Martin Stadium was one of only a few baseball stadiums that exclusively hosted a team from the Negro Major Leagues.Home of the Memphis Red Sox, of the Negro American League, the stadium opened in 1920. Satchel Paige, James "Cool Papa" Bell, and Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe are just the many baseball greats who played at or managed teams at Martin Stadium. The Memphis Red Sox organization came to an end in 1960 and Martin Stadium was demolished in 1961.
Backstory and Context
The Red Sox had been an active team in various Negro Leagues since the 1920s. Lewis, a prominent funeral home director, sold his team to the Martins. Stadium capacity was 3,000 people.4 Affiliated with the Negro National League from 1924 to 1930 (except 1926), the Negro Southern League in 1926 and 1932. The team operated as an independent from 1933 to 1936. In 1937 they joined the Negro American League where they remained until 1960. 1938 was the only season that the competed for a championship.5 A stadium owned by blacks, that promoted black athletics, was a unique cultural fixture in any American city much less a major city in the segregated south.
Four players associated with the Memphis Red Sox eventually were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown: Satchel Paige, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Willy Wells, and Turkey Stearns.6 Country singer Charlie Pride was a major league prospect, pitching for the Memphis Red Sox. The Martin's owned the Red Sox until 1960 the stadium was demolished in 1961.7 The documentary "Black Diamonds, Blues City" documents the story of the Memphis Red Sox and the Negro Major Leagues.8