During the late 1880s and early 1900s, black baseball players began forming teams associated with the military, colleges and work. They were banned from playing on white Major League teams in the United States, but did become involved in "barnstorming," in which on occasion they would play unofficial games against other teams, including Major League teams.

The Negro National League, formed from a group of Midwest teams in 1920, played its first successful game at the YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri.