Team: Homestead Grays 1911-1935
The Homestead Grays, a semipro team of steelworkers, were only one year old when Cum Posey joined them as an outfielder in 1911. Before long, he took them on his shoulders and transformed them into one of the greatest teams of all time in any league in any sport. With business savvy and an eye for baseball talent, Posey built what was a true dynasty. The Grays won eight of nine pennants from 1937 through 1945, along with three World Series titles.
Posey's Homestead Grays achieved a
level of success that rivaled the great
New York Yankees dynasties:
eight league pennants over a
Cum himself attended three colleges -- Penn State, Pittsburgh, and Holy Ghost (later Duquesne University). But although he was a smart student and a fine athlete, he never stuck around long enough to earn a degree. At Pitt, he was rated one of the best black basketball players in the country, and he led his basketball team in scoring at Holy Ghost.
Posey was not just manager and player for the Grays in their early years, he was also their booking agent and business manager. He moved off the field in 1929 and then off the bench in 1937, turning primarily to the business end of things.
In 1922, the crosstown-rival Pittsburgh Keystones began to raid Posey's team for players, but Posey was smart. He swung a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates to use Forbes Field when the Pirates were out of town, which provided a much bigger payday than smaller fields would allow.
Consequently, the Keystones did not last. The Eastern Colored League was formed in 1923, but Posey didn't join. Instead he remained independent and attracted players from other squads with bigger paychecks. By 1926, Cum was sitting pretty: His team went 140-13, and during one stretch that season, they won 43 straight.
Posey added Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Judy Johnson to his team, and they responded with an Eastern title in 1930 and a 163-23 record the following year for another championship. However, another crosstown competitor made its presence known. Pittsburgh numbers racketeer Gus Greenlee had deep pockets, and he enticed Charleston and Gibson to join his Pittsburgh Crawfords.
Posey fought back. He brought in his own well-connected partner, Rufus "Sunnyman" Jackson, and drove Greenlee from the league. A check for $2,500 brought Gibson back in 1937, and the ultimate Negro League dynasty was created. That year, the team went an astounding 152-11.
In 1940, Posey secured the use of Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium for some games, and the team traveled back and forth, often playing two or three games a day along the way. It was a financial bonanza for Posey. It is said that his team would draw 30,000 fans in D.C. just hours after the American League Senators had drawn 3,000. Posey was chosen for the Hall by the Special Committee on Negro Leagues in 2006.
Posey's statistics are unavailable.
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