1944 Offerman Stadium Broadside with Roy "Campinelli"
Enthralling Negro League Broadside. Advertising two "Nite" games to be played at Buffalo's Offerman Stadium on Monday June 12, and Tuesday June 13, in 1944 between the Baltimore Elite Giants and the New York Black Yankees. The United States had been involved in World War II for two-and-a-half years, but President Franklin Delano Roosevelt allowed both the Major League and Negro League baseball to continue in order to provide a moral boast to Americans. Did persons who attended these games realize that some of the talent right before them was often superior to that in the "White" Major Leagues? The poster shows a small photo of "Roy Campinelli" (Campanella) in his catching gear. Campanella would be signed to a Brooklyn Dodger contract right after Jackie Robinson, and break in with the Dodgers in 1948 on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Thomas "Pee Wee" Butts also appears on a photo on the poster. Many believe that Butts was every bit the equal of Brooklyn Dodger shortstop with the same nickname - Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese. Butts was a .332 lifetime Negro League hitter and was as smooth as the great Reese in the field, but, sadly, Butts never got a chance in the Major Leagues because the opportunity for African-American players was limited, even after Jackie Robinson's debut. Butts is credited with helping another Baltimore Elites infielder, Junior Gilliam, break into baseball, and Gilliam went on to have a fine Major League career, while his older friend and mentor, Butts, never got a chance. The Brooklyn Dodgers had an informal connection with the Baltimore Elites talent as Joe Black, who later became an important Brooklyn Dodger pitcher, was also on the Elites roster this year. Terrice (sic) McDuffie's photo (Terris McDuffie on the Black Yankees) is also on the poster. McDuffie was a good pitcher, and a great self-promoter. He wore a jacket that had letters across the back reading, "The Great McDuffie." This was a tough league. Despite all their talent, the Baltimore Elites finished fourth that season, and the Black Yankees finished last. Attendance throughout the league, because of the war, was booming. Who knew that once Robinson and other black stars began to play Major League ball, that in just a few years interest in the Negro Leagues would severely wane, and the Negro Leagues would be on their last legs by 1950? Poster is 17x15.5". Framed at 23.25x33.5". The broadside has a few small tears on upper left and along the left border. Also has some small spotting in a few places and four small holes, apparently where the poster was nailed. Otherwise good condition. This is a terrific broadside with important significance and wonderful foreshadowing of crucial racial change in American society.