The CLEVELAND ELITES were the city's representative in baseball's Negro National League for the 1926 season. Owned by Sam Shepard and managed by "Candy" Jim Taylor and Frank Duncan, the team folded by the end of the year with an abysmal 6-38 record. The Elites played their home games at Hooper Field.
Prior to the 1926 season, Shepard traveled to Texas, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, to recruit players for the team. His travels led to the singing of six players. Taylor, who served as manager of the St. Louis Stars returned to Cleveland, bringing two St. Louis players with him. However, by the end of June, only five players from the opening day roster remained on the team, three of which were pitchers. The poor play of the Elites led to management's decision to dismantle and rebuild the team in mid-season. At that point Duncan took sole control of the team and replaced its entire infield and most of the outfield. They managed to win several games in the week after the roster changes.
The Elites had a few flashes of brilliance during an otherwise dismal season. In early September the CLEVELAND GAZETTE called one of their recent victories "one of the most sensational rallies ever witnessed at Hooper Field." The Elites scored six runs during the ninth inning to beat the Detroit Stars 9-7. Even though the Elites had a good record against local, semi-pro teams, their record in league contests was still lackluster. The team folded at the end of the year, and Cleveland was offered the Indianapolis ABC franchise for the 1927 season.