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Coal Miners and Baseball
Baseball was a vibrant force in industrial towns throughout West Virginia during the first half of the 20th century, especially in the coalfields. Coal companies looked for good players, usually rewarding them with easier jobs, shorter working hours, and time off. Coal companies financed teams to help unify their work forces in towns from Fairmont to Gary, and from Helen, Tams, Fireco, and Switchback to Eccles. There were company leagues, Negro leagues, and United Mine Workers leagues.
Overview of teams and games formed by WV coal miners from the early 1900s to the end of WWII.
Coal Camp Baseball
In the coalfields, baseball was truly America’s game. Baseball games created a community spirit, bringing together black and white, immigrant and native born. It was on the playing fields that the immigrants who came to mine coal truly be a part of America.
Robert Moses "Lefty" Grove
Born in Lonaconing, Maryland, Grove was a sandlot star in the Baltimore area during the 1910s. He didn't play organized baseball until he was 19 years old. He purportedly gained the ability to throw hard by hurling rocks. In 1920, he made his professional debut with the Martinsburg Mountaineers of the class-D Blue Ridge League, where he appeared in six games. He would later play for the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox.
West Virginia Coalfield Baseball
Loup Creek and Hanley Tent Baseball (1912)
Blakely Field - Welch, West Virginia (1946)