“One summer day in 1939 a kid squatted on the bank behind home plate at Russell Field in Warren, Pennsylvania, fielding foul balls (which could be redeemed for a nickel each – no small consideration in those days), and saw Josh Gibson hit the longest home run ever struck in Warren County. It was one of many impressive feats performed by touring Black players that excited the wonder and admiration of that foul-ball shagger. This book is the belated fruit of his wonder.”
Preface, "Only the Ball Was White"
The most relevant sources of material are the Negro newspapers. Most historians are knowledgeable of the variety of newspapers which were dedicated to the African-American audience in most large urban areas. Some of the more notable being the Afro American (Baltimore), the Amsterdam News (New York), the Chicago Defender, and the Pittsburgh Courier. These publications served as record-keeper of the African-American communities, and were the cradle for some of baseball’s early Black sportswriters such Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith. Baseball was one of the most important forms of recreation in America during the period from 1910 to 1940s and this is reflected in the sports coverage of these papers. The Golden Era of the Negro Leagues occurred during the 1920s and 30s, and it only via these newspapers, often relegated to obscure collections and microfilm reels at major research libraries, that one is able to rebuild this story.