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 Hudson Valley Renegades

Renegades to Honor Pioneering Black Baseball Team Newburgh Gorhams in 2024

February 15, 2024 - South Atlantic League (SAL)
Hudson Valley Renegades News Release


Wappingers Falls, N.Y. - The Hudson Valley Renegades, the High-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, are proud to announce today that for their game on Friday, August 2 against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws they will take the field as the Newburgh Gorhams, paying tribute to one of the first all-black professional baseball teams in the United States.

"The Gorhams are an integral part of baseball history in the Hudson Valley and are one of the best and most important professional teams of the early days of baseball," said Zach Betkowski, General Manager of the Renegades. "We are so excited to be bringing them back to life to make sure their legacy is remembered for their significance to both our Hudson Valley and professional baseball communities."

"The rich history of America's pastime runs directly through the Hudson Valley," said Dutchess County Legislator Randy Johnson. "In the nascent days of baseball, all-black professional clubs such as the Newburgh Gorhams overcame obstacles that would seem insurmountable to the modern fan and in the process paved the way for generations of future ballplayers. The story of baseball, and the story of America for that matter, cannot be told without telling the story of clubs such as the Gorhams. I am thrilled that the Hudson Valley Renegades will honor their legacy this season and I greatly look forward to this historic event."

According to research conducted by Bob Mayer, the New York Gorhams were organized in 1886 in New York City by Ambrose Davis, a saloon owner, and his business partner Phillip Snipper. They got their name from Alexander Gorham, another Manhattan saloon owner who operated an establishment on the same block as Davis.

Though the Gorhams are not the first known all-black professional baseball team, Davis is the first known African-American team owner in professional sports.

After spending 1886 barnstorming and playing exhibitions against other New York-area professional and amateur teams, the Gorhams joined the League of Colored Baseball Players, the first-ever all-black professional baseball league, which featured teams in Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Louisville, Baltimore and Philadelphia, in 1887. The Gorhams beat the Pittsburgh Keystones 11-8 in the league's first-ever game on May 6, but by May 23 the league folded due in part to financial and travel issues among the clubs.

The Gorhams made the move to Newburgh during the summer of 1887, when the Brooklyn Eagle reported that Gorhams manager John "Bud" Fowler had "leased the ball grounds on Benkard Heights, Newburgh, and the club has made that city its headquarters."

Fowler, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2022, is the first-known professional black baseball player, and enjoyed a lengthy career playing on both integrated and all-black teams.

The team was tremendously successful in Newburgh, including picking up wins against the other dominant all-black team of the era, the New York Cuban Giants. In the ensuing years, the Gorhams operated as a barnstorming team and occasionally competed in leagues comprised of all-white teams.

As the team moved around to homebases outside the Hudson Valley, they continued to be one of the finest teams in either white or black professional baseball. At various times they boasted three Hall of Famers on their roster including Fowler, Sol White and Frank Grant, as well as several other top black players like George Stovey.

In 1891, there is a record of the Gorhams playing over 100 games and losing only four of them, including going on a 39-game winning streak. On August 15, 1891, President Benjamin Harrison attended a Gorhams game in Cape May, New Jersey, the only time a sitting President watched a game involving a black baseball team during the entire era of segregated baseball.

Despite their success on the field, the Gorhams disbanded in 1892.

The Renegades will wear special Gorhams jerseys during the game, and will pay tribute to the black baseball pioneers who made tremendous contributions to the national pastime. In addition to wearing the jerseys, the Renegades will offer special sponsorship packages for black-owned businesses to network with the community on this night, and will strive to create the party atmosphere of an HBCU football game.

Gorhams merchandise will be available for preorder soon.

The game is part of the team's participation in Minor League Baseball's "The Nine" initiative. Launched in 2022, "The Nine" is a black-community focused outreach platform specifically designed to honor and celebrate the historic impact numerous black baseball pioneers made on the sport, provide new opportunities for youth baseball and softball participation, further diversify the business of baseball and embrace millions of passionate fans throughout Minor League Baseball's 120 communities nationwide.

Named for the number Jackie Robinson wore during his only season playing in MiLB with the Triple-A Montreal Royals in 1946, The Nine connects MiLB teams' existing, black-community focused development efforts with new national programming and future special events in a coordinated and centralized campaign.


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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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