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Tom Wilson

Thomas T. Wilson
Nicknames: Tom, Smiling Tom

Career: 1921-1947
Positions: owner, officer (Negro Southern League, Negro National League)
Teams: Nashville Standard Giants (1918-1920), Nashville Elite Giants (1921-1934), Cleveland Cubs (1931), Columbus Elite Giants (1935), Washington Elite Giants (1936-1937), Baltimore Elite Giants (1938-1947)
Born: 1883
Died: May 17, 1947, Nashville, Tennessee

A prominent sportsman, businessman, and numbers banker in Nashville, Tennessee, he organized the Nashville Elite Giants in 1921 and shepherded the ballclub through difficult times, playing variously in the Negro Southern League and the Negro National League, and moving the franchise to Cleveland, Columbus, Washington, and Baltimore in search of diamond success and solvency. He owned the Paradise Ballroom in Nashville, providing him with a legitimate source of income to invest in his ballclub.

In addition to being an owner and team officer, he served as a league officer in assorted positions, including secretary and president of the Negro Southern League and vice chairman, treasurer, and president (1936-1946) of the Negro National League. He also was credited as a primary force behind organizing the first East-West All Star game, in 1933.

He began his association with baseball teams in 1909 with the Nashville Maroons and, four years later, connected with a team called the Elites in 1913. Later he was with the Nashville Standard Giants. During his involvement with baseball he acquired the nickname "Smiling Tom."

Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.