The Museum of Hoaxes
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The worms inside your face
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
The disumbrationist art hoax, 1924
Princess Caraboo, servant girl who became a princess, 1817
Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
Black League Basketball
Status: Never Existed
image Remember the Black Basketball League? Its teams (including favorites such as the Newark Eagles, Harlem Knights, Baltimore Crabs, West Philly Dancers and Cleveland Ebonies) competed from 1920-40, when they were shut out of the all-white league. Consumers can now honor the memory of this league by buying sportswear emblazoned with the team logos. Of course, if you don't remember this league, it might be because historians insist that it never existed. But Eric Williams, the guy who's selling the black league sportswear, isn't letting that minor fact bother him. He explains that:

"These logos had to come from somewhere.. Whether there was a league or not those logos ... that's still nice to represent the 'hood or whatever it was. Those were all the inner cities. (Whether it was) an interim league or a professional league, those leagues and those logos, to me they sound like they exist. The story sounds good to me so I'm rolling with it."

So there you have it. Damn the facts. He's rolling with the story. (Thanks to Joe Littrell for the link.)
Categories: History, Sports
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 16, 2005
Comments (32)
Humorous. I'd almost consider wearing a black basketball league jacket, but I'm sure they're overpriced.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  01:11 AM
I'm thinking I should start selling T-shirts and other clothing from the now-defunct Negro Hockey League. Who could forget the Harlem Highstickers, the St. Louis Soul and the Washington Booker T's? Unfortunately, racism kept even the League's best players out of the NHL.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  04:17 AM
All I can remember are the Kansas City Monarchs and the Philedelphia (or was it Pittsburg?)Crawfords.

Wait, here's a list of all the teams;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negro_League_teams
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  08:38 AM
At first, I thought this was kind of like those leather bomber jackets with fake squadron names on them, or even those wierd letterman jackets and sweaters that say vague stuff like "varsity" and "cheer". but the more I think about this, the more offensive it seems. There were a number of black "barnstormer" teams around at that time, adn they have a history which should be honored. I bet it's cheaper to make up an "vintage" logo and market it than it is to make a dal with the current holders of the rights. I do have to say that the Black Five stuff looks pretty cool.

http://www.blackfives.com/
Posted by Gearyster  in  several feet above sea level  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  12:23 PM
Cranky Media Guy said:
"Unfortunately, racism kept even the League's best players out of the NHL"

I know your kidding but even today, the number of black players in the NHL can be counted on the fingers of one hand. However, I believe this has more to do with the sport's demographics than racism.

David Letterman had a different theory in one of his "Top 10" lists many years ago. Unfortunately it pre-dates the "Top 10 List" archives on his web site. Some of the items I rembember from the

TOP 10 REASONS BLACKS DON'T PLAY HOCKEY:

#10 "Don't feel the need to dominate another sport right now."

#9 "Gee it's cold in here!"

#8 "Don't want to be chased by a bunch of white guys with masks and sticks."
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  02:35 PM
Captain Al says:
"I know your kidding but even today, the number of black players in the NHL can be counted on the fingers of one hand. However, I believe this has more to do with the sport's demographics than racism."

It probably has more to do with the small number of black people in rural Canada than anything else.
Posted by Big Gary, tossing another log on the fire  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  06:59 PM
When's somebody going to commemorate the late, great Negro Polo League?
Posted by Big Gary in Omsk  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  07:01 PM
Warning: I am about to tell a joke. (Please, I am not in any way a racist, that kinda thing ruined a large portion of my home country's history) Ok, what do you call 2 black guys being followed by a crowd of rich people? The answer: The PGA tour. (Again, I hope that you don't think I'm a racist.
downer )
Posted by Lady Hedoniste  in  Chilling with 14 other tiny people in your head.  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  07:18 PM
Big Gary said:

"When's somebody going to commemorate the late, great Negro Polo League?"

We fans will never forget the NPL. I for one never missed a single game of the Chuckers.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  07:19 PM
Captain Al said:

"...even today, the number of black players in the NHL can be counted on the fingers of one hand. "

I was under the impression you could count them on your thumbs and perhaps even have one left over.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  07:21 PM
There was a Negro League in baseball but I think the Negro Sychronized Swiming Association was a much larger tribute to the spirit and determination of the black people of early last century.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  12:15 PM
Christopher Cole said:

"There was a Negro League in baseball but I think the Negro Sychronized Swiming Association was a much larger tribute to the spirit and determination of the black people of early last century."

What killed the Association, of course, was the Jim Crow laws of the South that required blacks to use separate diving boards.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  05:48 PM
Cranky Media Guy, Jim Crow was in all parts of the country not just the South. And it wasn't the seperate diving boards but the requirement that the negros drink all the pool water before any whites got in. They had to drink it because it was too much trouble to cleanse it before throwing it away when changing it.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Nov 18, 2005  at  07:42 PM
Thanks, Christopher Cole, for setting me straight. I, of course, knew all that but had forgotten. After I read your post, I went to wikipedia (which I should have done in the first place) and confirmed what you said.

The Pool Water Riots were a shameful time in our history but necessary under the circumstances to set things right for Black synchronized swimmers.

I still remember visiting the South as a young boy and seeing the "Coloreds Only" bucket of pool water sitting idle in a corner. It wasn't used by that point, of course, but it was still a surprise to see something I had only read about.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this whole thing how the name "Dixie Cup" got started?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  03:19 AM
Cranky Media Guy, if I remember right the Dixie cup was started by Aidan Ivor Dixie from New Orleans. He was a bar owner and sold his drinks by the cup. He wasn't making enought money so he inventer the Dixie cup to use for his drinks. He was so popular that people wanted his cups for themselves so he began selling them to prevent people from stealing them from his bar. One of his first customers was the New Orleans Public Swimming Pool system. Either that or they were first sold in bundles of ten, or maybe something completely different.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  01:04 PM
Carmen in Vancouver, BC said:
"Please, I am not in any way a racist, that kinda thing ruined a large portion of my home country's history."

Just out of curiousity, Carmen, what is your home country? Canada?
Posted by Big Gary in Old Dime Box, Texas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  03:28 PM
Yes, Christopher Cole, that's the story. Thanks for refreshing my memory. Tell me, why is it you know so much about the old Negro Synchronized Swimming Association? Did you write a paper on it for college or something?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  04:02 PM
Actuall, Cranky Media Guy, I'm the guy that ran it. And if you believe that, I have a bridge I want to talk to you about. Let you have it cheap, just one owner.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  05:44 PM
I know that some of these posts are trying to be funny, and I know that they are pointed at Eric Williams and his hoax, and that is cool, but when people parody the idea of long lost African American accomplishments, it belittles the real life actual long lost accomplishments of African Americans, many of which are still virtually unknown. For example, African Americans were playing hockey in Canada as early as 1895 (do some research: http://www.birthplaceofhockey.com/hockeyists/african-n-s-teams/segr-integr.htm). Now the joke about the defunct negro hockey league doesn't seem so funny, even though I know it was meant as just kidding around.
Posted by claude  in  Greenwich, CT  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  11:30 PM
"I do have to say that the Black Five stuff looks pretty cool. http://www.blackfives.com/ "

In addition to that Black Fives website, other websites with factual details about early African American participation in basketball include these:

http://www.hoophall.com/education/education_freedom.htm

http://hometown.aol.com/bradleyrd/apbr.html
Posted by Claude  in  Greenwich, CT  on  Sat Nov 19, 2005  at  11:37 PM
Christopher Cole said:

"Actuall, Cranky Media Guy, I'm the guy that ran it. And if you believe that, I have a bridge I want to talk to you about. Let you have it cheap, just one owner."

I don't understand. It's almost as if you're saying that the Negro Synchronized Swimming Association wasn't real.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Nov 20, 2005  at  04:10 AM
Cranky Media Guy, I occasionally have to defend myself from the accusation that I have a sense of humor. Synchronized swimming became a sport as a result of a campaign by one of the big Hollywood movie studios after WW II. The goal was to allow the film star, Dorthy Lamour (sp?), the swimmer who did several films featuring swimming, to become an Olympic medalist. I don't remember the year that synchronized swimming became an Olymic sport, but I think it was in the mid-60's. The comments about changing the water was based upon comments made by various black people about some of the conditions they had to live through in the 30' through the 50's and maybe early 60's. I thought the alledged joke was clear, but if you didn't get it - sorry. If you did and are just pulling my leg here, be careful which one you pull.
I don't watch Olympic synchronized swimming or any other ver often but I do think I've seen teams with one or two black women (never more) but vary few.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  04:06 PM
The great synchronized swimming star of Hollywood was Esther Williams, and in fact I think she did win one or more Olympic medals, but I don't remember in which event(s).
Posted by Big Gary in Muleshoe, Texas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  06:47 PM
"... when people parody the idea of long lost African American accomplishments, it belittles the real life actual long lost accomplishments of African Americans ..."

But, you see, the point is that African Americans' accomplishments in basketball have never been exactly secret, nor has basketball (or hockey) ever (to my knowledge) been segregated in the way that major league baseball was for many years, and besides ... oh, never mind. When you have to explain why something's funny, you've already lost.
Posted by Big Gary in Muleshoe, Texas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  06:56 PM
"But, you see, the point is that [1] African Americans' accomplishments in basketball have never been exactly secret, [2] nor has basketball (or hockey) ever (to my knowledge) been segregated in the way that major league baseball was for many years ..."

I'm glad you put the conditional "to my knowledge" in there because, you are right, you do not have the knowledge. You are completely wrong on both counts. Please do your homework.
Posted by Claude Johnson  in  Greenwich  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  07:20 PM
OK Big Gary, I wrote that without going to any of my reference works, so I sit corrected. It may be that she won before she went Hollywood. But I do remember reading about how her studio - MGM perhaps? - pushed synchronized swimming for her.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  08:05 PM
Christopher Cole, you seem to think I was joking. Moi? Actually, yeah, I was just playing along with you. Was I too subtle? I'm not often accused of subtlety. I thought that referring to a wikipedia entry for black synchronized swimming would throw people off. Did it?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 21, 2005  at  10:35 PM
Cranky Media Guy, I don't know much about wikipedia but I understand that the entries there can be edited. I was thinking that someone who had been following this thread decided to hoax a bunch of people and make such an entry.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Tue Nov 22, 2005  at  07:38 PM
Christopher Cole said:

"Cranky Media Guy, I don't know much about wikipedia but I understand that the entries there can be edited. I was thinking that someone who had been following this thread decided to hoax a bunch of people and make such an entry."

Yes, you're right, Wikipedia can be edited by anyone at all. The simple fact in this case, though, is that I simply made that up. I figured most people reading what I said wouldn't check to see if there really WAS a Wikipedia entry like I described and claiming that there was one would give my BS a veneer of credibility.

My friend, the late Andy Kaufman, would probably be appalled that I'm letting the cat out of the bag here rather than continuing the joke to the bitter end (not that it was that great a joke, really). Sorry, Andy.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 23, 2005  at  02:04 AM
OK, Claude Johnson, you say I'm wrong (which may well be true), but you don't say what the correct information is.
When, and for how long, was professional basketball legally segregated by race? And when and how did this segregation end?

This story is well known as it pertains to major league baseball, but I've never heard it about big-time basketball. All the teams I've known about in my lifetime were integrated (though sometimes the management was all-white), and in fact many of the teams were and are completely dominated by African-American players.
Posted by Big Gary in Turkey, Texas  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Thu Nov 24, 2005  at  08:22 PM
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