on August 22. He also struck out 16 Black Barons that day.

    Leander was signed at the end of the season by the Chicago White Sox but he never joined the organization. The brothers again played for the Clowns in 1952, with new teammate Henry Aaron. Jim posted an 8-2 record and then joined the Dominican Summer League.


    Gabe Crawford announced on April 1, 1953 that he had signed the Tugersons. Acknowledging the controversy, Crawford announced that he would only pitch the pair in home games and only with the permission of hosting clubs while on the road.

    CSL president Haraway quickly called a closed meeting of all clubs. Hot Springs brought Leslie O’Connor, former assistant to Commissioner Landis and former general manager of the Chicago White Sox, to help represent them at the meeting. O’Connor currently served on the Major-Minor League Executive Council.

    After three hours of deliberations on April 6, Haraway announced that Hot Springs had been expelled from the league by a vote of 6-0 (Pine Bluff abstained and Hot Springs was removed from the meeting prior to the vote):

    Since the Hot Springs club has assumed a position from which it refuses to recede, which would disrupt the Cotton States League and cause its dissolution, which position having been assumed without the courtesy of a league discussion and since it is a matter of survival of the league…this action was taken.
    O’Connor declared the decision “the most grievous error ever committed in baseball.” Rumors suggested that Hot Springs would be replaced by Vicksburg, Mississippi.

    The Bathers appealed to National Association (the minor league’s executive body) president George Trautman. On April 10 Trautman halted the ouster of Hot Springs pending his decision in the matter.

    Awaiting Trautman’s formal decision, Haraway again called another closed meeting of the CSL on April 14. After three and a half hours of debate, Hot Springs was reinstated. Haraway threatened a $1,000 fine against any club which spoke publicly about the discussions that took place in the meeting.

    Despite the rescission by the CSL, Trautman felt the need to make a strong public ruling on April 15. He declared that the CSL’s action of April 6 was in violation and that they had no right to expel Hot Springs. He further declared that the Bathers had every right to play the Tugersons.

    Mississippi clubs continued to threaten to secede from the league if a black player was used. No CSL clubs would play Hot Springs in preseason matches. The day before the season was to begin, Hot Springs backed down on April 20. It sold the Tugersons to the Knoxville Smokies of the Class-D Mountain States League with an option to recall. In his announcement Crawford said that he made the deal rather than risk “breaking up the Cotton States League.”

    At Knoxville Leander developed a sore arm and returned home in June, ending his baseball career. Jim won six games and was recalled by Hot Spring on May 19.

    MAY 20, 1953

    A capacity crowd, 1,500, paid admission on May 20 in Hot Springs to see Jim Tugerson pitch against Jackson. He walked out onto the field and began to warm-up. Just then, a telegram was received from CSL president Haraway. It stated that the use of Tugerson violated an agreement Hot Springs had made in mid-April and therefore the game was to be forfeited. Umpire Tom McDermott had no choice but to declare Jackson the victor by forfeit.

    Hot Springs owner Goltz angrily wired Haraway:

    The Trautman decision of April 15 decided it is club’s decision to make on hiring of eligible Negro players. Exception is taken to your illegal order. If a game is forfeited as threatened the case will be appealed immediately and suit instigated.
    Haraway responded tersely, “…take whatever action you see fit.”

    Hot Springs appealed to Trautman again but they also backed down and returned Tugerson to Knoxville on May 21. Goltz also issued some confusing and contradictory statements which suggested that he would refrain from using black ballplayers. For his part, Tugerson threatened a lawsuit.


    Tugerson finished the season in Knoxville, posting 29 wins and 286 strikeouts (in a 125-game schedule). He also won four more games in the playoffs. After the season, he barnstormed with a Negro league “All-Star” squad. The tour included a stop in Hot Springs where Tugerson finally pitched in front of 1,200 fans.

    On June 6 Trautmen set aside the forfeited game and ordered its replay. Hot Springs decided to stir the pot a little by threatening to recall Tugerson.

    On July 13 the pitcher filed suit in U.S. District Court demanding $50,000 in damages. Causing a stir (and nearly another Mississippi insurrection), Tugerson had Haraway and CSL offcials served at the league's All-Star banquet. In part the suit claimed that Haraway and the CSL conspired:

    To prevent him from carrying out his contract, following his lawful occupation of a baseball player, and enjoying the equal protection of the law in his privileges as a citizen of the United States of America.

    On September 11 U.S. District Judge John Miller dismissed nearly all of Tugerson’s claims for damages. In December Tugerson decided not to appeal and dropped his suit. He felt vindicated in part by the fact that he recently signed with the Dallas Eagles of the Texas League, a promotion to Class-AA ball.

    The Cotton States League finally did integrate in 1954 when 18-year-old outfielder Uvoyd Reynolds appeared for the Bathers on July 20. The next day, Hot Springs fielded black first baseman Howard Scott as well. Surprisingly, a Mississippi club, Meridian, even signed a black player, second baseman Carl Heron.

    However, at the end of the season all the CSL clubs released their black players. The controversy erupted again on May 4, 1955 when Pine Bluff signed three players from the Negro American League. Without playing a game, they were released three days later. No other blacks would play in the CSL, which ended up collapsing for good at the end of the 1955 season.

    Tugerson pitched for Dallas until early in the 1956 season. He finished the year with Amarillo in the Class-A Western League. He was again promoted to Dallas but retired before the 1957 season began. Tugerson returned in 1958 with a new sidearm motion and posted 14 victories, 199 strikeouts and a 3.33 ERA. In 1959 he moved with the club into the Triple-A American Association, though winning only 5 games compared to 12 losses despite a decent 3.51 ERA. He retired for good before Opening Day 1960 rolled around.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 03-04-2008, 07:55 AM.

Ad Widget