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Rube Foster

Andrew Rube Foster (he adopted the nickname as his official middle name later in life) was the founder of the Negro National League, the first stable professional baseball league for African-American ballplayers, which operated from 1921 to 1931.

Born: September 17, 1878 or 1879, Waco, Texas
Died: December 9, 1930

A pitcher of some renown, Foster could not play in the white major leagues but took pride in defeating white teams during exhibition games. He later excelled as a manager and owner of the American Giants, a barnstorming baseball team.

In 1920, Foster founded the Negro National League, the first stable Negro League, primarily for purposes of booking games for the American Giants. With a stable schedule and reasonably solvent opponents, Foster was able to improve receipts at the gate. When opposing clubs lost money, he would often help them meet payroll, sometimes out of his own pocket. (This was in his club's self-interest, of course, but also stemmed from Foster's belief that African-American ballplayers needed a stable league of their own.)

Foster ran the American Giants and the NNL with a firm hand (some say too firm), until he fell ill in 1926. After a lingering illness, he died in 1930. After his death, without an equally firm hand at the tiller, the league folded, but was succeeded in 1933 by a new Negro National League.

He was inducted into the United States Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

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