Friday, June 13, 2014

Black Fives Exhibit @ NY Historical Society shines light on Pittsburgh Basketball History

Who knew there was a Homestead Grays- basketball team?

A small but tightly packed show I saw at the NY Historical Society shows off an era few people know about.

From The New Pittsburgh Courier

"Due to segregation in the early 1900s, Black athletes formed their own professional leagues. Because teams have five starting players, they were called “fives.” Some of the most famous Black Five teams were the New York Renaissance, or the Rens, the Washington Bears, and the most famous remnant of that era, the Harlem Globetrotters.
But Pittsburgh, and Duquesne University feature prominently in the exhibit because Cumberland Posey also starred for Duquesne during the Black Fives Era."
Also prominent was the Monticello Athletic Association which played in the Hill District- defeating Howard University for the 2011-2012 World Colored basketball championship.

From The Black Fives history website

"The Monticello lineup featured Walter Clark, Sell Hall, Israel Lee, Jim Dorsey, Cum’s brother Seward, and Cum Posey himself.

Cum Posey and Sell Hall also played baseball for the professional Homestead Grays, a Negro Leagues team that Posey eventually owned. (Posey was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2006.)"

Cumberland Posey, son of the Pittsburgh Courier owner- starred on Duquesne University's team under an assumed name- not because he was black but because he also played "pro ball" on the side. (Some players made $100 dollars a week!!)

The show is crammed with enough photos, clippings, ticket stubs and memorabilia to support several books.

The Black Fives Exhibit ends July 20th

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, 
New York City, NY

Tuesday – Thursday10 am – 6 pm
Friday10 am – 8 pm
Saturday10 am – 6 pm
Sunday11 am – 5 pm

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