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Wed, 09.18.1901

The Leland Giants Baseball Team is formed

Leland Giants baseball team

*The Leland Giants baseball team is celebrated on this date in 1901. They were a Negro League baseball team that competed independently during the first decade of the 20th century.

Originally the Chicago Union Giants, they were a merger of the Chicago Unions and the Chicago Columbia Giants. In 1905, the team had a record of 43 straight wins between May 19 and July 16, 1905, when they lost to the Spalding team on their home grounds in Chicago. Bruce Petway took over catching duties in 1906, and the talent improved dramatically in 1907 as Rube Foster, Pete Hill, "Big Bill" Gatewood, "Mike" Moore, and four other players came from East Coast teams.

The 1907 team compiled a 110–10 record, including 48 straight wins. The Giants went 64–21 against semipro teams in 1908 and tied a cross-region match-up with the Philadelphia Giants at three games apiece. The team was managed by Foster in 1909 and was just 8–10 against other top black teams. The team faced off against the Chicago Cubs in a mid-October series. The Leland Giants had lost two one-run decisions and another close game against a team that had won 104 games in the MLB National League, showing they could compete with the top white teams in the country.

In 1910, Foster and Leland split, and Foster won the rights to the Leland Giants name; his new team was called the Chicago Giants. The Leland Giants went 11–0 against top black teams that year and said they went 123–6 overall. The club was the most talented to date, as Home Run Johnson and Pop Lloyd joined to play the middle infield, Petway, Hill, and Foster returned, and Frank Wickware joined the staff. After the season, the team traveled to Cuba for the winter, playing the island's top teams. Cuban teams signed Lloyd, Hill, Johnson, and Petway to play with them against the touring Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics. In 1911, the club was renamed the Chicago American Giants.

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