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Thu, 02.25.1869

Frank Leland, Baseball Player, Coach, Manager, and Owner born

Frank Leland

*The birth of Frank Leland is celebrated on this date in 1869. He was a Black baseball player, field manager, and club owner in the Negro Leagues.

Frank C. Leland was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1886. He began his professional baseball career with the Washington Capital Cities in the 1887 National League of Colored Baseball Clubs, a team that played no league games before the experiment collapsed. He "moved to Chicago and was instrumental in organizing and developing five successful baseball teams in that city." In 1888, he organized the black amateur Union Base Ball Club with sponsorship from some of Chicago's black businessmen. Leland obtained a lease from the city government to play at South Side Park, a 5,000-seat facility.

In 1898 his team went pro and became the Chicago Union. He played outfield with the Unions in the 1880s. Leland also worked as the umpire for the club in the first few years. He also worked as the traveling manager of the Chicago Unions. In 1901 he merged the Unions and the Columbia Giants to form the Chicago Union Giants. This became the top Negro League team in the Midwest. The team changed its name to the Leland Giants in 1905 after his partnership split with W.S. Peters; in 1907,  Rube Foster replaced Leland as manager. Leland remained president of the board of directors for the Leland Giants until he resigned in September 1909. Newspapers of the day reported that Leland, who used to own the club on his own, sold away rights to a stock company in 1909 and "had little said in the management of the team."

While Rube Foster continued to run the Leland Giants Baseball Club, Leland started a new baseball corporation in October 1909 called "Leland's Chicago Giants Baseball Club" or, in short, "Chicago Giants" opening his offices at 2551 State Street in Chicago. He signed Bill Lindsay as his first pitcher. Foster changed the Leland Giants' name to the Chicago American Giants, and Leland's team became the Chicago Giants. Frank Leland produced and worked with well-known pre-Negro league baseball players: Bill Lindsay, Walter Ball, Harry Buckner, William Horn, George Hopkins, Harry Hyde, William Monroe, George Wright, Harry Moore, Pete Burns, Lewis Reynolds, William Smith, Dangerfield Talbert, Bert Jones, Nathan Harris, Rube Foster, and Andrew Campbell.

In his life outside of baseball, Frank Leland served as a clerk in the Criminal Court, a clerk in the Circuit Court, a clerk in the Board of Review, a Deputy Sheriff, and a member of the Board of County Commissioners in Cook County in Chicago, Illinois.

Frank Leland died on November 14, 1914, at his home, 2348 Dearborn Street. According to his death certificate, he was married to a woman named Finnie. Also, on his death certificate, the undertaker appears to have marked Leland's death as Aortic Insufficiency due to exhaustion. He was buried at the Lincoln Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

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