It’s kind of hard to talk about the Cleveland Browns without everyone thinking you’re talking about football. Especially when the baseball Browns were pretty forgettable – they only lasted for one season, 1924, and finished last in the Negro National League at 15-34. A number of players from the defunct Tate Stars were also on the Browns’ roster; if they weren’t very successful as the Tate Stars, they probably weren’t going to play much better as the “Browns.” The team even played at the same park, now rechristened Hooper Field from its former moniker of Tate Field. One interesting fact about the Browns is that they were managed by Hall of Famer Sol White. White was inducted into the Hall as part of the 2006 class that retroactively added a number of former Negro League players, managers and executives. Aside from being a star player in his youth, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, White also wrote one of the first books on black baseball – Sol White’s History of Colored Baseball.
Unfortunately, there was only so much the great White could do. When the team started the season by playing badly, White continued to tinker with the roster. It worked for a while, but ultimately the team just didn’t have the talent to compete with some of the stronger teams in the NNL. In fact when the powerful Kansas City Monarchs came to town, fans packed Hooper Field for the series, even though the Browns only won one of the four games. There was more excitement for the Monarchs, than for the Browns themselves.
The Browns tried to stay together in 1925, but could not find a place to play as their deal fell through with Hooper Field. They continued to barnstorm and play semi-pro teams, but were no longer with the NNL. Sol White left the team after 1924, and there’s no word of the team after a certain point in 1925. Many of the players from this roster were part of the next NNL team in Cleveland (and the next team in my series) the 1926 Cleveland Elites.
Part 1: The Cleveland Tate Stars