Born September 17, 1879, in Calvert, Texas, to parents Sarah and Andrew Foster, he is known as the “father of black baseball” because of his pioneering spirit. In 1897 Foster began his baseball career at the age of 18 with the Waco Yellow Jackets, which was an independently owned black baseball team. Over the next three years, Foster showed brilliance and skills as he marveled the crowds. His performances earned him a reputation as a great baseball player, and also a spot on one of the top black baseball teams the Chicago Union Giants in 1902. As Foster began playing with Chicago he got off to a rough start and was released by the team. He would later sign with a semipro baseball team located in Ostego, Michigan; Bardeen’s Ostego Independents in 1902. During Fosters time with the Independents, he played twelve games and earned a record of eight wins and four loses and eighty-two strikeouts. Five of the games foster played in his strikeouts were not recorded, but it is stated that he totaled over one hundred strikeouts in the twelve games.
After the 1902 season Foster joined the best black baseball team around, the Cuban X-Giants based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His reputation as a great pitcher was growing more with every game played; he is noted for his performance in a black eastern championship game against the Philadelphia Giants. Foster was responsible for four of the teams five victories to win the series. Andrew Foster would become “Rube” Foster after defeating Rube Waddell in an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Athletics. Rube Waddell was a well-known left handed pitcher who was considered the best until he faced Foster. In 1904 Foster joined the Philadelphia Giants winning twenty games against black and white teams and only suffered six defeats. His two no-hitters and a .400 batting average helped him lead his team to the championship over his old team the Cuban X-Giants. The following seasons Foster lead his team to another championship compiling a fantastic 51-4 record as a starting pitcher. In 1906 Foster and the Philadelphia Giants would lead the charge in forming the International League of Independent Baseball Players, a league of both black and white players.
In 1907 Sol White the manager of the Philadelphia Giants, published his Official Baseball Guide: History of Colored Baseball. Foster contributed to the guide by writing an article titled “How to Pitch”; following the publication Foster and other players left Philadelphia and joined the Chicago Leland Giants. Foster would be named playing manager of the team, under his management the team won one hundred eleven games and only lost ten. The next season Fosters team tied with the Philadelphia Giants in the championship series, he was off to a great start as a manager. In 1916 Foster, I.C. Taylor, and team owners attempted to form an all-black baseball league but they could not agree to terms. At this time in fosters career he was more of a manager than a player, he would eventually became a full-time manager.
Many of fosters former players went on to become managers themselves. In 1919 Foster had a hand in financing the Detroit Stars; with the Stars he developed more players into managers. Most historians believe Foster was preparing these managers so he could create an all-black baseball league. 1920 was a year to be remembered, this was the year of the formation of the Negro National League. Foster, Taylor, and six other team owners met and came to terms for the formation of the league. Foster was named president of the NNL and managed his team the American Giants. As time passed the Hilldale Club and the Bacharach Giants, left the NNL and formed their own league, the Eastern Colored League. The NNL would lose players to the ECL but the two leagues agreed to respect the player’s contracts and play a World Series.
Foster would suffer a tragic accident in 1926 and almost lost his life. Along with the accident, Foster was suffering from a mental illness and was institutionalized in Kankakee, Illinois. The league would start to collapse with the absence of foster; at the same time fosters health began to decline. Foster would die in 1930, leaving behind a proud legacy. Unfortunately the NNL would collapse in 1931 under new management. In 1981 Foster was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as the first representative of the Negro Leagues. Every September the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosts its annual Andrew “Rube” Foster lecture, highlighting his life and legacy. Rube Foster was an innovator and an example of true entrepreneurship; he was a person to be celebrated. He created a means for black baseball players to have a league of their own to thrive as baseball players. The formation of the Negro National League shows Fosters proactive spirit; he was not waiting on white teams to give him a chance. Andrew “Rube” Foster, we stand on your shoulders.
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