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The Homestead Grays were a professional baseball team that played in the Negro Leagues in the United Statesmarker. The team was formed in 1912 by Cumberland Posey, and would remain in continuous operation for 38 seasons. The team was based in Homesteadmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, near Pittsburghmarker.

Franchise history

The Grays grew out of an earlier industrial team. In 1900, a group of African-American players had joined together to form the Germantown (PA) Blue Ribbons, an industrial league team. For ten years, the Blue Ribbons fielded a team every season and played some of the best sandlot teams in the area. In 1910, the managers of the team retired. The players reorganized the team and named themselves the Murdock Grays. In 1912, they became the Homestead Grays, the name they retained for the remainder of the franchise's history.

The Grays did join the Negro American League in 1929, but that league lasted only one season. The team operated independently again until 1932, when Posey organized the ill-fated East-West League; that league also collapsed before completing its first and only season.

Posey entered his Grays in the Negro National League in 1935. With the near-collapse of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, Josh Gibson returned to the Grays in 1937, combining with slugger Buck Leonard to power the Grays to nine consecutive (and a total of ten) Negro National League Championships and three Negro League World Series titles. Vic Harris managed the Grays during their years in league play, between 1935 and 1948, and piloted Homestead to eight pennants. He guided his team to six consecutive pennants from 1937 through 1942; in 1945 and 1948, and led the 1948 team to the Negro League World Series championship. The 1943 and 1944 NLWS titles came under Candy Jim Taylor.

Following the collapse of the Negro National League after the 1948 season, the Grays struggled to continue as an independent club, and ultimately disbanded at the close of the 1950 season.

From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Grays played their home games at Pittsburgh's Forbes Fieldmarker, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, during this same period the club adopted the Washington, D.C.marker area as its "home away from home" and scheduled many of its "home" games at Washington's Griffith Stadiummarker, the home park of the Washington Senators.

Honors

Baseball Hall of Famers



Legacy

Gibson and Leonard are listed on the Washington Hall of Stars display at Nationals Parkmarker in Washington.

On July 11, 2002, the Homestead High-Level Bridge which crosses the Monongahela River at Homestead was renamed the Homestead Grays Bridgemarker in honor of the team.

Several Major League teams have worn Homestead Grays uniforms in throwback games:
  • On May 20, 2006, in Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians honored the Negro league teams by wearing the uniforms of the Grays and the Cleveland Buckeyes, respectively, during an inter-league game. The Pirates won the game 9-6.
  • On June 2, 2006, in Milwaukee, the Washington Nationals and the Milwaukee Brewers also honored the Negro league teams by wearing the uniforms of the Grays and Milwaukee Bears, respectively, during the first annual Negro Leagues Tribute Night in Milwaukee. The Nationals won the game 10-4.
  • On August 11, 2006, in Washington, the New York Mets and Washington Nationals also honored the Negro league teams by wearing the uniforms of the New York Cubans and the Grays, respectively, during a National League game. The Nationals won the game 2-1.
  • The next night, in Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates wore uniforms of the St. Louis Starsmarker and Grays, respectively. The Cardinals won the game 3-2.
  • The Nationals and Cardinals held a similar event on August 3, 2007 honoring the Grays and Stars.
  • On May 3, 2008, in Washington, the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates honored the Negro League team by wearing the uniforms of the Grays. The Nationals won the game 9-8. (The PA announcer referred to the teams as the Grays.)


When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, "Grays" was one of the three finalists (along with "Senators" and the eventual winner "Nationals") for the relocated team's new name, reflecting Washington's baseball history. "Grays" was the personal choice of the D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.

On June 26, 2009, in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Pirates played the Kansas City Royals in interleague play. The Pittsburgh Pirates wore uniforms of the Homestead Grays, while the Royals wore the uniforms of the Kansas City Monarchs. The Pirates won the game, 5-3. It was also the first major league win for starting pitcher and recent call up, Virgil Vasquez since August 31, 2007.

The DC Grays, a collegiate summer team based in Washington, DC are named in honor of the team.

References

  1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Homestead Span Honors Baseball Team", July 12, 2002
  2. MLB.com, "Brewers Honor Negro Leagues", June 2, 2006
  3. MLB.com, "Nats, Mets Recognize Negro Leagues", August 11, 2006
  4. USA Today, "In Washington, it'll be 'Let's go Nats'", November 22, 2004. Accessed April 17, 2008.
  5. The Washington Post, "Baseball's Coming Back to Washington", September 30, 2004. Accessed April 17, 2008.


External links

  • Beyond the Shadow of the Senators — the website is a companion to the book of the same name, a comprehensive history of the Grays, written by Brad Snyder. The site contains information on the individuals featured in the book and the first chapter of the book.
  • GraysFan.org — Latest attempt to name the Washington Major League Baseball Team after the Grays



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