The Dayton Marcos Professional Baseball Team

The first all-black teams were probably formed in the North after the American Civil War ended in 1865. But in 1867, when the all-black Philadelphia Pythians baseball club applied for admission to the National Association of Base Ball Players, an organization that preceded the major leagues, the club’s application was unanimously rejected. The committee’s decision barred “any club which may be composed of one or more colored persons.” Often, black athletes were denied admission to clubs as they were denied a chance to earn a bachelor's degree or access to higher education.  

During the late 1800s black teams toured the United States, taking the field against one another and in exhibition games against amateur and professional white clubs. These traveling teams were referred to as "barnstorming" teams.

Their transportation was by trains, bus or by private auto. Shabby overnight lodging was common in cities with limited accommodations for blacks. In Dayton the Westside YMCA, rooming houses and private homes opened their doors to these traveling black baseball players when they visited Dayton to play local teams. These private homes and rooms may not have been the luxury rooms available at an all inclusive resort but they were certainly appreciated. These teams would be sponsors by local merchants but the teams operated independently, without an organized league.  

By the mid-1910s in Dayton, a black baseball team called the Dayton Marcos was playing both black and white baseball teams throughout the city and the Midwest. This was the only black team in the Ohio-Indiana League before 1920. There are short, scattered accounts, such as "Cuban Stars Play Marcos" in The Dayton Forum, but no records exist of their game-by-game play.

The Marcos played their home games at various city parks; Westwood Field on Western Street (now James H. McGee Boulevard), Burkham Field on Broadway Street and later at North Side Field near Leo Street and Troy Pike.

One team member, Bill Sloan, was credited with helping to save 317 people during the Dayton flood of 1913.  

In the late 1910s a movement to establish a league of black ball clubs was led by Rube Foster, a star pitcher who became manager and then owner of the Chicago American Giants. Foster believed that an organized league was needed to stabilize team rosters (players jumped from team to team at that time), increase team revenues, schedule games, and arrange a championship at the end of the season.

In 1920 the owners of eight Midwestern teams formed the Negro National League (NNL). The Dayton Marcos were one of the charter members of this "major league for black players". The NNL consisted of the Dayton Marcos, the Chicago (Illinois) Giants, the Chicago American Giants, the Detroit (Michigan) Stars, the Indianapolis (Indiana) ABCs, the Kansas City Monarchs (Missouri), the St. Louis (Missouri) Giants, and a traveling Cuban team called the Stars.

Dayton Marcos 1920 Team
1920 Dayton Marcos

The Marcos opened their Negro National League home season on Saturday, June 12, 1920 against the Chicago Giants at Westwood Field. As many as 2,000 fans turned out for some of the games at Westwood Field during this season. Top black baseball stars came to Dayton to play against the Marcos. Jimmie Rader scored the game in which Satchel Paige pitched against the Marcos at Westwood Field.

In the 1930's John Shroyer, who had a team in the Ohio-Indiana League, told Marcos player Bill Earley that the New York Yankees wanted a player. Earley turned down the offer, saying that he wanted to be himself and nobody else. Earley later explained that he would have had to "pass" in order to join the Yankees, but that he had to be what he was raised up to be and feel free to walk down the street, looking people straight in the eye.

The Marcos survived in Dayton until World War II.

In 2000, when professional baseball returned to Dayton, Curtis "Bingo" Lloyd, threw out the first pitch at the Dayton Dragons opening game. Bingo Lloyd had barnstormed with the Dayton Marcos in the 1930s. He also had the distinction of getting a hit off Satchel Paige and of calling off "Cool Papa" Bell from a fly ball during a tryout with the Kansas City Monarchs.

 

Sources: Margaret Peters and Jack Carlson.
"The History of African-Americans in Organized Baseball", by Don Hunt, Dan Holmes, and Kirk Robinson,  http://www.thebaseballpage.com/features/1999/negro_lg/negro_lg.htm.
Sports in Dayton, Ritter Collett, Landfall Press, Dayton, Ohio, 1996.
Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2003. © 1993-2002.
Bernstein, Mark. "In Search of the Well-Known Colored Ball Player," Ohio Magazine, April 1988, pages 69+
Katz, Marc. "Dayton's major league team," Dayton Daily News, April 6, 1997
Katz, Marc. "More Than 50,000 Echo in His Books," Dayton Daily News, August 23, 1974

 

 

 

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