African American History Month - Week One

African American History Month - Week One
Posted on 02/01/2021
African American History Month - Week OneAFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS

African Americans participated at the top levels of popular sports early in American sports history. However, racism and segregation became the order of the day by the first two decades of the 20th century. African Americans were pushed out of the sports where they excelled and excluded from other sports that were becoming popular. 

African-American baseball clubs were organized in Maury County in the early 1900s. The Columbia Cubs were organized before 1907 and a few years later, managers W. T. Porter, H. M. Flippin, and S. H. Dunington reorganized the Columbia Cubs and changed the name to the Columbia Athletics. In 1910, Harlan Green organized the Black Sox. Playing the home games in Riverside and South Side Parks, these teams competed with teams from surrounding counties as well as the teams from Fisk and Roger Williams Universities. Some of Maury County’s players were Dave Armstrong, Sol Blair, H. M. Flippin, Harlan Green, W. Y. Green, Jr., Rufus Hopkins, Clark Kelley, Walter Love, Clyde McDonald, Don Osborne, Jonah Wilkes, Allen Williams, and Edgar “Slim Jim” Mayes, one of the most notable. Mayes, known for his pitching, once struck out seventeen batters, allowing only three single hits in a game at Riverside Park against the Standard Giants of Nashville. 

In 1920, after failing to get any of the white baseball leagues to integrate, the National Negro League (NNL) was established consisting primarily of teams already playing. The NNL became the first black long-term league in any professional sport. It launched with eight teams: Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Cuban Stars, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Kansas City Monarchs, Indianapolis ABCs, and the St. Louis Giants.

Brooklyn Kindle

In December 2020, after 100 years, the Major League Baseball Commission (MLB) decided to recognize the Negro Leagues as “Major Leagues.” The MLB is in the process of reclassifying the Negro League statistics from 1920 to 1948.
Maury County natives William Horace Kindle, Robert William Abernathy, and Johnnie Childress are included in the approximately 3400 Negro League players from across the United States. 

Born in Mount Pleasant in 1891, William Horace Kindle started his career in baseball in 1911, almost 10 years before the National Negro League was established. An infielder, he played most of his career with the Brooklyn Royal Giants and played the last three years with Lincoln Giants, ending his baseball career in 1920. While playing baseball, Kindle earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fisk University in 1914. At Fisk, he was the president of his class and the Student Council; a member of the baseball team for six years, captain for four years; assistant gymnasium instructor; and director of boy’s activities at the city’s social center. 

Continuing his education, Kindle attended the International YMCA College (renamed Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1916. At the YMCA College, Kindle was a member of the varsity rugby and baseball teams. After graduating, Kindle became the Physical Director of the “Colored Y.M.C.A in Chicago Illinois. He joined the military in 1917 and was the Athletic Director at the Army YMCA Camp Upton in New York. He also served a tour of duty in France with Company M, 811th Pioneer Infantry Regiment in the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1919 with the rank of First Sergeant. 

Kindle Army

After the war, he went back and forth between Physical Director at the YMCA and professor at different colleges in the United States including Talladega College in Alabama. In 1929, Kindle published, “Special Study of Physical Education in Southern Secondary Schools for Negroes.”

Kindle was the son of Elbert and Maggie Hoge Kindle. He married Ethel Johnson and they had two children. He died in 1952 at age 61 in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Our thanks to Jo Ann McClellan, President & Founder of the African-American Heritage Society of Maury County for sharing this article, helping to recognize and celebrate African American Heritage month. 

These athletes and more are featured in the African American Heritage Society's 2021 History Calendar, "The World of Sports". Order form is available on Facebook:

Stay tuned for the Week Two article on NEGRO BASEBALL LEAGUE players Robert Abernathy and Johnnie Childress.