Carolingian Steamroller

Negro League Teams in the Present Day (Philadelphia Stars)

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This series is a tribute to the Negro Leagues. Denied a place in segregated white baseball, African American players and businessmen/women formed their own teams and organizations. Though they faced grueling schedules, scarce resources, rampant racism on the road, the men and women who made the Negro Leagues built successful baseball teams that packed stadiums and generated some of the biggest stars of their era: Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige. After Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke the color line and Black Americans signed with MLB clubs, the Negro Leagues went into slow and steady decline.

 

In the past several years, we've seen Major League team embrace throwbacks from the Negro Leagues as event uniforms. Negro Leagues jerseys are popular sale items at retailers like Ebbett's Field Flannels. However, I have never seen a concept thread on this forum dedicated to the unique and exquisite sartorial style of Negro League clubs.

 

This series was designed with a simple premise in mind: what if in 1947, not just Jackie Robinson the player but entire Negro League franchises were integrated as Major League clubs. Lock, stock, and barrel.

 

Obviously this would create a ripple effect throughout the subsequent history of baseball. Some teams would move cities. Some expansion teams would never come into existence. Likely the concept of the AL and NL would be drastically different. The history of baseball as a business enterprise would no doubt be greatly affected by the presence of multiple African American club owners at the table.

 

Here I strove to ponder what those teams might look like if they were still taking the field today and this presents a challenge greater than designing any specific logos or scripts.

 

Perhaps the most important factor, especially prior to the present day, in a team's appearance was the opinion of ownership. It's why the Yankees still wear pinstripes. It's why the White Sox wore shorts in 1977.

 

Even today, African Americans make up a tiny fraction of owners in professional sports. Michael Jordan of the NBA's Hornets is the lone majority owner of a major professional franchise. Thus, constructing a vision of what kind of influence African American ownership would have over more than half a century of uniform design requires a lot of speculation.

 

Here I am limited by the fact that I am not myself African American. I cannot completely comprehend what changes, innovations, or trends would shape uniforms of the former Negro League teams over the intervening decades.

Thus I must declare that what I have done is the best that my own limited powers and particular design tastes can produce. If I have failed or made gross errors in judgment or sensitivity, I ask to please make those frailties known. I pledge to make any and all adjustments necessary up to and including terminating the entire project.

 

If nothing else, I will content myself with opening the door to greater discussion of Negro League uniforms as they, in my opinion, are well worthy of attention.

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We start off with the evolution of the Baltimore Elite Giants into the Baltimore Elite. In their own day, the Elite Giants had a bold black and red color scheme. So I've adapted that into a streamlined, simple uniform with a slender but bold "ELITE" script on the front of the jersey. The Elite Giants baseball patch remains as a tribute to the team's past. For the alternate, I used the Baltimore script from the early Orioles (since its close to the original Elite Giants script) added sleeve details reminiscent of the Baltimore city flag. 

 

C&C encouraged. Enjoy!

 

 

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That's a REALLY Sharp Baltimore kit in the Black

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"Only" because of its very significant socio-historical context, you have aroused my interest.

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This is a really interesting idea for a series. Can't wait to see where the rest of it goes!

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The Baltimore flag on the sleeves from the alt look gorgeous! I'm looking forward to see the rest of the series 👌🏻

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I'm really looking forward to seeing where this series goes! It's truly a great and original idea for a series, and one that gives the Negro Leagues attention they well deserve. 

 

Baltimore looks great! Like others have said I really love the alternate and it's design. Wonderful job!

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Yes that third black top and socks are the best of the set.

Some of those old clubs had sweet names.

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Today we follow up with the Newark Eagles. 

 

The idea here, is that the Newark Eagles and their famous owner Effa Manley pull a similar move to the NBA's New Jersey Nets and move to Brooklyn after the Dodgers and Giants leave town.

 

So the now Brooklyn Eagles end up occupying the spot the Mets took as New York's Long Island Team. 

 

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Drop-shadows and dual-colored striping: two of my favorite design elements! I love this set for Brooklyn, the color scheme is great too. Wonderful job!

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One thing that's really interesting about the Eagles is that you used the initial of their nickname--rather than their city name--on their cap. It's a nice little touch.

 

Looking forward to the next team!

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6 hours ago, coco1997 said:

One thing that's really interesting about the Eagles is that you used the initial of their nickname--rather than their city name--on their cap. It's a nice little touch.

 

Looking forward to the next team!

 

That's part of the original design. 

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Awesome idea,  I like both teams posted so far, will be following. Also, really digging the sleeves on the Elite's alternate

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Next up are the Birmingham Barons. 

 

The Birmingham Black Barons had a really interesting triple-B logo which appeared on caps and patches. So for a post-integration iteration of the team, I adapted it into a double-B which could alternatively stand in for "Birmingham Barons" or "Black Barons." Color scheme is based on the University of Alabama A&M's color scheme which is one of the state's Historically Black Colleges. The script is based on the current AA Birmingham Barons with adaptations to bring it more in tune with the original club. Big thanks to @coco1997 for designing the sleeve patch and @MJD7 for helping with the script. 

 

Enjoy!

 

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Now this is an excellent idea for a concept thread! As a bit of a Negro Leagues aficionado, I’m curious to see where you’ll go with some of them.

 

I like Baltimore’s design, emphasizing “Elite” and doing fun stuff with the black jersey’s sleeve. Good work.

 

The Eagles’ move sounds plausible here, and I like how you’ve handled the logos, the road uniform (I like the old Brooklyn script), and the drop shadow. My only real issue with it is that the drop shadow on the blue jersey should be on both the logo and numbers (or just no drop shadow). Well done!

 

The Barons have a fantastic color scheme (I love that historical tidbit) and you make good use of the scripts and striping scheme. It’s a well-executed modernization.

 

I’m curious to see what you’ll do with the Grays and Monarchs, among other teams. Keep up the good work!

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The Barons look outstanding! As @SFGiants58 said, it's a great color scheme. I also dig the Charlotte Knights-style numbers, and the sock striping is on point, too. 

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Birmingham looks great! I love each uniform combination, especially the away and the alt. The sock stripes are amazing too. The only criticism I could possibly find would be that I’m not too big on the number font. This might be unpopular, but I think an Old English font could work well given the cap logo and home uniform. Overall though, great job once again. This is shaping up to be a fantastic series.

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Loving this series so far! How many teams do you have planned?

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