Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov,
MOINES) – Nearly 20 years before Jackie
Robinson broke Major League baseball’s color
barrier, the legendary Sioux City Ghosts fast-pitch
softball team was breaking down walls and making a
name for themselves in stadiums across the country.
A documentary detailing the history and significance
of the team will be shown at 2 p.m. July 14, 2007
at the State Historical Museum in conjunction with
“Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro
Leagues Baseball,” a multi-media art exhibit
showcasing the history of Negro leagues baseball.
The State Historical Museum is at 600 E. Locust Street
in Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Call 515-281-5111
for more information.
Sioux City Journal Online Editor Thomas
Ritchie, who helped to produce “Sioux City’s
Ghosts,” will present the documentary and answer
questions afterwards. Ritchie worked with freelance
writer Jan Dehner and producer/videographer Chris
Simons to create and produce the documentary.
The Sioux City Ghosts was a fast-pitch softball team
comprised entirely of African-American men from Sioux
City. The team combined its exceptional skills on
the ball field with a keen sense of comedic showmanship,
touring the Midwest, West Coast, and parts of Canada
and Mexico from the 1930s until the mid-1950s. For
their pranks and antics on the field, they were often
compared to basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters.
The Ghosts made a name for themselves despite limits
imposed on them by a segregated society. The team
overcame prejudices, at times even refusing to play
their exhibition game until local officials waived
the discriminatory rules, thereby helping to break
down racial barriers. The team is often credited for
easing racial tensions and helping to lay the foundation
for the integration of Major League baseball.
Memorabilia and artifacts from the Ghosts were placed
into collections of the National Museum of American
History’s Division of Cultural History, and
later the Archives Center, at the Smithsonian Institute
in Washington, D.C. in 1996, acknowledging the team
as historically and culturally significant to the
In 1983, Ghosts team member and Sioux City resident
Frankie Williams was recognized by the Iowa Amateur
Softball Association. Players Floyd Fuji Fulton and
L.J. Favors have been inducted into the organization’s
Hall of Fame. In 1997, the Greater Siouxland Athletic
Association placed the team into its Hall of Fame.
Williams, the last surviving member of the Sioux City
Ghosts, died a month ago in Sioux City at age 86.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible
for developing the state’s interest in the areas
of the arts, history and other cultural matters with
the advice and assistance from its two divisions:
the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa
Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets
and promotes an awareness and understanding of local,
state and regional history and stimulates and encourages
the study and presentation of the performing and fine
arts and public interest and participation in them.
It implements tourism-related art and history projects
as directed by the General Assembly and designs a
comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the
assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the
arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available
to What's New Section