Honouring the Oakland Larks - West Coast Baseball Association Champs July 18 2016, 0 Comments
From 1887 to 1947 there were no contracts with African American players on teams in baseball's major leagues. Jackie Robinson broke that barrier in 1947 when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In California at the turn of the century, winter league baseball was flourishing and African American teams played in the integrated league. Interest and respect for African American players in the California Winter League grew and in 1946 the West Coast Baseball Association was created.
Berkeley fireman Ed Harris spearheaded the idea for the WCBA and was the Business Manager for the Oakland Larks. Harlem Globetrotters founder Abe Saperstein was President of the WCBA and Olympian Jessie Owens served as Vice President. Owens was also the owner of the Portland Rosebuds.
The league consisted of six teams; the San Francisco Sea Lions, the Seattle Steelheads, the Portland Rosebuds, the Oakland Larks, the San Diego Tigers, and the Los Angeles White Sox.
The season opener was a game between the Oakland Larks and the San Diego Tigers on May 12, 1946 at Fresno Midget Auto Racing Park. The league only played one season, disbanding after the final game in July, 1946. The Larks were the 1946 West Coast League Champions and continued to play as a barnstorming club all over the United States through 1947. In November 1946 to a crowd several hundred fans, the Larks defeated Jackie Robinson’s All Stars in an exhibition game at Perris Hill Park in Los Angeles.
Former Oakland Mayor Lionel "Lefty" Wilson pitched for the Larks along with teammate Marion "Sugar" Cain who went on to play professionally in Canada from 1950-1957.