African American professional baseball debuts in Seattle on June 1, 1946.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 5/22/2000
  • Essay 2444

On June 1, 1946, African American professional baseball debuts in Seattle at Sicks' Stadium in front of 2,500 fans. The Seattle Steelheads split a double header against the San Diego Tigers as part of the new West Coast Negro Baseball League. The game was delayed half an hour because the Seattle team's bus broke down in Salem, Oregon. The players took taxicabs to Seattle.

The "Steelies" were made up of players from Abe Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters baseball team. Saperstein was the president of the new league. Six teams, including the Los Angeles White Sox, the San Francisco Sea Lions, the Portland Rosebuds, and the Oakland Larks planned to play 110 games that season in stadiums of the Pacific Coast League while the home teams were on the road. The Seattle team also played for fans in Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham, and Bremerton.

The Seattle manager was Paul Hardy, a catcher from the Chicago American Giants. Because Hardy had signed with Seattle before being released by his old team, the league banned teams of the Negro American Baseball League from Seattle.

The West Coast Negro Baseball League disbanded after two months and the teams reorganized under new names to barnstorm (play exhibition games) in the U.S. Midwest and in Latin America.


Lyle Kenai Wilson, Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park: Seattle Black Baseball Teams, 1911-1951, (Everett: Lowell Printing, 1997), 81-82; The Seattle Times, June 2, 1946, p. 10. See also Jonathan Shipley, “The Seattle Steelheads: A Hard-Hitting Ball Club in the Short-lived West Coast Negro League,” Columbia: The Magazine of Norwest History Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring 2011), 7-11.

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