The Fort Wayne Colored Giants helped bring the Fort Wayne community together around baseball
Alfred Brothers Jr. didn’t have many details to share when he first talked about a photo of the Fort Wayne Colored Giants semipro baseball team in 2003. Now you can hear the rest of the story.
Brothers, who has lived in Fort Wayne since 1986, will discuss the all African-American team during a George R. Mather Lecture Series presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday at The History Center, 302 E. Berry St. Admission to the lecture is free.
Fifteen years ago, the lecture series namesake, the late the Rev. George R. Mather, challenged Brothers to find out more about the Colored Giants. Brothers, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot and former engineer at Raytheon, has been combing through old newspapers and other resources since.
The Boston native has learned a lot, such as:
• Rather than playing for about a decade, as he first believed, Brothers discovered the Colored Giants started playing games as early as 1907 and continued until 1949.
• African-American baseball teams existed all over Indiana, not just in a few large cities.
• The Colored Giants traveled and played teams from a wide area. They occasionally played teams from the legendary Negro Leagues, including the Indianapolis ABCs; Homestead Grays from Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; and the Chicago American Giants.
• The Colored Giants had friendly rivalries with some of the all-white baseball teams in Fort Wayne, and the teams played each other frequently.
“We tend to think of the community as segregated,” Brothers said. “This (baseball) was one thing that pulled the community together.”
Advances in technology over the past 15 years have aided greatly in the search for more details about the Colored Giants, said Brothers, who also describes himself as an amateur genealogist.
Newspaper archives and the archives of baseball organizations and historical societies all are available on the internet, which has made it easier for him to track down information, such as when and where the Colored Giants played and who they played against, he said.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum also has been a great resource, he said.
The Fort Wayne Colored Giants team faded away a few years after Jackie Robinson, in 1947, broke the color barrier and became the first African-American man to play in Major League Baseball.
But Brothers hopes to make sure the Colored Giants’ story endures.
UP TO BAT
WHAT: Alfred Brothers Jr. will offer a George R. Mather Lecture Series presentation on “The Fort Wayne Colored Giants,” an African-American semipro baseball team that played in Fort Wayne from the early to middle 1900s.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: The History Center, 302 E. Berry St.
COST: Free admission
“Factory Families: Allen County’s History as a Manufacturing and Innovation Hub” will be discussed during a presentation and panel discussion 2-3:15 p.m. Feb. 11 at The History Center, 302 E. Berry St. Admission is free and open to the public.
The event is co-sponsored by the History Center, IPFW Helmke Library, IPFW Public History program and the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.
For more information about the Mather Lecture or panel discussion, contact the History Center at 1-260-426-2882 or go to www.fwhistorycenter.com.