Known as the “First Black Father of Baseball,” Andrew “Rube” Foster was a baseball player, manager and one of the chief founders of the Negro National League. Born in 1879, Foster dropped out of the 8th grade to play baseball. He played for the Waco Yellow Jackets, the Chicago Union Giants, and several other teams in regional all-black leagues. He quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most powerful and technically skilled pitchers in black baseball.
Foster began his management career in 1907 with the Chicago Leland Giants—while also acting as the team’s pitcher. After a string of successful management jobs, Foster organized a meeting in 1920 with the six largest Midwestern baseball club owners with hope of putting together the first prosperous professional African-American baseball league. This meeting was hosted at The Paseo YMCA at 18th and Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri (the Paseo YMCA had a nation-wide reputation for supporting black athletics, particularly black baseball). Foster would go on to act as the organization’s president for a number of years, but never accepted a salary.
Today, Rube Foster is memorialized at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1981. The Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes him as “one of baseball’s greatest Renaissance men” for his multifaceted capabilities as a player, manager and league founder.
Each year in September, the Negro Leagues Museum hosts the Rube Foster Lecture Series.