In the early days of organized Negro League baseball the Kansas City Monarchs established themselves as an absolute powerhouse. In the organization’s first nine years they won four league titles and one World Series. Much like John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins, Jordan’s Bulls or Ruth’s Yankees, the Monarchs built a legacy still known to sports fans across the country. In 1929 the Monarchs were built for business as usual. Behind the leadership and left arm of pitcher Andy Cooper, the Monarchs captured another Negro National League title with a record of 62-17, the highest winning percentage ever recorded for a Negro League ball club.
On the eastern side of the country, the Baltimore Black Sox struggled to find consistent success ever since being founded in 1916. That all changed in 1929 when club ownership struck gold with the “Million Dollar Infield” made up of 1B Jud Wilson, 2B Frank Warfield, SS Dick Lundy and 3B Oliver Marcelle. The group’s nickname came from media outlets in Negro League cities, who were saying what they could make if they played in the all-white major leagues. In 1929, the Black Sox, who played in the eastern American Negro League, won the first half of the season and the second half of the season to collect the organization’s first and only league title.
In a perfect world, the Monarchs and Black Sox of ’29 would’ve met in the Negro League World Series, but it’s important to note that due to different team’s financial issues, players being traded and displaced and general issues that came about, a World Series wasn’t played every year between the two best teams in the Negro Leagues.
A baseball nerd like me thinks it’s fun to think about what would’ve happened in 1929. Would the Monarchs have continued to put themselves above the rest with another championship? Would the Black Sox have been able to capture the team’s first and only World title?
This Sunday, the Royals and the Orioles pay tribute to the Monarchs and the Black Sox by wearing throwback uniforms. Baseball lovers and historians in both cities might find themselves wondering what could’ve been had that game taken place almost 85 years ago.