Baltimore Elite Giants

Baltimore Elite Giants

Owner Tom Wilson's franchise originated in Nashville in 1921, evolving from the Nashville Standard Giants, and entered the Negro National League in 1930, but in search of a large population base for financial support, the team was subsequently moved to Columbus in 1935 and to Washington, D.C., in 1936-1937, before finding a home in Baltimore in 1938.

The ballclub remained a fixture in the city for the next thirteen years. During the Elites' years in the Negro National League, the Homestead Grays were the dominant team, claiming nine consecutive titles, and competition was fierce between the two teams. The Elites battled them every year for league supremacy, and in 1939 the Elites claimed a tainted championship when they defeated the pennant winning Grays in a four team postseason tournament.

When the league folded after the 1948 season, the Elites joined the Negro American League, which assimilated the four remaining solvent franchises from the defunct Negro National League. In 1949, the first season of the restructured league and under the tutelage of new manager Lennie Pearson, the Elites won both halves of the split season to capture the Eastern Division title, and swept the Western Division's Chicago American Giants in four straight games to claim the league championship.

Tom Wilson was the force behind the Elites for a quarter century but, in declining health, he sold the franchise to longtime associate Vernon "Fat" Green in 1946. The franchise was floundering under his leadership, but he placed Dick Powell in charge of the team's operations in 1948. After Green's death Powell continued to run the team under power of attorney from Green's widow, and he temporarily resurrected the team for a final hurrah in 1949. But after slipping to second place in the East in 1950 and suffering financial problems, the club was sold to William Bridgeforth in the spring of 1951 for $11,000. After returning the team to Nashville for a final season, the team was dissolved and the Elite Giants' identity was lost.

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


Playoff champions (1939), League Championship Series (1949)

Negro National League (1938-1948), Negro American League (1949-1950)

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