During my tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY I re-discovered a passion of mine – history. The history of baseball, its rules, its original fields, its shortsightedness, its glory – The Baseball Hall of Fame shines a bright light on all of these things and much, much more. When I returned to Rhode Island, I wanted to learn more about the historical aspect of Rhode Island baseball, including its most famous residents that I could not find in the Hall of Fame. I “googled” Rhode Island Baseball Hall of Fame, thinking I would cleverly find such a thing. Strike 1, but I did find the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. And then I found the name, Joseph Gomes.
In the bio on the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame page, Joseph “Joe” Gomes “was the only Rhode Islander to play baseball in the Negro Major Baseball League, and was named an all-star in each of the seven years he played. He compiled a 362-41 pitching record, with a 1.74 earned-run-average in the Majors. He was an extraordinary athlete as a Rhode Island schoolboy – All-State in baseball, golf, and football.“
I thought, wow, that is an incredible story and I wanted to learn more about Mr. Gomes and his professional career in the Negro Leagues. So, I messaged the Negro League Baseball Museum with a request for more information. Not 6 hours later, I received an amazing chain of emails from Raymond Doswell, Ed.D, Vice President of Curatorial Services, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum who had done some research for more and presented me with a ton of great information. “Our friends at Seamheads web site have dug up some research on Mr. Gomes. He is apparently not the lone RI resident who played black baseball.” So what is Seamheads?
Quick tangent – Seamheads.com is an incredible online baseball resource and quite frankly one of the best baseball websites I have ever visited. They cover baseball history, stats, baseball fields (gone and still standing), have a tremendous reference database for Negro League Baseball, expert reporting, and so much more. I was blown away by the content on Seamheads.com and will definitely use it for reference material going forward. You can read more about Seamheads.com by clicking this link – Seamheads, About Us.
In the RI Heritage bio, it lists Joseph (Joe) Gomes as a Pitcher with a seven year record of professional league play. On the Seamheads.com site and pages referencing Joe Gomes, I could only fight batting statistics, with Gomes playing the outfield (right field). I asked Gary Ashwill of Seamheads.com to clear this up for me. Here is Gary Ashwill from Seamheads.com who wrote to me, “He was indeed a pitcher, but our DB(database) only shows games between teams we consider to be Black major league clubs, and so far all the pitching I’ve seen for him is against either white semipro clubs or second-rank Black teams. Like most pitchers for Black teams in those days he often played in the outfield on off days, and it just so happens that the two games we have for him against Black major league opposition featured him in RF rather than on the mound. I attached a few stories/box scores about games in which Gomes pitched. Gomes never played in an East-West All-Star Game, which was the major all-star game for Negro league baseball. He played for the Philadelphia Bacharach Giants in 1932 and 1933, when they were an independent team (though we consider them a Black major league team); he could well have (and probably did) play at a semipro level for a much longer time.“
Here are the articles that Gary Ashwill sent to me for my viewing and I would like to share them with you. These newspaper stories of segregation help paint a picture of professional baseball at and around the turn of the century until the color barrier was broken in the late 1940’s. On a more positive note, there was some incredible baseball being played throughout the United States in the early part of the 20th century and I hope these newspaper clippings help you (as they did with me) learn more about East Providence, Rhode Island’s amazing Pitcher, Joe Gomes.
It has been an amazing journey learning about Joe Gomes, the East Providence High School star who played professionally for the Philadelphia Bacharach Giants of the Independent League in 1932 and 1933. According to Gary Ashwill of Seamheads.com, Gomes was a Pitcher and part time outfielder for the 1932 and 1933 Giants club. Personally, I love reading these old time newspaper articles and just absorbing the language and context of the times as best as possible. Joseph Gomes was elected into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1988 posthumously (1908-1986).
Huge thank you to Ray Doswell of the Negro League Baseball Museum and Gary Ashwill of Seamheads.com for the incredible baseball history lesson on East Providence, RI’s Professional Baseball Player – Joseph “Joe” Gomes.
For more information on the Negro League Baseball Museum, visit their official website – www.nlbm.com
For more information on Seamheads.com and their incredible baseball database, visit www.seamheads.com.