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Spottswood Poles, 1887-1962Detail from Harrisburg Giants print by Dan TilghmanOscar Charleston in Harrisburg, 1922



the 20th Century

Negro Leagues Baseball

Obituary:  Colonel W. Strothers

The article below appeared in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Telegraph on July 14, 1933, evening edition.  It reports the death of local sports entrepreneur and businessman Colonel W. Strothers, longtime owner of the Harrisburg Giants, a Negro Leagues baseball team.  Although he is best known for his involvement with baseball, Strothers had a varied career, working on the railroad in the western United States, serving in Harrisburg on the police force and renting a spot in the old State Street Market House.  He was also a dance teacher, a restaurateur, and owned a cigar shop, pool hall, and barber shop. 

Baseball Leader, Active in Sports For Years, Dies

Colonel W. Strothers, 65, Stricken at His Home

Colonel W. Strothers, 65, for thirty-five years prominent in baseball and other sports, died this morning at his home 423 Strawberry Street.  He had been in ill health for some time.  He is survived by his widow Mrs. Jennie Strothers.

Colonel Strothers conducted a cigar store, pool and billiards rooms, restaurant and barber shop adjoining his residence.  For years he was manager of the Harrisburg Giants, a team that played many seasons throughout the East and Midwest.

Colonel W. Strothers, as he was named at birth, was a native of Culpepper, Va.  He ran away from home when he was 12 years of age, going West and working as a water boy with a railroad contractor.  Later he came to Sunbury where he was employed by a physician.  He came to Harrisburg forty-five years ago and obtained employment at the old Harrisburg Car Works.  It was during this employment that he organized the team known as the Harrisburg Giants.


"Baseball Leader, Active in Sports For Years, Dies," Harrisburg Telegraph, July 14, 1933, Evening Edition, newspaper clipping in folder marked "Baseball - Music" at the Alexander Family Library, The Historical Society of Dauphin County, Harrisburg, PA.


Harrisburg historian and baseball researcher Calobe Jackson, Jr. notes:   "Colonel Strothers was also editorialized by the newspapers on the editorial page. Many members of his Harrisburg Giants team of 1924-1928 were in town playing for the New York Black Yankees when Strothers died. They were able to attend his viewing.

Was on Police Force

He served as a patrolman under the late Mayor John D. Patterson and was stationed for a long time at Third and Market streets

Subsequently he went into business in the old State Street Market House at Fourth and South streets.  Later he located in Odd Fellows Hall, where he conducted a dancing school for a long time.  In 1916 he purchased the property at 423 and 423 1/2 Strawberry street, where he has been in business ever since.

Developed Stars

All this time he managed the Harrisburg Giants, became a member of the Eastern League of Negro teams and played both league and exhibition games.  On one Sunday at Bushwick, N.Y., the Harrisburg Giants played the Bushwicks before a crowd of 20,000.  While in baseball he developed many stars including Frank Munro, Frank Grant, Clarence Williams, the Dixon brothers, Oscar Charleston, Fats Jenkins, James Cooper and Charles Johnston.

Financial losses ended his career as  a baseball leader.  He had a staunch assistant in his wife, who looked after the business management of the team; and also gave his private business enterprises close attention.

Planned to Return

He was a member of Chosen Friends Masonic Lodge of Masons, St. James Commandery, No. 17, Independent Benevolent, Protective Order of Elks of  the World, and the Order of Odd Fellows.  In politics he was a staunch Republican.

Recently he said he planned in 1934 to return to his baseball activities with his own playing field.

For more information:

Longtime Harrisburg residents Calobe Jackson, Jr. and Ted Knorr, who co-wrote the article "Blackball in Harrisburg," a major reference source for information about Negro League baseball in Harrisburg, contributed much to this and the other Negro Leagues pages and articles on this site. Many thanks for their knowledge and help.

Read "Blackball in Harrisburg" by Knorr and Jackson
Go to part 1: "Early Games and the Independent Era"
Go to part 2: "League Play and Major League Integration"
Read about Cliff Christian and the Steelton Giants

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