Black baseball team that played in the historic Negro League between 1946 and 1962, but were around long before that, and continued barnstorming long into the 1970s. Although their name suggests that the team was a joke, they were in fact a baseball force to be reckoned with, as the first team to have future hall-of-famer named Hank Aaron on their roster. But after all, the Clowns are most famous for their zany antics, much like the Harlem Globetrotters. In fact, the Globetrotters and Clowns both shared owners at one time in Abe Saperstein.

The Clowns started off as a Miami team in 1929, during the heydey of Negro League baseball. Owner Syd Pollock then changed their name to the Ethiopian Clowns and finally the team landed in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 1946 season.

Although the Clowns would eventually shed most of their silliness in an effort to remain in contention, the Clowns' drew crowds and gained their initial notoriety for their jokes and trick plays. Their most famous "cast member" was Reese "Goose" Tatum. Pollock would actually offer the crowd their money back if Tatum was sick or injured that day. Tatum and his mates often put on gags such as using cartoonishly oversized gloves, or dressing up in self-deprecating grass skirts, in effort to confront the obvious racial stereotype. The Clowns once featured a second baseman who played the entire game seated in a rocking chair. Regardless, he still made several plays during the game, even flipping some successful double plays to be completed by the short stop. As an example of a trick play, their outfielders would sometimes let long fly balls soar over their heads when the opposing team had a baserunner in scoring position. Then, the Clown catcher would produce a hidden ball from his uniform and tag out the runner. Clown pitchers, including the famous Ed Hamman, often threw balls behind their backs or between their legs. Regardless, Clown pitching was still potent enough to win the Clowns three consecutive Colored World Championships in the 1950s.

Other famous Clowns over the years include Spec Bebop, a dwarf, and the oddly named King Tut. Bebop never played during the actual games, but was active on the sidelines during the game, acting as somewhat of a human mascot for the Clowns. Tut earned the nickname "The Crown Clown" or the "Clown Prince of Baseball," often dressing fashionably juxtaposing himself by playing in a full tuxedo and top hat. It should be noted, however that the term "Clown Prince of Baseball" is in itself a spoof of the title "Crown Prince of Baseball," given to the white leaguer Alexander Schacht.

Whether the Clowns were so popular with the white communities to which they would travel because of their high quality play or their bizarre theatrics is left to speculation. But in the end, it is difficult to ignore the athletic success of the Clowns over the years, as well as their ability to produce quality talent. Hall-of-famer Hank Aaron began his career with the Clowns. The ambidextrous power hitter went on to crank out the most ever career home runs than anyone to ever play the game. His official MLB total lists him at 755 home runs, but there is no telling how many he hit during his carreer in the Negro Leagues. The Clowns also surrendered a handful of other players to the whiter side of American baseball:

Toni Stone (1921-1996)

Height: 5- "7"
Weight: 145 lbs
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Position: Second Base

Probably one of the most historically intriguing players to play for the Clowns, or for any baseball team in the history of the game for that matter, was Toni Stone. Stone, the first female player in major league American baseball history, played second base for the Clowns in 1953 to replace Aaron, who signed with the white Boston Braves. Stone dominated in the AAGPBL (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) before moving over to the NAL, and maintained an impressive .265 average during her year long tenure with the big boys. There is now a baseball diamond in St. Paul, Minnesota named after Stone. In 1993, the Stone entered the Women's Sports Hall of Fame. Female players Connie Morgan and Mamie Johnson also played for the Clowns, totalling the only three female players to play for the Negro League.

NAL Postseason Records:

1950: Indianapolis Clowns (29-17) default champions (best record)

1951: Indianapolis Clowns (53-26) defeated Kansas City Monarchs (42-28)

1952: Indianapolis Clowns (26-18) defeated Birmingham Black Barons (23-15) seven games to five

1954: Indianapolis Clowns (43-22) default champions (best record)

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