FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Colored Giants served as the longest Black baseball team to represent the city of Fort Wayne.
Researchers say from 1907 to 1949, the Fort Wayne Colored Giants played baseball across the Midwest. Alfred Brothers Jr., PHD., said the team served as a bridge to all walks of life, bringing people together.
“It gave the community, both Black and white, a chance to get together. Because remember, Fort Wayne was very segregated in that time frame,” Brothers said.
Tim Tassler, head of the Society of American Baseball Research for the Fort Wayne Chapter, has been studying Black baseball for over 15 years. He says the Fort Wayne Colored Giants had great attendance at their games, especially when they would play the best local semi pro teams at the League Park Stadium.
“So what they would do is they played that game, and it was a crowd that was between 2,000 and 3,000. At that time, that was about the capacity of League Park,” Tassler said. “It was women, men, Black, white. A lot of people came together just because of the game of baseball, and the baseball in Fort Wayne.”
Brothers said the team also served as inspiration to the Black community in a time when they needed it the most.
“It gave young Black men an opportunity to see successful players in that sense to win and be role models,” Brothers said, “On a Sunday or Saturday, they’d go with their families out for a picnic and watch these young men play their famous sport,” Brothers said.
The Fort Wayne Colored Giants traveled throughout Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for baseball games. Owners, managers, and players had other jobs that contributed to the team financially. They received a stipend but when they realized that wasn’t enough money, they began to create new ways to generate income.
“Once in a while a couple of newspaper articles I found that they did fundraisers. They may have like, a dance or something. They may bring a band in and try to generate money from people attending the concert and those types of things,” Tassler said.
The Fort Wayne Colored Giants were not the only all-Black baseball team. Brothers said other Black baseball teams included the Black Diamonds, Riddle’s All-Stars (1920-1922), the Cadillac Colored Giants, and the Fort Wayne Colored Pirates.
There was also the Fort Wayne Cadillac Giants, and the Dupee’s All Nations Team. Tassler said those two teams were a result of the Fort Wayne Colored Giants splitting up in the mid 1900’s.
“Those two teams kind of lasted a year or two and then they were gone, but the Colored Giants were pretty much the most consistent throughout all those years,” Tassler said.
To this day, the Fort Wayne Colored Giants are recognized at the Fort Wayne TinCaps stadium with a plaque of honor for their contribution to history.
There are not many pictures or records left of the team aside from what researchers have been able to find over the years through newspaper articles, but their history will forever live on.