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From 1940 until 1942, the Grays played half of their home games in Washington, D.C., while remaining in Pittsburgh for all other home stands. As attendance at their games in the nation's capital grew, by 1943, the Grays were playing more than two-thirds of their home games in Washington.
The Grays grew out of an earlier industrial team. In 1900, a group of African-American players had joined together to form the Germantown Blue Ribbons, an industrial league team. For ten years, the Blue Ribbons fielded a team every season and played some of the best sandlot teams in the area. In 1910, the managers of the team retired. The players reorganized the team and named themselves the Murdock Grays. In 1912, they became the Homestead Grays, the name they retained for the remainder of the franchise's history.
American Negro League
The Grays did join the American Negro League in 1929, but that league lasted only one season. The team operated independently again until 1932, when Posey organized the ill-fated East-West League; that league also collapsed before completing its first and only season.
Pittsburgh Steelers founder and owner Art Rooney related in a 1981 interview that he "from time to time" had "helped financially support the Negro League team, the Homestead Grays, and . . . was a better baseball fan than football fan."
Post-Negro league play
Following the collapse of the Negro National League after the 1948 season, the Grays struggled to continue as an independent club, and ultimately disbanded in May 1951.
From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Grays played their home games at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, during this same period the club adopted the Washington, D.C. area as its "home away from home" and scheduled many of its "home" games at D.C.'s Griffith Stadium, the home park of the Washington Senators. During these games, they were alternatively known as the Washington Grays or Washington Homestead Grays.
When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, "Grays" was one of the three finalists (along with "Senators" and the eventual winner "Nationals") for the relocated team's new name, reflecting Washington's baseball history.
The Nationals? home field, Nationals Park, includes numerous references to the Grays:
The "Ring of Honor" on the facade behind home plate lists the names of Cool Papa Bell, Ray Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Cum Posey, Jud Wilson, and players from the Nationals, Expos, original Washington Senators of 1901-1960, and expansion Washington Senators of 1961-1971. The Ring honors players who are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and had played "significant years" for at least one of the teams or "anyone who has made a significant contribution to the game of baseball in Washington, D.C." All six Grays players were among the original 18 inductees to the Ring of Honor when it was unveiled on August 10, 2010.
The multi-sport Washington Hall of Stars display in the outfield features Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.
Beyond the Shadow of the Senators — the website is a companion to the book of the same name, a comprehensive history of the Grays, written by Brad Snyder. The site contains information on the individuals featured in the book and the first chapter of the book.
GraysFan.org — Latest attempt to name the Washington Major League Baseball Team after the Grays