On Friday. May 30, 2014, the Baltimore Orioles will be away playing the Houston Astros in the annual Major League Baseball Civil Rights game. Both teams will be wearing throwback uniforms of Negro League teams and the Orioles will be wearing the uniforms of the Baltimore Elite Giants. In honor of this game, I like to share this photograph of the Baltimore Elite Giants taken at Westport Ballpark in southern Baltimore. Notice the huge advertisement above the scoreboard for Arrow Beer, which was made by the Globe Brewing Company in Baltimore.
First, lets talk about the Baltimore Elite Giants. Your friendly blogmaster here also has a deep interest in Baltimore sports history.
The Elite Giants were formed in Nashville in 1918 as the Standard Giants and were an independent team for many of their initial years. They were renamed the Elite Giants in 1921 and in 1930, they became members of the Negro National League.
The team moved to Cleveland and became the Cubs in 1931. After that season, the Negro National League disbanded and the team moved back to Nashville to play the 1932 season in the Negro Southern League and adopting the Elite Giants name. The Elite Giants then joined a new Negro National League in 1933. The team would move often, heading to Detroit, Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C., before settling in Baltimore in 1938.
The Baltimore Elite Giants would win the Negro National Title in 1939. After Major League Baseball integrated in 1947, the Negro Leagues started to have financial hardships and the Negro National League disbanded in 1949.
The Elite Giants then joined the Negro American League and won the Negro National Title in 1949. The Elite Giants were able to hold on for one more season and disbanded after the 1950 season. The Negro American League dissolved in 1962.
Now, let’s talk briefly about Arrow Beer (There will be a future post with more detail on this topic!)….
Arrow Beer was manufactured by the Globe Brewing Company, which traced its history in Baltimore back to 1748. Arrow Beer started, circa 1920, as a near beer substitute during the start of Prohibition. Arrow was the first legal Baltimore beer produced after Prohibition ended on April 7, 1933. Globe would continue to manufacture Arrow Beer until 1963, when it ceased brewing and was transferred over to Cumberland Brewing in western Maryland.
Looking closely at the Arrow Beer billboard, notice the reference to 200th Anniversary. Since Globe traced its heritage back to 1748, that would seem to indicate that this picture was taken in 1948. However, the scoreboard shows the Elite Giant hosting the Kansas City Monarchs, which were in the Negro American League, which dates the picture to 1949. So we now know, that Globe celebrated its 200th anniversary past 1948.
Beer and baseball go hand in hand together. From time to time here, we will be sharing some other memories of beer and sports in Baltimore and Maryland.
Baltimore Elite Giants photograph, May 1949, by Paul S. Henderson – part of the Paul Henderson Photograph Collection HEN.00.A1-056 at the Maryland Historical Society