44¢ Rube Foster
Negro Leagues Baseball
Issue Date: July 15, 2010
City: Kansas City, MO
In 1920, Rube Foster (1879-1930) met with several other Negro baseball team owners at the YMCA in Kansas City. When the meeting concluded, Foster introduced the Negro National League by proclaiming, “We are the ship, all else the sea.”
Foster said his goal for forming a Negro League was “to create a profession that would equal the earning capacity of any other profession… and do something concrete for the loyalty of the Race.” Foster backed that up by paying his players a minimum salary of $175 a month – at a time when the average monthly salary in America was $103.
Foster worked 15-hour days to keep the league running. To ensure payrolls were met on time, Rube advanced loans to other owners out of his own pocket. He also shifted players within the league to ensure equal competition between teams.
Foster wanted black players to be ready when integration finally came. He routinely spoke to players, telling them to always play at the highest level of excellence.
Rube Foster devoted his life to Negro baseball and to the uplifting of the sport as well as his race. Although Foster was not alive to see it, his dream of integration in baseball came true in 1947, when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.