The Lincoln Giants (1911-1930)
In acknowledgement of Black History Month, The Royal Gazette continues the publication of stories throughout February on African-American and global African people, events and institutions, and their contributions in history
The Lincoln Giants were a Negro baseball team based out of Harlem, New York. Two White brothers, Edward and Jess McMahon, established the team in 1911, and employed a player, Sol White, as their manager. White in turn signed pitchers Joe “Cyclone” Williams and Dick “Cannonball” Redding, catcher Louis Santop, shortstop John Henry Lloyd — a future team manager — centrefielder Spotswood “Spot” Poles, first baseman/catcher Bill Pettus, and shortstop/second baseman Grant “Home Run” Johnson, all future Hall of Fame inductees.
These players helped the Lincoln Giants become a powerful team that won the unofficial Eastern Championship in 1911, 1912 and 1913. The Lincoln Giants also defeated the Chicago American Giants in 1913, winning the National Black Championship that year.
The teams’ initial games were played in Olympic Park, located at 136th Street and 5th Avenue in Upper Manhattan and often drew crowds of 10,000 people, both Black and White. The McMahon brothers sold the team to James Keenan and Charles Harvey in 1914 because of financial strain. However, many players remained contracted to the McMahons and moved on to their new team, who were briefly called the Lincoln Stars.
The team eventually readopted their original name during the First World War and Joe Williams took over as manager of the Giants. In 1920, the team moved their games to the New York Catholic Protectory Oval, located at East Tremont Avenue and Unionport Road in the Bronx. Owing to the long distance, many Black fans with automobiles offered carpools to the games, making several trips back and forth to pick up fans from Harlem.
The Lincoln Giants joined the Eastern Coloured League in 1923 but they did very poorly, with a 16-22 record, placing the team in fifth place out of six. The 1924 season brought in new team manager Jude Gans and was much better for the Giants, who placed third that season with a 31-25 record.
The team fell to last place in 1925 with a 7-39 record. John Henry Lloyd became team manager in 1926 and he signed Silas Simmons as a pitcher. During this season, the Giants rose to fifth place, with a 22-31 win-loss record. The team did not play during the 1927 season, and returned to the ECL in 1928, only for the league to fold the same year. The Giants joined the American Negro League for its only season in 1929 but disbanded in 1930.
• Nielsen, E. (2020, December 31) The Lincoln Giants (1911-1930). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/the-lincoln-giants-1911-1930/