United States League

The United States League (USL), alternately called the United States Baseball League, was one of the several Negro baseball leagues created during the time organized baseball was segregated. The USL was organized as a minor league in 1945 by Branch Rickey to serve as a platform to scout black players.

United States League
SportNegro league baseball
CountryUnited States
ClassificationMinor league

League historyEdit

In 1945, Branch Rickey was anticipating the integration of black players into Major League Baseball. Rickey, along with Gus Greenlee who was the owner of the original Pittsburgh Crawfords, created the USL as a method to scout black players specifically to break the color line. It is unclear if the league actually played the 1945 season or if it was only used as a pretense for integration.[1] Rickey signed Jackie Robinson, who never played in the USL, in October of that year. The 1946 season lasted only a few weeks before the league folded. Robinson went on the break the Major League color line in 1947 with Rickey's Brooklyn Dodgers.

League franchisesEdit

The new league began play in 1945 with at least six teams. Conflicting sources list the Boston Blues as fielding a team in 1945, others list only 1946. No standings or accounts have been found for the 1945 season.[2] The Pittsburgh Crawfords, Philadelphia Hilldales and St. Louis Stars assumed the nicknames of successful defunct teams and have no relation to those teams. The league reportedly folded mid-season in 1946.

  • Pittsburgh Crawfords (1945–1946)
  • Toledo Rays (Cubs) (1945)
  • Brooklyn Brown Dodgers (1945–1946)
  • Chicago Brown Bombers (1945, Associate Member 1946)
  • Detroit Motor City Giants (1945)
  • Philadelphia Hilldales (1945)
  • St. Louis Stars (Associate Member 1945)
  • Boston Blues (1946) – may have fielded a team in 1945
  • Cleveland Clippers (1946)
  • Cincinnati Crescents (Associate Member 1946)
  • Louisville Black Colonels (Associate Member 1946)
  • Newark Buffaloes (Associate Member 1946)
  • Trenton Stars (Associate Member 1946)


  1. ^ "Branch Rickey". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. ^ "United States League (1945-1946)" (PDF). Center for Negro League Baseball Research. Retrieved 17 November 2019.