Beyond the Shadow of the Senators tells the story of the one of the greatest teams in the history of the Negro Leagues, the Homestead Grays. The Grays won eight of nine NNL titles between 1937 and 1945. The team started in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1910 as a recreational activity for black steelworkers. Cum Posey, an outfielder who joined the team in 1912, turned the Grays into one of the country's finest black professional teams. The Grays most famous players included catcher Josh Gibson, first baseman Buck Leonard, pitcher Smokey Joe Williams, outfielder Cool Papa Bell, third baseman Judy Johnson, outfielder/manager Vic Harris, outfielder/infielder Sam Bankhead, and pitcher Ray Brown. Prior to 1940, the Grays barnstormed and played their home league games at Greenlee Field in Pittsburgh's Hill district or at the Pittsburgh Pirates' ballpark, Forbes Field.
In 1940, the Grays moved many of their home games to Washington, D.C., and became known as the Washington Homestead Grays. They played at Griffith Stadium, the home of the Washington Senators, when the Senators were out of town. On some nights, the Grays outdrew the Senators - especially when Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs came to town. Several factors accounted for the Grays' popularity in Washington: Washington's black population exploded during World War II; Washington's premier black commercial and residential district surrounded Griffith Stadium; and Howard University, one of the nation's finest black colleges, was just up the street from the ballpark. The Grays played in Washington, D.C. until they disbanded in 1950.
Photo Credits: Art Carter Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.