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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND BROWNS (BASEBALL)

CLEVELAND BROWNS (BASEBALL)

The CLEVELAND BROWNS were the city's second professional Negro League Baseball team that played in Rube Foster's Negro National League. Formed in 1924 from the remnants of the CLEVELAND TATE STARS, the team was managed by black baseball legend and Hall of Famer Sol White. Allen H. Dorsey served as president for the league-financed Browns. The team played its games in Tate Field, rechristened Hooper Field prior to the 1924 season.

The team played their first games of the season against several white semi-pro teams from the Cleveland area, but lost their first official Negro League match of the season against the Detroit Stars in Detroit. The Browns then struggled for much of May, which prompted White to tinker with the roster. Initially, the changes appeared to work. In late June the Browns won three games in one week against the Pittsburgh Keystones, one of the league's top teams. Unfortunately, the Browns were never able to pull together a solid streak of victories. In early July "Candy" Jim Taylor returned to Cleveland as manager of the St. Louis Stars, and led his team over the Browns in both games of a doubleheader. The CLEVELAND GAZETTE appeared baffled by the Browns' inconsistency, since the paper believed that the team was strong offensively and defensively. Former star outfielder for the Tate Stars, "Bobo" Leonard, joined the Browns for one game while the team was in Chicago.

There was a great deal of promotion and excitement when the "greatest ball-team in America," the Kansas City Monarchs, were scheduled to come to town in July. The Cleveland Gazette anticipated the largest crowd in the history of Hooper Field for the game. The Browns only won one of the four games against the Monarchs, but the Gazette was pleased with turnout for the series, as fans nearly filled Hooper Field to capacity. The Browns finished in last place in 1924 with a 15-34 record.

Early in 1925, the Negro National League was thrown into chaos when Rube Foster resigned as president. Under the management of pitcher "Slim" Branahan the Browns opened the season against a semi-pro team from Lorain. Then the Browns learned that they had no home field for the 1925 season, after their deal with Hooper Field fell through. George Hooper, owner of Hooper Field, and Hooper's former business partner, L.L. Yancey showed up with their own "All Star" team for the 1925 season, hoping that it would replace the Browns as Cleveland's primary black baseball team. The "All Star" team, also referred to as the Star-Giants or Giants, supposedly played to very poor crowds.

The Browns were never heard of again after the 1925 season. Many of the team's players remained together to join Cleveland's next Negro League team, the 1926 CLEVELAND ELITES.