For the first half of the 20th Century amateur and semi-professional baseball thrived in North America. There were leagues formed around specific industries, like the textile mill leagues in North Carolina. Company-sponsored teams were ubiquitous, from large corporations like Coca-Cola to the corner grocery store or tavern. Other teams were formed around ethnic organizations – Mexican American teams in Los Angeles, Nisei Japanese teams in the Pacific Northwest. Athletic club teams were common.
At the top of the heap were clubs like the Brooklyn Bushwicks, who were professional in every real sense, and even built their own ballpark, but existed outside the structure of organized baseball. But even local amateur leagues often had professional players (sometimes playing under assumed names) who found that they could pick up a few extra bucks in the off-season.
Although we have always offered a few random teams in this category, we have grouped these products into a new “Sandlot Collection”, and have recently accelerated our research into this fascinating part of the baseball story. This week’s Ballcap release is the first themed grouping from our new Sandlot Collection. We hope to bring you more in the coming months.