Chesapeake Independent Baseball League
From Pickles to Ox, One Muscle to White Cake, the nicknames flow throughout this community better known as Southern Maryland, Semi~Pro Baseball. Towns such as, Mitchellville, Wicomico, Drury, Davidsonville, Benedict, Galesville all became members of the Tri-State or Chesapeake League at one time or another. Teams with names such as, Washington Black Sox (est. 1928), the Pomonkey Braves all share threads of the same vision: winning the league title.
The Chesapeake Independent Baseball League was formed in 1976, but that's not where this story begins. This Chesapeake league had its real beginning 110 years earlier in some of these same towns. In 1866, the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League was born. In that time, both black and white players played together on the same sandlot and continued to do so until 1894 or 1895; history isn't clear on which year. At this point the Chesapeake League became a white's only baseball league. Several Negro Leagues sprang up as various alternatives to this white league.
In 1901, the Industrial League of Washington, D.C. entered the mix as another white's only league. As an alternative to this, one of the leagues to organize was the Mid-Atlantic Negro League. This league existed in various forms from the late 1890's to the early 1960's (1963 to be exact). Both the Industrial and the Mid-Atlantic Negro Leagues played together and barnstormed together up and down the east coast as various teams in each league would pick up games versus other teams in other leagues. On several occasions teams mixed rosters (long before Jackie Robinson "broke the color barrier" in 1947), to be able to have the needed nine players to play the "pickup games" while barnstorming up and down the coast.
After the war years had come and gone, the Mid-Atlantic Negro League found itself in the same situation as all other Negro Leagues. They too were losing players to the white professional leagues because of the allure of potential Major League Baseball. In the late 1950's, many of the Mid-Atlantic Negro League teams such as the Mitchellville Tigers, Washington Black Sox, etc., started playing in the Tri-State League as well as the Mid-Atlantic Negro League which was soon to fold (1963), as did all other Negro Leagues at this point. When this occurred, the concept of the true town team changed forever. Prior to this, town teams truly had players from "THEIR TOWNS." Once the Negro Semi~Pro and former Professional Negro League teams came on board, recruiting the best players was the name of the game.
At this point, the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League was born. Really, it just came back from a long slumber, this time as a "LOCAL TOWN LEAGUE" with mostly black players as was the racial makeup of most of the small towns that played Sunday baseball in this part of Southern Maryland.
The Chesapeake Independent Baseball League operates each year, from April to October just a few minutes off the Beltway in miles, but it's a lifetime away by feel. These fields are all "FIELDS OF DREAMS" on private property. You can be 17 years old or 37 years old, any age really. You see, age doesn't matter in this Semi~Pro league. As long as you are good enough to pound the leather, smack the ball, or throw the little white pill past a batter half your age but still your equal on the Rough Diamond. A Chesapeake League game may attract 300 paying customers or, on rare occasions 3,000+ have crossed through the gates at $3.00 per head.
When you covet the championship, you will do what you must to win the title. The all-time leading winner as an owner of local town teams in this league, a man who would leave no stone unturned to find a good ballplayer, black or white, was Charlie Brown, Sr., who still, to this day owns and operates the Charles County Raiders out of Pomonkey, Maryland in the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League. One of the reasons Charlie's teams have been so successful over the last several years (sixteen, to be exact), is the fact that they have had a great pitcher, Brian Toronto, on their staff for much of this time (other than a few stints in professional baseball). Brian has completely redefined the league in terms of wins and losses. From 1988 through 2004, Brian has won more than 125 games without a single loss! White Cake as he is known among his peers or "King of the Negro Leagues" as he is known to the owners and team management around the league, is such a sure bet to put up a "W" every time he takes the hill, other teams would just as soon toss in the towel as play a game they know, without a doubt, they have no chance to win! No one has ever been this dominant as a pitcher in any other Semi~Pro League on record in the history of Semi~Pro Baseball.
The Chesapeake Independent Baseball League owes a great debt to the Tri-State League and the Mid-Atlantic Negro League. The flavor, feel and sense of things past, come to the forefront every time you visit the ballpark on a sunny May afternoon. Come visit a game at Drury, Wicomico, Pomonkey or any other yard. Games always start at 3:00 PM. One warning though, you may never want to go home again.
Washington, D.C. Home Plate Club
Chairman, Sandlot Hall of Fame
Industrial Baseball League (est. 1901)
(C.) (571) 216-0346