From Kansas City to Baltimore and Back Again
After the 1940 season with the Monarchs, I went to Baltimore to spend the winter with Norman. Norman had spent the season as a utility player for the Baltimore Elite Giants and a starter for a team that was just southeast of Baltimore called the Sparrows Point Giants. The Sparrows Point Giants were owned by a medical doctor, Dr. Joseph Thomas, who wanted to get them into the Negro National League, which is where the Elites played. There was a big Bethlehem Steel plant in Sparrows Point and a huge shipyard. I think Dr. Thomas saw how the Homestead Grays filled their park with steelworkers, despite having had the Pittsburgh Crawfords nearby, and figured the same thing could happen in Sparrows Point.
Norman introduced me to Dr. Thomas and we talked a little baseball. He was a colored guy who just about owned Turner Station, which was a little town near Sparrows Point. He had his own baseball park, his own recreation park, and all kinds of other businesses there. He was about the popularest doctor in that city. He'd taken care of all the people. I guess that's the way he made his money. And he knew the people that ran the steel mill and the shipyard. All we had to do was go over there and say Doctor Thomas sent us, and we'd get a physical and go to work.
Sometimes you'd go to work with the bricklayers, sometimes at the steel mill. They had quite a few things you could do. Norman was working as a shipping clerk at the shipyard, and I got a job there too, working the third shift. We would work about seven-and-a-half hours a day. I went