From as early as the 1910s, baseball had become a festive part of life for many of the area’s Black communities. The fields of play were mostly sandlots, perhaps with chicken wire for a backstop, but each presented a weekend’s worth of entertainment. Teams from rival communities squared off in afternoon matches attended by crowds rooting for their home team. The games provided a respite from the oppression that permeated the county during the Jim Crow days. Baseball became emblematic of resilience in the face of segregation and injustice.
By the 1950s, an intra-county Black baseball league emerged that had grown to include nearly a dozen teams playing in the Sandy Spring area alone. Occasionally teams would cross the Potomac for interstate games with teams from Virginia. Important games were held in Norbeck at Bailey’s Field east of Georgia Avenue, a popular venue with bleachers, concessions stands, and outfield lights illuminating the hundreds of spectators who would gather for a game.
From the Mt. Zion Honey Drippers to the Sandy Spring All-Stars, Black communities produced a number of outstanding athletes who were denied the opportunity to match their skills against the area’s all-white teams. But they thrived nonetheless, bringing the pride of victory home to their communities.
Among the known Black baseball teams in the area were:
Sadly most of the players on these teams are gone, but some remain. If you have memories of watching or playing, please share your story with the museum via email.
Special thanks to Bruce Adams, who shared this photograph and his deep insights into the history of Black baseball in Montgomery County.