1950 Baltimore Elite Giants Memorial Stadium Contract
Take a fascinating inside look at a Negro League game contract. By 1950, the time this contract for use of Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, was signed, the Negro Leagues were in severe economic distress. Jackie Robinson's debut, even in 1946 when he began playing with minor league Montreal, siphoned off significant attendance from the Negro Leagues. By 1950, with more teams employing African-American stars, the Negro Leagues were barely holding on. As an example of how helter-skelter scheduling in the Negro Leagues could become, notice how this contract, for two games, is dated August 4, 1950, for the first game only two days hither. A second game, for September 3, is also included. Contract shows all the expenses the Baltimore Elite Giants had to incur: $1,000 for the game or 20% of the gate receipts, minus taxes - whichever is greater. In addition, the Elite Giants had to pay for: ticket sellers and takers, gate men, parking lot attendants, security guards, announcers, scoreboard operators, and even what the contract termed "toilet attendants." The game went off as scheduled, with the Houston Eagles defeating Baltimore by 3-2. Winning Houston pitcher Jehosie Heard in 1954 became the Baltimore Orioles' first African-American hurler, and losing pitcher Joe Black later became the 1952 National League Rookie of the Year for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ten-page contract, including insurance indemnities, for each of the two games, is indicative of the problems Negro League teams had to overcome as they were usually without ownership of their own stadia, and thus had many expenses when they rented ballparks.
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