MLK 50: How the Negro League shaped baseball in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS -- In 1791, America began a love affair with something special in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Baseball was born.

But it would be more than 150 years later before Jackie Robinson played with the Dodgers.

This year marks 49 years since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated outside his hotel room at the Lorraine Hotel. As part of WGNO-News with a Twist's yearlong commemoration of the life of Dr. King, we are reflecting on the past, evaluating the present – and seeking solutions for the future with stories that highlight local Civil Rights history and more.

Today, we bring you the story of the Negro League teams in New Orleans.

The golden age of the Negro Leagues spawned after the Civil War.

"They could have played in the majors if given the shot and they weren't," said sports historian Ryan Whirt.

In New Orleans, black teams populated the scene.

Part of the Negro Southern Association were neighborhood and bar room teams, teams named after history-makers -- like the Pinchbacks, named after the first black governor of Louisiana.

Even local celebrities wanted a feel of the bat. Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong had a team.

Louisiana flourished with teams like the New Orleans Stars and the Algiers Giants, and it brought about starts like the best third baseman in baseball history, Oliver "Ghost" Marcelle.

Soon, a new day would arrive. By the 1960s, desegregation meant the end of the Negro Leagues.