Bingo Long Traveling Essay Research Paper Ask

Bingo Long Traveling Essay, Research Paper

Ask someone either at home or at work, "How are you doing today?"

Several replies will be forthcoming. Some respond "Ok",

"Fine" or "Surviving". As long as Sallie Potter’s Louisville

Ebony Aces were playing ball in the Negro League circuit, times and surviving

were good. A steady salary, Potter’s bus, driven by Potter, with reclining

seats, which carried the team from one scheduled game to another, black hotels,

black restaurants and night clubs made for an indulgent and uncomplicated life

on the road. When Potter released veteran player Raymond Mikes, because he broke

his foot rounding third base, playing the Philadelphia American Stars, Bingo

organized the players and revolted against owner black owner Potter. After all,

Bingo thought he knew all the ins and outs of the game, having watched Potter

and fellow hustler Lionel Foster all these years. How hard could it be owning

and managing a ball club? With Lionel backing Bingo with a little capital until

things got going, a barnstorming baseball outfit was born. Bingo first recruited

fellow teammate Leon Carter, the best pitcher alive, and then one by one talked

Potter’s Aces into becoming Bingo’s All-Stars. Even Raymond Mikes had agreed to

come along as bookkeeper. With third baseman Louis’s Lincoln convertible and

Bingo’s Auburn, the team was set and left for Pittsburgh to play the Elite

Giants. Lionel had helped Bingo set up games in Cleveland, Toledo and Chicago,

after that, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then Iowa. Life was good and surviving was no

problem. Bingo knew hustling baseball games in small rural towns was a lot

different than playing the usual scheduled games in the Negro League and tried

to acquaint his teammates, who had not traveled west of Chicago, with this fact.

"We got to be polite and cheerful all the time even when we ain’t feeling

it" (Brashler 50). Life in segregated America was not easy for Negroes.

White restaurants and hotels did not permit them inside. It was necessary to

find black establishments, who would serve Negroes. If no place was found to put

them up for the night, they slept in cars or outside on the ground in bedrolls.

Even if they had money and were able to pay, prejudice and bigotry took charge

and made life for the Negro, as a second class citizen. Bingo was aware of this,

but he was going to find out first hand how it really was. Life would become

survival. Once the All-Stars left the Eastern cities and established Negro

League baseball schedules, they would have to hustle their own games. Because

theses games were in smaller populated areas, the All-Stars would have to play

more games just to break even. Lionel had advised them to play as many games as

possible. Road travel was difficult and slow, streets and highways were not

paved. Cars lumbered over the roads at a snail’s crawl. Dust not only covers the

passengers, but also plugged up the car’s engines. At times, after the last

game, the players filed back into the cars, got as comfortable as possible and

were driven by Bingo and Louis, or back up drivers, on to the next town, the

next game. Showmanship was necessary. Upon entering small towns, it was

necessary to drive down the business district, the driver would honk the horn as

the players stood up in the car and waved to the people. Then they would change

into their uniforms, re-enter the town, driving down the main streets, honking

the horn, players would walk behind the car and wave and bow to the people, all

in an effort to gain interest and enthusiasm in the upcoming ball game. At the

beginning of the games, were hot ball routines, infield pantomimes and pitching

shows. Then there was the baseball fields, in some cases just pastures with a

couple of wooden benches and a broken down backstop. If an admissions stand

could not be built, then the All- Stars would pass the hat in small rural areas.

After all, expenses have to be met. The strain of the road eroded players

mentally and emotionally. Day in and day out it was the same routine over and

over again. The ever present discrimination and class distension appeared in

many different themes. Louis was razored for propositioning a white call girl, a

white car mechanic took advantage of Bingo’s ignorance concerning needing new

spark plugs for Bingo’s Auburn, Bingo’s car was destroyed when a white woman’s

truck hit it, there were small white town hecklers at the ball games and the

ever present opportunity for fist fights at the drop of a hat. Bingo left Earl

behind to hot wire a car, which would replace Bingo’s destroyed car, and

somewhat even the score for the All-Stars against the White racists. Bingo and

the remainder of the team drove on to Crowder, Iowa. At the general store, he

was told that the town did not have a baseball team. "She also said the

town didn’t have a hotel and that its restaurant wouldn’t serve colored" (Brashler

151). So they bought some bread, jelly, baloney and honey, ate dinner in a field

of pear trees and waited for their teammate Earl, who had a previous minor

career as a thief. Earl hot-wired a LaSalle, joined Bingo and the rest of the

team and once again they were on the road back to Kansas City. The All-Stars

played A. C. Franklin’s team, The Monarchs, in Kansas City. When former owner

Sallie Potter arrived, the All-Stars honed their survival ability and with good

reason. Even one of their own race tried destroy them one by one. Survival is

not easy. It becomes a way of life.

Brashler, William. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.

Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973


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