Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Neal Pease

Committee Members

Neal Pease, Joe Austin, Joseph Rodriguez


African American, Baseball, Black, Midwest, Milwaukee, Negro League


While historians have learned a great deal about the Black professional baseball played during organized baseball’s Jim Crow era, there are many teams whose stories are yet to be told. Two of these teams, the McCoy-Nolan Giants and Milwaukee Bears, played their home games in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1920s. By exploring the untold histories of the McCoy-Nolan Giants and Milwaukee Bears, much can be learned about overarching themes in early-twentieth century Black professional baseball. By analyzing newspaper coverage of the McCoy-Nolan Giants, an independent barnstorming team without Negro League affiliation, important truths about the experience of Black baseball on the road come to light. Similarly, examining newspaper coverage of the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, a short-lived franchise in the Negro National League, highlights many of the league’s shortcomings, including franchise instability, scheduling inequities, the absence of Black ballpark ownership, and a general lack of cooperation between team owners. This analysis of the reasons behind the Bears’ failure to finish a full season in Milwaukee also sheds light on themes in the development of Black Milwaukee in that the city’s relatively small and working class Black population made Milwaukee a difficult market in which to attract fans.