The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory is announcing that they’ve made an engrossing Black history discovery that involves a little known baseball team. The Kentucky based museum where the world-famous Louisville Slugger bats are created also highlights baseball stories of past and present and their Curatorial Specialist, Bailey Mazik recently uncovered an exciting new discovery.
Mazik recovered photos and information about a pre-integration baseball team. In June of 2018, the museum acquired two photographs of ballplayers posed in action shots who were believed to be part of The Louisville White Sox, a Negro League team in 1931.
But upon further research, Mazik discovered the photos actually depict The Louisville Unions, a pre-Negro League team that dominated the Southern baseball circuit in 1908. This rare find is an important addition to the documented history of black baseball leagues.
“During a curatorial investigation it’s incredibly rewarding for me to find meaningful connections that broaden the understanding of baseball in our country and in our culture through time,” said Mazik. “There’s still more I’d like to learn about these photos and this team, but it’s so gratifying to know the Louisville Unions have been rediscovered as a part of baseball’s story, where they belong.”
Muzak says she noticed that the players couldn’t be part of the White Sox after noticing that their uniforms were not consistent with the team’s, moreover she noticed a bourbon distillery beyond the outfield fence, the Sunny Brook Distillery Co. which was located at 28th and Broadway from 1897 – 1909. This discovery eventually helped place the team at what turned out to be a historically significant ballfield.
The Louisville Courier-Journal was also a vital resource in the investigation, providing the necessary information to confirm the Louisville Unions identification and the publication’s 1908 baseball coverage included a description of the squad as being, “the best colored team in the South.
Details of Mazik’s quest to learn more about these talented ballplayers and black baseball in Louisville are captured in an engaging blog post she authored for Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s website that you can read HERE.
A display featuring the Louisville Unions is now on view at the museum through September 7, 2020.