One of the dominant Negro League baseball
teams of the 1930s and 40s. Based in Pittsburgh
, though they would often play home games in Washington, D.C
. Won 9 consecutive pennants
from 1937 to 1945 with a lineup featuring Josh Gibson
, Buck Leonard
, Cool Papa Bell
, and Vic Harris
Founded by workers at a U.S. Steel mill in Homestead, Pa. in 1910, the team began its rise to prominence in 1912 when Cumberland "Cum" Posey took over the teams' management. They enjoyed success as an independent barnstorming team until 1929 when they joined the American Negro League, which unfortunately folded a year later. Despite owning an excellent record against the Negro National League, Posey refused to join the league because he then wouldn't be allowed to recruit players from other teams in the league. The 1931 Grays are considered to be one of the best Negro League teams ever, featuring a young Josh Gibson, Smokey Joe Williams, and Oscar Charleston. The team compiled an astounding 136-17 record playing other teams along the East Coast.
In the early 30s, Gus Greenlee established the Pittsburgh Crawfords, and, offering more money than Posey, was able to lure Gibson, Charleston and several other Gray stars to his team. The Grays were subsequently forced to enter the Negro National League in 1934 to assure themselves of a successful season. However, the Crawfords were raided in the mid-30s by Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, and when many of the stars returned, including Josh Gibson, they returned to the Grays.
In 1937, the Grays began winning, and didn't stop until 1948, when they won the last Negro World Series ever played over the Birmingham Black Barons. Led by Gibson, Leonard, and later Cool Papa Bell, Luke Easter, Judy Johnson, and Wilmer Fields, the Grays dominated the Negro National League almost every year. In 1939, low attendance prompted the team to consider moving from Pittsburgh's Forbes Field to Washington D.C.'s Griffith Stadium. But the Pittsburgh fans rebelled, and the Grays initiated the unique arrangement of playing their Sunday home games in Washington, but the rest of their games in Pittsburgh. In 1950, after the deaths of Josh Gibson and Cum Posey and the loss of many of their stars to the major leagues, the Grays folded.