Memphis is known as a hoops town now. But for a big chunk of the 20th Century, baseball was king. And for African Americans in Memphis, that probably meant being a fan of the Memphis Red Sox — and going to games at the ONLY stadium owned by African Americans in the whole country: Martin Stadium, right at the corner of Danny Thomas and Crump.
Today’s clip tells the story of the Martin Brothers, prominent doctors, pharmacists and businessmen who bought the Negro League team in 1932 as well as the stadium. One fascinating bit of irony: One of the Martins, J.B. Martin, complained a little too loudly about then-mayor E.H. Crump. “Boss Crump” as he was called, was having none of it, and customers of Martin’s pharmacy found themselves harrassed by Memphis police — to the point where he moved to Chicago and started over.
The irony? A marker for Martin Stadium stands on Crump Boulevard — a street named for the man who drove J.B. Martin out of town.
I am indeed enjoying discovering these hidden bits of Memphis history! Let us know what you think!